Making it Happen: Increasing Awareness of Accessible Workplace Technology Online Dialogue

October 11 – October 21, 2016 Final Report

Summary

The following report outlines the results of the ePolicyWorks’ online dialogue, “Making it Happen: Increasing Awareness of Accessible Workplace Technology.” Hosted by the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) technical assistance center, this virtual effort was comprised of two dialogue periods, one invitation-only and one open to the public.

The first dialogue period, held from May 10, 2016 through June 10, 2016, targeted leading technologists and accessibility experts who attended the PEAT Roundtable discussion held at the 2016 CSUN Conference in San Diego, California. This online dialogue was essentially a follow-up to the Roundtable meeting, offering a way for attendees to continue the conversation on the need to increase awareness around issues regarding the development, use, and promotion of accessible technologies in all aspects of employment. Dialogue participants were encouraged to respond to the question: “In what ways can the U.S. Department of Labor help to increase awareness of the need for accessible workplace technology?”

The private virtual forum generated numerous ideas for PEAT and DOL to consider, from educating IT procurement staff to refreshing market research to synchronizing government action around tech accessibility. In total, 87 people registered for the dialogue, with 20 active participants. The event garnered 13 original ideas, on which there were 69 comments and 74 votes.

Insights gathered from the first dialogue were then used to shape the public event, which launched on October 11, 2016 and continued through October 21, 2016, coinciding with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

This second dialogue invited the general public to expand upon the ideas that PEAT had already collected, and to share new ideas about the kinds of policies, programs, and structures organizations should have in place around accessible technology. The question participants responded to was modified from the first dialogue to ask: “What is the best way we can increase the adoption and use of accessible technology in the workplace?”

The public dialogue brought about ideas focused on accessible technology trainings and education, developing company-wide IT accessibility policies, and ensuring full workplace inclusion of people with disabilities. In total, 218 people registered, with 43 active participants. This virtual event resulted in 26 new ideas, on which there were 61 comments and 191 votes.

This report outlines key metrics from both the private and public dialogue events. The multitude of ideas gathered from both dialogues illustrates the value of collaboration and crowdsourcing with key stakeholders on issues related to accessibility. Such efforts are imperative to the development of policies and best practices to support the advancement of accessible technology in the workplace.

This report includes the following sections:

Participation Summary

The following infographic depicts the total number of ideas, votes, comments, and registrants. It also highlights the 10 most active locations from which participants contributed across the United States, for both the May 2016 and October 2016 PEAT-hosted online dialogues:

An infographic titled "Community Info" with a map of the United States on which the 10 states with active dialogue participants are highlighted. The infographic also summarizes participation, including 39 ideas posted, 266 votes, 130 comments, 213 users.

Visits by State

The following chart depicts the number of unique visits to the dialogue from each state:

State

Visits

Maryland

85

District of Columbia

64

Virginia

60

California

31

Massachusetts

29

Texas

29

New York

22

Florida

19

Minnesota

19

Pennsylvania

17

Ohio

14

Washington

14

Colorado

13

Illinois

13

Missouri

13

Michigan

11

New Hampshire

11

Tennessee

10

Louisiana

9

Wisconsin

9

Arizona

7

New Jersey

7

Oregon

7

Georgia

6

Indiana

6

Connecticut

5

Kentucky

4

Unknown

3

Alaska

3

Iowa

3

North Carolina

3

Arkansas

2

Delaware

2

Idaho

2

Nebraska

2

Rhode Island

2

Utah

2

West Virginia

2

Hawaii

1

Kansas

1

Maine

1

Nevada

1

Oklahoma

1

Public Dialogue Registration Metrics

Total registrants: 218

As part of the dialogue registration process, registrants were asked to answer a series of questions. Registrants were asked to identify their role by checking off one or more of the following categories:

  • An employer: 36 (13%)
  • A jobseeker: 2 (2%)
  • A person with a disability: 46 (16%)
  • An advocate for people with disabilities: 82 (29%)
  • An accessible technology professional: 56 (20%)
  • A human resources professional: 13 (5%)
  • An IT vendor: 7 (2%)
  • Other: 33 (12%)

Pie chart of the preceding data depicting the role of those who registered for the dialogue.

As an employer or an employee, where have you experienced accessible technology issues in the workplace (check all that apply)?

  • Recruiting: 61 (17%)
  • Hiring and onboarding: 69 (19%)
  • Work immersion and productivity: 97 (27%)
  • Career advancement: 55 (15%)
  • Retention: 41 (11%)
  • Post-employment and retirement: 21 (6%)
  • I haven’t experienced any: 22 (6%)

Pie chart of the preceding data depicting phases of the employment lifecycle in which registrants have experienced accessible technology issues.

How focused on accessible technology is your employer?

  • It is a top priority: 90 (62%)
  • More attention is needed: 39 (27%)
  • It is not a focus in my workplace: 8 (6%)
  • I’m not sure: 7 (5%)

Pie chart of the preceding data depicting how focused on accessible technology the dialogue registrants felt their employers were.

