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Yes. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires Federal agencies to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the agency. An undue hardship means that a specific accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense. A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace.
Federal agencies are required by Executive Order 13164 (EO 12164) to develop written procedures for providing reasonable accommodation. You may gain greater understanding of your specific situation and alternatives available to you by reading the agency's reasonable accommodation procedures. Different agencies place responsibility for reasonable accommodation in different offices. Contact the agency's personnel office, reasonable accommodation coordinator, civil rights office, selective
placement program coordinator, disability program manager or EEO office to request a copy of an agency's written procedures.
"Many businesses are learning that workers with disabilities are not only meeting expectations in the workforce, but also exceed them. Employees with disabilities are helping companies learn how to most effectively relate to customers with disabilities and their families and friends. As an added bonus, hiring employees with disabilities has provided many employers with the knowledge and experience to help lower their overall cost of time lost to temporary disabilities experienced by the rest of their staffs."
President Bush recognized the value of full participation of people with disabilities in America’s workforce. In his New Freedom Initiative, announced in February, 2001, he stated his commitment to " tearing down the remaining barriers to equality that face Americans with disabilities" and declaring his intention to "… increase the ability of Americans with disabilities to integrate into the workforce."
For more information on the advantages of hiring persons with disabilities, see Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations website.
Federal agencies may work directly with these organizations to refer candidates for employment opportunities using the excepted appointing authorities for hiring people with disabilities. Your agency's Plan for Employment of People with Disabilities may also include good sources of qualified candidates with disabilities for your vacancies. In addition, individuals with disabilities may always apply for vacancy announcements that are open to the general public.
The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) for college students with disabilities is a great source of potential candidates when considering college students with disabilities for employment. Employers can access the WRP candidate database by contacting their agency's WRP representative (usually in the human resources office).
In addition to competing for a position by applying via the link on a USAJOBS vacancy announcement, people with disabilities who are eligible for the Schedule A hiring authority may use the non-competitive hiring process to apply directly to agencies’ Selective Placement Program Coordinators (SPPC’s). SPPC’s may use this hiring authority to streamline the appointment of people with disabilities.
If you are interested in being considered under this special hiring authority, please provide the agency’s SPPC your "Proof of Disability" letter stating that you have a severe disability. You can get this letter from your doctor, a licensed medical professional, a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist or any Federal, state or local agency that issues or provides disability benefits.
Certain veterans may also be considered under special hiring programs for veterans with disability ratings of 30% or more. Department of Veterans Affairs vocational rehabilitation counselors should be able to provide additional information about this process.
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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