Vision Australia's joint statement signed by 25 disability advocacy organisations and peak bodies has led to positive feedback from the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) who has pledged to promote and closely monitor accessibility guidelines.
The joint statement, delivered to key officials last week, details how procuring accessible information and communications technology (ICT) can help increase the disability employment rate within the Australian Public Service (APS).
It specifically urges for the Australian Standard for the procurement of accessible information and communications technology (ICT) to be enforce, promoted and monitored within the APS.
Subsequent to the joint statement being received, Vision Australia was pleased to have met with the DTA and has begun encouraging conversations about the vital need for accessible ICT in APS workplaces.
Vision Australia General Manager of Advocacy and Engagement Karen Knight explained that a large proportion of people with disability are excluded from employment opportunities in the majority of Australian workplaces often due to the absence of accessible ICT.
"While all employers should strive for accessible workplaces, public agencies and departments have an obligation to lead the way in digital inclusion," Ms Knight said.
"We know that this simple yet effective change in procurement could see an increase in people with disability being employed in the APS."
In March 2017, Standards Australia adopted an Australian Standard specifically designed to address the accessibility of ICT, such as office equipment. Based on a European Standard, Australia is the first country outside of Europe to adopt it.
"We are hopeful that the initial discussions with key officials will lead to substantive action and help educate procurement officers in the practical application for acquiring accessible ICT. This will, in turn, increase the diversity within public services across the country.
"Inaccessible ICT is one of the key factors contributing to the under-representation of people with disability in the APS workforce but this could change if the standard was widely promoted and closely monitored.
"While we look forward to continuing discussions with the DTA, we are mindful that the work toward equal access to employment in Australia will take both hard work and ongoing commitment from both disability groups and decision makers," she said.
Any progress on the campaign to ensure accessible ICT is procured by all government departments and agencies will be posted on the Vision Australia website.