Notes from the Disability Matters 2016 conference

The Disability Matters conference helps companies increase their employee diversity by building an accessible workplace and hiring more people with disabilities. The following are some of the notes I took during this event. Many were also shared on my Twitter feed.


Goldman Sachs provides an 8 week immersion training program for veterans.

Veterans need challenges and goals to be retained. Military training emphasizes quick learning and ladders to professional growth. This needs to be incorporated into the private industry as well.

Coke committed to hiring 800 veterans in 2015 and hit 2,000 with a retention rate of 96%

Hypersensitivity and anxiety usually go hand-in-hand. Learn about symptoms and options: Hypersensitivity: Veterans’ Families United

Female veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Homeless Veterans, US Department of Veterans Affairs

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common disability for US Veterans.

Drop the D from PTSD, as not everyone that has issues with Post Traumatic Stress has a disorder. The new term is simply PTS. The Disappearing “Disorder”: Why PTSD is becoming PTS

Aging Population

10,000 people turn 65 every day in the US:

Mental Health

299 diagnosis in DSM5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system.

Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are most common mental health issues within the workplace.

MadPride: events to spotlight mental health and raise self confidence.

Open seating workplaces can negatively affect those with mental health issues, especially ADD, anxiety, and those who need more personal space and time. How do we provide accommodations for those that are unable to work effectively in an open space office?

Employment Process

How do we request individuals to self-identify a disability? Is there a description of non-discrimination?

A careers web site should provide information on a company’s diversity and inclusion policy, the definition of disability, and non-discrimination policy.  It would also be nice to add a text area to allow the individual to specify any assistance they will need during the interview process.

Companies need a mechanism to track requests for accommodation. This includes not only official requests to ergo or HR, but also if someone asks a manager for a glare screen, more flexibility in work schedule, etc. We should keep track of our positive efforts, even if they are adhoc.

Employee Networks

ATT’s Corporate Accessible Technology Org is working for employees, customers, and communities:

Customer outreach

Nike FlyEase started as a project to help the company’s “first employee” who suffered a stroke and was no longer able to tie his shoes. This expanded when a teenager wrote about wanting to be independent at college and not being able to tie his shoes due to CP. The shoe line now includes all sizes and colors for men, women, and children.

Fifth Third Bank‘s Stand Up To Cancer project was started by their employee network. It started with a donation when anyone created a new account and now includes a special debit/credit card that donates a portion of purchases.

AMPOWER 2015 Women’s Retreat For recent amputees and prosthetic rehabilitation was created by Hanger Inc, which builds prosthetics and wanted to create an opportunity for women with recent amputations to feel empowered.

Many companies are adding persons with a disability to raise awareness and tap into the huge market of PWDs. This commercial by Kleenex focuses on a paralyzed dog that was adopted by a man who uses a wheelchair:

Wells Fargo worked with Freedom Scientific to install a simplified version of JAWS on their store kiosks (.ppt).

Published by Ted

Accessibility is more than making sure images have alternate text. I work with engineers, product managers, and designers to understand how accessibility impacts the users, set realistic deadlines, and create the solutions to provide a delightful experience to all users, regardless of their physical, sensory, or cognitive ability.

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