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Disability Employment FAQs

  • A needs assessment may be obtained from several sources. A few are:
    • your own agency, in conjunction with its reasonable accommodation policy created in compliance with Executive Order 13164,
    • the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) in the Department of Defense,
    • State vocational rehabilitation agencies,
    • the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs,
    • the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor or
    • the Centers for Independent Living (CILs).
    Other sources of needs assessment depend on the organization that refers or places an applicant with a disability. For example, if the applicant is referred to you by the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), it is likely that someone from that program will arrange the needs assessment with the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) in the Department of Defense. If you are hiring a client of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs, those offices may perform needs assessments. Centers for Independent Living (CILs) offer information about needs assessment and accommodation services. CILs also often maintain rosters of persons available to serve as personal care attendants, interpreters for individuals who are hearing impaired, or readers for people with visual impairments. State vocational rehabilitation agencies funded under the Rehabilitation Act, private vocational rehabilitation companies, and nonprofit organizations also provide needs assessments. Federal employers also may obtain additional guidance on providing reasonable accommodation from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Free copies of the EEOC's published guidance on reasonable accommodation and other issues pertaining to non-discrimination against people with disabilities may be reviewed at EEOC’s website and obtained by calling (800) 669-3362 (voice), and (800) 800-3302 (TTY). Other resources for technology-related technical assistance and accommodation assessment are:
      • the Center for Information Technology Accommodation at the Office of Government-Wide Policy at the General Services Administration,
      • U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board ("Access Board");
      • the Assistive Technology Program at the U.S. Department of Education,
      • the TARGET Center at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and
      • the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) at the Department of Defense.
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  • Reasonable accommodations that can be requested include, but are not limited to, the following:
      • making existing facilities accessible;
      • restructuring the job;
      • utilizing part-time or modified work schedules;
      • adjusting or modifying tests, training materials, or policies;
      • providing qualified readers and interpreters;
      • acquiring or modifying equipment; and
      • reassigning an individual to a vacant position for which the employee must be qualified.
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  • All denials of reasonable accommodation requests must be made in writing, and the decision must specify the reason for the denial. The denial should be written in plain language, clearly stating the specific reasons for the denial. After denying a request, the individual must be informed that s/he has the right to file an EEO complaint, has the right to pursue any applicable union grievance and informal alternative dispute resolution.
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  •   A major life activity is a function that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty. Major life activities include activities such as caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, speaking, learning, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, and working.  
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  • No, the new regulation does not provide for priority in Federal hiring. The regulation applies to excepted service appointments.
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  • Generally the agency (employer) must bear the costs of providing reasonable accommodation. For more information see the amended Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In addition, Federal agencies may have several resources to draw upon when seeking support for reasonable accommodation. Sometimes other agencies have a role in funding the cost of an accommodation. For example, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs may have funds to assist employers in providing reasonable accommodations for veterans with disabilities. The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) in the Department of Defense provides reasonable accommodations such as assistive technology, devices and support services for free to Federal agencies who have a partnership agreement with CAP. Applicants and employees are not expected or required to bear the costs of reasonable accommodations. Check with the agency personnel office, disability coordinator, or EEO office to see how requests for accommodation are handled at a particular agency.
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  • An individual who is granted a reasonable accommodation might not receive the exact form of accommodation requested. The deciding official has the discretion to identify reasonable and appropriate alternatives.
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  • The final regulations establish a new 5 CFR appointing authority (5 CFR 213.3102(u)) that consolidates multiple excepted appointing authorities into one expanded excepted appointing authority. Impact will depend on the actual circumstances of the restructuring, and how an agency decides to effect the RIF. Agencies have discretion in determining which positions to abolish, as well as discretion to provide affected competing excepted service employees with certain assignment rights. Therefore, impact (positive, neutral, or negative) depends on the implementation of a RIF by the agency.
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  • The excepted hiring authorities referenced in question 18 create a streamlined process to hire people with disabilities. Using these excepted hiring authorities eliminates the requirement for competition which may be very time-consuming. The excepted hiring authorities may require that the disabled person have a certification from a State vocational rehabilitation agency or the Veterans Administration. Once again, consult your human resources office to ensure that you use the best hiring strategy for your specific vacancy.
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  • Employees or applicants with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation are responsible for making their needs known to the appropriate official. Supervisors are responsible for properly responding to requests for accommodation from their employees. When an individual decides to request accommodation, the individual or his/her representative must let the employer know that s/he needs an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. The employer and the individual with a disability should engage in an informal process to clarify what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation.
