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Increasing Access to Information Technology Subcontract with the Great Plains ADA & IT Center, University of Missouri

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Since 2001 the LSI at Parsons has subcontracted with the Great Plains ADA & IT Center to increase access to information technology (IT) for persons with disabilities. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research funds a network of 10 ADA and IT Centers, formerly called Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs). The Great Plains region consists of the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. For the first three years of this project the efforts of the project staff were focused in Kansas, but in October 2004 the Parsons staff assumed the coordination of IT activities for the entire region.

Project staff provide information, referral, training, and technical assistance to policy makers, businesses, educators, and disability advocates with the goal of making all information technology accessible to individuals with disabilities. Project staff have played a key role in developing and implementing a policy requiring that Kansas state agency websites meet accessibility standards, and continue to serve on the State of Kansas Web Accessibility Committee.

Staff have also worked as part of a national effort to increase the accessibility of information technology in education, including K-12 and post-secondary education settings. The project has provided considerable training to groups involved with educational technology. One of the current goals of the ADA & IT Center network is to enhance the accessibility of community college websites. In an effort the reach this goal, the KUCDD has sponsored two webcasts in 2005 to train community college web developers in accessibility awareness and techniques. The webcasts have reached over 200 trainees from 35 states and two other countries.

Project staff also play a major role at the National ADA Symposium and Expo, a conference supported by the entire network of ADA & IT Centers. This event, held annually in the Kansas City area, brings together architects, attorneys, business leaders, city and county officials, disability advocates, educators, and service providers to hear presenters that include representatives of the federal agencies that oversee disability rights laws, including the Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the U.S. Access Board.

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