2002 Conference Proceedings

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Accommodating Federal Employees with Disabilities: The CAP Process

Dinah F. B. Cohen, C.R.C., Director
Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program
Department of Defense

Brittany Matthews, C.R.C., Senior Analyst
Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program
Axiom Resource Management, Inc.
& http://www.axiom-rm.com

Providing real solutions for real needs to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to the information environment and opportunities in the United States Federal Government is the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) mission. In an effort to make the Federal government a model employer for people with disabilities, the National Defense Authorization Act granted CAP the authority to provide assistive technology, devices, and services to any Federal department or agency. Via this Act, all Federal agencies are eligible for CAP services at no cost to the agency. This presentation will focus on the CAP process and Federal employment and accommodation initiatives that encourage the recruitment, placement and retention of individuals with disabilities.

Breaking Barriers

The Department of Defense (DoD) established CAP in 1990 to eliminate employment barriers for its employees with disabilities. Since its inception, CAP has filled over 25,000 requests for accommodations for individuals with visual, hearing, dexterity, and cognitive disabilities within DoD and the Federal government. CAP is the Federal Government's centrally funded accommodations program. Much of CAP's success lies in the ability to provide reasonable accommodations to employees quickly, easily and in a cost efficient manner.

Employment Initiatives

CAP works with Federal agencies to help ensure inclusion and productivity for employees with disabilities. CAP is providing assistance to agencies by:

* Purchasing assistive technology and services

* Conducting needs assessments to identify appropriate assistive technology

* Assisting in technology integration

* Providing training on how to use assistive technology

* Advising agencies about creating accessible electronic environments

* Assisting in accommodating work-related injuries and supports telework participants

* Conducting presentations about CAP services and other accessibility issues

CAP supports the current Presidential Executive Orders, which require Federal agencies to hire and advance people with disabilities and to establish written procedures to facilitate the provision of reasonable accommodations.

CAP also supports the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), co-sponsored by DoD and the Department of Labor, providing summer employment for college students with disabilities. CAP provides accommodations to all students who participate in the WRP.

The Technology

CAP pays for a wide variety of assistive technology, devices and services for people with disabilities. CAP also provides training on the provided technology and purchases upgrades for software employees are currently using. Frequently requested accommodation solutions include:

* Blind/Low Vision: Magnification systems, speech and Braille output systems, scanner/reader systems, Braille embossers, Closed Circuit Televisions, and Braille notetakers.

* Deaf/Hard of Hearing: Teletypewriters (TTYs), PC- TTY modems, telephone amplifiers, assistive listening systems, and visual signaling devices.

* Dexterity Disabilities: Alternative keyboards, alternative input devices, word prediction software, speech recognition systems, pointing devices, hands-free computer interface systems and keyguards.

* Cognitive/Learning Disabilities: Talking dictionaries and scanner/reader systems.

* Communication Disabilities: Electronic communication aids and speech output systems to augment communication.

Technology Evaluation Center

The CAP Technology Evaluation Center (CAPTEC) is a facility dedicated to the evaluation and demonstration of assistive technology. It was established to assist supervisors and employees in choosing appropriate assistive technology to create work environments that are accessible to persons with disabilities.

CAPTEC consists of computer workstations configured with a wide variety of assistive technologies. People in the process of evaluating assistive equipment who have questions about compatibility or functionality, or who need to compare several solutions, may visit CAPTEC to test and evaluate equipment.

CAP Services

Conduct Needs Assessment: The purpose of the assessment is to identify barriers to performance and to identify possible assistive technology solutions.

A needs assessment reviews the essential job functions that need to be accommodated. The assessment can be conducted by a CAP Staff member and/or employee and supervisor, if needed. While all individuals with disabilities do not require assistance in identifying appropriate solutions, an important part of the needs assessment is identifying appropriate assistive technology tools.

Identify Appropriate Solutions: CAP uses a team approach for each disability group. The CAP disability expert team, employee, manager and/or computer systems personnel research available options by working with the person to be accommodated. Identifying appropriate solutions is a team effort in which outside resources may be used.

Complete Request Form: After identifying the most appropriate solution, the caseworkers process each request. The CAP Request Form can be completed and submitted to the CAP Office via mail, fax, e-mail or Web.

Procurement Process: CAP procures the assistive technology using IMPAC VISA credit cards. Most customers receive the equipment approximately 7-10 days after submitting a properly completed request.

Customer Care: Each customer will receive notifications after each CAP request. Additionally, customers are surveyed monthly to ensure continuous improvements.

Expected Outcomes

The implementation of CAP as the United States Federal government's centrally funded accommodations program significantly impacts Federal agencies and their ability to recruit, hire and promote people with disabilities. The CAP process, as outlined above, is a model for other organizations to utilize and tailor in meeting accommodation requirements. This workshop will ensure the attendees understand the process, recognize current Federal programs and initiatives, learn how to partner with the CAP Office, and understand how to incorporate the process in their organizations. All attendees will learn how CAP operates and is successfully providing real solutions for real needs for employees with disabilities throughout the Federal government.

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