The United States government is the nation's largest employer, and as such, it leads the way in hiring the disabled. A 2010 Executive Order set a goal of hiring at least 10,000 disabled employees by 2015, and agencies have designed programs to recruit the disabled and make it easier for them to apply for jobs. In some cases, programs give preference to the disabled in filling federal job vacancies, while others the competition is equal throughout in regard to physical ability. The federal government needs workers with a variety of skills regardless of physical ability as long as the duties required can be performed and there is proof of work eligibility.
Looking For Work
The federal government website -- USAJobs.gov -- maintains a database of all federal job openings. You can browse the site to learn about specific job openings, the educational and background requirements for a job, and the skills needed to perform the job. If you don't see the particular job you're interested in, you can sign up to be alerted by email when such a job opens up. The Social Security Administration also maintains a list of job openings within the SSA.
The Competitive Process
The competitive job process is the same for disabled and non-disabled applicants. You find a job you're interested in on the USAJobs website, submit your application and wait for a call. You may undergo a telephone interview prior to an in-person interview. If you need special accommodation for your disability to complete the interview process, such as a text-to-speech telephone, such accommodation will be made. During the interview process, the employer may not ask questions specific to your disability, though he or she may ask questions designed to determine your ability to perform the duties of the job. For example, if the job requires you to be able to lift heavy boxes, the interviewer may ask if you are able to do so.
The Non-Competitive Process
Each federal agency involved in hiring civilians has a special placement coordinator who works with the disabled to help them find jobs within their agency. If you're interested in a job with the Social Security Administration, for example, you contact the SSA and ask to speak to the special placement coordinator. You then submit your application through the Special Coordinator and the department's hiring managers consider the application separately from non-disabled applicants.
Federal agencies must make reasonable accommodations to allow a disabled person to work. For example, a blind person may be given a special computer with speech recognition software, a deaf person may use a sign language interpreter, and someone in a wheelchair would have an accessible work station. The Department of Labor's Job Accommodation Network provides confidential consultations to help individuals and agencies design accommodations that allow disabled employees to perform their jobs. The cost of accommodations is figured in the agency's overall budget, not the budget of the individual office where the employee works.
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