The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Table of Contents
Part I: Recruiting and Hiring
Part II: Reasonable Accommodation
Part III: Protecting the Rights of
Individuals With Disabilities on the Job
Part IV: Other Best Practices That
Promote the Employment of People with Disabilities
Part V: Issues for Further Evaluation
This report highlights best practices of nine states
that promote the hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with
disabilities in state government jobs. The United States Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is issuing this report as part of the
agency's efforts in support of the New Freedom Initiative, President
George W. Bush's comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people
with disabilities into all aspects of America's social and economic life.
Despite progress made since the passage of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, people with disabilities
still experience unemployment at a rate far above the national average.
With more than five million workers nation-wide and with the unique
opportunities they have to serve as model employers, state governments can
play a significant role in enhancing employment opportunities for people
The governors of the nine participating states
voluntarily allowed EEOC to review a wide range of best practices
affecting individuals with disabilities who are state government employees
or applicants for state employment. We examined state government practices
related to the following:
- the recruitment and hiring of people with
disabilities for state jobs;
- the provision of reasonable accommodations for
applicants and employees with disabilities;
- the retention and advancement of individuals with
disabilities within state government; and
- the employment of people with disabilities more
generally - that is, in both public and private sector jobs.
This report also lists a number of what may be
inadvertent barriers to the employment, retention, and advancement of
qualified individuals with disabilities. We suggest that all states
evaluate their practices to determine whether they include these or other
This report has two purposes. First, all employers,
including the participating states, can learn from the best practices
outlined in this report. Second, we are offering states free, informal
technical assistance to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA.
Parts I through IV of the report discuss best
practices, and Part V lists potential barriers. Following are some of
EEOC's most significant findings:
Part I: Recruiting and Hiring
- Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico created an
Executive Task Force on Disability Employment to develop strategies to
increase the recruitment and hiring of qualified individuals with
disabilities for state government jobs.
- Vermont and Washington work with organizations of
and for individuals with disabilities as part of their targeted
outreach and recruitment efforts. Maryland has a Coordinator of
Special Outreach and Employment Programs to assist state agencies in
targeting diverse applicant pools for state positions that include
persons with disabilities.
- Vermont and Washington have programs that
specifically train and/or hire individuals with disabilities for state
jobs. Vermont also provides a "must interview" to anyone
with a disability who meets the minimum qualifications for any state
- Most of the states surveyed provide clear
statements to job applicants about reasonable accommodations for the
application process and provide supervisors and managers with training
on their ADA obligations related to the application and interview
Part II: Reasonable Accommodation
- Vermont has state-wide written reasonable
accommodation policies and procedures; Washington requires state
agencies with 50 or more employees to develop reasonable accommodation
procedures that are reviewed by the state's Affirmative Action
Committee; and Florida and Kansas reported that a number of state
agencies have adopted their own written procedures.
- Several states provide procedural safeguards to
ensure that reasonable accommodations are not inappropriately denied.
Utah trains all of its ADA Coordinators to submit any proposed denials
to the Division of Risk Management so that they can be reviewed for
legal sufficiency; Vermont created a Reasonable Accommodation
Committee to which an employee may have a denial submitted for review;
and Washington requires that all denials of accommodation be signed by
the head of the employing agency.
- Maryland and Vermont have tracked information
related to the provision of reasonable accommodations that could be
used to assess the effectiveness of their reasonable accommodation
- While all of the states surveyed generally
require individual state agencies to pay for reasonable
accommodations, Utah and Washington have some centralized funds
available for any agency that can demonstrate a particular
accommodation would be too costly for the agency to obtain on its own.
- Agencies in Kansas and Missouri provide
accommodations for some individuals who do not necessarily meet the
ADA's definition of "disability," such as those with
limitations resulting from short-term, temporary conditions.
Part III: Protecting the Rights of Individuals With
Disabilities on the Job
- The Maryland Aviation Administration's bi-annual
supervisory ADA training addresses the issue of how to promote career
development for individuals with disabilities.
- Most of the states we surveyed indicated that
training on the ADA is provided for managers and supervisors either on
a statewide or agency-wide basis.
Part IV: Other Best Practices That Promote the
Employment of People with Disabilities
- In 2004, Florida established the Agency for
Persons with Disabilities and Maryland elevated its former Office on
Individuals with Disabilities to cabinet-level status.
- Florida, Kansas, and New Hampshire have taken
steps to ensure a level of accessibility of state websites that meets
or exceeds the standards applicable to the federal government under
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
- The Florida Freedom Initiative is a demonstration
project that allows certain individuals who received Medicaid and
Supplemental Security Income to earn and save more than current law
generally permits without losing vital benefits.
- Maryland and Vermont have participated in a pilot
project to have some employees serve as "disability program
navigators" at state One Stop Career Centers created under the
Workforce Investment Act to help people with disabilities access these
services more easily.
- Youth Leadership Forums in Florida, Kansas,
Maryland, Missouri, Vermont, and Washington annually bring together
thirty to forty high school juniors and seniors to participate in
several days of activities that help them develop vocational goals,
strengthen leadership skills, and learn from the experiences of other
youth and adults with disabilities.
Part V: Issues for Further Evaluation by States
- Some equal employment opportunity and affirmative
action policies fail to include disability. In other instances,
affirmative action policies mention disability, but no specific
efforts are being made to increase the representation of individuals
with disabilities in the workforce.
- Some procedures inappropriately limit the
obligation to provide reasonable accommodations such as telework and
reassignment, or limit the availability of reasonable accommodation to
those with "permanent" conditions.
- Some training materials for managers,
supervisors, and ADA Coordinators include legal inaccuracies.
The report's conclusion notes several positive
trends. Applicants for state employment are frequently given information
about the availability of reasonable accommodations for the application
process, and job announcements and position descriptions do not appear to
be drafted in ways that would discourage people with disabilities from
applying for state jobs. Some states have undertaken targeted outreach to
and recruitment of individuals with disabilities. At this time there is
insufficient data to assess the effectiveness of these efforts.
Supervisors, managers, and other state personnel
responsible for the hiring, retention, and advancement of people with
disabilities have access to sufficient information about their ADA
obligations. The use of written procedures for providing reasonable
accommodations, methods of documenting and tracking the disposition of
requests, and the provision of appeal processes following denials of
reasonable accommodations are also positive trends in some states. We were
unable to determine the extent to which individuals with disabilities have
been able to advance within state government once hired, since we saw
little evidence that the states undertake any measures to determine the
distribution of employees with disabilities among the various levels of
the state government workforce.
Finally, we note that many of the best practices
identified in the report resulted from legislative or executive actions.
This sends a clear message "from the top" that the employment of
people with disabilities is a priority for the states.
This report details best practices undertaken by
states to promote the hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with
disabilities in state government employment. The U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC" or "Commission") issued
an interim report covering four states - Florida, Maryland, Vermont, and
Washington - on October 29, 2004. (1) This
final report covers those four states and five others - Kansas, Missouri,
New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Utah.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(ADA) (2) prohibits private and state and
local government entities that employ fifteen or more employees from
discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities with respect
to recruitment, the application process, hiring, advancement, and other
terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. (3)
Employers covered by Title I of the ADA must also make reasonable
accommodations so that qualified individuals with disabilities may
participate in the application process, perform the essential (or
fundamental) duties of a job, and enjoy the benefits and privileges of
employment available to all employees.
Despite progress made as the result of the ADA, recent
estimates still put the unemployment rate of people with severe disabilities
at or near 70 percent. In response to this stubbornly high unemployment rate
and other barriers that people with disabilities continue to face, President
George W. Bush announced his New Freedom Initiative (NFI) on February 1,
2001. The NFI is the President's comprehensive strategy for the full
integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of America's social
and economic life. It promotes increased access to technology, education,
the workplace, and community life. (4)
The EEOC enforces Title I of the ADA and has, since
2001, taken a lead role in helping to implement the NFI's employment goals.
