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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

Disability Employment

  • Decisions on making accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis. Executive Order 16134, however, requires each Federal agency to establish effective written procedures to facilitate the provision of reasonable accommodation for applicants and employees. Contact specific agencies for information on their decision-making process.
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  •  

    The process of finding a Federal job is not as complex as you may have heard. If you want to be considered for employment with the Federal Government or if you wish to pursue career opportunities once you become an employee, please find job openings via these websites. An electronic listing of all of the latest Federal job opportunities may be obtained from the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS website. It is convenient, user friendly, accessible through the computer or telephone and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

     

    Many Federal agencies also display electronic employment information and job listings on their websites. You can access this information by visiting the specific Federal agency websites at FIRSTGOV.

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  • You are not required to talk about your disability during an interview. An interviewer should ask you questions about your job qualifications and about how you can perform the essential functions of the job. An interviewer is prohibited from asking you questions about your disability that are not relevant to your functioning on the job. For more information, click here. During a job interview, you should present your qualifications in a positive manner, emphasizing your abilities and assets. However, if you have a disability, it might be to your advantage to anticipate some of the questions that an interviewer may be reluctant to ask.

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  • Yes, people with disabilities must meet all basic qualification requirements for the job in order to be hired, as is true for non-disabled candidates who are hired. Qualified individuals with disabilities must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

    For more information, please refer to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

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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 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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  • 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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  • Contact your human resources office for advice and assistance on hiring people with disabilities. Your personnel specialist will be able to advise supervisors and managers on the different avenues available to recruit and hire qualified candidates, including individuals with disabilities. If your organization has designated a Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Manager or a Selective Placement Coordinator, these individuals can serve to connect you and your HR specialist with interested candidates. Take advantage of all the resources in your agency.
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  • It is good business to hire from a potentially underutilized source of outstanding workers. People with disabilities represent one such resource. The practice of looking to qualified people with disabilities as a hiring resource applies equally to private industry and to public sector employment. The following excerpt from Craig Gray’s article in the September 2000 issue of Executive Online illustrates this point.

    "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.

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  • Once any necessary accommodations are made to help the employee with a disability function on the job, no other special consideration need be made. As with a non-disabled employee, an employee with a disability must be evaluated according to the items in his/her annual performance plan or agreement. As with any other employee, direct and honest feedback aimed at improving performance is always appropriate. For more information on employee performance management see OPM's Performance Management Technical Center.
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  •  

    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.

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