PEAT Talks Recap: Celebrating NDEAM

Last month’s PEAT Talks webinar featured a lively discussion between Maria Town, Senior Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement, and PEAT Project Director Josh Christianson. Maria helped us mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) by sharing her insights about the importance of implementing accessible workplace technology and the current Administration’s efforts to promote its use in workplaces nationwide.

Maria highlighted several NDEAM events that the White House has hosted, including a talk by Paralympic athlete Markeith Price that focused on the many ways accessible technology has advanced throughout his lifetime, and how it has opened doors for him to engage in his community and the workplace. Specifically, Maria noted Price’s emphasis that “it’s not that he can’t do whatever he wants to do, it’s just that he might need to do things differently.”

Maria and Josh also talked at length about the current Administration’s efforts to bring accessible technology to all workplaces. In particular, Maria highlighted the White House’s Connect initiatives, which connect high-need communities across the country to high-quality broadband Internet. Though not directly focused on accessible technology, Maria emphasized that lack of access to high-quality internet “creates huge barriers when it comes to information access and their ability to get work and to do those jobs,” especially for rural communities and communities with high poverty rates (and over 1 in 4 people with disabilities live below the poverty income level).

Perhaps the key question Maria and Josh explored was how to encourage technology vendors themselves to make barrier-breaking accessible technology initiatives a priority, and Maria encouraged people to remain engaged. “Demand can really drive innovation,” she said. “Let’s create that demand so...[that] technology can really get better for everyone.” Maria also called upon employees with disabilities and advocates to continue raising awareness of the need to implement accessible workplace technology by reaching out to the White House. She emphasized that it is “incredibly helpful when advocates send the White House information about current issues.”

Maria’s insights and actionable tips shined a bright spotlight on the value of bringing accessible technology to every workplace in the nation. To learn more from Maria about her perspectives on the business case for accessible technology and the current Administration’s work on accessible workplace technology, check out the archived October PEAT Talk. And please be sure to share your comments and thoughts below on how you’re raising awareness around accessible workplace technology!