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Release: May 9, 2002

Disability Center sponsors awards to honor IT firms

The University of Iowa Law, Health Policy & Disability Center's "I.T. Works" project, in cooperation with the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), the nation's leading IT trade association, has established a national awards program to stimulate interest in employing individuals with disabilities. The program will provide public recognition and awards to IT firms with proven strategies that promote the employment and career advancement of people with disabilities.

Iowa Law Professor and Center Director Peter Blanck believes that the I.T. Works project will highlight connections among individuals with disabilities and employers who have participated in IT training programs.

The I.T. Works program will make awards in five categories: Recruiting/Hiring; Developing Universally Accessible IT Products; Accommodations; Retention/Inclusion; and Career Advancement and Training. Ten companies will be honored each year, with awards given to small and large IT firms in each category. Each winner will be presented an award at ITAA's National IT Workforce Convocation.

Research by the Disability Law Center and ITAA shows that there is a demand for skilled and trained IT workers. Also, the proportion of those working with a disability is substantially lower than that those of people without a disability.

Blanck believes that increasing the employment of individuals with disabilities in IT-related jobs will help strengthen the pipeline of available IT talent.

Award nominations will be solicited through ITAA's membership (http://www.itaa.org), the I.T. Works project's Expert Panel, publicly and privately funded IT training and employment projects, and the public at large through the project's website at www.its.uiowa.edu/law/lhpdc/projects/it_works.html. An awards committee from ITAA members and the project's Expert Panel will review nominations and select winners.

The deadline for nominations is Jan. 3, 2003. The winners will be notified by letter by Feb. 1, 2003, and the awards will be announced publicly by May 2003. For more information about the I.T. Works Awards Program, contact: Marjorie Bynum, vice president, Workforce Development, ITAA at (703) 284-5318, email at mbynum@itaa.org, or Sally Weiss, materials development coordinator, I.T. Works Project at (301) 565-0153, email sallyweiss@starpower.net.

For a detailed explanation of the award categories and the I.T. Works program, see http://www.its.uiowa.edu/law/lhpdc/projects/it_works.html. I.T. Works is 100-percent funded by NIDRR, U.S. Department of Education grant H133A011803. For more information about the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center, see http://www.its.uiowa.edu/law.