In addition to carrying out its traditional enforcement and litigation
functions under the ADA, the EEOC has stepped up its outreach and technical
assistance efforts. In April 2002, we began a series of free ADA workshops
targeted to businesses with 15 to 100 employees. Since August 2002, we have
distributed thousands of copies of The Americans with Disabilities Act:
A Primer for Small Business. We have issued question-and-answer
documents discussing how the ADA applies to specific disabilities in the
workplace, such as diabetes, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities (i.e.,
mental retardation), and cancer and have published a guide that describes
how Title I of the ADA applies to food service employers. We have also
issued a question-and-answer document on telework as a reasonable
accommodation. Finally, we have increased our outreach to people with
disabilities through presentations at conferences sponsored by organizations
of and for individuals with disabilities and publication of a
question-and-answer document on the ADA for job applicants with
The EEOC has undertaken the "States' Best
Practices Project" in part because of the number of people state
governments employ (collectively more than five million), and because of the
unique opportunities to serve as model employers for other public entities
(such as county and municipal governments) and for the private sector. The
purposes of this project are twofold. First, EEOC hopes that all states (as
well as local governments and private employers) will learn from the best
practices of the participating states. Second, EEOC is offering
participating states free, informal, technical assistance to aid in
voluntary compliance with the ADA.
States were chosen for this study based in part on
geographical diversity, the range in size of their workforces, and their
differing personnel structures. Appendix A to this report includes
information about the size of each participating state's workforce and a
description of each state's personnel structure.
The nine selected states voluntarily participated in
this study. EEOC provided the states general guidelines concerning the kind
of information we wished to review. We wanted to find out what individuals
with disabilities would encounter when applying for state employment and
what they would experience on the job. The information we requested included
- job application forms, job announcements, and
- written procedures for providing reasonable
accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities;
- information about procedures for administering
employment tests, including any reasonable accommodations the states
provide for the testing process; and
- employee handbooks, manuals on recruitment and
selection, directives on EEO and diversity, and other documents
reflecting best practices related to the hiring, retention, and
advancement of qualified individuals with disabilities.
Representatives from the EEOC held an initial
teleconference with representatives from each state. The states determined
who would provide information to the EEOC and what state agencies would be
the subject of the review. Following the teleconference, EEOC submitted a
Request for Information to each state, reviewed the documents provided in
response to the request, and conducted follow-up interviews with state
officials to clarify or expand upon information in the documents provided.
All participating states reviewed and commented on a draft final report
prior to publication.
Because the EEOC relied on self-reporting, it is
possible that we have not learned about all state activities that contribute
positively to the employment of people with disabilities in state
government. Additionally, not all activities designated by states as
"best practices" have necessarily been included here. We did not
include activities we deemed merely to satisfy the states' legal obligations
under the ADA. Also, when most or all states engaged in a similar practice,
we sometimes offered only representative examples of the practice from a few
states. Appendix B to this report is a list of state contacts who can
provide more information about the practices identified in this report and
This report has five main parts and a conclusion.
- Part I discusses best practices related to the
recruitment and hiring of qualified individuals with disabilities,
including targeted outreach and provision of reasonable accommodations
for the application process. Best practices with respect to job
announcements, the job application process, and position descriptions
are also considered.
- Part II discusses ways that the subject states
provide reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with
disabilities, including written reasonable accommodation procedures and
other methods of ensuring prompt and fair resolution of accommodation
requests. Some innovative accommodation solutions are also discussed.
- Part III describes what the states have done to
ensure that, once hired, individuals with disabilities are treated
fairly and have opportunities for advancement within state government.
This part discusses not only specific state practices that promote
advancement, but also ongoing training for managers and supervisors that
can proactively prevent discrimination.
- Part IV describes state activities that, although
not designed specifically to increase employment opportunities in state
government, promote employment of people with disabilities generally.
- Part V lists possible barriers to the employment
and advancement of people with disabilities in state government jobs
that were found at the time of our survey of the participating states
and that may exist in other states.
- The conclusion summarizes the most promising trends
that EEOC found as the result of its review.
A. Targeted Recruitment and Outreach
The following section discusses ways that the states
surveyed by the EEOC have attempted to increase the representation of
qualified individuals with disabilities in their hiring pools and in their
workforces. Recruitment and outreach efforts are of essentially two types -
those that seek to increase the number of applicants with disabilities for
state jobs that are available to the general public, and hiring or training
programs designed specifically for individuals with disabilities.
1. Efforts to Increase the Pool of Qualified
Applicants with Disabilities
Maryland, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington reported
the following practices aimed at increasing the number of individuals with
disabilities in state government jobs:
- The Maryland Department of Budget and Management
has a Coordinator, Special Outreach and Employment Programs, to assist
state agencies in targeting diverse applicant pools for state positions
that include persons with disabilities.
- The Maryland State Highway Administration has
included specific action items for recruitment and advancement of
individuals with disabilities in its Strategic Plan for Managing
Diversity 2000-2004. Specifically, the Plan calls for implementing
a series of diversity strategies that include expanding the recruitment
plan to promote state government employment opportunities to disability
advocacy organizations, the American Association of Retired Persons, and
the Veterans Administration.
- Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico charged
state administrators of disability services with developing a proposal
to increase the number of people with disabilities who apply, are
interviewed, and are hired for employment in state government. The
governor has launched an Executive Task Force on Disability Employment
to implement the proposal. Key strategies may include:
- developing an ongoing public awareness campaign
about employment possibilities with the state;
- educating state agencies about the benefits of
hiring persons with disabilities;
- identifying barriers in the application
- awarding pay differentials for service
positions that are difficult to fill;
- waiving competitive hiring requirements for a
person with a disability who has successfully completed an approved
on-the-job training (OJT) internship or apprenticeship program;
- expanding existing OJT internship and
apprenticeship programs to include persons with disabilities; and
- identifying temporary positions that may
provide work experiences for students with disabilities.
- The New Mexico legislature issued a "Joint
Memorial" directing the Executive Task Force on Disability
Employment to develop policies, procedures, and guidelines that state
agencies can use to recruit, hire, retain, and promote individuals with
disabilities and directing state agencies to follow these policies,
procedures, and guidelines.
- New Mexico has also implemented "recruitment
pay" for vocational rehabilitation counselors at the Division of
Vocational Rehabilitation that will enable the agency to recruit and
retain counselors. These positions, which historically have been
difficult to fill, generally have been held by individuals with
- Individual New Mexico agencies, such as the Public
Education Department and the Commission for the Blind, engage in
outreach and training to recruit and retain individuals with
- The New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning
Council has developed, and Governor Richardson has distributed to all
state agencies, a survey to identify internship and other placement
opportunities for people with disabilities, as well as sources of
funding for the various types of placements.
- Vermont Governor Jim Douglas recorded a series of
radio Public Service Announcements specifically designed to encourage
people from all backgrounds, including those with disabilities, to
consider employment with the state. These Public Service Announcements
aired in conjunction with the Governor's announcement of October 2004 as
Vermont Diversity and Disability Employment Awareness Month.
- Vermont reports that it actively engages in
outreach to a diverse range of organizations that serve people with
disabilities, such as the Vermont Center for Independent Living. To be
included on the outreach list, any individual or organization may submit
a request to the Employment Services Division.
- Vermont's Department of Human Resources has
developed a "Working for the State" workshop for
community-based organizations throughout the state, particularly those
that serve people with disabilities. The workshop provides an overview
of the application process, highlights state career options, and
provides information on available resources.
- Vermont's Department of Human Resources partners
with the Division of Rehabilitation to assist individuals with specific
impairments/disabilities, such as traumatic brain injury and
developmental disabilities, in applying for jobs. The Department also
works closely with the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired to
provide vocational assessments and evaluations for assistive technology
for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
- Vermont also allows individuals with
"qualifying disabilities" who meet the minimum qualifications
for a state job to ask for a "mandatory interview." A
"qualifying disability" is any disability that meets the ADA's
- Washington state's affirmative action policy
covers, among other groups, Vietnam Era veterans, disabled veterans,
disabled persons, and people over the age of forty. The state's
Department of Personnel administers the program, which means that it
provides guidance and assistance to state agencies and institutions and
monitors and reports on their progress. All general government agencies
and higher education institutions must maintain an annual affirmative
action policy and, depending on their size, must submit either an agency
profile or an affirmative action plan (including a bi-annual update).
