For People With Disabilities in the
March 13, 1998, President Clinton addressed the underemployment
of people with disabilities by signing Executive Order 13078
establishing the Presidential Task Force on Employment of
Adults with Disabilities. The Task Force was charged with
creating a coordinated and aggressive national policy to
bring working-age individuals with disabilities into gainful
employment at a rate approaching that of the general adult
over 209,284 people with disabilities, seven percent of
the total federal civilian workforce, work for the federal
government. Opportunities exist at all levels of government
and in hundreds of occupations. Total disabled federal employment
has remained constant at seven percent since 1980. Executive
Order 13078 and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
has increase awareness of hiring options by federal managers.
These initiatives should expand total disabled employment
opportunities throughout government. All agencies are required
by law to develop outreach efforts to identify qualified
candidates to meet agency workforce diversity goals.
This section explains the various hiring options for people
with disabilities. Individuals seeking appointments with
the federal government must be proactive and begin networking
with local agencies, contacting listed resources, and aggressively
seeking out all available federal employment opportunities.
Agencies have direct hire authority for Schedule A appointments
presented in this section.
Agency personnel offices work with State vocational rehabilitation
agencies (SVRAs), the Department of Veterans Affairs, colleges
and universities (e.g., Gallaudet University) and other various
organizations to locate and identify qualified people with
disabilities. In addition, many Federal employers participate
in focused job fairs and campus recruitment visits to identify
qualified people with disabilities. Hiring may be accomplished
through the competitive hiring process or, if the qualifications
are met, through the use of excepted service appointment authorities.
employers may use a variety of hiring options to bring people
with disabilities into their workforce. Descriptions of
key options are listed below.
Federal employees obtain jobs competitively. Applicants
apply directly to the hiring departments and agencies for
most positions. Federal employers use a variety of assessment
tools in evaluating applicants and conducting hiring. If
passing a written test is required, testing accommodations
are available, if requested. Once this process is completed,
an agency may select from a list of qualified applicants.
agency may fill a position using a temporary or term appointment
when the need for an employees services is not permanent.
Temporary appointments are made not to exceed one year,
with one 1-year extension. The work must not be permanent
in nature. In contrast, term appointments are made for a
period of more than one year but not to exceed four years.
appointments are appropriate when there is project work,
extraordinary workload, scheduled abolishment, reorganization,
contracting out of the function, uncertainty of future funding,
or the need to maintain permanent positions for placement
of employees who would otherwise be displaced from other
parts of the organization.
Under Special Authorities
Federal Governments hiring options include excepted
service special appointing authorities for people with disabilities.
Federal employers are authorized to use these authorities
when considering certain people with disabilities (those
who have severe physical, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities
or who have a history of or who are regarded as having such
disabilities). The authorities provide a unique opportunity
to demonstrate the potential to successfully perform the
essential duties of a position with or without reasonable
accommodation in the workplace.
A, 5 CFR 213.3102(t) for Hiring People with Mental Retardation.
This authority is used to appoint persons with cognitive
disabilities (mental retardation) who meet the eligibility
requirements. Upon completion of 2 years of satisfactory
performance the employee may qualify for conversion to
the competitive service.
A, 5 CFR 213.3102(u) for Hiring People With Severe Physical
Disabilities. This authority is used to appoint persons
with severe physical disabilities who: (1) under a temporary
appointment have demonstrated their ability to perform
duties satisfactorily; or (2) have been certified by a
counselor from a State vocational rehabilitation agency
(SVRA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational
Rehabilitation Office as likely to succeed in performance
of duties. Upon completion of two years of satisfactory
service under this authority, the employee may qualify
for conversion to the competitive service.