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  • There is no limit on the number of times an individual may be appointed as long as he/she meets the regulatory requirements for appointment.
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  • Common courtesy should prevail when interacting with individuals with disabilities, as with all other employees. If questions arise as to whether assistance should be offered or whether a particular accommodation is necessary, the best course of action is simply to ask the person with a disability his or her preference. Most people with disabilities will not become offended if asked their preferences and would, in fact, welcome the opportunity to share information that would create a more pleasant work environment for everyone.
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  • No, conversion to a career or career-conditional appointment is not mandatory. The hiring agency maintains the discretion to determine whether an employee is ready for placement in the permanent career workforce. The agency is not required to convert an individual on the 5 CFR 213.3102(u) appointing authority; however, the intent of Executive Orders 12125 and 13124 concerning employment of people with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities and psychiatric disabilities is to permit these individuals to obtain "civil service competitive status." Civil service competitive status is obtained through conversion to the competitive service, rather than remaining in the excepted service.
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  •   When the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations. An employer should respond expeditiously to a request for reasonable accommodation.  
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  • People with disabilities are appointed under 5 CFR 213.3102(u).
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  •     The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) provides assistive technology accommodations and services to persons with disabilities at the Department of Defense and over 38 Federal agencies (upon the request of the head of the Federal agency) at no cost. CAP supports accessibility efforts, including the successful implementation of Section 508’s electronic and information technology accessibility requirements. The U.S. Department of Agriculture established the Technology Accessible Resources Gives Employment Today (TARGET) Center to support the Department with assistive technology and ergonomic solutions. Needs assessments and demonstrations conducted by the Center provide federal employees with disabilities equal access to electronic and information technology essential in today's work force. The Department of Transportation - Disability Resource Center (DRC) is a one-stop shop to ensure that DOT employees with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of the Department's work, programs and services. DRC provides reasonable accommodations, assessments, and assistive technology. The Department of Education's Assistive Technology Program provides support services to Education managers and supervisors in determining how technology can be used to meet the reasonable accommodation needs of employees with disabilities. These services include needs assessments, specialty equipment and software demonstrations. The Assistive Technology Team also studies software development issues pertaining to Education accessibility requirements for product implementation in Department-wide systems. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) Disability Policy/Section 504 Reasonable Accommodation staff within the Office of Management's Work/Life Programs Group (WLPG) promotes disability awareness and assists managers and staff with reasonable accommodation and program access needs. Having disability access resources available reflects ED's ongoing commitment to provide full access to all customers and employees with disabilities. These resources include services such as Braille and audiotape versions of ED publications, funding for reasonable accommodations, and guidance on a range of accessibility questions. Other offices within ED also provide resources and work closely with the Disability Policy/Section 504 Reasonable Accommodation staff to deliver disability-access services to all Department customers and employees who need them. For more information, call the Section 504/Reasonable Accommodation office at 202-401-8545 Voice or 202-260-8874 TTY or call the Work/Life Programs Group main number at 202-401-2905 Voice/TTY via Federal Relay Service. The Department of Commerce - Committee on Resources for Electronic Accessible Technology to End Users (CREATE) offers planning and coordination of activities that increase awareness of assistive technology for people with disabilities. For more information call (202) 482-3201 (Voice) or (202) 482-4675 (TTY).   The Department of Energy - Disability Accommodation Program, Assistive Technologies Support Team is the primary point of contact for employees with disabilities at headquarters. The Team provides coordination, responsibility, and oversight for all support interfaces with individual employees with disabilities or impairments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development - Housing Accessibility Resource Program (HARP) maintains an information library containing extensive reference materials and resources. HARP also provides an opportunity for managers and employees to utilize the TARGET Center at the USDA to view and evaluate assistive technology. For more information call (202) 708-0288 x268 (Voice) or (202) 708-4401 (TTY). