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US Government Helps Job Applicants With Disabilities

The Obama administration is undertaking two major exercises to help people with disabilities apply for government jobs, delegates heard at last month’s California State University Northridge (CSUN) Technologies and Persons with Disabilities Conference.

Employment was the central topic at CSUN, the largest assistive technology event in the world, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary. Less than a third of blind people of working age in the US have a job, delegates heard.

On 26 April, federal agencies will be interviewing an estimated 600 disabled people selected from around 4,000 applicants to a special ‘hiring fair’ in Washington organised by the Office of Personnel Management and the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Policy ( http://www.usajobs.gov/DisabilityHiringEvent.asp ).

The US government is also set to overhaul Section 508 of the country’s Rehabilitation Act, the law that obliges federal agencies to buy accessible equipment for disabled employees including computers, photocopiers and telephones.

At CSUN the government held a public hearing at which delegates were able to respond to proposals to refresh Section 508 to include newer technology such as mobile technology and electronic books. The overwhelming message was that change should come as quickly as possible. Further comments are invited by June 21:
http://www.access-board.gov/news/ict-draft-rule.htm

The Access Board also proposes to supplement its ADA Accessibility Guidelines, which cover access to facilities, to broaden coverage to include certain types of interactive transaction machines such as point-of-sale machines and self-service kiosks.

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