Recently, the federal government moved to the technological forefront with its launch of Disability.gov. This relaunched website fulfills its stated purpose of Connecting the Disability Community to Information and Opportunities. Disability.gov successfully uses social media tools to reach out to visitors and encourage interaction. There are online discussions and a user-friendly way to get answers to questions about such topics as finding employment and job accommodations for disabled individuals.
The new website was launched in conjunction with the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and integrates content from 22 different federal agencies. According to Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, “Far more than just a directory of federal resources, Disability.gov is a meeting ground for Americans to learn, respond and communicate about a wealth of critically important disability-related topics.”
Despite the numerous topics, and thousands of links to federal agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations, I found getting around the new site easy and enlightening. A recent interview on Special Needs Truth ’08 between Mark Miller and Kevin Connors, the site’s program director and Department of Labor employee, highlights the difficulty of coordinating the numerous agencies that contribute to the success of the website.
Whether you are a disabled person, family member, caregiver, employer, educator, veteran or simply interested in more information about disabilities, this site is a must follow.
One way of receiving information and updates is to follow Disability.gov on Twitter. Each day, the site tweets new resources and information on one of seven disability-related topics:
- Monday–benefits and housing resources
- Tuesday– technology and transportation resources
- Wednesday– education resources and info
- Thursday-health related resources
- Friday–veteran and employment resources
- Saturday–independent resources
- Sunday–emergency preparedness resources
Additionally, the site frequently tweets favorite empowering quotes. Recent ones include:
Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.” and Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.”
The Government Blogs About Disability Too
Numerous contributors blog about both the resources mentioned above and other topics of interest to disabled individuals and veterans. One post recently contained a fact sheet for people with disabilities who want to start a business and included resources across the country for people that want to become self-employed. Another blog specifically targets Youth Programs and recently highlighted a program for Project Search. Other discussions center around mentoring and intern programs for disabled young people.
According to Kevin Connor, the redesigned website was “tested using a variety of assistive technology software and on various machines with the many different browsers that are available” to make the site not only accessible, but usable by its many visitors.
If you have not yet visited Disability.gov, I encourage you to take a little time to get acquainted with the various features and tools. I assure you it will be time well-spent.