Environmental Factor, July 2006, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
NIEHS Celebrates the First Anniversary of the Disability Advocacy Committee
By Alicia Moore
May 2006 marked the first anniversary of the Disability Advocacy Committee (DAC) and a year of remarkable accomplishments in disability education and accessibility at the NIEHS. The DAC is an independent resource with a mission to serve as an advocate for NIEHS employees and visitors with disabilities. The DAC acts as a facilitator and liaison to the NIEHS Director, through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management (OEODM) and the NIEHS Diversity Council.
Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that all Federal employees complete training of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 became effective on June 21, 2001 to ensure that individuals with disabilities have increased access to electronic and information technology (EIT). This law requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use EIT, they ensure that it is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Section 508 training is composed of two sessions. Stage I is an online introduction to the requirements of EIT accessibility. Stage II is a classroom briefing focusing on procurement and accountability for ensuring that all EIT is accessible. Stage I completion is a requirement for all Federal employees, Stage I & II for all managers and supervisors. Gary M. Morin, Program Analyst and Section 508 Coordinator for the National Institutes of Health, Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity Management, Division of Policy, Evaluation, and Training, presented the Stage II training session to NIEHS on May 1, 2006.
The training helped managers and supervisors understand their responsibilities under Section 508 and levels of accountability. This training session also helped managerial staff to understand how to conduct or coordinate compliance reviews to ensure that NIEHS functions and activities are in compliance with Section 508 and provide or participate with the NIH procurement and information staffs to assure compliance. Lastly, the Stage II training explained the differences between Section 504, regarding reasonable accommodations, and Section 508.
The DAC honored Morin by hosting an informal luncheon in the NIEHS Executive Conference Room. Members were glad that they were able to bring awareness of this accessibility act to the NIEHS community. Furthermore, the emphasis of training being mandatory would hopefully help all employees to implement this important requirement. Currently, the DAC consists of 14 volunteer members including ad hoc representatives from the OEODM Office, Office of Research Facilities, and Health and Safety Branch. Employees wishing to participate with the DAC may contact Alicia Moore, Chair, J.J. Bell-Nichols, Vice-Chair, or Cindy Innes, Secretary, of the DAC.