The goal of the Department of Personnel is to address the
underutilization of individuals with disabilities in the state workforce
- cultivating relationships with disability
- disseminating job bulletins to persons with
- advertising in media that serve or represent
persons with disabilities; and
- developing a pool of qualified individuals with
disabilities to fill temporary positions in underutilized job
2. Hiring Programs Specifically for People with
Two states - Washington and Vermont - have programs
that specifically train and/or hire individuals with disabilities for state
- In 1997, Washington passed legislation creating a
supported employment program for individuals who need on-the-job
training and long-term support to do their jobs successfully. The
program allows agencies to add positions within their budgets that will
not count against their allotted full-time employee positions for the
entire time the individual is employed by the agency. The program
targets individuals with developmental disabilities and those with
significant disabilities who are eligible for vocational rehabilitation
services. In October 1998 the number of individuals working who were
hired through this program was 23; by October 2003 it was 107.
- Vermont identified three specific programs that
provide employment and training opportunities for individuals with
disabilities in state government jobs:
- The VR-OPT Program offers training in clerical
support skills and job readiness to prepare individuals with
disabilities for potential positions.
- The Clean Sweep Program provides training in a
wide range of cleaning, safety, and maintenance procedures. Program
participants receive hands-on training in internships that rotate
among various types of jobs.
- The On-the-Job Training (OJT) Program allows
state departments to fill entry-level positions at a lower salary
and to receive support in providing additional training or
mentoring. The goal of the OJT is to provide employment
opportunities for individuals who, as a result of their
disabilities, find it difficult to meet the testing, educational, or
experience requirements for a position.
B. Job Announcements and Job Applications
The ADA does not require employers to use a specific
type of job announcement or job application form. Some practices related to
job announcements and applications, however, may discourage individuals with
disabilities from applying for jobs. For example, a deaf individual who uses
a sign language interpreter to communicate might not apply for a position
described as requiring "good oral communication skills."
Similarly, a job announcement that fails to differentiate between a
position's essential (or fundamental) and marginal functions may discourage
individuals whose disabilities make them unable to do the marginal functions
from applying for the position, even though they may still be considered
"qualified" under the ADA. (6)
On the other hand, employers can take several positive
steps to ensure that their job announcements and job applications do not
inadvertently exclude qualified individuals with disabilities from the
1. Identifying Essential Job Functions
Several states reported on the efforts they make to
identify essential and marginal functions in job announcements and position
- Florida reported that, as part of ADA training at
several state agencies, managers and supervisors are directed to
designate those job functions considered "essential" in job
descriptions and to prepare job descriptions prior to announcement of,
and recruiting for, a position.
- Kansas agencies develop job descriptions that list
the essential and marginal functions of a position, including the
percent of time spent performing a specific function. The process of
identifying whether a function is essential or marginal helps to refine
- Utah's Department of Human Resource Management has
issued a detailed Manual on Job & Position Analysis (March
1, 2003) to facilitate compliance with the ADA requirements.
Specifically, the manual is intended to help supervisors and managers
develop job descriptions, compare job activities for the classification
process, develop interview questions and examination tools, design
selection devices for entry and/or promotion, and determine essential
and marginal functions of a position for purposes of determining whether
reasonable accommodation can be made. Utah reports that use of this
guide to identify the essential functions of the job will help avoid
disability discrimination in state employment by promoting correct
determinations of when an individual is "qualified" for a
position (i.e. can perform the essential functions with or without
accommodation). The manual also contains information regarding ADA rules
on reasonable accommodation as well as disability-related inquiries and
medical examinations as they relate to the hiring process.
2. Availability of Reasonable Accommodations
Most of the states we surveyed take some measures to
make potential applicants with disabilities aware of the availability of
reasonable accommodations for the application process. For example:
- Florida's employment application states at the top
of the form that applicants can notify an agency's hiring authority to
request accommodations to participate in the employment process.
- The front page of Kansas' employment application
clearly announces the state's obligation to provide reasonable
accommodations to applicants and gives a telephone number for requesting
accommodation. Individual agencies may customize their own applications,
and these also prominently display a notice about requesting
accommodation. Some applications, such as the one used by the Kansas
Judicial Branch, have a place for the agency to indicate a contact
person, a phone number, and a TDD number.
- Agencies operating under the Maryland Department of
Budget and Management provide all job applicants who take employment
tests with information about how to request accommodations for the
tests. The Maryland Department of Transportation, among other Maryland
state agencies, includes in all recruitment vacancy announcements a
notification that accommodations are provided for persons with
disabilities, as well as the Maryland Relay Service and TTY telephone
numbers for hearing-impaired applicants using such services.
- The Missouri State Public Defender informs
applicants that if they need assistance with "any phase of the
application process" they should notify the Human Resources
Director. A similar announcement appears on the Department of Economic
Development's website, along with an e-mail address (which appears on
the site as a live link) and a phone number for the contact person. On
the state Department of Transportation job application page, applicants
with "special needs addressed by the Americans with Disabilities
Act" are instructed to call their local DOT office or the main
- The front page of New Hampshire's employment
application declares that discrimination based on several
characteristics, including "physical or mental disability," is
strictly prohibited. The application informs individuals that it is
available in modified formats for persons with disabilities, and that
special testing arrangements can be made on request to the Division of
Personnel's Examinations Section.
- The promotional materials for "Utah Job
Match," the state's online application system for state jobs, as
well as the homepage of the system itself, http://www.statejobs.utah.gov,
contain a very prominently displayed message advising in part that,
"[t[he State provides reasonable accommodations to the known
disabilities of individuals with disabilities in compliance with the
ADA." The message also provides the voice and TTY phone numbers to
call in order to request accommodation.
The interview process is an applicant's opportunity to
convince the employer that he or she is the best qualified person for the
job. The ADA seeks to ensure that this is as true for people with
disabilities as for all other applicants. The law requires that reasonable
accommodations be made for the application and interview process, (7)
such as conducting the interview somewhere that is accessible to a person in
a wheelchair or providing a sign language interpreter for someone who is
deaf. The ADA also seeks to ensure that applicants with disabilities are
evaluated solely on the basis of their qualifications. Consequently, the law
prohibits employers from asking about an applicant's disability before a job
offer has been made. (8)
These legal protections, however, are insufficient if
individuals involved in the interview process are unaware of them. The
following are some steps that states have taken to make their employment
interview processes effective for people with disabilities.
- Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration
requires that all managers and supervisors receive ADA training that
includes specific information about how to prepare job descriptions and
conduct job interviews of applicants with disabilities. The
Administration requires that all personnel be sensitized to issues that
might arise during the application process. Thus, receptionists who work
for the Administration are trained to be aware of communication and
physical access issues that might arise if they come into contact with
job applicants who have disabilities.
- Florida's Department of Transportation requires
that hiring managers and supervisors, as well as interview panel
members, receive ADA training addressing interviewing and development of
position qualifications (i.e., knowledge, skills, and abilities required
for specific positions). Florida's Department of State reported that it
includes information about the ADA as part of its general hiring
- Kansas requires that agency personnel involved in
recruitment and selection be given training on the ADA's requirements
regarding pre- and post-offer disability-related inquiries.
- In its Structured Interview Guidelines, the
Maryland Aviation Administration includes a section that specifically
discusses individuals with disabilities and the interview process. Among
other things, the Guidelines:
- remind managers and supervisors that they may
need to modify the "standard" interview process as an
accommodation for applicants with disabilities;
- instruct human resources personnel to ask all
applicants whether they will need reasonable accommodations for the
application process at the time an interview is scheduled;
- remind hiring officials that individuals with
disabilities may not be excluded from jobs because they cannot
perform marginal functions; and
- offer examples of common accommodations that
might be requested as part of the application and interview process.
- As part of its training on interviewing techniques,
New Hampshire includes a section on the federal employment
discrimination laws. This includes highlighting certain ADA issues, such
as the need to ensure that notices about these laws be accessible to
persons with disabilities affecting vision and reading.
- Vermont provides hiring officials and personnel
officers with a reference guide, People with Disabilities,
Employment and the Workplace, that includes information on the ADA,
interviewing techniques and etiquette, suggestions on interacting with
individuals with specific disabilities, a discussion of reasonable
accommodation, and resources. Most of this information is also posted on
the Vermont Department of Human Resources' website, http://www.vermontpersonnel.org.
- The University of Washington and the State of
Vermont provide hiring officials with contact information for
individuals and agencies in the state that can assist with issues
concerning accommodations for the application and interview process. The
University of Washington's Selection and Hiring Tools Reference
also informs hiring officials about the need to make reasonable
accommodations during the interview process and includes a section
discussing interviewing courtesies for job applicants with specific
kinds of disabilities.
