should inform/market our services with information and support at those times/trigger points.
Seth Bravin, M.B.A.
IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
Bravin called attention to several workplace issues that can have implications for older Americans. Having a centralized budget for accommodations can make a big difference for integration and participation, Bravin said. Without a centralized budget, individual managers need to cover the cost of accommodations, which can severely limit the number of employees with disabilities and the technologies available to those employees.
He also pointed out that IBM has a workplace portal where people can request accommodations for both permanent and temporary disabilities. For example, if someone is recovering from a broken arm, that person can access an appropriately designed computer. Or if someone is pregnant and needs accommodations, or if a webcast needs to be captioned, situational disabilities can be covered.
Finally, IBM developed a mobile application called Access My City for New York City, in which people with disabilities, including mobility limitations, can check whether they will be able to get where they need to go. For example, Bravin, who is deaf, recounted an episode where he was flying to Austin, Texas, and missed a connection in Atlanta because he did not have access to an announcement made over the public address system. With Access My City, he could have captured that information and put it to use, which might have also benefited other people who missed the announcement.
Joseph Agostini said that if a technology works in a subset of the population and has benefits for employers or for the health care system, then it will have legs. Quality and efficiency will go hand in hand. Technologies need to show that they can be cost-effective, or it will be difficult for them to move forward.
Jon Sanford responded that working at home is a good accommodation for many people, but it does not necessarily create participation in the workplace. Social media technologies are a possible solution to that problem because they can involve people in the workplace from remote locations, creating the interactions of physical space in a virtual space.
Forum member Kelly Buckland, National Council on Independent Liv-