Creating an inclusive workplace

A recent Gartner, Inc. report[1] predicts that "by 2015, 50 percent of organizations will have technology projects underway that support enablement of disabled people in the workplace."

According to the report, U.S. government regulations, such as the new Section 503 hiring goals for federal contractors by the the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), will require IT leaders to consider how IT infrastructure can help promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities (PwDs).

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits employers from discriminating in hiring against PwDs and strengthens the affirmative action provisions of the regulations by requiring employers to improve job opportunities for PWDs.

Most importantly, the new OFCCP Section 503 regulation establishes, for the first time, that federal contractors take more than a good faith effort in recruiting and hiring PwDs. Under the new regulation, they need to meet a seven percent hiring and utilization goal for qualified PwDs and must also document and update annually several quantitative comparisons, such as the number of PwDs who apply for jobs and the number hired, and maintain records for three years to allow the OFCCP to review for compliance.

To help organizations support regulations under Section 503 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), IBM offers Accessible Workplace Connection, a web-based, global accommodation management solution that provides employees and their managers a streamlined process of requesting reasonable accommodations – assistive technologies or accessibility services – in order to be more productive in their jobs.

Accessible Workplace Connection helps address the ADA by ensuring proper accommodations are delivered, changed, supported and maintained, creating a more inclusive workplace for individuals to advance and contribute. In addition, it helps federal contractors with Section 503 by ensuring employers who hire PwDs have a workplace where all employees can be productive.

IBM is actively involved in ever-changing government policies and regulations and offers accessibility solutions and services to enhance a business process, employee system or customer-facing application to assist organizations in meeting accessibility compliance.

[1]"What IT Leaders Need to Know About New Rules and Opportunities When Hiring People With Disabilities," March 10, 2014 (Andrew Johnson)

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