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News | Oct. 26, 2022

DCMA celebrates NDEAM, embraces diversity year-long

By DCMA Section 508 Office

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but the Defense Contract Management Agency considers it Friends and Family Month.

Although NDEAM is officially observed this month, DCMA celebrates inclusiveness and recognizes the contributions of its team members with disabilities every day.

In 1998, the Section 508 amendment to the 1974 Rehabilitation Act identified the importance of making information and communication technology, or ICT, accessible to all.

Antonio Boston, DCMA’s Section 508 Program Management Office coordinator, said Section 508 is more than a federal requirement; it is a basic human right that most people take for granted.

“Most of us have either worked alongside or have a friend or family member with a disability,” said Boston, who has managed the agency’s 508 program since September 2013. “DCMA values diversity and recognizes disability does not mean inability. To that end, we’re committed to removing the obstacles that impede equal access, leveling the playing field and improving the quality of life of our peers, both professionally and personally.”

Boston said an ideal work environment comprises a pool of talent that promotes innovation and a positive mindset. That pool of talent may include young college graduates, naturalized citizens, those with years of experience and seniority, and people who identify as minorities — all of whom might live with a visible or invisible disability.

“What they all have in common is they’re everyday people: colleagues working side-by-side with a common mission,” Boston said. “The uneasiness or awkwardness that a disability may cause slowly fades away as people begin to get to know one another and discover they have much more in common than they originally thought.”

The Section 508 Program Management Office comprises Boston and a team of contractors who collectively have over 54 years of technical and accessibility experience.

Vencer Cotton, the Section 508 project manager, said his team’s comprehensive approach to 508 compliance ensures individuals with disabilities have access comparable to those who do not.

“I strongly believe accessibility is a right rather than a privilege,” said Cotton. “My vision for the program is to foster agency-wide alignment between 508 standards and best practices through education and awareness.”

The agency includes 508 standards and requirements in its procurement processes; in the development, implementation and maintenance of processes; and provides technical guidance, tools, and resources to assist with 508 compliance.

“We also provide training to employees on 508 standards, and how to develop and buy accessible technology,” Cotton said. “Furthermore, DCMA has a dedicated compliance and remediation team that ensures all agency information and communication technology is accessible and usable by all employees.”

Section 508 standards provide criteria specific to various ICT types, including:

  • Computers and peripheral equipment
  • Information kiosks and transaction machines
  • Telecommunications equipment
  • Customer premises equipment
  • Multifunction office machines
  • Software
  • Applications
  • Websites
  • Video and multimedia
  • Electronic documents

For more information, visit DCMA’s Section 508 program webpage.