In this third edition of re:think magazine, we turn to issues of disability and accessibility and how they relate to inclusion and the creation of inclusive cultures.
Discussions of inclusion often focus on navigating “visible” differences between people, yet we must always be mindful of all the invisible identities people inhabit, and the importance of creating inclusive cultures across these identities. This is true in organizations as well as in our community at large, and governmental organizations are no exception.
In my dual roles as a member of NCWIT’s Board of Directors and as the CIO and Executive Director in the Governor of Colorado’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), I think a lot about how to ensure that the state’s digital platforms are inclusive and accessible for all Coloradans. The State of Colorado ranks in the top 10 nationally for customer experience, according to a digital government study, and it continues to be a leader in delivering innovative services to residents. But if you are among the 20% of Coloradans with a disability, navigating state government services can be challenging.
This work takes time, energy, and investment, but we are here to serve all Coloradans and that’s exactly what we plan to do. As part of our journey, we are listening to Coloradans to understand the various ways with which they engage and consume government services. Our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Action Alliance is championing initiatives that address inequities in state systems. Our Technology Accessibility Program (TAP) is providing tools to improve the accessibility of state and local government websites and applications. And the Colorado Digital IDTM now has a disability identifier symbol for residents to indicate that they may be unable to effectively communicate with first responders and law enforcement due to neurological diversities, mental health disorders, sensory needs, chronic illness, or cognitive or physical disabilities.
I am proud of the work we are doing at OIT to make state government easy and equitable. As technologists it is incumbent upon us to think differently about how we deliver services and ensure that accessibility is part of the design process. It’s not only the mark of good technology; it’s simply the right thing to do.
As you read the articles in this magazine, I invite you to join us and NCWIT in this journey and do your part in creating cultures that are inclusive for all.
Anthony Neal-Graves, Governor’s Office of Information Technology Chief Information Officer & Executive Director and NCWIT Board Member
The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) is the farthest-reaching network of change leaders focused on advancing innovation by correcting underrepresentation in computing.