The following top ideas, as depicted in the infographic below, are listed in order by the greatest number of participant votes. Therefore, these top ideas are the most popular of those posted online during the dialogue. However, it is important to note that as the dialogue took place over a ten day period, those ideas that were posted earlier had more time to accumulate votes.  

Top Ideas by Vote

Top Ideas Chart. Description Follows.

Top Idea #1: Accessible Technology Awareness in Trainings

23 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 23 Net Votes | 16 Comments

Infuse accessible technology awareness and trainings during company onboarding and other trainings.

Top Idea #2: Training Tools for Procurement

20 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 20 Net Votes | 6 Comments

Create and offer training tools related to procurement best practices so that purchasing personnel understand why and how to write accessibility requirements into their requests for proposals (RFPs), and how to test the accessibility of the products they receive from vendors.

Top Idea #3: Mentoring Program

18 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 18 Net Votes | 2 Comments

Design a mentoring program where accessibility experts mentor younger technology designers/developers to expose them to the field of accessibility.

Top Idea #4: Collaborate with Advocacy and Employer Organizations

17 Up Votes | 1 Down Vote | 18 Net Votes | 7 Comments

Collaborate with advocacy and employer organizations to develop resources that help workers advocate for their workplace technology needs, and help companies and organizations create a workplace culture in which employees with disabilities feel comfortable doing so.

Top Idea #5: Accessible Technology Skills

14 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 14 Net Votes |0 Comments

Support and foster initiatives to include accessible technology skills in job requirements.

Idea Analysis

Top Ideas by Set Criteria

In order to further analyze the ideas from the online dialogue, the ePolicyWorks team integrated the ReviewScale tool, a type of decision matrix software that enabled PEAT and ODEP to evaluate the ideas and measure their value against a set of established criteria. Using the tool, the policy analysts on the team reviewed each of the 26 submitted ideas and rated them based on the following criteria:

  1. Whether the idea could result in an ODEP/DOL policy output.
  2. Level of impact on the adoption and use of accessible technology in the workplace.
  3. PEAT's capacity to support the implementation of this idea within the next 10 months (by September 2017).

It is important to note that the first criterion—whether the idea could result in an ODEP/DOL policy output—was also an elimination factor as in only those ideas that were assessed as meeting this measure are included in this policy analysis. Therefore, although some ideas may have rated higher in level of impact, as well as PEAT’s capacity to support implementation (in the short-term), because they would not result in a policy output, they were not considered on target for this effort. 

Below is a detailed description of the top five most viable ideas, as determined per the review of the PEAT and ODEP policy analysts, including infographics detailing how each idea scored based on the criteria set forth for the analysis (see infographic key below).

Graphic indicating a key for navigating subsequent graphics in this section. It shows 1) a thumbs up symbol which means that an idea could result in an ODEP/DOL policy output, and 2) a ballot box symbol indicating the total number of participant votes.

Top Idea #1: Training Tools for Procurement

20 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 20 Net Votes | 6 Comments

Per the PEAT team analysis, “Training Tools for Procurement” emerged as the top idea for the online dialogue ranking high in level of impact and PEAT’s ability to implement the idea. In addition, this idea rated as the second most popular idea based on votes by stakeholders. 

Training Tools for Procurement. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Training Tools for Procurement.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Create and offer training tools related to procurement best practices so that purchasing personnel understand why and how to write accessibility requirements into their requests for proposals (RFPs), and how to test the accessibility of the products they receive from vendors.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 20 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on both meters is at the highest level of green.

Top Idea #2: Collaborate with Advocacy and Employer Organizations

17 Up Votes | 1 Down Vote | 18 Net Votes | 7 Comments

Rated second through the policy analysis was “Collaborate with Advocacy/Employer Organizations,” which rated fourth by stakeholder votes. Although this idea rated high in both participant popularity and PEAT’s ability to implement it, the level of impact was rated slightly lower than “Training Tools for Procurement”: 

Collaborate with Advocacy and Employer Organizations. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Collaborate with Advocacy/Employer Organizations.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Collaborate with advocacy and employer organizations to develop resources that help workers advocate for their workplace technology needs, and help companies and organizations create a workplace culture in which employees with disabilities feel comfortable doing so.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 19 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on both meters is at nearly the highest level of green.

Top Idea #3: Accessible Technology Awareness in Trainings

23 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 23 Net Votes | 16 Comments

The most popular idea by participant vote, “Accessible Technology Awareness in Trainings,” rated third in the policy analysis. Although high in popular votes and potential level of impact, the idea rated lower on the scale for PEAT’s ability to implement:  

Accessible Technology Awareness. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Accessible Technology Awareness.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Infuse accessible technology awareness and trainings during company onboarding and other trainings.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 23 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a moderate level of green. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a high level of yellow.

