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Episode 30

Preparing Learners with Disabilities for the Workforce of Tomorrow

Brief description of the episode

When it comes to disability inclusion in the workforce there are still many challenges to overcome. Education is only a part of the equation. Adam Spencer, President & CEO of AbleDocs shares his expertise on how the education system can prepare learners with disabilities to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.

Key Takeaways:

  • The majority of the population looks at checklist compliance and thinks they’ve done their bit but true accessibility is not native to whatever the individual is going to interact with.
  • It’s leveraging the content and making it available to as many people as possible without providing a workaround. True accessibility is well beyond checkmarks and really gets into the nitty-gritty of usability and barrier-free access.
  • In the conversation about checklists, standards, and automated solutions for accessibility, we’ve always got to remember that there’s someone at the end of that document or someone at the end of that website that needs to interact with that content, and not just manipulate it in some way that’s going to work for us.
  • One of the biggest things that have happened is the ISO specification for PDF Accessibility—providing a definitive code as to what is accessible versus what isn’t. We’ve seen the same thing with website accessibility and WCAG.
  • The introduction of PDF UA (Universal Accessibility) from an international perspective at both levels from ISO and the W3C is a really fascinating way of pushing the standards forward.
  • One thing that stands out in the accessibility field is the cooperation between competitors. Everyone wants to make things better and the reality is there is so much content that’s created daily. Everyone is just wanting to solve for accessibility and make barrier-free access to content.
  • The focus in schools is more on the education curriculum than on preparing the students for the real world.
  • The support available outside the school environment is minimal as the workforce lacks the skill set to support an individual with different disabilities.
  • File formats like Epub are still widely used in institutions even though they aren’t used in a working environment making the transition difficult for people from one environment to another.
  • A disconnect is created between education and the workforce where the student may not have the skill set that they need to do their job and they also may not have the ability to elaborate on what they need to be successful in their job which then makes it difficult for people with disabilities to enter the workforce successfully at the level that that they deserve to have because of their knowledge base.

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