Expect, Employ, Empower: Disability Employment Awareness Month

Accessibility in the workplace.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. And all of us at DOT are proud to recommit to creating a workplace that is as open, tolerant and accessible as possible.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, Secretary Foxx did just this. He reaffirmed the Department's commitment to a work environment that ensures accessibility to job applicants and employees with disabilities by announcing changes to procedures for providing accommodations.  (You can view the policy here.)

Secretary Foxx also reemphasized the Department's three-percent hiring goal for individuals with targeted disabilities.  This goal was initially set in 2006, as a response to Executive Order 13163, which challenged the Federal government to hire 100,000 people with targeted disabilities. Executive Order 13548, in July 2010, reissued that challenge. 

In support, the Departmental Office of Civil Rights (DOCR) assisted the Departmental Office of Human Resource Management with developing the DOT Five Year Plan to Increase Employment of People with Disabilities. This plan established hiring goals for individuals with disabilities, as well as individuals with targeted disabilities.There's no doubt about it: Much more work must be done to meet that three-percent goal. The Department's FY 2013 Annual audit reported a total of 1,977 new hires for DOT. But people with targeted disabilities only accounted for only 19 of those hires – or 0.96 percent.

We need to redouble our efforts.

Part of our strategy involves managers stepping up and taking a more proactive role. We need them to seek out and employing individuals with disabilities, including candidates who can be hired through special hiring authorities.  Managers can accomplish this by working with the Departmental Selective Placement Coordinator, and by accessing theWorkforce Recruitment Program database. Managers may also participate in targeted outreach recruitment, building relationships with local vocational rehabilitation service providers and disability support offices on college campuses.

Just as the Department works hard to ensure that our transportation system is the best, we are applying the same dedication and effort to ensure that DOT's workforce better reflects the people it serves.

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