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Heather Weir

Director, Strategy, Performance and Innovation Office, Colorado Office of Information Technology

Heather Weir, Director of Strategy, Performance and Innovation Office, Colorado OIT
In 2021, Colorado passed a law requiring state and local government agencies to comply with a slate of digital accessibility guidelines by July 2024. It’s a monumental task that is central to Heather Weir’s work with the state’s Office of Information Technology (OIT). Weir is the director of OIT’s Strategy, Performance and Administration Office, which in addition to overseeing IT goals and process improvement frameworks heads the technology accessibility program.

Weir doesn’t have a traditional tech background. She holds a master’s in public health and has experience in health-care services in Oregon. But in doing that work she found a passion for process improvement, change management and, overall, how to make systems work better. “I really loved trying to dig into the root causes and fix the system versus just being the cog in the wheel going, ‘Why is this broken?’”

Her first job in Colorado was with the Department of Public Health and Environment, and when the Strategy and Performance role with OIT opened up, it was a perfect fit.

The accessibility push came right away, starting with just Weir and growing to a team of seven. Her role has included everything from establishing accessibility checklists to helping agencies get the resources they need to do things like create accessible content in Google Docs or make image-based PDFs accessible to screen readers. In another sign of progress, some state buildings and parks now offer visual interpretation services about a user’s environment through an app.

While July 1 is the legislative deadline, Weir is clear that that’s not the end date for the state’s accessibility work. There are more than 400 websites and more than 1,000 apps in Colorado — that’s a massive amount of systems that need to be accessible.

“This isn’t new that we need accessible services, but the truth is, especially in the technology space, that we’re really behind,” she said. “You don’t walk into many buildings now and don’t see an elevator or ramps … but on the technical side we have a ways to go.”

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2024 issue of Government Technology magazine. Click here to read the full digital edition online.
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.