Commentary

October 26, 2012

National Disability Employment Awareness Month A month to ponder diversity, opportunities

Darcy Painter
412th Communications Squadron

Oct. 24, the California State Legislature declared this month as “Dwarfism Awareness Month” and Assemblymen Jared Huffman presented a framed copy of Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 152 to leaders of the Little People of America, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families.

With this declaration being presented at the state capitol, I am reminded of how this is another outstanding way we are all focusing our attention on the importance of hiring people with disabilities, including veterans, who are underemployed in the American workforce and also in our Edwards workforce.

I believe the Edwards workforce, just like the whole Federal workforce, needs to look like the Americans we serve and represent. The big goal of October’s Disability Awareness Month is to bring information to Edwards selecting supervisors about how to diversify our workforce to include Americans who are Black, Latin, Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indian working alongside Americans who are Deaf, Blind, Quadriplegic, Paraplegic, Veterans with missing limbs, and other wounded warriors.

During this past month, the Edwards-NASA-Disability-Disabled Veteran’s Committee completed four events to help raise awareness about people with disabilities.

We hosted a Mini-Expo at the Base Exchange with participation by Antelope Valley College, Office of Disabled Student Services demonstrating technology for Blind workers. A service dog from Canine Companions for Independence who is being raised by a local veterinarian’s family practicing in our community also came to help bring attention to how service dogs assist people with disabilities.

We hosted a Deaf and Hearing Cultural Awareness Dialog to facilitate the exchange of information between Edwards Deaf and Hearing employees; we had a Children’s Book reading over at the Child Development Center and held a luncheon featuring a presentation about how the California Department of Rehabilitation can help Edwards supervisors recruit and hire qualified candidates with disabilities.

My goal has always been to ensure Edwards senior leaders and selecting supervisors know how efficient it is to recruit and hire people with targeted or severe disabilities. Qualified candidates with severe/targeted disabilities can be direct hired via a fast track method known as “Schedule A, Excepted appointment.” An Excepted Appointment is a two-year, temporary appointment. At the end of the two years, the supervisor has the opportunity to convert the person to a permanent, career conditional-appointment.

I mention this, because I was hired into an Excepted Appointment by the [then] Equal Employment Opportunity Office back in 1979 after I graduated from college in New York. Like other people with disabilities, I was thrilled to get the chance to prove that I had the Right Stuff then and, here I am, 30 plus years later, still being given the opportunity to make a difference.




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