Mentoring programs offer students with disabilities
information about employment opportunities and access to positive role
models. The American Association of People with Disabilities and the U.S.
Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy co-sponsor
National Disability Mentoring Day every October, as part of National
Disability Employment Awareness Month. In 2001, Kansas replicated this
effort at the state level, and Vermont and Maryland did so in 2003.
Following are descriptions of how Maryland and Vermont have used Disability
Mentoring Day specifically as an opportunity to encourage individuals with
disabilities to work for the state.
- In Maryland, participants in Disability Mentoring
Day are recruited from the state Division of Rehabilitation Services,
the state Workforce and Technology Center, and field offices in the
Baltimore metropolitan area and assigned for the day based on each
individual's training area and/or career interest. In addition to
accompanying their assigned mentor in workday activities, all
participants attend two informational workshops, entitled "Applying
for State Employment" and "Taking State Examinations."
- Vermont's Disability Mentoring Day is intended to
inspire a year-round effort to promote mentoring opportunities for
individuals with disabilities and enables job seekers with disabilities
to spend time visiting a business or government agency that matches
their interests. State employees provide one-on-one mentoring and job
shadowing to job seekers to help them evaluate personal goals, target
career skills for improvement, explore possible career paths, and
perhaps develop lasting mentor relationships.
For more information about states' participation in
National Disability Mentoring Day, see Section IV.E, below.
A. Reasonable Accommodation Procedures
The ADA requires covered employers to provide
reasonable accommodations to the known physical and mental limitations of
qualified individuals with disabilities. One way that an employer can
promote compliance with this obligation is to have in place procedures that
clearly define the responsibilities of everyone involved in the reasonable
accommodation process and that enable tracking and prompt resolution of
accommodation requests. The following subsections detail various ways in
which the subject states ensure that requests for reasonable accommodations
are handled appropriately.
1. Reasonable Accommodation Procedures
Our survey revealed essentially four models used to
promote prompt processing of reasonable accommodation requests. This report
does not endorse a particular model. The choice of how to provide a
reasonable accommodation depends on such factors as the size of a state's
workforce, the structure of its personnel system, and the familiarity of the
individuals involved in the accommodation process with their legal
- Statewide Written Policy and Procedures:
Vermont has developed a statewide Reasonable Accommodation Policy with
attending procedures which carefully outline the reasonable
accommodation request and appeal process. It requires that a copy of the
policy and procedures be provided to all newly-hired state employees. In
addition, this information is posted on the Vermont Department of Human
Resources' website, http://www.vermontpersonnel.org,
under the "Workforce Equity and Diversity" section.
- Agency Written Procedures Subject to Review by
the State: As early as 1993, the Governor of Washington issued an
Executive Order requiring all agencies or institutions with fifty or
more employees to develop written reasonable accommodation procedures.
Each agency and institution submitted its procedures to the Governor's
Affirmative Action Policy Committee for review and approval.
- Agency Discretion to Adopt Procedures; No
Review by the State: Florida and Kansas employ this model.
- For example, the Florida Department of Children
and Families' reasonable accommodation procedures empower
supervisors to provide the accommodation requested or one that is
equally effective, but require them to refer the request to the
human resources department if they believe the requested
accommodation would change the nature of the employment. These
procedures also require the human resources offices to notify
applicants and employees in writing about the action taken on their
- Many Kansas agencies have incorporated
procedures into their "reasonable accommodation forms."
Managers are reminded of the steps they must take as part of the
reasonable accommodation process and who to contact for assistance.
For example, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation
Services requires that managers identify the specific limitations
resulting from a disability that require accommodation. The form
also provides an example. In this way, the form helps to ensure that
managers ask questions if the precise nature of the limitation is
- Training and Centralized Control of
Accommodation Decisions Without Specific Written Procedures: The
Utah Department of Human Services (DHS) chose to use a highly
centralized system wherein management is directed to contact the ADA
Coordinator in the DHS Human Resources office immediately regarding any
and all accommodation requests. The ADA Coordinator works with the
employee to determine what accommodation is needed, and works with
management to implement any accommodation granted. The Utah DHS uses
this system instead of providing detailed reasonable accommodation
procedures to managers and supervisors. DHS reports that it believes
this more centralized approach fosters confidentiality, facilitates
agency-wide consistency, and minimizes the possibility of imposing
inappropriate discipline for "disability-based" conduct.
The ADA does not prescribe a specific time frame
within which reasonable accommodations must be provided; however,
accommodations must be provided without undue delay. The amount of time
necessary to provide an accommodation may depend on factors such as the
nature of the accommodation, the complexity of the decision-making process
(e.g., whether a disability is obvious or must be determined by reviewing
medical documentation), and the difficulty of providing the accommodation
(e.g., whether it involves a simple modification of a policy or the
acquisition of equipment).
Despite the various factors that may affect the length
of time needed to provide an accommodation, the use of timelines in
reasonable accommodation procedures emphasizes the importance of prompt
processing of accommodation requests, promotes accountability of those
involved in the accommodation process (including the requester), and serves
as a guide for assessing, and where necessary, revising procedures.
Two states - Florida and Kansas - reported to us that
at least some of their agencies have reasonable accommodation procedures
that include timelines. For example, the Florida Department of Education
requires division directors to notify the ADA Coordinator of all requests
for reasonable accommodation within two business days. The Kansas Department
of Social and Rehabilitation Services requires a decision within 30 calendar
days of the date on which an accommodation was requested.
3. Denial of Reasonable Accommodation
Not every requested accommodation can or should be
granted. However, an employer can minimize the chance that an accommodation
will be inappropriately denied by: (1) establishing procedures that ensure
the denial has been properly reviewed and can be justified; and/or (2)
providing employees with an opportunity to have an initial denial reviewed.
- Florida's Department of State's Reasonable
Accommodation Record requires managers to explain, among other things,
why an accommodation was not provided and requires that denials be
submitted to the Department's Bureau of Human Resources prior to denying
the accommodation. This helps ensure that denials are properly justified
and all possible accommodations have been considered.
- Utah ADA Coordinators are trained to notify the
State Division of Risk Management before denying any request
for accommodation so that it may review the proposed denial for legal
sufficiency. To provide additional incentive to ADA Coordinators to
complete this step, the Utah state administrative rules governing risk
management expressly exclude liability coverage for any covered entity
(e.g. all school districts, all state colleges and universities, and all
state agencies) on any failure to provide accommodation claim under the
ADA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act unless the covered entity
has: (1) notified Risk Management of its preliminary intention not to
provide the requested accommodation, and (2) allowed Risk Management a
reasonable opportunity to consult with the covered entity before denying
the requested accommodation.
- Vermont has created a Reasonable Accommodation
Committee (RAC), consisting of six members from various state
departments and agencies, to review department or agency requests for
reasonable accommodation and provide an "advisory opinion" as
to whether an accommodation should be granted. Any employee who is
dissatisfied with a department's or agency's response to a reasonable
accommodation request may file an appeal with the RAC. The RAC conducts
a review to analyze a job's essential functions, reviews medical
documentation and the individual's suggested accommodation(s),
determines whether a requested accommodation would pose an undue
hardship, and investigates other possible accommodations.
- The statewide policy in Washington requires an
agency to provide evidence supporting its decision to deny a reasonable
accommodation (e.g., evidence that shows why an accommodation would
result in undue hardship). A denial of an accommodation must be signed
by the head of the employing agency or his/her designee. An agency that
wants to deny an accommodation for reasons related to cost should
consider whether resources are available from other sources within the
state government. (See Part II.A.4, below.)
4. Documenting and Tracking Requests for Reasonable
Documenting and tracking information about reasonable
accommodation requests can help employers evaluate their performance in
responding to them and implement measures to improve performance where
necessary. Among other things, documenting and tracking may enable a state
agency to determine how long it takes to respond to requests for different
types of reasonable accommodations; whether there are particular types of
reasonable accommodations that the employer has been unable to provide;
whether there are agency components that have not granted requests for
reasonable accommodations; and the reasons for denials. Where, for example,
there have been repeated delays in the processing of reasonable
accommodation requests, an agency can investigate the reasons for the
problem and take steps necessary to correct it.
It may be helpful to document the request for
accommodation and the steps taken in response to the request.
