Charting a Pathway to a Technology-Accessible Workplace

By Guest Blogger Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy

Someone recently asked me to name the one thing I couldn’t live without at work. My answer? Technology. I couldn’t do my job – or live my life – as effectively as I do now without information and communication technology (ICT).

Considering that I’m blind, this answer is sometimes met with surprise. Some people don’t realize that individuals with disabilities also rely on technology – as long as it’s accessible – to perform daily tasks. I certainly do. I use a screen reader to relay the information on my computer screen, a Braille note-taking device and a smartphone with built-in accessibility features. To say that I’d be lost without these innovations is an understatement.

Technology is paramount for all of us – whether we have disability or not – and this is particularly true in the workplace. From computers to mobile devices to email platforms and other Web-based applications, ICT is a central driver of productivity. It streamlines operations, boosts efficiency and forges instantaneous connections. It empowers us in transformative ways. And this phenomenon is not limited to office settings. Whether you work in an office, a warehouse or a retail establishment, chances are technology is part of the job.

But imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t access or navigate all that technology. It’s an unfortunate reality experienced by many people with disabilities who are faced with workplace technologies that are neither accessible to them nor compatible with assistive technology devices. And that’s unfortunate—not only for workers and jobseekers with disabilities, but also for employers.

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