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This Saturday, July 26, marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a day for us to celebrate the tremendous contributions of people with disabilities to our country. From classrooms in Sacramento to buses in Denver to sidewalks here in the District of Columbia, this landmark legislation makes sure that Americans with disabilities are guaranteed full access and the same opportunities promised to all Americans.
On July 26, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, to mark the historic 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. His order says that the Federal government, as the nation's largest employer, must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities.
We have made great progress toward fulfilling the President’s vision. There are more people with disabilities in Federal service than at any time in the past 33 years. The talents, the experiences and the expertise of employees with disabilities are an indispensable part of the Federal workforce. At all levels and in every profession, the contributions of people with disabilities enrich the Federal government. Our nation is absolutely stronger because of their dedication and service.
Yet our work is not done. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities. We must continue our efforts to hire and retain employees with disabilities at all levels of government -- from resume through retirement -- so that we have the strongest workforce possible.
To support Federal employees in this effort, OPM, in consultation with partner agencies, has launched an online course entitled, “A Roadmap to Success: Hiring, Retaining and Including People with Disabilities.” The course, which will be available to agencies at no cost on HR University, provides basic information and resources to help employees and managers hire, retain and advance Federal workers with disabilities. In accordance with the Executive Order, this training will be required for human resources personnel and hiring managers.
Today, let all of us recommit to building an inclusive, vibrant and powerful workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people we serve.
Today, OPM released the “2012 Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch Report.” This report has some very exciting news. At no point in the past 32 years have people with disabilities been hired at a higher percentage than in FY 2012. People with targeted disabilities are also being brought into the Federal workforce at a higher percentage now than at any time in the past 17 years. This success has led to more people with disabilities in Federal service, both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 32 years.
We have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities in 5 years (Executive Order 13548- Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities). I applaud my fellow Federal employees for their hard work and dedication. As I have said before, when we set the bar high, when we strive to push our own boundaries of thinking, we move the needle. And that is what we have done. By including more people with disabilities in the Federal workforce, we are stronger and better able to serve America.
Still, our work is not done. I want to encourage Federal employees and the disability community to continue the work of recruiting, retaining and including employees with disabilities at all levels of government. We must do more to recruit people with targeted disabilities and to make sure that we are retaining this talent. We must continue to build stronger pipelines into Federal service and ensure that we are cultivating and attracting the talent that we need so that -- from resume through retirement-- we have the strongest workforce possible.
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