- Although requests for reasonable accommodation do
not have to be made in writing, agencies in two states - Florida and
Washington - use forms to ensure accuracy in handling a request.
Florida's Department of Transportation's form prominently includes the
toll-free phone and TTY number for the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), http://www.jan.wvu.edu
(800-526-7234), and requires managers to indicate whether they contacted
JAN. This reminds managers of important resources available to help with
the accommodation process.
- The New Hampshire Department of Education, when
providing reasonable accommodation, provides a letter from the Human
Resources Administrator that sets out every element of the
accommodation. With respect to more complex accommodations in
particular, such a letter makes clear to both the employee and employer
what is and is not being provided, the employer's expectations for
satisfactory completion of work, and a basis on which the effectiveness
of the accommodation can be evaluated. A sample letter from New
Hampshire granting a request to work at home as a reasonable
accommodation illustrates the kind of specific information included.
Among other things, the letter notes: (1) the reasons that working at
home was found to be an appropriate accommodation, including
alternatives that were considered; (2) the number of hours the employee
must work each day; (3) the equipment that the agency and employee will
be responsible for providing; (4) a requirement that the employee be
available by telephone during working hours; and (5) the extent to which
the employee must come to the worksite or a location other than the home
to meet with agency personnel.
- The Utah Department of Human Services, Office of
Human Resources (DHS-HR) keeps logs of every approval of an
accommodation request as well as copies of all denial letters. This
information is reported to the Director of the DHS HR. In addition, Utah
ADA Coordinators are trained to track accommodation request information
by preparing the following, based in part on documents they receive
during their training: (1) a letter to the requestor if it is determined
he or she is not an individual with a disability; (2) a memorandum to
the requestor's manager if it is determined that even though the
requestor is not an individual with a disability some action should be
taken; (3) a memorandum to the requestor's manager if it is determined
that the requestor is an individual with a disability necessitating
accommodation; and (4) a letter to the requestor if it is determined
that no accommodation is possible within his or her current position, or
no vacant position exists for which he or she is qualified with respect
Two states reported on measures undertaken to identify
the extent to which accommodations were granted or denied.
- In fiscal year 2001, various Maryland agencies
began tracking annual statistical information regarding the provision of
reasonable accommodations to state government applicants and employees.
By fiscal year 2003, nineteen state agencies participated in tracking
and reporting this data, which was included in the annual
"Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Report." The data
collected reflects the number of accommodation requests received from
applicants and from employees, how many of those requests were granted
and denied, and how many remain pending.
- In 2003, the Vermont Department of Personnel and
the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation commissioned the University of
Vermont's Center for Rural Studies to conduct a survey of classified
state employees concerning disability and diversity issues in the
workplace. The survey was mailed using stratified, random sampling, and
resulted in a response rate of 45%, for an overall sample size of 1,443.
Among other things, the survey revealed that:
- Approximately 17% of state employee respondents
identified themselves as having a disability within the meaning of
the ADA, closely matching 2000 Census results for the general
population in Vermont.
- Of those self-identified disabled state
employees, 45% said that their disability had started before they
came to work for the state, and 68% said that their primary
disabling condition was physical.
- More than half of the 38% who indicated that
they had requested accommodations responded that they had no
problems receiving them, and of the few who encountered problems,
25% received accommodations other than the ones they had requested.
Only 3% ever felt that they had been discriminated against in the
workplace based on their disability, either by other state employees
or by the public.
5. Centralized Funding for the Cost of Reasonable
The ADA does not require a statewide source for
funding reasonable accommodations. However, a centralized funding source may
promote the hiring of people with disabilities by removing disincentives
that result from concerns that the cost of reasonable accommodations will be
charged against the budgets of individual offices, departments, or agencies.
Such a funding scheme makes sense, moreover, because the ADA would likely
require assessment of whether the cost of a particular accommodation would
pose an undue hardship in light of the resources available to an entire
state agency or potentially to the state as a whole.
None of the states we surveyed appear to have a
statewide mechanism for funding reasonable accommodations. However, two
states - Utah and Washington - reported promising practices that allow
individual state agencies to draw upon resources in addition to their own
budgets to pay for at least some accommodations.
- While the Utah Division of Risk Management expects
each state agency to pay for its own costs of providing accommodations
to applicants and employees, the Division periodically helps defray some
or all of these costs on request from individual agencies that can
demonstrate they do not have the resources to cover the costs of a
particular accommodation. The Division has used this system to help fund
technological equipment purchases as well as structural modifications to
- Established by the legislature in 1987,
Washington's Department of Personnel's Disability Accommodation
Revolving Fund is used to make unanticipated worksite modifications for
which an agency or institution does not have the financial resources.
The funds can be disbursed within two weeks after they are requested.
6. Ensuring the Confidentiality of Medical
The ADA requires that all medical information obtained
from an applicant or employee be kept separate from personnel files and
treated as a confidential medical record. Disclosures of confidential
medical information are permitted only in very limited circumstances,
including to supervisors and managers in connection with work restrictions
or necessary accommodations. (9)
The effectiveness of an employer's reasonable
accommodation procedures depend to a great extent on the ability to ensure
individuals with disabilities that confidentiality of their medical
information will be maintained. Applicants or employees (particularly those
with hidden disabilities) may be more likely to ask for an accommodation if
they know that information they disclose to support their requests will not
be shared with co-workers or with other individuals who do not need the
Utah reported promising practices to ensure compliance
with the ADA's confidentiality requirements:
- The Utah state government has developed a warning
notice that is included on various documents subject to the ADA
confidentiality provision, such as memoranda from the ADA Coordinator to
a supervisor advising that an accommodation has been granted and should
be provided. The notice states: "This memorandum must not be placed
in a personnel file or co-mingled with personnel records. It is subject
to the protections articulated in the Americans with Disabilities Act .
. . ."
- Additionally, Utah's statewide Department of Human
Resource Management Rule 2-5, "Records," specifically provides
that all state agencies shall maintain a separate file from the
personnel file if the agency obtains any confidential employee medical
information, including "all written and orally obtained information
pertaining to medical issues, including Family and Medical Leave Act
forms, medical and dental enrollment forms which contain health-related
information, health statements, applications for additional life
insurance, fitness for duty evaluations, drug testing results and any
other medical information." Employees who violate these
confidentiality requirements are subject to state disciplinary
B. Innovative Accommodation Solutions
The following section discusses the ways that some
states may exceed the ADA's reasonable accommodation obligation, as well as
numerous methods for promoting the provision of accommodations required by
1. Measures that Exceed ADA Obligations
Although state employers are required to provide
reasonable accommodations only to qualified individuals with disabilities,
taking measures that go beyond this legal obligation may make sense under
certain circumstances. For example, providing an accommodation so that
someone with a temporary, non-chronic condition of short duration can
continue working may enable an employer to benefit from the employee's
continued productivity on the job and save the employer costs (such as
workers' compensation) of having the employee out of work. Temporary
accommodations may enable a worker who has made a request for reasonable
accommodation under the ADA to continue working while a final determination
of whether to grant or deny the accommodation is being made. A state might
even determine that accommodating individuals on a longer-term basis who do
not technically meet the ADA's definition of "disability" is
preferable to losing a valuable worker.
- Some Kansas state agencies have chosen to go beyond
the requirements of the ADA reasonable accommodation obligation. For
example, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services'
Human Resource Policy states that the agency is committed to providing
accommodations to individuals with temporary or short-term disabilities
which are not covered by the ADA. The agency defines
"temporary" as lasting no more than 90 days.
- Missouri's Office of Administration (OA) has
implemented an Early Return to Work program. The goal of the program is
to facilitate the return to work of employees who are injured or
contract an occupational disease in the course and scope of employment
with the Office. (10) Under the terms of
the program as set forth in an OA policy statement, employees will be
placed in "temporary modified duty assignments during the course of
the recovery to perform duties consistent with temporary
limitations." The program states that modified assignments will
last no more than three months, although longer assignments are possible
in exceptional circumstances. Employees participating in the program
retain their current position and job classification, continue to
receive their current salary and benefits, and maintain their seniority,
layoff, and other similar rights.
- Washington's Department of Personnel's website has
"Diversity Chat," a series of articles addressing reasonable
accommodation issues under the ADA and showing how Washington state law
exceeds federal requirements.
