Racial & Social Equity in Employment: Challenges and Solutions

Digital Accessibility in the Workplace

First and foremost, one of the largest barriers to blind and low vision citizens in all aspects of life is the lack of accessibility. On computers, people who are blind/low vision can function comparably with their sighted peers if the software and web have been built with accessibility in mind. Labeling buttons and form fields are critical to effective, equitable navigation and use of these essentials of modern life. It is time Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Justice give digital accessibility the attention it deserves to even the playing field of consumer access and employment. This means mandating accessible functionality of. commercial and proprietary software used in the workplace. It also means that online job applications need to be fully accessible to screen reader or magnification use.

Employers tend to look at the disability of blind and low vision candidates rather than their strengths. There is new realization that a diverse workforce helps good businesses become great. DOL needs to lead the nation in hiring blind and low vision employees. DOL also should make their Job Centers showcases for inclusion and successful service by having trained staff that know the challenges of blind and low vision job seekers and have work stations with accessible, useable computers. DOL should outreach to small and large businesses in the community promoting the strengths of diverse applicants and coaching on how to include diverse employees smoothly and effectively into the workplace. This includes staff knowledgeable in the kinds of adaptive technology (AT) and other supports a blind or low vision applicant would need to be successful in the job environment.

Since people who are blind are not able to drive, transportation is a major barrier to employment. For individuals who are blind any and all transportation costs associated with employment or medical care should be allowed to be used as a work incentive for people on Social Security Disability Insurance. Reason being is that no matter what transportation we use it is "specialized" since we are not able to drive.

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Idea No. 671