From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Federal Workers Reap Benefits of Assistive Technology

Over half of the United States’ federal employees could benefit from some sort of assistive technology in the workplace indicates a new study of federal computer users ages 18 to 64.

The study, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Forrester Research, found that 57 percent of computer users working for the federal government could benefit from either speech-recognition software, text readers or other similar technology. While the research noted that a large portion of the 57 percent did not list themselves as “disabled,” they still had problems with either vision, dexterity or hearing.

While the study is still underway, the completed phase sought to determine who could benefit from assistive technology. The next phase of the study will find out who is actually using assistive technology in the workplace.

Some federal agencies have been working ahead of the research and currently offer technology centers where employees can view and test available assistive technology. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) maintains a variety of special keyboards, mouse devices and other technology for users to try out. According to the commission’s chief computer training specialist, the technology is upgraded yearly to ensure employees are being offered the “latest and greatest” technology to assist them in their jobs. The Agriculture Department also offers Braille note takers, assistive listening devices, hardware and software and other ergonomic tools as part of its TARGET (Technology Accessible Resources Gives Employment Today) program.

Bruce McFarlane, director of the TARGET program told Federal Computer Week that two distinct types of workers benefit from these types of program. The first group, said McFarlane, consists of workers who have been disabled for some time and who already know that technology exists to help them be as productive as possible on the job; the second group consists of workers who have recently become disabled, either permanently or temporarily, and who aren’t always aware of available technological assistance. “They’re coming back to work, and they don’t have the slightest idea,” of the type of technology available to help them, McFarlane told the publication.

Also, said the publication, outreach efforts like those at the EEOC and the Agriculture Department are helping injured or disabled federal workers to return to work sooner.

Source: Federal Computer Week (