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Intelligence Community Leaders Want to Boost IT Accessibility for Disabled Workers

IT accessibility

Intelligence Community Leaders Want to Boost IT Accessibility for Disabled Workers

Intelligence community IT leaders are asking technology vendors to take accessibility seriously when developing products for spy agencies.

Jennifer Kron, the deputy chief information officer of the National Security Agency, said during the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System conference in Texas on Dec. 15 that around 25 percent of the U.S. workforce may be considered as having some form of disability. She shared that addressing accessibility issues is key to achieving inclusivity and diversity in the workforce, as well as maintaining good workforce retention figures and bringing out the best in employees.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires government agencies to use information and communications technologies that provide accessibility features for people with disabilities. However, agencies that use classified systems are exempted, Federal News Network reported.

Despite the exemption, Kron said the NSA will comply with Section 508 and that other IC components are behind the agency’s decision.

Doug Cossa, the CIO of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said during the same event the agency has led the development of IT accessibility standards for the IC. According to Cossa, thousands of deficiencies were found with the IC’s technologies, suggesting that accessibility was not a main focus for developers.

A 2017 study from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence suggested that technology continues to be a hurdle for disabled employees within the IC. According to the paper, factors such as complicated technologies and slow updates either prevent disabled employees from doing their jobs or from securing a higher position.

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Category: Defense and Intelligence

Tags: accessibility Defense and Intelligence Defense Intelligence Agency Doug Cossa Federal News Network information technology Jennifer Kron National Security Agency Rehabilitation Act