2022 Accessibility Technical Exchange Meeting

Presented by MITRE

Session Schedule

Note: All session times are Eastern Time

DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 26

09:00am – 09:45am

2022 Accessibility TEM Kickoff

Michael Weiss – Accessibility Business Resource Group (BRG) Chair, The MITRE Corporation


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10:00am – 10:45am

Journey to Wellness – My Life as a COVID Pneumonia Long Hauler Survivor

Belinda Edwards – Principal Cyber Security Architect, The MITRE Corporation

The goal of the Journey to Wellness is to enlighten the audience on the unseen and/or ignored health challenges experienced and accomplishments made by one COVID pneumonia long hauler.  It is the author’s desire to give voice and encouragement to others who have not or cannot voice what they have experienced.


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11:00am – 11:45am

Updates from Access Board on Accessibility Initiatives in the Federal Government

Bruce Bailey – IT Specialist, The U.S. Access Board

Bruce Bailey will provide a high-level overview of the regulations promulgated by the United States Access Board under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.  That segment of the program will include current advance notice of rulemaking for Self-Service Transaction Machines (SSTM) and electronic kiosk, and updates for guidelines that will address access to sidewalks and streets, crosswalks, curb ramps, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, and other components of public rights-of-way, including shared use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians.  After that, Bruce will highlight resources available from other agencies which promote web accessibility.  These include new materials from the last several months at Section508.gov, ADA.gov and the Department of Education.  Finally, Bruce will talk about the recent Executive Orders on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) and how that serves the needs and interests of people with disabilities.


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12:00pm – 12:45pm

What Everyone Should Know About Section 508

Bruce Bailey – IT Specialist, The U.S. Access Board

Bruce Bailey of the U.S. Access Board will talk about why and how Section 508 of the Rehabilitation promotes the civil rights of people with disabilities by setting a comprehensive metric for the accessibility of Information and Communications Technology.  Bruce will provide a high-level overview of the Revised 508 Standards, including the Incorporation By Reference of WCAG 2, and how that promotes international harmonization for advancing accessibility.  Section 508 has had influence outside of the Federal government, and Bruce’s conversation will include implications for state and local government, educational institutions, and the private sector.  The program will also describe initiatives, such as the ICT Baseline, used by many agencies, and how those resource might be utilized by non-government organizations.


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1:00pm – 1:45pm

X-men Through Disabled Lens Panel: OR Customizing For Success: How Accessibility Helps Invisible Disabilities (And the Rest of Us Too!)

Nico Meyering – Speaker, Advocate, Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission for People with Disabilities, Trustee with Awesome Disability, Co-chair for the Philadelphia AmeriCorps Alumni Chapter Board

The X-Men have been used as an allegory for several marginalized groups and their fight for equal rights and representation. Are the X-Men good representation for Disabled fans? Can we draw comparisons between different X-Men storylines and the ongoing fight for Disabled rights? Join Disabled advocate (and lifelong comics nerd) Nico Meyering for an X-traordinary time!


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2:00pm – 2:45pm

Accessibility is Everyone’s Responsibility

Brandon Jubar – Branch Chief, Quality Management, U.S. Department of Labor

One obstacle the US Department of Labor (DOL) faced when addressing IT accessibility was that staff saw it as the responsibility of the IT experts. IT accessibility was something “extra” to be added on at the end by someone else. By changing that paradigm, DOL is moving the needle on IT accessibility.

At DOL we have a well-defined change management plan we’ve been executing, which has been driving changes in the organizational culture that not only support improved accessibility but are now driving even faster adoption. My presentation will talk about what we did, why we did it, and how other organizations can do something similar.


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3:00pm – 3:45pm

Help Me Understand: Why Using Plain Language Benefits Everyone

Elisa Miller, Lead Human Centered Engineer (HCE) – The MITRE Corporation

Do you remember the first time you ever tried to do complete your own income tax forms? Or try to figure out how many deductions you needed to take from your paycheck? You have probably encountered many documents in your day-to-day life written in language that didn’t make sense. Perhaps you read it multiple times or you reached out to someone for help. This does not have to be the case. Content authors can follow a set of guidelines to create highly readable and accessible documents that help everyone, not just those with disabilities. Elisa will discuss the value of creating documents using Plain Language guidelines and share many tips, tricks, and examples.


