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National Federation of the Blind of Colorado (NFBCO)

Resolution 2021-03

Regarding Accessible Technology in Colorado State Government

WHEREAS, since 2001, the state of Colorado has had a law on the books which requires state agencies to procure technology that is accessible to the blind—i.e., nonvisually accessible; and

WHEREAS, in the 2021 Legislative Session, with the passage of HB21-1110, this law was strengthened to include all people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, in Executive Order D 2020 175, dated August 27, 2020, Governor Jared Polis directed that in furtherance of Colorado’s efforts to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion, the Department of Personnel and Administration should “create statewide standards of accessibility to guide agencies in ensuring State buildings, systems, vital documents, community meetings, and other communications and resources, including websites, are accessible to all Coloradans, regardless of ability…”; and

WHEREAS, some small incremental improvements in accessibility have been achieved over the decades, in particular, better nonvisual access to the Google Workspace, which is vital for all state employees inasmuch as the State of Colorado is a Google enterprise; and

WHEREAS, on a less positive note, blind state employees—especially those who rely on screen reading software to perform their jobs—too often encounter significant roadblocks which prevent them from executing critical employment-related tasks without sighted assistance; and

WHEREAS, perhaps the most egregious roadblock to effective job performance is the workforce management system commonly known as Kronos—a system that is so inaccessible that blind employees are routinely required to communicate with their supervisors to enter time worked, check available vacation time, register vacation time used, and (for Kronos administrators) approve the time entered by others; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of the systems, software, and hardware used in state government continues to be frustratingly and annoyingly inaccessible to blind people who use a screen reading program to operate a computer, smartphone, or tablet; and

WHEREAS, in the past few years, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) has worked to improve the situation by:

•      hiring an accessibility solutions architect who happens to be blind,

•      establishing a technology accessibility advisory board comprised of blind and sighted individuals, many of whom work for the State and are enthusiastic promoters of accessibility, and

•      establishing an accessibility program office to give this effort greater importance and visibility within OIT; and

WHEREAS, without significant increases in state funding, personnel, and specialized expertise, the over-all accessibility of state systems, software, and hardware will not improve, all good intentions notwithstanding: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado in convention assembled this 31st day of October, 2021, in the city of Lone Tree, Colorado, that this organization express its recognition of the small gains in over-all accessibility that have been achieved with the help of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT)—in particular, improved familiarity with and nonvisual access to the Google suite of products (e.g., Google Docs, Google Drive, etc.); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization condemn and deplore the decades of non-access to the workforce management system, Kronos, that blind employees of the State of Colorado have been forced to endure; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the Colorado General Assembly, Governor Jared Polis, and the Governor’s Office of Information Technology to increase funding, personnel, and specialized expertise so that the promise of equity, diversity, and inclusion becomes a reality for blind Coloradans that is proven by solid achievement and equal access to state software systems and hardware.