Conferences

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Boston Accessibility is hosting a roundtable at the IBM Innovation Center on 1 Rogers Street in Cambridge Massachusetts. Jeremey Curry from AISquared will talk about the new, ZoomText Fusion.

ZoomText Fusion is a Magnifier/Reader with a complete Screen reader that is designed for users with advanced or progressive vision loss. It tailored for individual who, over time, want a smooth and safe transition from magnification to full screen reading.  

The 2015 Adirondack Assistive Technology Expo will be held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, N.Y. on October 26 and 27th. The Expo is sponsored by Clarkson University’s Department of Occupational Therapy and hosts occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology professionals from across northern New York and Vermont.

  • Monday, October 26 from 6:00 to 9:00pm: Optional networking dinner at the Wild Center. Entertainment by FLAME, internationally recognized performers from the Lexington Center of the Fulton County.
  • Tuesday, October 27 from 8:00 to 9:00am: Registration and breakfast followed by a welcome, the keynote presentation, breakout sessions and lunch.

Assistive Technology Expo registration and information

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) presented top awards on Sept. 30 during the annual conference Leadership Awards in Austin, Texas. Recognition was given to six companies, an individual and an affiliate network for their outstanding commitment to and work in the disability inclusion community.  

This year the USBLN expanded the Marketplace Innovator of the Year category to include two awards, one for a disability inclusive advertisement and one for product development. The eight 2015 USBLN Leadership Award categories and winners are:

  • John D. Kemp Leadership Award -  Oswald "Oz" Mondejar, Senior Vice President, Mission and Advocacy of Partners Continuing Care, non-acute care services division of Partners HealthCare, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Affiliate of the Year - Wyoming's Uinta County Business Leadership Network
  • Advocate of the Year - Supply Chain Inclusion - Capital One
  • Supplier of the Year - Mark Ellson, Founder and CEO, Jemini, Inc.
  • Top Corporation for Disability-Owned Businesses - IBM
  • Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Disability Inclusive Advertisement - Wells Fargo & Company
  • Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Product Development - AT&T
  • Employer of the Year - Microsoft

One of the cornerstones of the USBLN is the supplier diversity program. Part of the success of the program is that the USBLN is the leading third-party certifier of disability-owned firms, including service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVOBs). The Advocate of the Year - Supply Chain Inclusion award recognizes the individual advocate and/or procurement champion, who has provided exceptional support in the development of USBLN-certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises® (DOBEs) and the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP). Capital One has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the utilization and growth of disability-owned businesses.

"At Capital One we understand the value that a diverse supplier base provides to our company, enabling us to bring together diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences that reflect the customers and communities we serve," said Kimberlee Sours, Supplier Diversity, Capital One. "Through active engagement with groups like USBLN, we work to continually improve our Supplier Diversity programs and better serve the wide-ranging needs of our customers and communities."

The Top Corporation for Disability-Owned Businesses award was given to IBM because they have demonstrated outstanding inclusion of USBLN-certified disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service disabled veterans. IBM has a proven commitment to disability business inclusion in their supply chain processes and corporate supplier diversity programs.

"IBM has a long history of diversity and it remains a foundation of our business," said Dan Carrell, Vice President, Operations and Client Services Procurement, IBM. "That commitment extends to IBM's suppliers, where we look for those who can provide value regardless of race, gender or disability."

Wells Fargo & Company took home the inaugural Marketplace Innovator Award of the Year, Disability Inclusive Advertisement for its memorable commercial representing two emerging diversity market segments engaged in a common human goal - to have a family. The commercial reflects the company's leadership in creating a marketing campaign that embraces the business value of a diverse market, including the disability market.

"I was extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of Wells Fargo and our 265,000 team members in the U.S. and around the world," said Kathy Martinez, Wells Fargo People with Disabilities Market Segment and Strategy Manager. "Much like the USBLN, diversity and inclusion is foundational to who we are as a company. Our support of the disability and the LGBT communities aligns with our broader commitment to diversity -to serve diverse customers, to hire, develop and retain diverse team members and to encourage team members to value and respect each other for their differences." 

The Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Product Development award was given to AT&T for their development work on Real Time Text (RTT) that allows both users to send and receive text and voice at the same time. The ground-breaking technology that follows universal design principles will be available commercially in 2017. It will greatly enhance opportunities for individuals with disabilities to advance in their careers and to enrich their personal lives.

"Real Time Text has been a great collaboration between individuals with different skills and outlooks from across AT&T - and even outside the company," said Aaron Bangor, PH.D. CHFP, AT&T Corporate Accessibility Technology Office. "Committing to disability inclusion throughout the design process draws out our creativity and ingenuity and helps us to deliver better products and services for our customers - and for society in general, and RTT is one of the resulting technologies."

 

The 2015 USBLN Employer of the Year Award was awarded to Microsoft. Microsoft is internationally recognized for exemplary policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measurable results in the areas of disability inclusiveness in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain. The disability inclusion work Microsoft is doing is significant to the disability inclusion community and truly moving the needle in this space.

"We are so humbled and inspired by this recognition. Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more and our journey with disability inclusion embodies that mission. We're proud of programs like the Autism Hiring Pilot, and Disability Answer Desk, as well as our partnership with organizations like Special Olympics. We look forward to continuing our journey to empower people of all abilities," said Mary Ellen Smith, corporate vice president, Microsoft Operations.

Additional highlights include the John D. Kemp Leadership Award, which is presented to an individual who has developed or influenced the development of significant company disability employment programs and services that result in measurable, tangible and positive outcomes, dramatically improving disability employment opportunities.

Oswald "Oz" Mondejar has dedicated his life to unlocking opportunities for people with disabilities, and to overcoming societal barriers based upon ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation and health status. "Oz" Mondejar, Senior Vice President, Mission and Advocacy, Partners Continuing Care, Inc. ("PCC"), the non-acute care services division of Partners HealthCare. Oz works at the intersection of policy, advocacy and media, defining PCC's core values and leveraging the organization's resources in order to maximize positive social impact - locally, nationally and internationally. He is responsible for mission integration and administrative operations across three divisions: Human Resources, Marketing Communications, and Community Relations including Adaptive Sports.  

Prior to joining Partners HealthCare in 2001, Oz led the New England Region recruitment program for the Social Security Administration and worked as a human resources executive in a number of different industries including manufacturing, hospitality and finance.  

"For me to receive the John D Kemp award is really one of the most meaningful I could ever ask for," said Oz Mondejar, Senior Vice President, Mission and Advocacy, Partners Continuing Care, Inc. "The USBLN is really the bridge between business and an untapped talent pool. My focus throughout my career has been to work with others in both the public and private sectors to break down those real and perceived barriers to see that hiring persons with disabilities is more than a 'good thing to do' it truly is good business. I'm so proud to accept this from an organization that understands that."

Also, 4 Wheel City, anentertainment organization started by Namel "Tapwaterz" Norris and Ricardo "Rickfire" Velasquez who are two talented hip-hop artists, motivational speakers and are wheelchair users due to gun violence provided entertainment. Their mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for people with disabilities and inspire people not to give up in life.

As a surprise to the award winners, they each received an airline voucher from conference airline partner, Southwest Airlines to fly anywhere in the domestic United States.

"We are thrilled to honor these amazing companies and individuals for the work they are doing in the disability inclusion space," said Jill Houghton, executive director, USBLN. "We are grateful for their partnership and it's a fantastic way to kick off Disability Employment Awareness Month."

The sold out conference concluded Oct. 1.

 

Chapman University has announced plans to create a new institute for the research of Disability and Autism thanks to a $3 million donation for the William S. and Nancy E. Thompson Foundation. The goal is to both educate policy and decision makers and improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families.

The Thompson Policy Institute’s headquarters will be in Reeves Hall on Chapman University’s campus in Orange. The initial staff will consist of four people along with several select expert consultants.

The institute has already scheduled and event to discuss the state of disability in Orange County. It is open to the public and will be held on May 3, 2016 in Chapman University’s new Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts.  

