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Military Sealift Command (MSC)
Military Sealift Command Hosts Virtual Special Observance in Honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month
by Bill Mesta, USN Military Sealift Command
15 October 2020
NORFOLK, Va. --
Service members and civilian teammates assigned to Military Sealift Command gathered virtually for a special observance held in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Oct. 15.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a nationwide campaign which celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
“National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to re-affirm the Department of Defense’s commitment to recruit, retain and advance individuals with disabilities throughout our workforce, and to recognize the important contributions American’s with disabilities make each and every day,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Michelle Gonzalez, mistress of ceremonies for the special observance and member of the command’s EEO Special Observance Committee. “The theme for the 2020 NDEMA is ‘Increasing Access and Opportunity.’”
In 1945, Congress originally declared the first week of October as 'National Employ the Physically Handicap Week.' Later, in 1962, the observance dropped the word ‘physically’ to acknowledge that not all disabilities are physical. Federal legislature expanded the observance to a month in 1988, and officially changed the name to National Disability Awareness Month.
Gonzalez read part of President Harry S. Truman’s 1945 presidential proclamation for the original observance which stated, “Whereas the people of this nation are determined to foster an environment in which those of their fellow citizens who have become physically handicapped can continue to make their rightful contribution to the work of the world and can continue to enjoy the opportunities and rewards of that work.”
MSC’s NDEAM special observance provided insight about two commonly asked questions in regards to employees with disabilities.
What is assistive technology?
A: The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 defines Assistive or Adaptive Technology as: products, devices, or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A: Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities. The provision of reasonable accommodations is the responsibility of the employing agency.
The keynote speaker for the special observance was Michael Young, a senior program analyst from the Department of Defense’s Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP).
“Established by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1990, the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program is a centrally funded program that provides assistive technology (AT) and reasonable accommodations to DoD employees with disabilities and wounded service members,” according to Young. “CAP's mission is to ensure that DoD employees with disabilities and wounded service members have equal access to the information environment and opportunities throughout the Department of Defense. CAP provides assistive technology and services to people with disabilities throughout the federal government free of charge.”
“We (at CAP) provide assistive technologies and associated training at no cost to individuals or the employing agency,” Young continued. “CAP also conducts comprehensive needs assessments, as needed, for technology for technology demonstrations.”
“CAP also provides training on disability program management and creating an accessible work environment,” he added. An employee with a disability may be provided with all the assistive technology tools they need to perform their job. But if the electronic network on which they work is not accessible, the tools are of no benefit to the employee, the agency, nor the mission.
CAP can also assist DoD agencies with ensuring they are in compliance with federal regulations and serve as a centrally funded resource to help agencies met their obligations to accommodate.
“CAP doesn’t alleviate an employing agency’s obligations, but we are here to serve as a resource,” according to Young.
Since its inception, CAP has provided over 212,000 accommodations to over 88,000 individuals. CAP provides assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members throughout the Federal Government in accessing information and communication technology.
For questions regarding CAP and its services, please contact the CAP outreach team at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact cap at email@example.com, by phone at 703-614-8416 and 833-227-3272, and by videophone at 571-384-5629.
For the latest information and news about CAP, please visit www.cap.mil or like, follow, and subscribe to any of their social media feeds.
The special observance was hosted virtually to thwart the spread of the COVID-19 among MSC’s teammates.
Military Sealift Command remains committed to supporting an inclusive professional work-force that develops all of its teammates and thrives on their contributions.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
DoD Accessibility/Section 508
No Fear Act
Plain Writing Act
Veterans Crisis Line
DoD Safe Helpline
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