Small Business Event


Section 508 Compliance Coordinator Ameenah Ghoston receives prestigious DoD award

by Marcus Johnson
DISA Strategic Communication and Public Affairs

Ameenah Ghoston, an information technology specialist in DISA’s Risk Management Executive, Office of the Chief Information Officer, received the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding DoD Employees and Service Members with Disabilities.

Ghoston and 22 others received awards during the 39th Annual Secretary of Defense Disability Awards ceremony at the Pentagon Oct. 3.

“Ameenah is the perfect recipient of this award due to her tenacious nature and passion for inclusion,” said Jennifer Augustine, who oversees DISA’s Section 508 IT Accessibility Program. “She certainly leads by example. She’s never satisfied with the status quo and she is always striving to better herself and the agency.”

The award, Ghoston explained, is a reminder that she must continue developing herself as a leader within the field of accessibility for information and communication technologies.

“I must also invest my time and talent into others while allowing others to do the same for me,” Ghoston said.

Ghoston’s ambitious goal reflects the theme of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month – The Right Talent, Right Now.”

The theme underscores how professionals like Ghoston add value and talent to the American economy by bringing skills that are critical to accomplishing the mission.

Ghoston, who serves as DISA’s Section 508 coordinator, said the workforce must avoid comparing people with disabilities to each other.

She added that people should remember that some disabilities are “hidden,” which can include psychological, emotional, intellectual and cognitive disabilities.

“[Comparing disabilities] trivializes how individuals experience their disabilities,” Ghoston said. “People with disabilities are unique and so is their journey with disabilities. It is just as challenging for people with hidden disabilities to function in our society as it is for those with physical disabilities. Fortunately, the Section 508 law seeks to address the technological needs of people with physical or hidden disabilities.”

As DISA’s 508 coordinator, Ghoston made recommendations that ensured the agency’s phones were Section 508 compliant. She also helped resolve network issues with video phones used by employees with hearing disabilities.

Before joining the DISA workforce, Ghoston worked at the National Federation of the Blind, where she tested and evaluated assistive technology devices.

In addition to coordinating 508 compliance for the agency, Ghoston co-chairs DISA’s People with Disabilities Employee Resource Group, where she helped increase the ERG’s membership to more than 100.

Despite her advocacy work, Ghoston said becoming an advocate for persons with disabilities is not her choice — it is her calling.

“If it were up to me, I would be doing something other than advocacy,” she said. “I spent 10 years ignoring the fact that I needed to get involved with advocating for better accessibility of information technology within the workforce for people with disabilities.”

In her calling, Ghoston’s commitment to advocacy work is a step toward Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper’s goal of harnessing the talent of people with disabilities.

“We must give everyone the opportunity to succeed and support them as they advance their careers,” Esper said, during his remarks.

For more information about diversity and inclusion in the DoD, contact the DoD Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at 703-697-5131.

To learn more about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at DISA, contact the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity at 301-225-6458.



Posted October 23, 2019