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Disability Emphasis Program

The Disability Emphasis Program Manager encourages employment of qualified persons with disabilities. These opportunities include a broad range of grade levels and occupational series within NRCS.

Joe Thompson

Iowa NRCS Program Manager: Joe Thompson, Geologist, Des Moines, (515) 323-2631

Disability Awareness Month

DEP

The program seeks to:

  •  Promote understanding and appreciation of individuals with disabilities.
  • Create full participation in a work environment that capitalizes on creativity and richness.
  • Promote understanding of the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations and accessibilities.
  • Encourage managers to provide career enhancement and promotions for people with disabilities.

Iowans With Disabilities (PDF, 1 MB)

NRCS Reasonable Accommodations Process (PDF, 622 KB) - Reasonable accommodations allows persons with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment. This PowerPoint provides information regarding the roles and responsibilities of NRCS and the employee in making and processing a reasonable accommodation request.
AD1163 - Confirmation of Reasonable Accommodations Request Form (PDF)
AD2056 - Building Site Accessibility Checklist (PDF)
AD1164 - Reasonable Accommodations Reporting Form (PDF)
AD1165 - Denial of Reasonable Accommodations Request Form (PDF)
Authorization for Release of Information Form (PDF)
Form Letter Requesting Medical Documentation (PDF)
Form Letter Requesting Medical Documentation from Employees (PDF)
NRCS Reasonable Accommodations Procedure (PDF)
USDA Reasonable Accommodation Procedures

Disability Statistics

More than 50 million Americans, about 18 percent of the U. S. population, said in 2002 that they had a disability, and 12 percent had a severe disability, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau on May 12, 2006. Among people with disabilities, more than half of those 21 to 64 years old had a job, more than 4-in-10 of those ages 15 to 64 used a computer at home and a quarter of those age 25 to 64 had a college degree.

"The demographic snapshots contained in the report help planners and decision-makers assess the needs of this important segment of our population," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. The Americans with Disabilities: 2002 Report was compiled from the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

Approximately 51.2 million people said they had a disability; for 32.5 million of them, the disability was severe.

About 56 percent of people ages 21 to 64 who had a disability were employed at some point in the one-year period prior to the interview. People with a severe disability status reported the lowest employment rate (42 percent). This compared with the employment rates of people with a non-severe disability (82 percent) and those with no reported disability (88 percent).

Similarly, 32 percent of people ages 25 to 64 with a non-severe disability and 22 percent with a severe disability were college graduates. The corresponding rate for those without a disability was 43 percent.

Among other findings, people with a severe disability had an increased likelihood of having Medicare or Medicaid coverage, living below the poverty level, reporting their health status to be "fair or poor," receiving public assistance and having a household income below $20,000. For instance, the poverty rate for people 25 to 64 with no disability was 8 percent, compared with 11 percent for those with a no severe disability and 26 percent for people with a severe disability.

A person is considered as having a disability if they have difficulty performing a specific activity such as seeing, hearing, bathing or doing light housework, or had a specified condition, such as Alzheimer's disease or autism, etc. People are considered to have a severe disability if they are completely unable to perform one or more of these tasks or activities, need personal assistance or have a severe disabling condition.

Other highlights:

* Four million children ages 6 to 14, or 11 percent, had a disability. The chances of having a disability rise with age: 72 percent of people age 80 and older had disabilities.

* Approximately 11 million people ages 6 and older, or 4percent, needed personal assistance with an everyday activity.

* Among the population age 15 and older, 2.7 million used a wheelchair and 9.1 million an ambulatory aid such as a cane, crutches or a walker.

* About 7.9 million people age 15 and older had difficulty seeing the words and letters in ordinary newspaper print, including 1.8 million who were unable to see.

* There were 7.8 million people age 15 and older who had difficulty hearing a normal conversation, including 1 million unable to hear.

* About 14.3 million people age 15 and older had limitations in cognitive functioning or a mental or emotional illness that interfered with their daily activities, such as Alzheimer's disease, depression or mental retardation. This group comprised 6 percent of the population.

* Among adults ages 16 to 64, 11.8 million or 6 percent reported the presence of a condition that makes it difficult to remain employed or find a job.

* Median earnings for people with no disability were $25,000, compared with $22,000 for people with a non severe disability and $12,800 for those with a severe disability.

* Of those ages 15 to 64, 36 percent with a severe disability used a computer and 29 percent used the Internet at home.

These data were collected from June through September 2002 in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, these data are subject to sampling variability and other sources of error.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, May 12, 2006

Disability Etiquette

Important Accessibility Reminders (it's the right thing to do and it's the law)

We are required to include the "non-discrimination statement" on all materials provided to the public. The statement is linked here: http://www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/about/nondiscrimination.html.

  1. Public meeting announcements should include instructions for people who need accommodations, wheelchair accessibilities, interpreters, special diets (if food is provided) or alternate form materials such as Braille.
  2. If you know an interpreter is going to be needed at a meeting, provide printed copies of power point presentations, etc. so that the interpreter and person with hearing impairment can read ahead or take notes.
  3. Disability Etiquette (From Easter Seals website)

People with disabilities are entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to anyone, including personal privacy. If you find it inappropriate to ask people about their sex lives, their complexions, or their incomes, extend the same courtesy to people with disabilities.

If you don't make a habit of leaning or hanging on people, don't lean or hang on someone's wheelchair. Wheelchairs are an extension of personal space.
When you offer to assist someone with vision impairment, allow the person to take your arm. This will help you to guide, rather than propel or lead, the person.

Treat adults as adults. Call a person by his or her first name only when you extend this familiarity to everyone present. Don't patronize people who use wheelchairs by patting them on the head. Reserve this sign of affection for children.

In conversation...

When talking with someone who has a disability, speak directly to him or her rather than through a companion who may be along.

Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions, such as "See you later" or "I've got to run" that seem to relate to the person's disability.

To get the attention of a person who has a hearing disability, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. Not everyone with hearing impairments can lip-read. Those who do will rely on facial expressions and other body language to help understand. Show consideration by facing a light source and keeping your hands and food away from your mouth when speaking. Keep mustaches well-trimmed. Shouting won't help, but written notes will.

When talking with a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, place yourself at the wheelchair user's eye level to spare both of you a stiff neck.

When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you. Say, for example, "On my right is Andy Clark." When conversing in a group, remember to say the name of the person to whom you are speaking to give vocal cue. Speak in a normal tone of voice, indicate when you move from one place to another, and let it be known when the conversation is at an end.

Give whole, unhurried attention when you're talking to a person who has difficulty speaking. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting, and be patient rather than speak for the person. When necessary, ask questions that require short answers or a nod or shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Repeat what you understand. The person's reaction will guide you to understanding.

Common courtesies...

If you would like to help someone with a disability, ask if he or she needs it before you act, and listen to any instructions the person may want to give.

When giving directions to a person in a wheelchair, consider distance, weather conditions and physical obstacles such as stairs, curbs and steep hills.

When directing a person with a visual impairment, use specifics such as "left a hundred feet" or "right two yards."

Be considerate of the extra time it might take a person with a disability to get things done or said. Let the person set the pace in walking and talking.

When planning events involving persons with disabilities, consider their needs ahead of time. If an insurmountable barrier exists, let them know about it prior to the event.

The material above is from the Easter Seals website.

Resources

Links