President orders accessibility for disabled

Access America for People with Disabilities

President Clinton on Wednesday announced several new policies that will help encourage agencies to make their technologies and practices accessible to people with disabilities.

He also unveiled a World Wide Web site that will serve as a one-stop resource for people with disabilities, Access America for People with Disabilities (www.disAbility.gov).

The executive order calls for federal agencies to hire a total of 100,000 people with disabilities over the next five years. Coming on the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the order builds on the Clinton administration's efforts to make the federal government a model for making employment and technology accessible to everyone, according to the White House.

Each agency must submit a plan to the Office of Personnel Management by Sept. 25 detailing how they will hire, train and mentor these new employees and make sure that the technologies are made available so that all of their accessibility needs are met. Agencies must also use the new accessibility technologies to develop ways for people with disabilities to work from home or off-site facilities.

All of this supports the requirements set out in Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 for agencies to provide accessible information technology to their employees and customers.

On Tuesday Clinton and Vice President Al Gore issued a memorandum to agency heads requiring that the Interagency Committee on Disability Research publish a report identifying priority areas for developing assistive technologies. Once the ICDR issues the report, agencies are to develop a strategy to put the technology to use.

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