2. Accommodation Solutions Related to Assistive
- Missouri's Office of Administration encompasses the
Missouri Assistive Technology (MAT) program. The program offers
assistance to state agencies that have hired or may consider hiring
disabled individuals. Specifically, the MAT operates the Equipment
Technology Consortium a short-term assistive technology equipment loan
program for Missouri state agencies. Under the program, agencies can
borrow equipment on behalf of individuals with disabilities to try out
the equipment before purchasing, for use during the time equipment is in
repair, or for other short-term needs.
- In Washington, the Department of General
Administration (GA) has established a central pool of assistive
technology. Agencies and institutions may borrow equipment from the
pool. To reserve equipment, such as assistive listening systems for
people with hearing impairments, agencies simply call GA at least a week
prior to the event.
- The Braille Access Center is a program set up by
the Washington State Department of Corrections, Department of Printing
and the Washington State School for the Blind that uses inmate labor to
transcribe materials into Braille.
- A State Taping Center was developed at Central
Washington University to provide all state agencies and institutions
with the capacity to produce audio versions of print materials.
Employers must make sure that, once hired, individuals
with disabilities have the tools they need to succeed and the same
opportunities for advancement as other employees. In addition to practices
specifically designed to provide opportunities for advancement, this part
also considers how periodic training can work to prevent discrimination.
A. Activities That Specifically Promote the Retention
and Advancement of Employees with Disabilities
The Maryland Aviation Administration specifically
addresses in its bi-annual supervisory ADA training the issue of how to
promote career development for individuals with disabilities. Using the
publication "Career Development for Persons with Disabilities,"
produced in 2000 by the President's Committee on Employment of People with
Disabilities (11) and available online at www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/ek00career.htm
as a resource, the training addresses topics such as:
- discussing career expectations with each employee;
- evaluating the employee's interests, talents, and
skills, and developing appropriate goals;
- encouraging lateral movements, job rotations, and
team assignments that will give employees problem-solving skills and
- facilitating networking by including individuals
with disabilities in formal workgroups and informal employee gatherings;
- encouraging mentoring;
- ensuring training opportunities, and
- emphasizing an employee's responsibility for
Most of the states we surveyed indicated that training
on the ADA is provided for managers and supervisors either on a statewide or
agency-wide basis. Section I.C, above, identifies some of the training
states provide on the recruitment and hiring process. The following are a
few examples of more comprehensive training specifically on issues
concerning disability and employment.
- In Kansas, some state agencies have developed
comprehensive training curricula for managers which emphasize practical
approaches to dealing with ADA issues. Certain agencies also recognize
the need for advanced training that focuses on specific issues. For
example, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has
developed advanced ADA training addressing complex issues involving
reasonable accommodation, essential functions, confidentiality, mental
disabilities, and alcoholism and drug addiction. The training also
provides an "Essential Function Flow Chart" to make it easier
for managers to determine whether a specific function is essential.
- The Maryland Department of Transportation has
produced a flyer, "ADA, MDOT, and You," that is given to all
new employees at orientation. The flyer explains ADA reasonable
accommodation obligations and explains that the ADA prohibits
interference, coercion, intimidation, or retaliation against individuals
exercising their ADA rights. New hires are also provided with a detailed
flyer explaining how to receive and make telephone calls using the
Maryland Relay system.
- In 2001, the Maryland Department of Budget and
Management sponsored an ADA "Train the Trainer" Conference,
the purpose of which was to provide ADA training by state and federal
ADA expert trainers that could then be replicated by the conference
attendees on a large scale and an ongoing basis for managers and
supervisors at their own state workforce locations. Approximately 275
state agency representatives, including ADA Coordinators, Fair
Employment Practice Officers, Employee Assistance and Employee Relations
Personnel, EEO Officers, Human Resources Managers, Recruitment and
Examination Managers, and Training Officers attended. In addition to
information about a wide range of ADA topics, the conference also
included training on disability etiquette and sensitivity issues to
raise consciousness about common missteps in interacting with
individuals with disabilities.
- In 1997, the Maryland Department of Budget and
Management issued a reference booklet, entitled The Americans with
Disabilities Act and Employment Guidelines, to all ADA coordinators
statewide. The booklet provides a concise overview of a variety of ADA
statutory and regulatory terms.
- The Maryland Aviation Administration ADA training
for supervisors includes distribution and discussion of the EEOC
Technical Assistance Manual on Title I of the ADA, as well as various
Department of Labor publications, available at http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/publicat.htm,
addressing how to prepare for and conduct an effective job interview
consistent with the ADA, making management decisions about
accommodations, and examples of accommodation problems and solutions.
- The Utah Department of Human Services provides
periodic detailed training to ADA Coordinators statewide and training
for supervisors. One of the most significant topics addressed in the
training is the relationship between the ADA, the Family and Medical
Leave Act, and workers' compensation law. Utah ADA Coordinators are also
given formal training on tips and best practices, follow-up, and
paperwork associated with handling requests for accommodations.
- Beginning in 1992, the Governor of Washington
sponsored several full-day training sessions on the ADA and provided
operating funds for a team of ADA trainers that conducted customized
training for small to large groups throughout state government. The
Governor's ADA Coordinator, Governor's Committee on Disability Issues
and Employment and the Attorney General's Office jointly developed and
presented a series of nine, half-day training sessions on such topics
as: reasonable accommodation and undue hardship; essential functions;
direct threat; medical examinations and disability related inquiries;
ADA, worker's compensation, and the Family and Medical Leave Act;
disciplinary actions and terminations under the ADA; and accommodating
people with psychiatric disabilities. This series was repeated three
times from 1994 through 2000, with an average attendance for each
training session of more than 100 state employees, predominantly
supervisors or human resource specialists.
Some training on disability has been incorporated into
training on diversity issues more generally.
- Florida's Agency for Health Care reported that its
cultural diversity training (required for all supervisors) has been
expanded to include disability and explores issues about workers'
potential discomfort relating to people with disabilities.
- Information about individuals with disabilities is
included as part of diversity training initiated by Vermont Governor Jim
Douglas. The Governor offered this training first to his Extended
Cabinet and then throughout the leadership team within state government.
The program reinforces the value of an engaged, diverse workforce and
sets standards of accountability.
All of the states we surveyed undertake a number of
practices, in addition to traditional vocational rehabilitation services, to
promote the employment of people with disabilities in both the public and
private sectors. The following sections describe some of the most
significant practices, including legislative and executive action,
internships, and public/private partnerships.
A. Legislative and Executive Actions
- During its 2004 session, the Florida legislature
created a new agency within the state called the Agency for Persons with
Disabilities. The agency's mission is devoted entirely to helping
persons with developmental disabilities enhance their quality of living
through, among other things, improved housing, employment, and
transportation opportunities. The agency will also focus on ways to use
public funds more efficiently and effectively.
- Under Executive Order 04-62, Florida created a Blue
Ribbon Task Force on Inclusive Community Living, Transition, and
Employment of Persons with Developmental Disabilities. The Task Force is
charged with coordinating the provision of transition services statewide
for students with developmental disabilities as they leave school and
attempt to gain employment. The Task Force also wants to expand and
improve competitive, integrated employment opportunities for individuals
with developmental disabilities. On December 15, 2004, the Task Force
submitted a report to the Governor on achieving these objectives,
including 86 recommendations for legislative or regulatory action, and a
semi-annual progress report on implementing these recommendations was
submitted on July 15, 2005. The reports and information about Task Force
activities are available at http://apd.myflorida.com/.
- Also by executive order, Florida established the
Americans with Disabilities Act Working Group to provide information and
technical assistance to state agencies and people with disabilities on
the requirements of the ADA, including its employment provisions. The
Working Group provides individualized assistance to state agencies
seeking practical information on how to comply with the ADA's employment
provisions. Applicants for state jobs and state employees also can use
the Working Group's services to clarify their rights and
responsibilities under the ADA. A subsequent executive order added a
clearinghouse to the Working Group's mandate, the purpose of which is to
make information on disability resources and services more easily
obtainable. The clearinghouse also provides information on job
opportunities, including jobs with state agencies.
- State legislation enacted in Maryland elevated the
former Governor's Office for Individuals with Disabilities to
cabinet-level status. Established on July 1, 2004, the Department is
charged with overseeing the implementation of funding and services for
persons with disabilities and facilitating state compliance with federal
requirements such as the ADA.