Top Idea #4: Organization Wide IT Accessibility Policy is Key to Success

9 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 9 Net Votes | 2 Comments

Organization-Wide IT Accessibility Policy,” rated fourth in the policy analysis, but was not in the list of top five ideas presented through participant voting. Although ranked similarly to “Accessible Technology Awareness,” this idea rated much lower in overall popularity:

Organization-Wide IT Accessibility Policy. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Organization-Wide IT Accessibility Policy.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'The best way to solidify a commitment to accessibility at your organization is to establish an accessibility policy. Similar to an Equal Opportunity policy which outlines plans and initiatives that permeate all levels of the organization, an accessibility policy allows organizations to weave accessibility into the fabric of their business, rather than doing so autonomously or ad hoc in a particular area or project.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 9 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a moderate level of green. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a moderate level of yellow.

Top Idea #5: Implement an Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM)

3 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 3 Net Votes | 0 Comments

 “Implement an Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM),” rated fifth in the policy analysis, and like the fourth-rated idea above, was not in the list of top ideas presented through participant voting. In fact, this idea was only rated 17th in popularity out of 26 ideas. In addition, although the level of impact was projected as moderately high, PEAT’s ability to implement this idea was ranked on the lower end of the scale: 

Implement an Accessible Maturity Model. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Implement an Accessibility Maturity Model.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Successful support for workplace accessibility is contingent on a top-down business model - specifically, an Accessibility Maturity Model. Most employers view accessibility and accommodation as something they must address in order to meet obligations instead of a way to cut costs, build capacity, and establish partnerships. Accessibility should be a driver for innovation. This is a culture change that must be C-level driven.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 3 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a high level of yellow. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a low level of yellow.

The following represent additional ideas submitted to the dialogue that could result in a policy outcome as determined through the policy analysis, and ranged in level of impact and support of implementation. The order in which these ideas are presented below is weighted by how each idea was rated for 1) level of impact on the adoption and use of accessible technology in the workplace; 2) PEAT’s capacity to support implementation of this idea within the short-term; and 3) number of participant votes. To clarify, level of impact is the most weighted of these three factors, followed by PEAT’s capacity to support implementation, and finally the total number of participant votes for that idea.  

Top Idea #6: Market Research on Universal Design

11 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 11 Net Votes | 2 Comments

Market Research on Universal Design. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Market Research on Universal Design.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Obtain updated market research about the broad benefits of universal design in order to demonstrate why it pays to build and buy technology products, applications, and systems that are accessible.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 11 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a highest level of green. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a moderate level of green.

Top Idea #7: Mentoring Program

18 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 18 Net Votes | 2 Comments

Mentoring Program. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Mentoring Program.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Design a mentoring program where accessibility experts mentor younger technology designers/developers to expose them to the field of accessibility.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 18 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a moderate level of green. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a moderate level of red.

Top Idea #8: Federal Incentives/Investment

4 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 4 Net Votes | 3 Comments

Federal Incentives/Investment. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Federal Incentives/Investment.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Accessibility and workforce accommodation carries the stigma of a "cost of doing business." In order to shift to a win-win scenario, organizations need government incentives via impactful tax credits, extensive R&D funding, and stimulus grants. Organizations should invest in education that teaches professionals about disabilities and technology.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 4 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a low level of green. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a low level of red.

Top Idea #9: Encourage BYOD in Schools/Workplace

2 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 2 Net Votes | 0 Comments

Encourage BYOD in Schools/Workplace. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Encourage BYOD in Schools/Workplace.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Too often "Assistive Technology" turns restrictive and static, limiting users to a subset of solutions and established processes. Public agencies, employers, and especially the education environment need to embrace BYOD rather than try to prescribe the AT. Individuals need to be able to select and utilize the appropriate technology in the workplace, at school and in the home. We should not be testing accessibility for an AT solution but test for compliance with standards sucha s WCAG 2.0.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 2 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a high level of yellow. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a low level of yellow.

Top Idea #10: Accessible Technology Skills

14 Up Votes | 0 Down Votes | 14 Net Votes | 0 Comments

Accessible Technology Skills. Description follows.

Infographic with the following:

  • Green thumbs up icon next to a title reading 'Accessible Technology Skills.'
  • The proposed idea reads 'Support and foster initiatives to include accessible technology skills in job requirements.'
  • Below that is a small blue ballot box icon indicating that this idea had 14 votes.
  • Next to the ballot box are two meters indicating level of impact and support of implementation, both with three levels from left to right, red, yellow, and green, with green being the highest level. The pointer on the level of impact meter is at a high level of yellow. The pointer on the support of implementation meter is at a low level of yellow.

Conclusion

Through the Making it Happen: Increasing Awareness of Accessible Workplace Technology online dialogues, ODEP and PEAT successfully leveraged leading-edge crowdsourcing tools to engage experts and thought leaders in an important discussion about accessible workplace technology. Results from the analysis phase pointed out some obvious synergies between what PEAT and ODEP deemed to be viable ideas in terms of potential policy outcomes, levels of impact and needed support for implementation, and how dialogue participants rated ideas, particularly around the issues of awareness, training tools, and collaboration. However, the analysis also showed that although not very popular with the engaged stakeholders, policy-focused ideas—including research and model-development—were considered most possible for implementation relative to PEAT efforts. This analysis will continue to help inform DOL's efforts around accessible workplace technology issues, guiding PEAT’s work through September 2018. PEAT and ODEP look forward to updating stakeholders on these efforts as they unfold. 

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