WIOA and Accessible Technology: Five Things American Job Centers Need to Know
If you work in an American Job Center (AJC), you’re probably familiar with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed into law in July of 2014. The Act reaffirms the role of the one-stop service delivery system and enhances coordination among key employment, education, and training programs.
But did you know that WIOA also lays out specific AJC responsibilities related to accessible technology such as websites and other digital applications? Here’s what AJCs need to know about the intersection between WIOA and accessible tech.
1. AJCs need to be “physically and programmatically” accessible to individuals with disabilities—and that extends to technology.
WIOA is quite specific about AJCs’ accessibility responsibilities in the area of technology. It states that information and communication technology (ICT) designed, procured, maintained, and used by AJCs must comply with the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of Section 188 of WIOA and its implementing regulations. In other words, AJCs must use technologies—including websites, online systems and courses, and applications—that are accessible to individuals with disabilities and consistent with modern accessibility standards, such as the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA.
2. The WIOA accessibility provision is a good thing because accessible technology enables your AJC to serve more customers.
If you’re like most AJCs, you’re using websites, digital systems, mobile applications, online courses, and other technology to provide services and raise awareness of what you do. But when those technologies are not accessible to users with disabilities, it contributes to a digital divide between how citizens with and without disabilities access key employment, education, and support services. WIOA helps level that playing field.
3. Making a plan for accessible ICT is an easy first step.
When it comes to addressing ICT accessibility within an organization, a strategic action plan can be your best friend. The process of creating such a plan can help you lay out an approach to securing leadership around accessibility, conducting needs assessments, evaluating the accessibility of your existing technology, setting priorities, fixing what’s broken, and measuring progress.
4. Accessibility is an ongoing journey.
Ensuring the accessibility of your AJC’s technology is an ongoing process that takes a commitment to continuous improvement. As technologies evolve, so will accessibility best practices, which is why your accessibility approach should include strong leadership, plans, programming, and evaluation.
5. Free resources exist to guide your AJC in implementing accessible technology.
AJCs are learning that adopting accessible technology practices doesn’t have to be difficult. The following “how to” resources can help your AJC ensure that its ICT is usable and accessible to all.
This guide helps AJCs ensure that their websites, online systems and courses, and applications are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, as required by WIOA. It serves as the foundational resource for the following supplemental materials.
AJCs can use this handy one-pager to reference ICT accessibility best practices related to websites, online systems, and other tools.
Designed for internal staff presentations within AJCs, this ready-to-share presentation deck is a perfect tool to train staff on WIOA and accessible technology best practices.