Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center (ITTATC)
Advances in the electronic and information technology (E&IT) industries have revolutionized the way we work, play and communicate. Current and emerging technologies have created opportunities for some but barriers for others in our society. To address the barriers faced by people with disabilities, landmark legislation - Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act - was passed stating that Federal departments and agencies would work through their procurement and development processes to ensure equal access to E&IT-based information and services for their employees and members of the public with disabilities.
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Under Section 508, Federal agencies must provide employees with disabilities and members of the public access to this technology that is comparable to the access available to others. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals (1998 Amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 2000).
To address the barriers and broaden the opportunities, in November 2000, the Georgia Institute of Technology's Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) received a five-year funding award from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education (cooperative agreement #H133A000405 to establish the national Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center (ITTATC).
ITTATC promotes the development of accessible electronic and information technology products and services related to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act by providing information, training and technical assistance to industry, trainers, state officials and consumers.
The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center (LHPDC) is a collaborating partner in this project charged with focusing on state information technology accessibility initiatives. In this capacity, the LHPDC leads the State IT Initiatives Workgroup, which is a workgroup of ITTATC.
The overall goal of the State IT Initiatives Workgroup is to improve electronic and information technology (E&IT) accessibility at a state level online, in places where employees of state government work, and in places of public access. Places of public access include information kiosks of state government, public libraries, One-Stop centers of the Workforce Development System, and state-funded computer labs.
The objective of the State IT Initiatives Workgroup is not to monitor compliance with Section 508 at a state level, but rather to increase understanding, build capacity, inform, and transfer knowledge about promising state IT accessibility policies and practices related to: state operated or funded web sites, application development, and places of public access.
To meet this objective, the Workgroup, with collaborating state stakeholders, will:
- develop information materials targeted to the knowledge utilization needs of the targeted state stakeholder audiences;
- develop training materials and conduct trainings customized to the needs of the targeted audiences;
- develop and maintain an online database that provides current information on state IT accessibility initiatives with links to state specific policies and guidelines; and
- identify knowledge experts available to assist state stakeholder audiences with training and technical assistance activities.
The Workgroup has created three subcommittees to respond to the three areas of need identified as priorities in the state needs assessment process. The three subcommittees are:
- Web Accessibility, Chair: Kathy Powers
- Application Development, Chair: Deborah Buck
- Places of Public Access, Chair: Diane Golden
Each subcommittee includes four to six volunteer leaders representing state AT projects, CIO offices and PO staff.