For more information check the TPI website

The science of touch is helping scholars from around the world develop new technology that will improve access for people with disabilities. Many of these haptic devises were on display at Northwestern University’s recent Haptics Conference. Among the new innovations are:

  • Playing music with the touch of a finger
  • Experiencing in-game gravity with a special stylus
  • TPAD – a sensory phone that allows the user to feel texture

Read more on the abc Eywitness News webpage. 

The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) is focused on helping accessibility professionals develop and advance their careers and to help organizations integrate accessibility into their products and infrastructure. One way you can further build your accessibility skills and strategies is to take advantage of the IAAP Webinar Series. IAAP webinars are offered on a monthly basis on a variety of topics.

Kathy Wahlbin of Interactive Accessibility will be presenting the next IAAP webinar, Mobile Accessibility on the Move on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. By attending this webinar you will learn how managers, designers, user experience, developers and testers can make mobile content more accessible. This webinar is open to anyone looking to develop their mobile accessibility knowledge and skills. By the end of this webinar you will understand mobile accessibility and be able to make more accessible mobile content.

To register for Mobile Accessibility on the Move, visit the IAAP Webinar Registration. I look forward to discussing and sharing ideas with you about mobile accessibility. If you have any questions you may contact Kathy at kathyw@ia11y.com.

The fourth annual Awards for Advancement in Accessibility recognize innovation and achievement in communications technology that benefits people with disabilities. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the winners:

  • Blind Square won in the category of Augmented Reality with an iOS app that helps blind travelers navigate routes, discover points of interest and network with friends with mutual interests.
  • Google’s no CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA won in the category of CAPTCHA Alternatives and eliminates the need for users to type characters or content of audio clips into a box. The new service provides website security through a risk analysis of the user’s behavior.
  • Convo Lights won in the category of Internet of Things with a VRS application that leverages recent advancements in consumer lighting technology to enable users to customize visual and incoming call notifications to trigger multiple colors, locations and types of lighting in the user’s home and office.
  • Beam Messenger won in the category of Real-Time Text with and app that allows users to communicate seamlessly with text messages on mobile devises. Instead of the traditional turn-based texting this real-time method allows user to come in at any point in the conversation without waiting for the other person to send.
  • AT&T Video Meeting with BlueJeans won in the category of Teleconferencing with a video conferencing solution that extend video collaboration to smartphone, tablet and laptop users and supports a range of mobile clients and platforms, which includes iOS and Android. The service now supports more customers including those with disabilities.
  • Comcast’s Talking Guide won in the category of Video Description with Voice Guidance on the X1 Entertainment Operating System that “speaks” the on-screen user interface allowing users who are blind or visually impaired to navigate the system.
  • OpenAIR, by Knowbility won in the miscellaneous category for their Accessible Internet Rally (AIR) competition that encourages developers to learn about web accessibility and build a prototype website for a nonprofit organization.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is hosting a live Twitter chat on Thursday, April 2nd from 1:00 – 2:00 pm (EDT). The chat will be an opportunity for those concerned to discuss the impact of technology on federal workers who have disabilities.

Everyone is encourage to participate including federal employees and the public. Questions and comments regarding common technological issues that people with disabilities experience in the federal workforce as they relate to section 508, can be submitted using hashtag #5084FEDs.

EEOC will conduct the chat using the Office of Federal Operation (OFO) official Twitter handle @EEOC_OFO. Chai Feldblum, EEOC Commissioner, will use her personal handle @chaifeldblum.

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) officially launched America's Disability Rights Museum on Wheels, the country's first disability rights mobile museum. In launching the museum, the USBLN also announced that Wells Fargo has agreed to be the Presenting Partner of America's Disability Rights Museum on Wheels. The USBLN is also pleased to announce that Cox Communications has inked the first Tour Partner slot.

America's Disability Rights Museum on Wheels (DRMW), an accessible self-contained motor vehicle, features interactive learning opportunities and emerging technologies. The mobile museum will kick off its cross-country tour in June 2015 near Wells Fargo corporate offices in the heart of Charlotte, NC. The museum will then travel to Atlanta, corporate headquarters of Cox Communications.

"At Wells Fargo, we are committed to serving customers and team members with disabilities, and we are proud to announce our support for this museum. As a Presenting Partner, we are honored to be part of this historic occasion to celebrate the legacy of the disability rights movement," said Kathy Martinez, People with Disabilities Segment Manager, Wells Fargo & Company.

