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Disability Inclusion in Action: Federal Agency Promising Practices

Watch these videos to learn about strategies to support and advance disability inclusion in the federal workforce.

Across the nation, federal agencies are utilizing a wide range of strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities. Watch these videos to meet talented federal employees with disabilities and learn about effective approaches for achieving your agency's disability inclusion goals.

*Please note that these videos may not reflect current job titles of the individuals depicted in them, or the individuals may no longer by working at the agencies they are representing in the videos.

Adapting and Staying on Mission During COVID

“One of the things that I love the most about OSHA is that it’s an absolutely fantastic, diverse workforce. I have employees of a variety of races and ethnicities, but also employees with disabilities….And I think that’s one of the things that makes the agency very good at what it does, because we reflect not only the general public, we also reflect employers and workforce members.”

– Day Al-Mohamed, Supervisory Program Analyst, OSHA

Cultural Transformation

“There are cultures within organizations that I think we do need to respect. But at the same time, we know that there's a common core that we think that everyone should adhere to, and part of that common core is treating every employee with dignity and respect…. So, let’s take the best of whatever anyone is doing and use it so that everyone can benefit.”

– Dr. Gregory L. Parham, (Former) Assistant Secretary for Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Internal Communication

“There are a lot of different strategies we have to use, not only to get outside of the DC area, but to reach people at different levels of federal service.”

–  Alison Levy, (Former) Departmental Disability Employment Program Manager, U.S. Department of Agriculture

External Communications

“I think collaboration and partnership are key to ensuring that as we’re bringing in different individuals and working to diversify our workforce, those collaborations, those partnerships help support the success of those entities and initiatives. We utilize the partnerships that we have, either through the Department of Veterans Affairs or Vocational Rehabilitation, in providing information for their job boards, for their clients.”

– Montez Ashley, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region

Clearly Communicate to Your Audience

“There are certain outreach activities, some of them as simple as finding some nationally known figure that has a disability and bringing them over here to our large auditorium and having them give a talk. It helps the whole population recognize that if you’re in a wheelchair or if you are blind, it doesn’t mean that your brain doesn’t work, and NASA’s always looking for smart people and always interested in listening to smart people.”

– Beth Nguyen, Associate Director, Human Resources Office, NASA Johnson Space Center

Finding Jobs, Finding Employees

“Another great thing for us is that our HR people are actually embedded within a district…. Because we have them embedded in place, our supervisors and our mid-level managers can talk with them directly face-to-face. They’re able to understand exactly…what we need.”

– Major Gary Bonham, Deputy District Engineer/Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Collaborating with Agencies

“What I liked about vocational rehabilitation was, they didn't say ‘We can’t do this.' They said, “How can we make this happen?'"

– Clara Johnson, Job Corps Liaison, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Regional Office

Effective Practices: The Workforce Recruitment Program

“The WRP has been a wonderful tool for providing additional resources here at the FDIC for us and I would highly recommend it to any potential employer who's considering it.”

– Arleas Upton Kea, Director, Division of Administration, FDIC

Training and Tools

“You can’t set a goal and not give people the resources and tools they need right then to meet those goals. We made sure that we included a Schedule A module in our mandatory supervisors and managers training course, which is a mandatory class that must be taken annually…. We have another resource guide…that gives some information and competencies for our hiring officials to make sure that they’re giving full consideration to individuals with disabilities.”

– Tinisha L. Agramonte, (Former) Director of Outreach and Retention, Department of Veterans Affairs

Providing Resources

“When you set a hiring goal, you let people know that you’re serious about employing this group of people. When you have money to procure reasonable accommodations and a system that tracks all accommodation requests that are submitted throughout the department, you show this. I think that is senior leadership’s demonstration of their commitment to hiring people with disabilities, and that’s what sets the culture and climate.”

– Tinisha L. Agramonte, (Former) Director of Outreach and Retention, Department of Veterans Affairs

Streamlining Accommodations

“I’ve never had a single conversation where someone asked, ‘Is this going to be a problem for us financially?’ The conversations were always about ‘How do we provide this person with the accommodation? Can we provide this? Is this absolutely what this person needs? Let’s make sure to get this person exactly what they need. Let’s talk to this person talk, to whoever, and make sure that this is the right type of equipment that this individual needs.’ It wasn’t about the money.”

– David Powell, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist, NASA Johnson Space Center

A Culture of Accommodation

“My eyesight has gone down more and more and my management team is very supportive. They’ve given me all the tools. They’ve actually come to me and said ‘Hey, is there anything else you need? Is there anything out there that we can give you as this continues?’ The main thing I think anybody with a disability wants is a level playing field. All we want is opportunity. Once you give us opportunity, then the rest is up to us.”

– Tracy Minish, Chief, Mission Operations Branch, NASA Johnson Space Center

The Meaning of Accommodation

“I have Asperger's disorder, so some of the accommodations I've needed is to have clear, direct communication…I need to have them say exactly what it is or give it to me in writing… Another accommodation I need to use sometimes is having another space where I can go if I need to when it gets too noisy because I'm really distracted easily by sounds sometimes."

– Jesse Kalachmam, (Former) Intern, Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Accommodations to Keep the Best

"Knowing that I’m working with people who know how to get things done, and people with the same passion that I have, you just unify. You find those people and say, 'We gotta move forward.’”

– Clara Johnson, Job Corps Liaison, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region

Advancing Careers

“The supervisor-employee relationship has to be strong enough where they know that you’ve got their back. I see my role as a supervisor as, I can bring people in, make sure that they're successful and then be okay with them taking another position because I know it's best for the employee and it's good for the agency. We have a role in promoting talent when we see it.”

– Ethan Ready, Public Affairs Officer, Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests, U.S. Forest Service

A Community in Practice: Success Stories in Advancing Disability Employment Initiatives in New Mexico’s Federal Workforce

“We developed and collaborated on a strategic plan for increasing our hiring of people with disabilities. Not only to just increase our employment of qualified individuals, but also to have it replicated in the community, and there’s even a component of community outreach.”

– Bob Liddy, Affirmative Employment Program Manager, Kirkland Air Force Base


“I think progress builds progress. You know, when people can see that they are meeting the goals or even coming close to the goals, they know exactly what to do the next time.”

– Christy Compton, (Former) Disability Program Manager, Division of Outreach and Retention, Department of Veterans Affairs

Accountability and Measuring Success

“It’s not just about hiring, it’s not just about retention. It’s about performance, it’s about maintaining an inclusive work environment. And all of that is contained by reference in their performance plans now… I really think the accountability piece went a long way to achieving that goal, as well as the training, as well as some of the other strategies we put in place at the VA.”

– Georgia Coffey, (Former) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity, Department of Veterans Affairs

Phases of Employment

Recruit Hire Retain Advance

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