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DAY 2 – THURSDAY OCTOBER 27

09:00am – 09:45am

Training 101: How to use the Microsoft O365 Accessibility Checker for Accessible Deliverables

Jennifer Strickland – Senior Accessibility Human Centered Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

Bruce Bailey – IT Specialist, The U.S. Access Board

Jennifer and Bruce will show how to access and use Microsoft’s built-in accessibility checker to ensure your Excel, PowerPoint, and Word documents are accessible.


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10:00am – 10:45am

Encoding Barriers & Beyond through Lenses: Digital Autonomy vs Independence

Jamie Knight + Lion – Lion Tamer (aka, Design Technologist), Jamie + Lion, Ltd.

We tend to encode what we believe about ourselves and others into the things we make. In this short talk Jamie + Lion will provide a set of lenses to support inspecting, challenging, and developing our beliefs about disability & beyond.


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11:00am – 11:45am

Avoiding Cardinal Sins: Evaluating the Impact of an Accessibility Program

Gareth Ford-Williams – Director & Accessible Strategy Consultant, Ab11y

After all your work in accessibility and inclusive design, how can you demonstrate the impact of your work? “Accessibility Benefits Everyone” is a mantra used by many people who believe the practice creates better designs for the whole audience but demonstrating that impact has up to now been problematic. In this presentation Gareth will explore how gathering User Experience data on inclusion is now possible, and how that can be used in conjunction with auditing to show what went well for whom, and where optimization is still needed.


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12:00pm–12:45pm

Balancing: Work and Home Life Connection

Marie Palermo – Sr. Manager, Occupational Health and Wellness Programs, The MITRE Corporation

Jill Raffi – Senior Occupational Health Nurse, The MITRE Corporation

Caroline Hawking – Senior Global Account Manager, ComPsych

Please join our experts from MITRE Health Services and ComPsych Employee Assistance as we challenge the myth of pre-Pandemic “work/life balance” and describe the importance of self-awareness in today’s work/life connection. We’ll discuss the concepts including self-care to help manage the shifts in the new way we work and explore the importance of our mental wellbeing to navigate priorities in our work and home life.


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1:00pm – 1:45pm

Talk Title: The Evolution of Accessibility in Communication

Arber Deski – Associate Infrastructure Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

A technology first used by D/deaf and Hard of Hearing was the teletypewriter (TTY), which evolved into the new technology of Video Relay Service (VRS). The evolved technology of VRS is to allow D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people to be able to communicate with hearing people. Thus, we’ll discuss how your services can leverage the VRS to serve your customers.


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2:00pm – 2:45pm

Building an inclusive research practice

Ronna ten Brink – Senior Human Factors Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

What does it mean for user research to be inclusive? How does it impact your mission? How do you actually do it? MITRE is supporting the IRS’s Office of Online Services to explore these questions and build an inclusive research capability. We’ll share how we’re planning and growing this capability, with early focus on research with participants with disabilities and limited English proficiency (LEP). We’ll also share actionable tips about managing process change and conducting user research with these communities. Discussion welcome!


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3:00pm – 3:45pm

Codesign Approach to Solutions for Progressive Hearing and/or Vision Loss to Maximize Independence in Aging

Meredith Benedict – Health Policy Principal, The MITRE Corporation

Kathy Kim – Consumer Health Informatics Principal, The MITRE Corporation

Progressive hearing and/or vision loss threatens the ability of older adults to age independently at home and in community. The conditions are linked with depression, social isolation, increased fall risk, inability to independently manage instrumental activities of daily living, and cognitive decline. While a range of accessibility features abound in various technologies, aging populations in need often have trouble accessing them or know what combination of tools will best support them. MITRE’s Age Better Lab seeks to apply a co-design and co-production approach with older adults, care teams and broadly across stakeholders (public and private) to identify and tackle critical gaps and roadblocks to accessing these innovations and generating solutions.


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4:00pm – 4:45pm

Adapting to Reality — Progressive Enhancement

Aaron Gustafson – Principal Accessibility Innovation Strategist, Microsoft

After enjoying more than a decade of relative stability in designing for the ‘desktop’ web, smartphones had to come along and throw a wrench in the works. It seemed that in an instant, everything changed and nothing was certain anymore. The truth is, though, nothing was ever certain.

One of the web’s major strengths is its ability to adapt, to travel anywhere and everywhere in service of its users. All those years we were the ones restraining it with our desire to create a single monolithic experience. But experience is not monolithic. Every person is different, and we all bring our unique perspectives, experiences, and capabilities to the table. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely fits anyone well. When we embrace that, our designs, products, and experiences will be all the better for it.


