Accessible IT would alleviate work force shortages, advocates predict

Accessible IT would alleviate work force shortages, advocates predict

Implementing Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1998 could be a good thing both for disenfranchised workers and the federal work force, said Andy Imparto, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Of an estimated 65 million disabled Americans of working age, there are about 8 million who would like to work but don't have access to jobs, he said.

Many agencies, including the Veterans Benefits Administration, have indicated they expect to lose up to 25 percent of their work force to retirement within the next three to five years [GCN, April 17, Page 1].

The Agriculture Department's Technology Accessible Recourses Gives Employment Today Center is helping train workers with disabilities in an effort to comply with Section 508.

Making information technology accessible would significantly boost the federal government's potential work force, Imparto said.

'There are lots of blind people with degrees who aren't working,' Imparto said. 'You would think that if you could hook them up with the right technology that they could work.'

Workers who are disabled as a result of a sudden illness or accident also need technology to help them return to the workplace, he said.

'Tony Lee Orr

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