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Disability Inclusion In The Workplace: Craig Keefner Of Kiosk Association On How Businesses Make Accommodations For Customers and Employees Who Have A Disability

An Interview With Eric Pines

As we all know, over the past several years there has been a great deal of discussion about inclusion and diversity in the workplace. One aspect of inclusion that is not discussed enough, is how businesses can be inclusive of people with disabilities. We know that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. What exactly does this look like in practice? What exactly are reasonable accommodations? Aside from what is legally required, what are some best practices that can make a business place feel more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about the “How Businesses Make Accommodations For Customers and Employees Who Are Disabled “.

As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Craig Allen Keefner.

Craig Keefner is the manager of the kiosk association — Independent solutions provider. RFP acquisition with access to 1000s of RFPs in multiple verticals as well as Contracts, solutions, relationships. Experience — in 2020 last employed by Olea Kiosks focusing on transactional systems for self-service (QSR, Fast Casual, Healthcare, Telemedicine, bill payment and more). Created Ready for RFP and MRS solution’s for Intel IoT Alliance. 4 Years in Healthcare on Patient Check-In, Digital Signage and more.. 10+ Years with Kiosk Information Systems. Experience as web programmer (NW Airlines), Bridal Kiosks (Target Clubb Wedd and Gift Certificate Company). Irwin Jacobs B2C. 11 with Kiosk Information Systems. Major projects include: Verizon, Army Gaming Centers, Target Store Bridal Registry, Correctional visitation, AT&T and many more.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?

30 years in self-service technology for customers and employees. I work with U.S. Access Board on disabled access and also PCI SSC on unattended access. I started as moderator for Big 7 newsgroup comp.infosystems.kiosks in 1995. I currently manage an association of kiosk technology providers.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. My English major from college days seemed pretty useless until Google and search came along. Then language, words and intent became all important.
  2. My hobby was audio processing and recording and that has served me well in the disabled space as the single most litigated deficiency for any disabled access is typically audio.
  3. I have also no qualms contacting and reaching people at all levels. Jeff Bezos of Amazon I led on tour of retail technology at show in late 90s. Conducting an interview of Eric Schmidt of Google during chance meeting in London hotel.

Can you share a story about one of your greatest work related struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?

Establishing the true accessibility characteristics for patient check-in terminals used in hospital. Too often vendors “cherry pick” what they consider important, and minimize their deficiencies.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

EV-Charging stations and smart cities are the up and comers in the unattended space. The initiative by McDonalds for accessibility which is driving multiple industries towards accessibility.

Fantastic. Let’s now shift to our discussion about inclusion. Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?

Inclusion and diversity for me means different languages, all types of disabilities, voice (accents), facial recognition/detection (different races have different characteristics).

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have an inclusive work culture?

Given the right opportunity and the right tools, employees can become a true asset and driver for the company bottomline. And companies (thanks to accountants) must also consider financial considerations.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what this looks like in practice? What exactly are reasonable accommodations? Can you please share a few examples?

Go to the airport and thanks to ACA, 25% of all facilities will be geared specifically for disabled access, no matter what type of interactive component. Canada has the ACA for Canada which mandates an accessibility plan by all federal entities no later than December 2022.

Aside from what is legally required, what are some best practices that can make a business place feel more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities? If you can, please share a few examples.

Ramps, door openers and audio are easy additions. Charging your wheelchair might be another. In retail different menus for different sight impairments is an easy one. Many restaurants offer this. In Japan, you can assess in advance the accessibility factor for retail stores PRIOR to deciding where and when to go.

Being more understanding when it comes to disabilities would be good. When I wore bluetooth hearing aids to assist with conducting phone conversations, I was ridiculed for wearing the electronic locket around my neck.

Can you share a few examples of ideas that were implemented at your workplace to help promote disability inclusion? Can you share with us how the work culture was impacted as a result?

I work at home in my basement so doesn’t really apply to me personally. Years back it was it was being able to support different languages, ramps and eventually automatic door openers. Desks and cubicles were designed for “standard” person. It has improved since then but not all that much. I think the pandemic elevated disabled workers at home as they already equipped their environment, unlike work.

This is our signature question that we ask in many of our interviews. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started My Career”?

  1. Accessibility is a key long-term characteristic.
  2. Note not only the positive iterations but the negative iterations.
  3. I am NOT the 100% case study. Perhaps 80% since I was healthy white person.
  4. How can my business make more money serving more?
  5. At some point I would experience hearing disability and also vision astigmatism with poorly designed computer screens with super fine resolutions. Listening to very loud music is going to result in being hard of hearing for the rest of my life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

Life is too short to dance with ugly women (mantra on baseball cap). “Ugly Women” being figurative of course.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

My wish is that people wholly participate in government and we achieve 95% voting percentage.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

https://kioskindustry.org for latest news. See https://industrygroup.org for complete portfolio.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach. He represents federal employees and acts as in-house counsel for over fifty thousand federal employees through his work as a federal employee labor union representative. A formal federal employee himself, Mr. Pines began his federal employment law career as in-house counsel for AFGE Local 1923 which is in Social Security Administration’s headquarters and is the largest federal union local in the world. He presently serves as AFGE 1923’s Chief Counsel as well as in-house counsel for all FEMA bargaining unit employees and numerous Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs unions.

While he and his firm specialize in representing federal employees from all federal agencies and in reference to virtually all federal employee matters, his firm has placed special attention on representing Veteran Affairs doctors and nurses hired under the authority of Title. He and his firm have a particular passion in representing disabled federal employees with their requests for medical and religious reasonable accommodations when those accommodations are warranted under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (ADA). He also represents them with their requests for Federal Employee Disability Retirement (OPM) when an accommodation would not be possible.

Mr. Pines has also served as a mediator for numerous federal agencies including serving a year as the Library of Congress’ in-house EEO Mediator. He has also served as an expert witness in federal court for federal employee matters. He has also worked as an EEO technical writer drafting hundreds of Final Agency Decisions for the federal sector.

Mr. Pines’ firm is headquartered in Houston, Texas and has offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia. His first passion is his wife and five children. He plays classical and rock guitar and enjoys playing ice hockey, running, and biking. Please visit his websites at www.pinesfederal.com and www.toughinjurylawyers.com. He can also be reached at eric@pinesfederal.com.

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Eric L. Pines

Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach