DoD recognizes disabled employees

Monday - 12/5/2011, 11:38am EST

Stephen King, director of disability services, Defense Department

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By Jolie Lee
Web Editor
Federal News Radio

The Defense Department is recognizing its disabled employees.

The winners of the Department of Defense Disability Awards are:

  • Large department: Navy
  • Mid-sized department: Defense Commissary Agency
  • Small department: Joint Staff
  • Intelligence: Defense Intelligence Agency

DoD evaluated the agencies' participation rate in hiring people with disabilities and severe disabilities. Military components also awarded individuals. The full list of winners will be released by DoD.

"There are indeed many young men and women ... who want to continue their service. They may not be able to continue to service our country in uniform. However, DoD wants to welcome them as civilian employees," said Stephen King, director of disability services at DoD, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris.

As the largest federal agency, DoD has a responsibility to be a leader in disability hiring, King said.

The push to increase federal hiring of people with disabilities came last year when President Obama signed an executive order.

"The federal government has an important interest in reducing discrimination against Americans living with a disability, in eliminating the stigma associated with disability, and in encouraging Americans with disabilities to seek employment in the federal workforce," the President wrote in the order.

King said many of the logistical challenges disabled people face in getting a job are already addressed by the department. DoD uses the Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program, which provides technology services to disabled workers. For example, a blind employee can take a picture of a printed page and use an application built into a Nokia cell phone to have the printed page read to the individual.

Managers can also give disabled employees more flexibility, such as telework opportunities or allowing for more breaks.

"In return for flexibility, you end up with employees and service members who return that many times over," he said.