California's Information Technology Leadership Academy Accessibility Toolkit Announced

The toolkit is under public domain and includes tips, a website and scorecards.

by Kayla Nick-Kearney, Techwire / May 25, 2017

The Information Technology Leadership Academy’s 24th class presented its class project Friday at the California Lottery building. The ITLA is a program under the Government Operations Agency for state information technology professionals to develop leadership skills.

The nine-month program requires candidates who apply to show “enterprisewide thinking, potential for career advancement [and] exude that experience carrying out their own organization’s mission and vision,” said Christie Borchin, the deputy director of the California Department of Technology’s Office of Professional Development.

The academy began as the Data Processing Managers Academy in 1993. The next set of courses begins Sept. 25.

The program includes 18 courses, such as a legislative and budget process course, political skills, and the CIO academy. The ITLA students also complete a project to help solve a specific IT challenge.

An advisory board approves the curriculum every year and sometimes adjusts it to keep up with leadership trends. In the past, the board has given project suggestions, but the class can also investigate and find their own state challenge to solve. 

Two projects were pitched to the class. Access IT California won and was sponsored by the Department of Rehabilitation’s Director Joe Xavier and CIO Jon Kirkham.

“There are all these federal standards regarding accessibility in your IT systems. There really wasn’t a centralized, consolidated repository that had all this information,” Borchin said.

The project is meant to create a set of tools that could centralize and recommend ways to meet the multiple standards around accessibility in IT. The toolkit was built to be applicable to all departments. It includes resources and education materials for accessibility adoption. It is a starting point for new project contracts to make it easier to build in accessibility, Borchin said.

“It was like the perfect marriage between a class that really wants to give back to the community and do something meaningful as their class project,” Borchin said.

The class had to create a four-part system that applied to the state’s Department of Technology project life cycle. The parts include a communication plan about defining accessibility and building awareness, the project planning phase and how to apply accessibility standards, how to adjust projects that already in process, and guidelines to assess accessibility and how to handle remediation needs.

The toolkit is under public domain and includes tips, a website and scorecards. The Department of Rehabilitation built the website after the class designed the site and checklists.

The Leadership Academy won the Best of California Award for Workforce Initiative in 2016.

The class graduation ceremony will take place on June 2.

This article was originally published on Techwire.

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