- The New Mexico State Use Act opens up state service
contracts to persons with disabilities, including contracts to provide
service to the state as business owners and entrepreneurs. The State Use
Act also enhances the ability of the Division of Vocational
Rehabilitation and the Commission for the Blind to purchase products and
services that are needed for individuals with disabilities receiving
vocational rehabilitation services.
- In Vermont, the Governor's Workforce Equity and
Diversity Council (GWEDC) was created by Executive Order to lead the
state's efforts in the areas of affirmative action and diversity by
acting as a consultant and advisor to the Commissioner of Human
Resources and the Secretary of Administration. The mission of the GWEDC
calls for a greater focus on supporting a workplace culture that
promotes equitable treatment for all and the value of workplace
diversity. The Council, consisting of representatives from designated
state entities, the state employees union, and ten members appointed by
the Governor, includes strong representation from the disability
- The Governor of Washington established the
Washington State Governor's Task Force on Employment of Adults with
disabilities, which brings together business leaders, legislators,
program and policy staff, and disability community advocates to create a
coordinated and aggressive state policy to bring adults with
disabilities into gainful employment at a rate as close as possible to
that of the general public. Outcomes achieved by the Task Force include:
- creation of a clearinghouse that provides
employers with a single point of contact for recruiting applicants
who have disabilities and for technical assistance;
- enactment of a Medicaid buy-in for workers with
disabilities with a high income cap (450% of federal poverty level,
in gross income) and no asset test;
- creation of broad-based partnerships and
continuing coordination around such issues as implementation of the
Ticket-to-Work program and improving access, services and outcomes
for people with disabilities under the Workforce Investment Act; and
- a Careers Day program, developed and funded by
Microsoft, for high school students with disabilities, their
teachers, and parents.
B. Access to Information and Assistive Technology
The efforts that several states have undertaken to
provide individuals with disabilities access to information communicated on
state agency websites, and to provide access to assistive technology are
noteworthy. Three states - Florida, Kansas, and New Hampshire - have taken
significant steps to ensure a level of accessibility of state websites that
meets or exceeds the level of accessibility required of the federal
government under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 requires
that all electronic and information technology purchased, maintained, or
used by the federal government be "readily accessible to and usable by
individuals with disabilities" unless this would cause "undue
hardship." This commitment will assist applicants with disabilities in
using websites to learn about and apply for jobs with state agencies,
current state employees with disabilities who use assistive technology to do
their jobs, and individuals with disabilities looking for resources related
to employment in both the public and private sectors. The Brown University
Center for Public Policy's annual study of state and federal e-government
found that Kansas has the second highest percentage of accessible web sites
for people with disabilities, and that New Hampshire ranks fourth.
C. Internship Programs
The Maryland Department of Budget and Management
sponsored the Governor's QUEST Internship Program for Persons with
Disabilities. Initiated in 2000, the program provides three-month
internships in state government, with the possibility of an extension.
QUEST, which stands for "Quality, Understanding, Excellence, Success,
and Training," is a training/learning experience for customers of the
state's Department of Rehabilitation Services, designed to enhance the
participants' knowledge, skills, and abilities while working at a state
agency. The internship program has included positions such as Communications
and Marketing Trainee, Activity Therapy Aide, Graphics Assistant, Dietary
Worker, Fiscal Accounts Clerk, Medicaid Program Associate, Maintenance
Assistance, Office Clerk, Junior Accountant, Computer Information Services
Specialist, Parole & Probation Caseload Aide, Residential Program
Advisor, Buyer's Clerk, Real Estate Administrative Assistant, Publications
and Community Relations Trainee, Payroll Clerk, and Personnel Associate.
QUEST interns receive a $3,000 stipend. While there is
no implied offer of employment to participants beyond the volunteer period,
a number of past interns have applied for and been placed into positions
based on the experience gained in their internship. The state reports that
approximately 50% of all past QUEST interns are presently employed in their
target job areas in either private or public sector positions.
D. Public/Private Partnerships
Three states - Florida, Missouri, and Vermont -
identified partnerships they have with business and/or community
organizations to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities.
- Florida has established the Able Trust, also known
as the Florida Governor's Alliance for the Employment of Citizens with
Disabilities, a 501(c)(3) public-private partnership foundation. Since
its establishment, the Able Trust has awarded over $16 million to
individuals with disabilities and nonprofit agencies, and helped
approximately 2,000 individuals with disabilities annually to enter the
workforce. Among the projects supported by the Trust are: on-the-job
coaching, supported employment, job skills-training, job development,
employer outreach, and ADA facility compliance.
- The Missouri Governor's Council on Disability has
worked with several large employers in encouraging mentoring and job
shadowing by persons with disabilities in private sector jobs. The
Council also has worked with other state agencies to hold several
"Disability Resource Expos," which brought state
rehabilitation agencies, schools, providers of medical equipment and
assistive technology, and employers together so that future employees
and employers could share information and make an employment match.
- The Vermont Governor's Summit on Employment of
People with Disabilities brings together key stakeholders (e.g., state
departments, business leaders, and community organizations) to plan and
deliver discussions on current issues relating to employing people with
disabilities. Previous summits have addressed: key issues and concerns
facing job seekers with disabilities; barriers to transportation; mental
illness; and youth and transition to work.
- The Business Leadership Networks (BLN) in Florida
and Vermont are dedicated to assisting businesses and organizations in
the recruitment, hiring, training and retention of people with
disabilities and in diversifying their customer base to include people
with disabilities. BLNs provide businesses with a means of communicating
with one another about best practices and successes that they have had
in hiring qualified individuals with disabilities. Further information
on the Florida BLN is available at http://www.myabilities.org.
E. Other State Actions That Promote the Employment of
People with Disabilities
- The Florida Freedom Initiative (FFI) is a
demonstration project that aims to reduce disincentives to work by
allowing recipients of Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
to work and save money while continuing to receive vital benefits.
Florida has received a waiver from the Social Security Administration
allowing FFI participants to earn significantly more than the law
generally permits before their benefits will be reduced. Additionally,
FFI participants may save up to $10,000 annually to purchase, lease, or
modify a home; to purchase, lease or maintain a car; to obtain
additional education; or to purchase or expand a small business (called
a "microenterprise") without losing benefits. More information
about the FFI is available at http://apd.myflorida.com/ffi.
- Florida adopted a five-year initiative in 2003 to
expand the state's Developmental Disabilities Program's emphasis on
employment. The Program will divert 25% of people receiving Adult Day
Training Services into competitive employment opportunities. The
initiative seeks to move away from an emphasis on "prevocational
training," which in practice delays or defers employment, in favor
of learning through on-the-job training and workplace experience.
- Florida's Able Trust (see Section IV.D,
above) sponsors twenty High School/High Tech programs throughout the
state with plans to implement ten new sites by the end of 2005. Through
the High School/High Tech program, students are encouraged to set their
sites on college and a career in the fields of science, technology,
engineering or math. Students with disabilities enrolled in High
School/High Tech sites across Florida take field trips to science and
technology-related businesses and attractions and receive on-the-job
experiences through job shadowing and internships. More than 90 percent
of Florida High School/High Tech graduates have enrolled in
post-secondary education or training.
- Florida served as the national kickoff site for
Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) 2005, on October 19. Governor Jeb Bush
served as the Florida DMD Honorary Chair. Across the state, over
one-hundred educators, service providers and state agency
representatives volunteered as Community Liaisons to match students and
job seekers with disabilities with business mentors for on-site job
shadowing activities. Nearly 1,000 Florida students with
disabilities were mentored by business professionals, elected officials
and corporate executives in nearly thirty cities across the state.
- Since 1999, the Maryland Department of Budget and
Management and Department of Disability (formerly the Governor's Office
of Individuals with Disabilities) have co-sponsored the Disability
Employment Workgroup. Its stated purpose is to develop innovative ways
to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities
within state government, and to ensure low-cost access to high-quality,
current information regarding the ADA for state employees.