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5:00pm – 5:45pm

Trauma-Responsive Research and Design: Theory and Practice

Rachel Bergstein – Social Scientist and Social Justice Platform Member, The MITRE Corporation

This session will provide an overview of basic trauma science concepts, as well as research and design practices that foster greater psychological, social, and environmental safety for individuals and communities. Attendees will learn how to apply trauma-responsive practices to research and design projects.


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DAY 3 – FRIDAY OCTOBER 28

09:00am – 09:45am

Training 101: How to use Adobe Acrobat Pro for Accessible PDF Deliverables

Jennifer Strickland – Senior Accessibility Human Centered Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

Bruce Bailey – IT Specialist, The U.S. Access Board

Jennifer and Bruce will show how to check PDFs for accessibility issues and remediate them using Adobe Acrobat Pro.


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10:00am – 10:45am

Accessible Universal Digital Identity

Chris Buchanan – Principal Software Engineer and Group Lead, The MITRE Corporation

Current digital identity systems are centralized, exploitative, and inaccessible.  They work in ways that defy regulation and do not serve the subject of the identity.  When identity systems have no fiduciary responsibility to the subject, they are rampant with accessibility issues. MITRE and a small contingent of international organizations are working to establish the standards and methods to change digital identity to make it accessible, portable, and easily regulated for the protection of the identity subject.


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11:00am – 11:45am

The Financial Inequity Associated to Having Disabilities

Dr. Andrea Urqueta Alfaro – Social Equity Principal, The MITRE Corporation

Having a disability is a natural part of the human experience and should not lead to diminished participation in society. Yet, per U.S. Census data, most people with disability do not participate in the labor market. This talk will examine the impact of disabilities on financial equity, including the effects associated with the intersectionality of race/ethnicity and disability.


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12:00pm–12:45pm

Lean On Me: Accommodating Temporary Disabilities

Deanna Stanley – Principal Software Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

Kara Burgan – Lead Agile Software Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

Life happens, but how your team helps you navigate balancing work while you get back on your feet is a crucial part to your healing. This panel talk is an open discussion on how leaders, teammates, and MITRE Health Services can support staff with temporary disabilities so they can remain vital contributors to MITRE’s mission.


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1:00pm – 1:45pm

Accessibility in the IRS from a Grassroots Perspective: Opportunities, Challenges, and Realities

Rod Trevino – Senior Accessibility Advocate/Project Manager, Enterprise Digitalization and Case Management Office (EDCMO), Internal Revenue Services (IRS)

Accessibility is a challenging topic for any organization. It is a fundamental shift in how things are done to accommodate our colleagues with unique needs. This talk will examine the efforts being made in the IRS from a team-centric perspective. This is accessibility in the foxholes and trenches. We will discuss the team level approach when there is not a fully matured centralized plan, the obstacles that you may face, and the realities of advocating for colleagues with unique needs when your organization is still working to embrace accessibility compliance.


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2:00pm – 2:45pm

Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) in the Workplace: How ACEs Can Affect Adults in Their Workplace

Yoojin Kook – Intermediate Health Policy Healthcare Analyst, The MITRE Corporation

3 out of 5 U.S. adults report having experienced at least one type of ACE, which is often linked to physical and mental disorders during adulthood. This session will 1) describe how ACEs can be expressed in the workplace and the impact on employees and workplace productivity; and 2) discuss ways to foster a trauma-informed work environment.


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3:00pm – 3:45pm

Building a Neuro-Inclusive Workplace

Teresa Thomas – Human and Organizational Systems Transformation, The MITRE Corporation

In this conversation-style presentation, Teresa Thomas, MITRE’s Lead for Neurodiverse Talent Enablement, will talk with members of MITRE’s staff who self-identify as on the autism spectrum, AHDH, or both. The panel will talk about barriers to success, enablers to good work, and some practical steps teams can take to help everyone bring their best selves to the work.


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5:00pm – 5:45pm

Broke with Accessible Taste – The Economics of Access in the United States

Crystal Preston-Watson – Senior Digital Accessibility Analyst, Salesforce

Conversations about money and accessibility are frequently centered on the expenses of implementing accessibility in digital products and applications. The economic realities faced by disabled people and the price of assistive technology are missing from these conversations. This talk will examine the repercussions of overlooking that individual finances play in digital accessibility.


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