By Alexandria SollerOctober 9, 2018
Market trends and innovation are behind Tobyhanna Army Depot's initiatives to drive positive change and enable a more inclusive environment for personnel with disabilities.
Any employee who creates or publishes information, whether it is on the depot's network or for local use, must ensure the content is compliant with the laws requiring federal agencies to make information accessible to people with disabilities.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 paved the way for equal employment opportunities on the basis of disabilities, long before technology began to present a challenge. In 1998, Section 508 of the act was introduced, requiring that all electronic and information technology used by Federal agencies be usable by individuals with disabilities. Tobyhanna professionals work every day to stay 508 compliant, overcome unexpected hurdles and spread awareness of the process' importance.
Paulette Vadovsky, the depot's Section 508 coordinator said, "As the newest member of the 508 team, my goal is to build awareness and support of Tobyhanna's Section 508 Program."
To ensure personnel have the skills needed to verify and comply with 508 accessibility, Vadovsky works with a team of subject matter experts to establish training programs, form user groups and define roles and responsibilities that will help develop employee participation in the program.
The main goal is to educate the entire workforce on what 508 compliance is, why it is important and where Tobyhanna is headed. Vadovsky is in the process of building a 508 compliance governance program within the installation with assistance from external agencies. An upcoming site visit is scheduled with 508 subject matter experts that will help the depot develop a path forward and define the objectives and resources needed to establish a 508 compliance team and program.
According to Craig Washo, a training administrator at the depot, 180 employees across the installation have attended 508 Compliance training thus far. Currently, a path forward for future training is in the works.
John Sutkowsky, Depot Chief of Tobyhanna's Equal Employment Opportunity Office, expressed, "We want the workforce to have an attitude that their work is so awesome that they want everyone and anyone to be able to use it."
Depot officials have high hopes for a greater availability of courses to fuel their 508 compliance initiatives in the future.
Paving the way for compliance norms has been a learning experience, but there are high hopes that others will be able to benchmark advances made by Tobyhanna subject matter experts in their pursuit of 508 compliance.