GSA's Section 508 guru Weaver to retire

Tuesday - 12/20/2011, 12:17pm EST

One of the government's biggest cheerleaders for ensuring federal employees with disabilities are taken care of in the workplace is retiring.

Terry Weaver, the General Services Administration's director of IT Accessibility, will leave government service after 38 years Jan. 3.

Weaver said the time is right for her to leave and try her hand as a small business owner.

"I'm going to be a consultant," she said. "The advice I was given and I've had enough conversations that I realize I don't want to step into another job on the other side of .com, but I really wanted to stick in the area I like, which is Section 508. I've found out everyone needs a little bit of 508. I never thought about being a small business owner, but now I'm excited."

Weaver came to GSA in 1997 after spending 24 years at the IRS.

After three years, she headed the office to provide the government with help and limited oversight over Section 508.

Congress passed Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended by the Workforce Investment Act in August 1998. The requirements went into effect June 2001 and Weaver took over GSA's IT Accessibility office in December 2000. Section 508 requires agencies to make accommodations in the workplace for people with disabilities when it comes to technology products, such as computers, printers, copiers and office productivity tools.

During the last 11 years, Weaver has pushed and gently reminded agencies of their mandate under Section 508. She has been an advocate for ensuring 508 requirements are in acquisitions through the development and upgrading of the Buy Accessibility Wizard. She helped agencies make sure websites meet the standards and employees with disabilities have access to technology tools they need to do their job.

The Access Board, which governs Section 508 standards development, issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking Dec. 8 to update the standards. Comments are due March 7 and there will be a public meeting Jan. 11 in Washington at the Access Board.

Weaver said Helen Chamberlain will take over as the 508 lead in the interim.

Weaver came to Washington with the blizzard of 1979 as a programmer for the IRS. She began her career in 1973 working the night shift where she corrected tax returns on Long Island, N.Y.

During her career, Weaver also worked on the Trail Boss program, which GSA designed to improve how acquisition workers buy technology. She also helped plan the IRMCO conference for several years and the 508 conference called IDEAS.

"I'm continually amazed with how blessed I've been because of the people I've gotten to know working for the government," Weaver said. "They are some of the most incredibly smart people here, which I think is the hidden part of government service."

Weaver said among the biggest benefits of retirement she is looking forward to not spending three hours a day commuting to and from her home in Charles County, Md.

"I'll start off slowly with my new business, but I already have meetings schedule in January," she said. "I feel really good about it. And I'll be able to spend more time with grand kids."

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