When Madison resident Lucy Taylor needed a job a few years ago, she went to the Job Center on Aberg Avenue and tried to use its "accessible" computer to create a résumé. Taylor, who has multiple disabilities, found the computer "had none of the adaptive technology I would need."
She requires a special mouse and software that allows her to give voice commands to the computer. But the Job Center's computer - which was located in the lobby, in full view of other people - had none of that.
"I wanted to get another job, yet I couldn't work on the computer," says Taylor. "I'm not sure how they thought it was accessible."
Taylor filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Job Service, but got nowhere. She eventually asked Disability Rights Wisconsin for help. The group contacted the state agency's legal counsel and, nearly two years later, the state has finally made some changes.
"The computer now has a headset, earphones and a scanner for documents," says Chris L'Heureux, an advocacy specialist with Disability Rights Wisconsin. The computer has also been moved into a cubicle to give users some privacy.
Brian Solomon, head of Wisconsin Job Service (and a Madison alder), says it took two years because the state had to figure out what it could afford to provide. "Our absolute goal is to have everything accessible," he says. "At the same time, it's hard because we don't have the resources."
L'Heureux says her group may survey all of the state's job centers next year, to check how accessible they are. "If this computer is in Dane County, which is the site of the state capital, and this one is not functioning properly," she asks, "what do the rest of them look like?"