My week started out with the coolest thing I've done this summer: visiting the Pentagon.
I was lucky enough to get a meeting at the CAPTEC office, a lab devoted to accessibility solutions for the pentagon, servicemen, and a host of other agencies they are partnered with. They have nearly every piece of accessibility tech you could ever want, and specialize in figuring out what people need & procuring it for them at no extra cost to the agency they work for.
My meeting was about developing accessible websites. I was able to try browsing the website I am currently working on using JAWS, a popular screen magnifier, and dragon dictate. This allowed me to get a really good idea of how to make websites that are not only 508 compliant, but easily used by those with all types of disabilities.
This was quickly followed up by the second coolest thing I've done so far: Seeing a congressional hearing.
Specifically, the house telecommunications subcommittee hearing on HR 3101, the proposed update to the ADA regulations regarding accessible communications equipment. There were representatives from a few disability associations, as well as some consumer electronic and telecommunication advocates, each stating their case. Currently the proposed law requires that all devices have accessibility features built in, but the tech sector is arguing that this will stifle innovation and kill small businesses. While I knew that these regulations were a contentious issue, I was not expecting the debate to get as heated as it did. It is clear that some major improvements need to be made before it goes up for a vote, but everyone is hopeful that it can be finished in time for the ADA 20th anniversary next month.
So, that was my week. It is so amazing being in Washington DC and being able to do these things with relative ease. I can't wait to see what the rest of my internship will bring.