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 stipulates specific AJC responsibilities related to accessible technology such as websites and other digital applications? Here’s what AJCs need to know about the intersection of WIOA and accessible tech.
AJCs need to be “physically and programmatically” accessible to individuals with disabilities—and that extends to technology.
WIOA is quite specific about AJCs’ responsibilities in the area of technology accessibility. 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. That means that 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 the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA.
The WIOA accessibility provision is a good thing, since accessible technology will enable your AJC to serve more customers.
If you’re like most AJCs, you’re likely 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.
There are free resources to guide your AJC in your accessible technology pursuits.
AJCs are learning that adopting accessible technology practices doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about appointing effective leadership, assessing the current state of existing ICT products, implementing good accessible technology practices, and ensuring your AJC is accountable and open to continuous improvement. This fact sheet includes links to a range of “how to” resources to help AJCs ensure that their ICT is usable and accessible.
Making a plan 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. American Job Centers and Digital Access: A Guide to Accessible ICT can help guide you through the planning process.
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 too will accessibility best practices, which is why your accessibility approach should include strong leadership, plans, programming, and evaluation. The following resources can help:
American Job Centers and Digital Access: A Guide to Accessible ICT. A guide to help AJCs ensure that their ICT is accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, as required by WIOA.
Digital Accessibility Checklist for American Job Centers. This handy one-page reference guide outlines ICT accessibility best practices related to websites, online systems, and other tools. (link)
PEAT Digital Accessibility Toolkits. Check out PEAT’s range of free tools and resources to help ensure your AJC’s technology is accessible to employees, job seekers, and customers.
WIOA and Accessible Technology: A Presentation Deck for AJCs. Designed for internal staff presentations within AJCs, this ready-to-share presentation deck is a perfect tool to train your staff on WIOA and accessible technology best practices.