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The A in DEIA: Accessibility
From:
Kathryn Troutman - Federal Career Coach(r) Kathryn Troutman - Federal Career Coach(r)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Baltimore, MD
Monday, January 8, 2024

 

Potomac, Maryland, January. 8, 2023

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

About the Author: Dr. Peter Joseph Campion is a former NFL draft pick with a terminal degree from a research one academic institution. He has extensive collegiate teaching and research experience.  Dr. Campion began his journey in federal service in 2021 at the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Institute (DEOMI) as a Training Specialist.  He currently serves as a Management Initiatives Program Manager at the Department of the Interior (DOI) – Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) – Equal Employment Opportunity Directive (EEOD).  Dr. Campion’s primary tasks include managing education and training for the BSEE EEOD and managing disability programming for the BSEE.

I would like to acknowledge my friends Sid Sharma and Zoey Woolridge for their amazing work. This blog was formed out of our collaboration to increase accessibility.

The A in DEIA: Accessibility
By Dr. Peter Joseph Campion

The purpose of this post is to shed light on accessibility, the A in DEIA. My first objective is to decrease the stigma around individuals with disabilities. My second objective is to increase understanding of why accessibility is essential to inclusion. My last goal is to increase knowledge of the steps to ensure accessible online meetings.

My Story

I had many great people help me become an NFL draft pick. I was also extremely fortunate to sign four free-agent contracts. When football ended for me, I went through post-career medical evaluations, and doctors found evidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) from multiple concussions. These were undiagnosed and untreated. I struggled at this time. I felt awful. My identity was gone. In addition to the TBI, I had to deal with multiple orthopedic issues that had built up over the years from bouncing around the NFL. I went from an extreme high to an extreme low and hit bottom.

I had to start over. I returned to North Dakota State University (NDSU) to earn my undergraduate degree and found a new path. I started using reasonable accommodations (RA) and assistive technologies (AT). I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and started teaching and conducting research.

Given my new reality, I also learned how to prepare myself for cognitive work. I have learned to set a consistent schedule, and I get at least eight hours of sleep daily. I am outside in nature every day. I work out intensely every day before I have been awake for an hour. I do many other things, such as daily performance enhancement measures, meditation, and journaling.

I evolved at the University of Minnesota (UMN). I continued to make use of the same accommodations I had relied on at NDSU as a student and employee. I also started developing self-accommodations. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I stopped caring what other people thought about me. I became more open to sharing my disabilities.

This evolution led to increased confidence and success. I earned the trust of the leadership at UMN. I continued to teach and was given assignments at higher levels. I conducted highly sensitive research and developed education and training programs. I earned a doctorate, and I was recruited by the Department of Defense (DOD) through the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP).

I continued to grow at the DOD while working for the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI). I continued to use all the same accommodations I had used while working in higher education. I continued to teach. I took what I had learned and developed highly sensitive education and training programming. I earned the trust of the leadership at DEOMI. Again, MOST IMPORTANTLY, I noticed many others with similar disabilities thriving at DEOMI and the DOD.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) HR found my resume, and I was hired under Schedule A. I am still utilizing all the same accommodations. However, for the most part, I am self-accommodating.

Decreasing Stigma Around Individuals with Disabilities

You might be asking yourself, what does all this information have to do with accessibility? I use a screen reader, and if an online meeting is not accessible, it takes me a lot longer to do my job because I must make the material accessible. I am one of the people who appreciates it when folks send slides out ahead of time. I am one of the people who appreciates when you describe your slides during an online meeting. We are all busy, and making things accessible takes time. When you take the time to make things accessible, you are helping people like me.

Ensuring Accessibility Before a Meeting

First, please try to know the participants to the extent you can. However, you will not necessarily know or may only assume that folks may benefit from enhanced accessibility. These enhancements can include ASL interpretation or closed captions.

  • Try to provide participants with a window of opportunity to request accommodations. This window may be a week, during which participants can send an email stating their requests to an address you have provided.
  • Try to list the potential accessibility practices that can be offered concerning a request. Such a list can help participants evaluate what may best help them experience the meeting fully.
  • Try to provide an accessible finalized agenda and meeting materials to participants in advance.
  • Prepare the meeting facilitators regarding accessibility. Brief them on the practices your session will follow. Explain not just the “what” but also the “why.” Offer the meeting presenters the opportunity to test their equipment and set up. Be sure to address lighting and sound. Make these checks well in advance of the meeting.

Ensuring Accessibility During A Meeting.

During the meeting, you will want to follow the practices the meeting facilitators were briefed on in advance. Let folks know about these protocols at the start of the meeting and follow through on enforcing the expectations. Consider pausing at planned times throughout the meeting for accessibility checks. Ask participants what is working and what needs attention. Be ready to adjust based on feedback.

  • Please ask all presenters to state their names and provide a verbal personal description at the start of the session. These descriptions may be prescribed. Ask for their name, office, position/role, and a short description of their connection to the meeting topic. Or, the descriptions may be personally unique.
  • Ask presenters to have their cameras on in well-lit environments with lighting that supports the ability of participants to read lips. Ask each person who speaks during the meeting to say their name clearly before contributing.
  • Ask all users of screen share to provide information on the items shared. Ask folks to verbally describe inclusions and provide information to direct participants to where to find the accessible copy in the meeting materials shared in advance.
  • Have agreed-upon times for participant questions and comments to be shared. Ensure any questions or comments expressed in the meeting chat are read aloud before they are addressed.

Ensuring Accessibility After a Meeting

Distribute accessible meeting minutes to participants within an established period after the meeting. Accept meeting-minute revisions via a communicated procedure. If the session was recorded, ensure its accessible outputs are shared promptly. Consider using the available support services to meet this need. Ask for feedback from participants on the accessibility and related processes. Act upon the feedback you receive to improve future meeting experiences.

Conclusion

I hope I have decreased stigma around individuals with disabilities, increased understanding of why accessibility is vital to inclusion, and described the steps necessary to ensure accessible online meetings.

See samples of Federal Resumes with specific accomplishments
in the Outline Format in the Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Ed.

Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Ed.

If you want to hire a consultant to review your resume, give you advice on improving the content, accomplishments and keywords, we provide this at Resume Place.

If you are an employment specialist or career counselor, you would like our Certified Federal Job Search Trainer® / Certified Federal Career Coach® program.

We teach our Ten Steps to a Federal Job® trainers and coaches on writing CCAR accomplishments for Federal Resume Writing, Interview Preparation and Annual Self-Assessments.

Kathryn Troutman is the Founder and President of Resume Place, Inc., a Federal Career Consulting business located in Baltimore, MD. Her firm specializes in writing and designing professional federal resumes, as well as consulting, coaching and education on the federal hiring process. She is the author of many best-selling federal career books, including the Federal Resume Guidebook, 7th Ed. See the books at https://resume-place.com/books/

Troutman is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable media guest, appearing on Beverly Jones’s Jazzed about Work on NPR’s WOUB, Carol Fishman Cohen’s 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch (Relaunching Your Career), Mark Miller’s Repurpose Your Career, and numerous times on Mike Causey’s Your Turn show on Federal News Network. Her business, The Resume Place, had been featured in The Washington Post. To hear interviews of this top federal jobs expert, click here.

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