FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2014
White House Honors Disability Employment “Champions of Change”
WASHINGTON, DC – On October 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM, the White House will honor local “Champions of Change” who are doing extraordinary work to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. These Champions have distinguished themselves by making workplaces more accessible to strengthen the American economy. This event will showcase these incredible leaders and their significant contributions to their communities. The program will feature U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecelia Muñoz, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Jenny Yang, and other Senior Administration Officials.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live-streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live. You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #Champs4PwDs. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
David Bartage, Falmouth, ME
David Bartage is the Plant Finance Manager for Procter & Gamble’s (P&G’s) Tampax facility in Auburn, Maine. David helped develop accessible employment opportunities at the Auburn plant’s FlexiCenter, where 40% of employees are individuals with disabilities. Since the FlexiCenter’s inception, there has been an increase in customization productivity and workforce morale across the entire plant. What started as an interest has turned into a passion for helping others and spreading the word of sustainable employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
John Ficca, Tampa, FL
John Ficca is the Director of Hands On Educational Services. Prior to this role, John taught special education to public school students of all grade levels. In 1998, with the help of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation and the Florida Department of Education, he founded Hands On to assist adults with learning and physical disabilities so that they can lead more productive and successful lives. John even returned to school to learn American Sign Language so that he could better communicate with his students who are deaf. Hands On @ Hyatt has graduated over 1,500 adults with disabilities at 32 Hyatt Hotels all across the country.
Dan Hromas, York, NE
Dan Hromas is a self-employed farmer with his own organic egg business. Dan is a disabled military veteran, having last served in Iraq in 2007. In 2013, he started his farm, Prairie Pride Poultry, to support the growing local food movement, providing fresh eggs produced by free-range hens. While Dan has encountered his share of challenges, he now runs a very successful business. Dan has established a business relationship with the area grocery stores. Now, his problem is having enough eggs to meet his growing demand.
Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Mercer Island, WA
Jenny Lay-Flurrie is Senior Director at Microsoft leading the Trusted Experiences Team (TExT), which focuses on accessibility, privacy, and online safety. The Trusted Experiences Team is at the forefront of creating positive experiences that apply technology to make a difference in the world and the lives of individuals. Jenny is also the Chair of DisAbility@Microsoft, an employee resource group focused on “enabling people to be successful regardless of ability or disability.” With the help of her team and broad community within Microsoft, Jenny leads many initiatives to empower people with disabilities both in and out of Microsoft.
Angela Mackey, Pendergrass, GA
Angela Mackey is a Human Resources Generalist at the Walgreens Distribution Center in Pendergrass, Georgia. Angela was born with cerebral palsy, and she has dedicated her career to ensuring that individuals with disabilities have employment opportunities like she had. When she served as Career Outreach Coordinator at the Walgreens Distribution Center in Williamston, South Carolina, she helped develop a program that resulted in individuals with disabilities representing nearly half of the workforce. She has also worked to make her current distribution center accessible to individuals with disabilities; now, individuals with disabilities constitute roughly 25% of employees.
Alexandra McArthur, New York, NY
Alexandra McArthur is a Senior Associate Consultant with the Taproot Foundation’s Advisory Services Team. In that role, she helps corporations develop and implement high-quality pro-bono programs to meet pressing community needs. Before joining the Taproot Foundation, she was named Ms. Wheelchair America and spent a year dedicated to promoting national workplace inclusion. She has also served as co-chair of the Junior Board for Resources for Children with Special Needs. Alexandra is an advocate for, and example of, the importance of finding methods of inclusion and opportunity for people with disabilities, particularly in the workplace.
Oswald Mondejar, Boston, MA
Oswald “Oz” Mondejar is the Senior Vice President of Mission and Advocacy for Partners Continuing Care. Oz helped develop Working Partners, a first of its kind public-private partnership between Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Working Partners brings together government and community leaders to design policies that break down barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Previously, Oz led the New England Region recruitment program for the Social Security Administration and worked as a human resources executive in a number of industries, including manufacturing, hospitality and finance.
John Robinson, Glenmont, NY
John Robinson is Managing Partner and CEO of Our Ability, a company owned and operated by people with disabilities to support people with disabilities. John has made it his life’s work to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive equal employment benefits and opportunities. Over the past five years, Our Ability has worked with individuals, non-profits, and large corporations to facilitate better employment outcomes for those with disabilities. Now, John is helping build a unique web portal that will help individuals with disabilities find employment.
Jennifer Rojas, Temple, TX
Jennifer Rojas is the Inclusion Manager for McLane Company. She has been in that role since November 2013 and has spearheaded the company’s first diversity program, The Spark Initiative, which focuses on disability inclusion. The goal of the initiative is to increase disability awareness and expand employment opportunities to people with disabilities throughout McLane. Under Jennifer’s direction, McLane has increased disability inclusion by facilitating awareness training and developing partnerships with community organizations that support McLane’s goal of recruiting people and veterans with disabilities.
Tim Springer, San Francisco, CA
Tim Springer is the founder and CEO of SSB BART Group, a company with the vision of creating a world where all digital systems are accessible to people with disabilities. Under his leadership, SSB has provided digital accessibility compliance solutions for corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions. Tim views access to digital technology as a mechanism of empowering individuals with disabilities. He is dedicated to ensuring technology not only meets regulatory standards but also supports real-world use by individuals with disabilities. Today, nearly half of his company’s team of consultants are individuals with disabilities.
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To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level. These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.
This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.
Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML, adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.
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Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various different behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with screen-readers are able to read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements, alongside console screenshots of code examples:
Screen-reader optimization: we run a background process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website. In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels; descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups), and others. Additionally, the background process scans all of the website’s images and provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag for images that are not described. It will also extract texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology. To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on as soon as they enter the website.
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Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
We aim to support the widest array of browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. Therefore, we have worked very hard to be able to support all major systems that comprise over 95% of the user market share including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge, JAWS and NVDA (screen readers), both for Windows and for MAC users.
Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs, there may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating and improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility, following technological advancements. For any assistance, please reach out to