October is Disability Employment Awareness Month

Disability.jpgBy Kevin S. Abel

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month; the purpose of this designation is to raise awareness and educate everyone about disability employment issues and celebrate the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This effort to educate the public about the issues related to disability and employment began in 1945, when Congress enacted Public Law 176, declaring the first week of October each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.

Some 25 years later, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The American Disability Act defines an individual with a disability as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” People with disabilities are a diverse group, crossing lines of age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart supports the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs run by federal agencies; programs that receive federal financial assistance; in federal employment; and in the employment practices of federal contractors and requires federal employers to provide reasonable accommodations.

When faced with recruitment/ selection employment actions, managers and supervisors are to hire the best-qualified candidate based on their knowledge, skills and abilities and not based on whether they have a disability or not.

There are a large number of resources out there if a new employee has a disability or a current employee becomes disabled that can help. Two of these resources are; Job Accommodation Network (JAN) https://askjan.org/ and Computer/ Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) http://cap.mil/.

JAN is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. It represents the most comprehensive job accommodation resource available and helps people with disabilities enhance their employability and educates employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

CAP is the centrally funded reasonable accommodations program for employees with disabilities in the DoD. Congress granted it the authority to provide assistive technology, devices, and support services free of charge to Federal agencies that have a partnership agreement with them. These technologies, which can be used to maintain, increase, or improve an individual’s job performance, are available to accommodate people with apparent or hidden disabilities such as Blind/low vision, cognitive, communication, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, or dexterity.

To learn more about reasonable accommodations, contact the your Disability Program Manager or the USAG Stuttgart Equal Employment Opportunity Office at 314-430-5256.