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State Department in Early Stages of Tech Project

The initiative in question is one that may ultimately lead to a wider roll-out depending upon verifiable results.

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The state department responsible for delivering services and advocacy around “employment, independent living and equality” for the disabled wants to hear from IT companies ahead of a likely initiative.

In a request for information (RFI) released Oct. 25, the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) is seeking to procure “new kiosk services” that will enable DOR’s “vocational rehabilitation” (VR) consumers via a public interface that can offer job search services and the option of printing. Per its website, DOR administers the nation’s largest VR and independent living programs. It offers VR services to about 100,000 eligible consumers to help them prep for, find and keep employment. DOR has 14 districts around the state; its San Francisco District is the pilot district. Among the takeaways:

  • DOR looks to work with second- and third-party services vendors on the kiosk, which will offer optional printing via a “connected printer to the kiosk.” Printing capability would include a record of applications submitted and job descriptions of positions researched. Key goals include providing DOR users with a “public interface to provide job search services and optional printing,” enabling them to access its Vocational Rehabilitation Connections (VRC) Portal, and helping consumers turn in contact requests.
  • Because of the project’s scope, DOR anticipates three implementation phases. First, kiosk hardware, including touchscreen interface, non-touchscreen interface, kiosk shape and size, and wheelchair accessibility. Second, kiosk software for the interface; “assistive technology enabled,” including Job Access with Speech (JAWS) and Dragon Naturally Speaking. Third, kiosk integrators around creating “custom portals for specific processes, network connectivity and secure.” The course of action with the San Francisco District on this project consists of three kiosks at the San Francisco District office, an educational school vendor of DOR, and at an agency DOR vendor, government or non-for-profit. The education school vendor and the agency vendor will be “confirmed once determined.” The education school vendor will be a community college; the agency vendor will be a community-based agency. Based on “successful usage” supported by the data record, and the “needs and services of the kiosk system,” DOR intends to expand kiosk usage statewide.
  • Respondents’ submissions must cover eight areas pertaining to the kiosk: kiosk services, kiosk features/security, information reporting, potential fees/types for kiosk services, accessible implementation and training, customer service and communications, IT – vendor web online options and DOR systems, and emerging technologies. DOR is interested to learn what emerging technologies are available it should know about that aren’t addressed in the RFI. It’s also interested to learn whether a solution would be “web-based or desktop application-based,” how users would be licensed or enrolled, what type of secure data connection would be made to transmit sensitive information, and how updates would be made. Also required: whether the solution is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “accessible for assistive technology user” such as screen readers; whether the solution could interface in the future with DOR’s Aware case management system and Salesforce portal solution; and whether there are any “significant quantifiable limitations” around supported user counts, data records or software bandwidth.
  • Vendor input is intended to help the state “further refine its requirements and understand the potential impact(s) of implementing the new services.” The RFI isn’t a solicitation, DOR cautions, and it won’t result in a contract award. Questions on the RFI are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday; DOR will post the questions and answers on the California State Government Website by 5 p.m. Nov. 14. Responses to the RFI are due by 5 p.m. Nov. 30.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.