B, 5 CFR 213.3202(k) for Hiring People Who Have Recovered
from Mental Illness. This authority permits appointments
at Grades GS-15 and below when filled by individuals who:
(1) are placed at a severe disadvantage in obtaining employment
because of a psychiatric disability evidenced by hospitalization
or outpatient treatment and have had a significant period
of substantially disrupted employment because of the disability;
and (2) are certified to a specific position by a State
vocational rehabilitation counselor or a Department of
Veterans Affairs counseling psychologist (or psychiatrist)
who indicates that they meet the severe disadvantage criteria
stated above, that they are capable of functioning in
the position to which they will be appointed, and that
any residual disability is not job related. Employment
under this authority may not exceed two years following
each significant period of mental illness.
addition, Federal employers can use the following hiring
authorities to provide assistance to employees with disabilities:
A, 5 CFR 213.3102(ll) for Hiring Readers Interpreters,
and Other Personal Assistants. This authority permits
appointments of readers, interpreters, and personal assistants
for employees with severe disabilities when filled on
a full-time, part-time, or intermittent basis. Upon completion
of at least one year of satisfactory service under this
authority, the employee may qualify for conversion to
the competitive service.
individual who has a physical disability is considered to
have met OPM qualification standards for either a temporary
competitive service appointment or an excepted service Schedule
A appointment when an appropriate certification is received
from a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (SVRA) or
the Department of Veterans Affairs. The certification is
prepared by a counselor on the basis of job-site inspection,
analysis of job tasks, and evaluation of the proposed appointees
abilities and disabilities. The certification must state
that in the counselors judgement the proposed appointee
is able to perform the duties of the position and is physically
qualified to do the work safely. The certification must
be supported by a medical report and a narrative statement
documenting the counselors conclusions. Factors to
be discussed include training, education, work history,
modification of job or worksite if needed, and limitations
of the proposed appointee.
Versus Excepted Service
A good number of people with disabilities start their federal
career in the excepted Service while most federal jobs are
in the Competitive Service. Congress excepted certain jobs
and groups from the Competitive Service. In the competitive
service individuals must compete for positions through examination.
The end result is that individuals are placed on a competitive
register in rank order of their rating. Agencies then can
select from the top three candidates on the list when vacancies
When appropriate, OPM uses special examination (testing)
procedures for applicants who are physically handicapped
to assure that their abilities are properly and fairly assessed.
Special testing arrangements are determined on an individual
basis depending on the applicant's disability. For example:
readers, examinations in Braille, tape, or large print for
visually impaired competitors; and interpreters for test
instructions and modifications of parts of tests for hearing
Accommodations on the job
When federal agencies hire a person with disabilities, efforts
are made to accommodate the individual to remove or modify
barriers to their ability to effectively perform the essential
duties of the position. Agencies may, for example: (1) provide
interpreter service for the hearing impaired, (2) use readers
for the visually impaired, (3) modify job duties, (4) restructure
work sites, (5) alter work schedules, and (6) obtain special
equipment or furniture.
Periodicals & Newspapers with Federal Job
Magazine - Jobs Information Business
Service, 1001 West 17th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627; 949-854-8700.
ABILITY Magazine provides information on new technologies,
the "Americans with Disability Act", travel and
leisure, employment opportunities for people with disabilities,
human interest stories, national and local resource centers
and more. ABILITY Magazine helps remove the misunderstandings
and erase the stereotypes that surround disability issues.
Call or visit their web site for subscription rates. Ability
also offers an electronic classified system, JobAccess,
which allows employers to recruit qualified individuals
with disabilities. The goal of JobAccess is to enable
people with disabilities to enhance their professional lives
by providing a dedicated system for finding employment.
People with disabilities can locate viable employment opportunities
either through their print magazine or visit their excellent
internet web site at http://www.jobaccess.org/.
Cancer Society - 1-800-ACS-2345; http://www.cancer.
Refers employers to organizations offering help in recruiting
qualified individuals with disabilities, and community programs
offering consultation and technical assistance to cancer
patients, survivors, and their families. Publishes information
on the employment of cancer patients and survivors.
Council of the Blind - 1155 15th St., N.W., Ste.
720, Washington, D.C. 20005; 202-467-5081 or 800-424-8666,
http://www.acb.org/. Provides information on topics affecting
the employment of individuals who are blind, including job
seeking strategies, job accommodations, electronic aids,
and employment discrimination. Provides information on job
openings for individuals who are blind and visually impaired.
Offers free legal assistance in employment discrimination
People With Disabilities in the Federal Government, Various
guides to help Federal employers and human resource personnel
understand issues and programs aimed at improving the employment
of people with disabilities are available.