NCD Letter to Director of National Governors Association "NGA Future" Initiative

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October 16, 2017

Timothy Blute
Director, NGA Future
National Governors Association
444 N. Capitol St. NW. #267
Washington DC 20001

Dear Mr. Blute,

I write to you on behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD)--an independent, nonpartisan federal agency charged with providing advice to Congress, the President, and other federal agencies on issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities--to continue the conversation we started during NGA's Future Twitter chat and request a meeting to discuss how NCD can assist NGA Future in its mission to provide governors with insights into emerging technological trends and bring together leading practitioners and thinkers on topics around economics, innovation and technology to inform discussion and debate on these critical issues.

NCD prides itself on its collaborative efforts to bring the proper balance of agencies and public industry to the table to ensure that whatever the subject matter, persons with disabilities are represented and their unique needs are included in the conversation. We have been coordinating with public and private industry for over 30 years as an advisor for the disability community. These collaborative efforts have resulted in reports and roundtable discussions on a myriad of subjects (See NCD.gov for a complete library of NCD publications). NCD is excited to assist NGA Future to ensure that any technologies implemented are accessible to all.

Technology is embedded in our daily life and for a person with a disability technology can be a blessing or a curse. For someone who relies upon assistive technology for access it is imperative that all technology is compatible and interoperable with each other. For example, one of the topics stated on NGA Future’s website is an interest in automation’s impact on the future of the labor force. With more states moving towards automation another concern should be automation’s impact on people with disabilities and the aging workforce. Any technology implemented should be accessible to ensure that the aging workforce and people with disabilities, those who depend on assistive technology, may contribute and continue to be a valuable resource. In a society where we have become reliant on technology to complete routine daily tasks it is important to understand that lack of access and interoperability for people with disabilities equates to a loss of independence and self-reliance.

NCD has issued multiple reports and recommendations over the years to help improve access to technology for persons with disabilities. The most recent report was NCD’s 2016 Progress Report in which we illustrated the potential technology holds to transform how people with disabilities experience the opportunities of citizenship in our society. We recommended States establish and implement procurement criteria and procedures that ensure the acquisition of accessible technology, and ensure the technology used by job candidates and employees is accessible to people with disabilities. These recommendations came from specific issues that people in the disability community continue to encounter at the State level. The overarching theme of the 2016 Progress Report was the need for a Technology Bill of Rights to clarify how existing federal legislation applies to ICT and assistive technology. NCD is currently drafting a “Principles of Technology Accessibility” document in response to that recommendation.

We look forward to meeting with you to discuss how NCD can assist NGA Future to ensure that any technologies implemented by the states is accessible to all. Please contact Amy Nicholas, Attorney Advisor, at anicholas@ncd.gov to discuss in further detail. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Clyde Terry
Chairperson