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Guest blog post by Robert M. Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Very recently the Census Bureau gave to the country the fully-evolved set of statistical information based on the American Community Survey – social and economic characteristics for thousands of communities across the country.

While this was a big deal for us data geeks at the Census Bureau, it marked the beginning of annual estimates for small communities and neighborhoods throughout the country.  Each year, each community throughout the country will get small area estimates of the occupational and industrial sector distribution, commuting patterns to work, health insurance status, disability status, wage levels, school attendance, non-English language spoken, military veteran status, housing structures, fuel use for health, housing costs, and citizenship status. These local estimates are already being used to make real decisions that affect the jobs of Americans.  One set of local officials used local data on current job distributions, educational attainment distributions, and location of other businesses, to attract a new plant to the area, stimulating even more jobs.  In that case, the town was competing with a site in another country.  The statistics from the American Community Survey helped persuade the company to locate the plant in that US town.  American Community Survey statistics answer really practical questions that business leaders have.  For locating an international call center – “Are there sufficient non-English speakers in the area to staff the center?”  For lower-skilled manufacturing – “How long will it take for employees to get to the proposed plant site; how many people use public transportation to get to work?”  For technology firms – “How many persons are there with science and engineering skills?”

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the statistical information we are delivering annually now to both small and large communities, they consist of about 11 billion statistical estimates on the topics above (22 billion if you count the measures of sampling variability we also deliver).  This is unprecedented in the history of the country and, as business leaders and local officials learn how these estimates can be used to make more informed decisions that affect their companies and communities, the real promise of the American Community Survey will be achieved.

From today’s FEDERAL REGISTER
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
[Docket No. SSA-2011-0041] 

SUMMARY: This notice announces a listening session that the CIO Council is conducting in response to a memo dated July 19, 2010 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on ``Improving the Accessibility of Government Information''. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d) requires Federal agencies to buy and use electronic and information technology (EIT) that is accessible. The July memo directs agencies to take stronger steps toward improving the acquisition and implementation of accessible technology. In order to better understand the needs of diverse communities and provide better solutions, the Federal Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC), in collaboration with the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, the GSA Office of
Government-wide Policy and the U.S. Access Board, has held several in a series of listening sessions to engage citizens and employees in expressing concerns and proposing ideas.

The next listening session will be at Stanford University 370 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305 and will include time for generating a dialogue with technology companies.
It will also include time for general comments from the public.  Representatives from technology companies, persons with disabilities, their advocates, and government employees are invited to participate.

DATES: Listening Session: Friday, June 17, 2011, from 1:30 p.m. to 5  p.m. Pacific Time (PT).

Persons wishing to speak at the listening session can pre-register  by contacting Emily Koo at (410) 965-4472 or  Innovate.Accessibility@ssa.gov. Pre-registrants will have priority to  speak during the session. Registration will also be available in person
at Stanford University on the afternoon of the listening session.

ADDRESSES: Meeting Location: Hewlett Teaching Center, room Hewlett 200,
370 Serra Mall, Stanford CA 94305.  Accommodations: The listening session will have sign language  interpreters; real time captioning services, assistive listening devices and microphones. Materials will be available in Braille, large  print and electronic formats. The meeting location is wheelchair accessible. Anyone needing other accommodations should include a specific request when registering at least three (3) days in advance.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: mailto: Emily Koo at (410) 965-4472 or
Innovate.Accessibility@ssa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their EIT accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, open new opportunities for people with disabilities, and encourage development
of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use  electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), agencies must give employees with disabilities and members of the public with disabilities access to information that is comparable
to access available to others without disabilities.  Effective implementation of Section 508 is an essential element of  President Obama's principles of open government, requiring that all government and data be accessible to all citizens. In order for the
goal of open government to be meaningful for persons with disabilities, technology must also be accessible, including digital content. In July  2010, the OMB took steps to assure that the Federal government's progress in implementing Section 508 is stronger and achieves results more quickly.  Section 508 requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to  provide technical assistance to agencies on Section 508 implementation.  GSA has created a number of tools, available at http://www.Section508.gov, to help agencies develop accessible requirements,
test the acceptance process, and share lessons learned and best practices. For example:


The BuyAccessible Wizard, http://www.buyaccessible.gov, helps build compliant requirements and solicitations;  The Quick Links site, https://app.buyaccessible.gov/baw/KwikLinksMain.jsp, provides pre-packaged Section 508 solicitation documents;

The BuyAccessible Products and Services Directory, https://app.buyaccessible.gov/DataCenter/ provides a registry of companies and
accessibility information about their offerings; and

The Accessibility Forum 2.0 blog http://buyaccessible.net/blog/ provides a venue where stakeholders may share ideas and success stories, or engage in conversations on improving accessibility.

The OMB has directed that several actions be taken to improve Section 508 performance:

  • By Mid-January 2011, OMB required the GSA Office of
    Government-wide Policy (OGP) to provide updated guidance on making
    government EIT accessible. This guidance built upon existing resources
    to address challenges, increase oversight, and reduce costs associated
    with acquiring and managing EIT solutions that are not accessible.
  • By Mid-January 2011, OMB required the GSA OGP to update its general Section 508 training to offer refreshed continuous learning modules that can be used by contracting officers, program/project managers (especially those managing EIT programs), and contracting officer technical representatives (COTRs) as they fulfill their Federal Acquisition Certification requirements.
  • In March 2011, the GSA OGP and the Department of Justice  (DOJ) issued a survey to allow agencies to assess their implementation of Section 508, including accessibility of websites and other  technology used by the agencies. DOJ will use this information in preparing its next assessment of agency compliance as required by the Rehabilitation Act. The CIOC Accessibility Committee will also use this information to identify best practices and lessons learned.
  • In the spring of 2011, the DOJ will issue a progress report on Federal agency compliance with Section 508, the first since 2004. Going forward, DOJ will meet its obligation to issue a report biennially.
  • Beginning in FY 2011, the GSA OGP began providing OMB a quarterly summary report containing results of Section 508 reviews of a sample of solicitations posted on FedBizOpps.gov. GSA will provide the agencies a summary of the sampling results to facilitate sharing of  best practices and successes, and to address common challenges.

This listening session will focus on what other steps the Federal government can take to increase the accessibility and usability of government information and data for persons with disabilities.

Specific input from private industry is sought for the following
questions:

  • How can the Federal government attract wider support from the greater information technology (IT) community in accessibility and  assistive technology (AT)?
  • What is private industry doing to implement IT  accessibility that the Federal government should follow?
  • From the perspective of vendors, how can implementation of  Section 508 be improved?
  • What could the Federal government ask for that would allow vendors to better show that their products meet accessibility needs?
  • What support do newly emerging technology companies need to build in accessibility in the product and service offerings?

General input is sought on the following questions:

  • What can the Federal government do to use technology better or in new ways?
  • What can the Federal government do to make technology more accessible?
  • What emerging technologies does the Federal government use that you cannot?
  • What technologies should the Federal government use that would enhance your interactions with the Federal government?
  • What are state and local governments doing to implement information technology IT accessibility that the Federal government should follow?
  • What is academia doing to implement IT accessibility that the Federal government should follow?
  • What can the Federal government do to influence technology accessibility?
  • What can the Federal government do to support the availability of effective Communities of Practice on IT accessibility?
  • Do you believe the IT industry would benefit from a professional certification or credential that denotes a company's expertise in accessibility? How could that be implemented and managed, and should the government play a role in making that happen?

Feedback from the listening session will be used by, and shared across, agencies to improve accessibility and usability.

Frank Gallo, Workforce Analyst, from the U.S. Department of Labor just authored a list of links on Longitudinal Surveys of Workers.  These surveys repeatedly query the same individual, household, or business establishment over time.  They provide essential insights into how the labor market functions, offering a different perspective from more traditional surveys.  The U.S. Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Office of Workforce Investment has assembled information on all the major longitudinal surveys that include information on workers.



Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) cooperates with the U.S. Census Bureau to operate a unique program called Local Employment Dynamics (LED), which maps and analyzes local labor market information such as employment, industry, residence and commuting patterns - including across state boundaries. Using the LED system, MERIC identified employment and demographic trends for Missouri’s regional economic hotspots – those places that generate large economic activity in a region.

Summer Forum and STATS-DC 2011 Data Conference (STATS-DC 2011)

Description:

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), will sponsor a 2.5-day meeting of the membership of the National Forum on Education Statistics. This will be immediately followed by the annual NCES Data Conference.

The Data Conference is an opportunity for professional networking, updates on federal and national activities affecting data collection and reporting, and information about the best new approaches in collecting, reporting, and using education statistics. The Conference will include training and business meetings for state CCD and EDFacts data coordinators. In addition, there will be a range of informative sessions targeted toward interests in "101" introductory sessions, data collection and management, data dissemination, data linking beyond K-12, data privacy, data standards/quality, data usage, and finance.

Type:

Conferences

Audience:

The membership of the National Forum on Education Statistics will meet Monday through Wednesday noon. The annual NCES Data Conference will occur Wednesday afternoon through Friday noon.

Location:

Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel
One Bethesda Metro Center
7400 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814

Dates:

July 25-29, 2011

Organization:

National Center for Education Statistics

More Information:

Register for STATS-DC 2011

STATS-DC 2011 Brochure

  PDF File ( 969KB )

STATS-DC 2011 Agenda At-A-Glance

STATS-SC 2011 Agenda

  PDF File ( 1.93 )

National Forum on Education Statistics

Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel

Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel Reservations

Bethesda Urban Partnership

Bethesda Row

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro)


For help viewing PDF files, please click here.

Contacts:

Forum Meeting:
  Contact Bairu, Ghedam from NCES
Data Conference:
  Contact Rowland, Renee from NCES
Logistics Planning:
  Contact Bebermeyer, Jennifer from Coffey Consulting, LLC at (301) 907-0900

Sponsors:

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

 

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