"We are excited about the opportunity to connect and educate our employees, customers and community about the importance of inclusion," said Lissiah Hundley, Executive Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Cox Communications. "The Disability Rights Museum on Wheels has a great story to tell about the history of the ADA as well as its present and future impact."

"We are also thrilled to announce our collaborative partnership with the ADA Legacy Project," said Jill Houghton, Executive Director of the USBLN. The ADA's relatively quick passage was greatly facilitated by an unprecedented grass roots movement throughout the country. "The ADA Legacy Project and Tour pays tribute to the cross-disability movement that led to the passage of the ADA."

The DRMW museum provides a unique opportunity to learn the fascinating history of the disability rights movement. It presents an eye-catching exhibit that invites the visitor to participate in hands-on learning about the disability civil rights movement and the technological innovation as a result of the ADA. The mobile museum is a striking centerpiece for hosting internal and/or external events and museum tours between the dates of June 2015 and July 2016.

Together, the ADA25 Legacy Project and America's Disability Rights Museum on Wheels are aligning communities with a vision that bridges the legacy of the ADA and the next 25 years.

Specifically, the DRMW is designed to help local communities:

  • Understand that the ADA is a Civil Rights law
  • Engage youth in interactive learning experiences
  • Educate the public on the history of human rights violations and the community engagement that led up to the passage of the ADA
  • Promote public awareness through social media, filmed interviews and stories with members of the disability and business community
  • Discover the possibilities during the next 25 years through experiencing innovative and connective technologies
  • Provide business, education, government, and communities with tools for promoting full inclusion within their organizations

For more information about sponsoring the DRMW, please contact Liz Taub at liz@usbln.org.

 

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) is pleased to announce the appointment of David L. Casey, VP, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health; Regina Edwards, Senior Vice President, Corporate Supplier Diversity, Wells Fargo & Company; and David L. Gonzales, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Merck & Co. to their Board of Directors.

The full USBLN Board of Directors went on to newly elect Steve Pemberton, Chief Diversity Officer and Divisional Vice-President, Walgreens as Chair and Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader, Americas People Team, EY, as Secretary/Treasurer. Returning to the Board in her incumbent seat is Preety Kumar, President and CEO, Deque Systems Inc. elected to serve as Vice-Chair.

"We are pleased to announce our 2015 Board of Directors and Officers and greatly value their collective insight. Each of our Directors brings a strong background and overall business acumen that significantly supports the USBLN's strategic growth. I'm confident that this Board will help us build upon its many accomplishments and further enhance disability inclusion across the enterprise," shared Jill Houghton, USBLN Executive Director.

The USBLN Board of Directors is comprised of the following additional members: Ann Andreosatos, VP Human Resources, New Chapter Inc. (Procter & Gamble); Carolynn Brooks, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, OfficeMax, President, OfficeMax Charitable Foundation (formerly); Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Senior Director, Trusted Experience Team (TExT), Microsoft.; Apoorva N. Gandhi, Vice President, Multicultural Affairs Marriott International, Inc.; Susan Palmer Mazrui, Director, Global Public Policy AT&T Services Inc.; Gloria Pualani, Corporate Director, Socio-Economic Business Programs/Government Relations, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, Corporate Center Diversity Affairs Director, Nordstrom, Inc.; and Keith P. Wiedenkeller, SPHR, Board Chair, SVP & Chief People Officer, American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (retired), Immediate Past Chair.

The three Ex Officio Board members are Christine Moranda, LSW, CDMS, Manager, Disability Services OhioHealth, Associate Health and Wellness and Ohio BLN; Matthew Shapiro, Chair, USBLN Student Advisory Council, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Robert (Bob) J. Vetere, Senior Workplace Accommodation Specialist, Global Corporate Responsibility, Northrop Grumman and Chair, USBLN Corporate Advisory Board. These members provide important representation of their respective USBLN advisory groups, the Student Advisory Council, the BLN Affiliates, and the Corporate Advisory Board.

For more information on the USBLN Board of Directors.

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