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - The Microcomputer Training Program for Persons with Disabilities (MTPPD) provides cost-reimbursable assistive technology training for U.S. veterans. It also provides product assessment, demonstrations, consultations, and facility tours. Currently, MTPPD is helping VA implement the Nationwide Office Automation which will allow all users access to the information environment. For more information, call (202) 273-6542 (Voice) or fax to (202) 273-6555. The Internal Revenue Service - Information Resources Accessibility Program (IRAP) Office provides accessible electronic information technology to customers with disabilities. Associates offer consultations, technical support, demonstrations, and facility tours. IRAP also tests IRS systems and products to ensure accessibility to and compatibility with assistive technology. To find out more, visit their website, or call (202) 283-0283 (Voice) or (202) 283-6566/67 (TTY). The Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity (OCREO), provides adaptive devices to accommodate SSA's employees with disabilities. SSA believes that having a centralized account to purchase adaptive devices encourages managers to hire more people with disabilities since they would not have to deplete local resources to purchase expensive adaptive equipment. A central component of SSA tracks the technologies that are compatible with SSA's systems. In 1997, SSA embarked on a four-year project to provide personal computers with mainframe emulation to all SSA employees which would be connected by local and wide area networks. The Federal Communications Commission - Disability Rights Office (DRO) works hard to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to telecommunications. The DRO, housed in the FCC's Consumer Information Bureau, provides technical assistance to consumers, businesses, and government agencies on their rights and responsibilities to facilitate disability access in the foundations and frontiers of telecommunications
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  • The following is a list of some examples of documents agencies may accept as proof of an intellectual disability, severe physical disability or psychiatric disability. Ultimately, it is the agency's choice what type(s) of documentation will be acceptable:
    • Statements or letters on a physician's/medical professional's letterhead stationary.
    • Statements, records or letters from a Federal Government agency that issues or provides disability benefits.
    • Statements, records or letters from a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency counselor.
    • Certification from a private Vocational Rehabilitation or other Counselor that issues or provides disability benefits.
    As the regulation is implemented and used by agencies, this list may grow to include other types of certification. OPM will issue additional guidance to agencies on what constitutes "appropriate documentation" on an "as needed" basis.
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  •   An individual with a disability:  
    • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the person's major life activities;
    • has a record of such an impairment; or
    • is regarded as having such impairment.
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  •  Provided the information is accurate, there are no OPM imposed limitations on the number of times an applicant may submit such documentation or requirements concerning the timeframe which the documentation must be dated.
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  •   For specific training packages for new managers, the USDA Graduate School offers the following courses:
    • Human Resource Management for Supervisors and Managers
    • EEO -- Its Place in the Federal Government
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  • Initially, start by discussing the accommodation needs with the person who has the disability. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, considering the specific needs and the existing limitations of the person you hire who has a disability. Accommodations are also determined based on the essential functions of the job, the work environment, the effectiveness of the proposed accommodation, and any alternative means of accomodation. Some of the most common types of accommodations include, but are not limited to:
    • TTYs for use with telephones by people who are deaf; hardware and software that make computers accessible to people with vision impairments or who have difficulty using their hands;
    • Sign language interpreters for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or readers for people who are blind;
    • Providing training and other written materials in an accessible format, such as in Braille, on audio tape, or on computer disk; and
    • Physical changes, such as installing a ramp or modifying a workspace.
    For more information refer to the reasonable accommodation policy for your agency.
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  • Individuals with disabilities may be considered for excepted service positions under the 213.3102(u) appointment authority by reviewing vacancy announcements posted on www.usajobs.gov and submitting resumes for positions that are of interest to the applicant, or they may contact agency Special Placement Coordinator(s) in the agency for which they wish to work. (Special Placement Coordinators are involved with the hiring, placement, and advancement of individuals with disabilities at their agency; a list of these coordinators can be found at http://apps.opm.gov/sppc_directory/). Because appointments under 5 CFR 213.3102(u) are excepted service appointments, agencies may accept resumes without posting job notices. Applicants should indicate "5 CFR 213.3102(u)" on their resumes for both application methods.
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  • The summer jobs program for college students with disabilities is called the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). This program is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Department of Defense. The WRP aims to provide summer work experience, and in some cases, permanent employment, for college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other Federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs. The Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) provides assistive technology and accommodation services to all WRP participants working for the Federal Government for the summer.
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  • Reasonable accommodations that can be requested include, but are not limited to, the following: o   making existing facilities accessible;   o   restructuring the job;   o   utilizing part-time or modified work schedules;   o   adjusting or modifying tests, training materials, or policies;   o   providing qualified readers and interpreters;   o   acquiring or modifying equipment; and   o   reassigning an individual to a vacant position for which the employee must be qualified.  
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Total Count: 95, Number of Pages: 4, Page: 3
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