Last week, I was invited to Direct Employers #DEAM14 national conference in Washington DC. I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the end of their three-day conference. Most of the conference was dedicated towards Section 503 – how federal contractors need to include recruiting people with disabilities and create an open employment environment for those to disclose their different-ability in 2014 and beyond.
As I was preparing for my talk I had the opportunity to sit in two plenary sessions. I find myself watching other people. I am amazed at how having a positive attitude – or maybe more appropriately – exhibiting a positive outlook such as a smile, handshake or being open to the ideas of others can increase your business opportunities. I noticed that those people who were engaged in the topic, smiling and discussing options with each other, were the ones that exchanged more business cards and created more connectivity for themselves.
This concept is especially important for people with disabilities seeking employment. In mentoring, I discuss with people with disabilities as well as corporations the importance of positive outlook. An individual without a chip on his shoulder, but with a smile on her face will have more opportunity for success. As a person with a disability you may feel like you have two strikes against yourself looking for an opportunity to land the perfect job, but with a positive outlook about oneself or about the potential job/career you will have a better path toward success.
I’ve spent the better part of the past six years creating a mentor network for people with disabilities. One commonality amongst all of us is our positive outlook. Positive about ourselves as well as those around us.
In the next few years, our services will grow. Our mission with Our Ability will continue. We will connect with and mentor people with disabilities. We will work with companies in helping them facilitate a positive dialogue around ability. We see our role expanding as consultants being able to facilitate one-on-one mentor, small group coaching or large organizational change. We believe our positive outlook as people with disabilities benefits large corporations in changing their interpersonal dynamics to create a better workplace solution.
It all starts with a smile, handshake and interest in the other individual.
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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.
These adjustments are compatible with all popular screen readers, including JAWS and NVDA.
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