Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Addressing Accessible Technology

The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy awarded a grant for $950,000 to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) to establish the Accessible Technology Action Center (ATAC). The Center will promote the use of accessible technology in the hiring, employment, retention, and career advancement of individuals with disabilities and will expand access to information along with communication technologies in the workplace.

Jennifer Simpson, a well-known accessible technology strategist has joined RESNA as Project Director to launch ATAC. “This is a critical time in the disability community,” said Simpson. “Not only is there high unemployment and underemployment, but more and more information and communication technologies are being used in the workplace. Our Center will bring together first-class partners and expert resources to advance employment for people with disabilities by focusing on accessible technology solutions and adoption.”

Simpson previously worked at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), a national disability membership organization, as Senior Director for Government Affairs. While at AAPD, she led national efforts to increase technology accessibility widely in telecommunications, health information technology, broadband deployment, and emergency awareness.

In another action related to the disabled, Section 510 of the Rehabilitation Act requires the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board or referred to as the Access Board to issue accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment in consultation with FDA, Department of Justice, and the VA.

In February 2012, the Access Board published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing the accessibility standards. The proposed standards contain minimum technical criteria to ensure that medical diagnostic equipment, including examination tables, chairs, weight scales, mammography equipment, and other imaging equipment used by healthcare providers are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. As a result, the Access Board has established the Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee that is going to meet October 29-30, 2012 in Washington D.C.

For more information on the meeting, go to www.access-board.gov/medical-equipment.htm or email Rex Pace at pace@access-board.gov or call (202) 272-0023.