By Guest Blogger Paul Lloyd, Education & 508 Service Area Manager, USDA TARGET Center
For the past several years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) TARGET Center has been using interactive online technologies and techniques (Web 2.0) to educate people about the impact of accessibility and ergonomics in the workplace through its TARGET Discovery Series webinars.
These educational webinars are posted online twice a month and provide an introduction to various topics and technologies related to accessibility for people with disabilities. The webinars can be accessed from any computer that can run Adobe Flash Player. Now, thanks to the official USDA blog and USDA YouTube page, the TARGET Center has found new ways to reach its visitors.
The new TARGET Center Blog is available by visiting http://blogs.usda.gov/tag/target-center/. (Visitors can also access the blog by clicking on the link on the TARGET Center home page.) TARGET team members and occasional guest bloggers will post about TARGET programs and events, and topics related to our programs.
Through our Profiles in Technology video series, we will share stories from individuals that demonstrate how technology has impacted them in the workplace. Through these stories, we hope our website visitors will see how individuals with disabilities can achieve the same level of success in the workplace as everyone else. New videos will be posted on the blog, and will also be available on the USDA YouTube page.
The TARGET Discovery Series started in 2008 as a live, in-person training series with the goal of being more inclusive through simplified training topics. Soon, the sessions were moved to an online system, so that people across the country could participate. At the same time, recordings were archived, giving website visitors the ability to view the sessions whenever they wished. The archived sessions soon proved to be even more popular than the live ones. For this reason, TARGET now almost exclusively pre-records content and posts directly to the archives. While the coverage of topics has been vast, several sessions have been particularly popular, including:
Discover how Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act enables universal access to electronic information. Learn how 508 relates to procurement, IT management, web development, user applications and much more. This online session is presented in partnership with the Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP).
This webinar highlights the accessibility capabilities of various smartphones, including out-of-the-box functionality, assistive technology software and useful Apps. Smartphones discussed include Blackberry, iPhone, Android, Nokia and more.
In recognition of the recent Executive Order related to employment of people with disabilities, we highlight this popular Discovery Series from January13th, 2010. Learn about the technology, organizations, hiring authorities and best practices that enable the employment and advancement of people with disabilities – one of the biggest untapped resources in today’s federal and private workplace.
Learn how to develop emergency evacuation and shelter in place plans that take into account the needs of all individuals. Anyone can develop a new disability during an emergency. Find out ways to create and improve plans and procedures that truly fit everyone.
Learn about the variety of programs and services that you can use to caption your YouTube videos. These include free online tools, software that you can purchase and service providers that you can hire to do the job for you.
Through the Discovery Series, blog and video series, the TARGET Center hopes to encourage employers to feel confident in hiring people with disabilities and to demonstrate that with knowledge, technology and open minds, we can create a universal work environment that provides the best opportunities for employees and organizations/businesses. In fact, one of our recent Discovery Series sessions - Discover Diversity by Design – was on this very topic. We encourage you to utilize these free resources to further your understanding and as always, we welcome any feedback at email@example.com.
Paul Lloyd is the Education & 508 Service Area Manager for the USDA's TARGET Center.