- Maryland's "WorkTech" program provides
public and private sector employers with free information, consulting,
and training about job accommodation strategies and the employability of
individuals with disabilities. WorkTech services include a Universal
Workplace demonstration site and statewide information and consulting
- The Missouri Governor's Council on Disability (GCD)
provides training on request for both public and private employers. In
2004, the Council provided training to the Missouri Office of
Administration, the main personnel department in the state, as well as
to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The GCD training
generally covers the functions of the Council itself and the assistance
it can provide in addressing the needs of persons with disabilities. The
Council also has provided "sensitivity" training as well as
training on issues associated with employment of persons with mental
- The Missouri Commission on Human Rights, the state
agency charged with enforcing the state's fair employment practices law,
has developed numerous fact sheets on ADA compliance and posted them on
its website. The Commission also provides ADA training to public and
private employers, including training on "disability
- In an effort to increase compliance with the ADA,
New Mexico has created a Consortium of ADA State Agency Coordinators.
Led by the New Mexico Commission on Disability, the Consortium offers
ADA Coordinators an opportunity to meet periodically to share
information and correspond more regularly on an e-mail list. The state
believes the Consortium will significantly increase the ADA
Coordinators' knowledge, status, and effectiveness.
- New Mexico has developed an innovative Medicaid
Buy-In program (Medicaid Category 043) that enables persons who have a
disability and who are working to receive Medicaid despite earning
levels that would otherwise make them ineligible. Also, persons who are
on the Medicare 24-month waiting period and who lost Supplemental
Security Income due to the start of Social Security Disability Insurance
benefits can receive Medicaid so that they can become sufficiently
medically stabilized to participate in a vocational rehabilitation
program and have a greater chance of returning to work.
- Vermont has partnered with the Social Security
Administration in the Social Security Disability 1 for 2 pilot project.
Under the project SSDI beneficiaries earning more than the threshold
amount for SSDI eligibility will not lose their entire SSDI benefit.
Rather the benefit will be reduced $1 for every $2 the individual earns
over the threshold, thus reducing disincentives to working.
- Maryland and Vermont received grants from the U.S.
Department of Labor to establish "Disability Program
Navigators." This pilot program is operated out of the states'
Career Resource ("One Stop") Centers. The program is designed
to assist people with disabilities who are seeking training in job
skills and who need help in "navigating" the employment
application process and to ensure that employers have access both to
qualified candidates with disabilities and the disability-related
information and resources they need. This program also provides
information on employment support programs, such as the Social Security
Administration's Ticket-to-Work Program.
- Seven states have established Youth Leadership
Forum (YLF) programs for high school students with disabilities. The YLF
is a national program that has been replicated by more than 25 states.
YLF programs in Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Vermont, and
Washington annually bring together thirty to forty high school juniors
and seniors to participate in several days of activities designed to
help them develop vocational goals, strengthen leadership skills, and
learn from the experiences of other youth and adults with disabilities.
The following section details practices that we think
may be inadvertent barriers to the hiring, retention, and advancement of
qualified individuals with disabilities in state government jobs or lead to
violations of the ADA. In many instances, the action necessary to remove a
particular barrier will be obvious or may be suggested by some of the best
practices outlined in Section I through IV of this report. This section also
proposes some possible solutions to several of the potential barriers we
A. Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment
- Some states or state agencies fail to post
nondiscrimination policies prominently or have policies that fail to
reference all applicable laws that affect individuals with disabilities
(e.g., that mention section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act but not the
ADA). States should ensure that managers, employees, and applicants are
aware of all state and federal non-discrimination laws that apply to
employment, including Title I of the ADA.
- Some equal employment opportunity and affirmative
action policies fail to include disability. In other instances,
affirmative action policies mention disability, but no specific efforts
are being made to increase the representation of individuals with
disabilities in the workforce, such as targeted outreach to
organizations of or for individuals with disabilities.
B. Reasonable Accommodation Policies
Our review of state personnel and reasonable
accommodation policies disclosed the following misstatements or omissions
concerning the obligation to provide reasonable accommodation, and
statements that may be misapplied and result in the inappropriate denial of
a reasonable accommodation.
- Reasonable Accommodations for the Application
Process: States or state agencies sometimes failed to provide
important information about reasonable accommodations related to the
application process, including: (1) a prominently displayed statement
that such accommodations are available; (2) instructions for what an
individual with a disability must do to request a reasonable
accommodation for the application process; and (3) contact information
for applicants who need to request reasonable accommodations that does
not include a TTY number.
- Failure to Mention Accommodations Related to
the "Benefits and Privileges of Employment": The ADA
requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations that enable
individuals with disabilities to enjoy the same benefits and privileges
of employment that are available to other employees. The benefits and
privileges of employment include access to parts of an employer's
facility that are available to all employees (e.g., cafeterias or break
rooms), as well as participation in employer-sponsored training,
services (e.g., Employee Assistance Programs), or social functions.
States may want to make it clear that their policies with respect to
reasonable accommodations include providing accommodations related to
the benefits and privileges of employment to ensure that individuals
with disabilities will request such accommodations if needed and to
avoid improper denials.
- Limiting Accommodations to Individuals with
"Permanent" Conditions: Reasonable accommodation policies
should not limit the availability of reasonable accommodations to
individuals with "permanent" conditions. Under the ADA,
impairments do not have to be permanent; they can also be long-term,
potentially long-term, or of unknown or unknowable duration.
- Requiring That Reasonable Accommodations
Benefit "Other Employees": A reasonable accommodation
policy should not require an individual with a disability to justify an
accommodation request by providing information about how the
accommodation will benefit other employees and should not instruct
managers or supervisors to seek such information. Although a reasonable
accommodation may benefit someone other than the individual with a
disability who is seeking it, this fact is not legally relevant when
assessing whether an accommodation must be provided.
- Prohibitions on Working at Home: Working
at home is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Policies that
generally prohibit telework, emphasize liability concerns related to
allowing employees to work from home, encourage employees to use leave
instead of working at home, and allow telework only in extenuating
circumstances may result in improper denials of telework as a reasonable
accommodation. A state employer may retain a general policy against
telework, but might specifically state in the policy that telework is
available as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, absent undue
- Improper Limits on Reassignment as a Reasonable
Accommodation: Some state or agency policies limit the reassignment
search to the employee's current agency or to the agencies within his
current department, rather than providing for statewide reassignment.
- Limits on Resources Available to Pay for
Reasonable Accommodations: Some state agencies require that the
cost of a reasonable accommodation be paid by the organizational unit
where the employee is located or where the position is budgeted. This
statement is legally inaccurate to the extent it ignores the fact that
the determination of whether the accommodation would pose an undue
hardship will be made in light of the budget of the entire state agency
and perhaps the state as a whole. As a practical matter, the statement
may serve as a disincentive for a particular office or organizational
unit within a larger agency to hire someone who requires a reasonable
accommodation that will involve some cost.
Training that contains erroneous, misleading, or
ambiguous information can lead agency managers to violate the ADA. States
should ensure that training manuals and curricula are carefully checked for
legal accuracy. Following are some of the legal inaccuracies we discovered
during the course of our review.
1. Training Related to the Hiring Process
- An employer may ask an applicant with a known
disability to describe or demonstrate how he or she would perform a job
only when the employer has a reasonable belief that the person may have
trouble performing a specific job function because of the disability.
Training materials should clearly state this standard and should not
state or suggest that an applicant's known disability is alone
sufficient to justify an employer's request that the applicant describe
or demonstrate job performance.
- It may be misleading to state that a job offer may
be conditioned on passing a medical examination without also making it
clear that the examination must wait until after a bona fide
job offer has been extended.
- Stating that all post-offer medical examinations
must be job-related and consistent with business necessity under the ADA
is not accurate. While this may be true under some state laws, the ADA
permits employers to conduct any type of medical examination they wish,
as long as all individuals entering a certain job category are given the
same examination. States should present any additional limitations on
post-offer medical examinations as state requirements or best practices,
and not as ADA requirements.
2. Training on Reasonable Accommodation
- Instructing supervisors or managers NOT to make
long-term "modifications" to job duties, but only
"temporary" modifications for "a short-term
illness/injury" is legally inaccurate, as is the instruction that
accommodations can be provided "only" for
"permanent" substantially limiting impairments. Long-term
modifications, such as elimination of a marginal function, may indeed be
required as a reasonable accommodation if undue hardship cannot be
shown. Furthermore, reasonable accommodation is required for more than
short-term illnesses or injuries, though an impairment need not be
"permanent" to qualify as a disability under the ADA.
- Statements in some training for state ADA
Coordinators that reasonable accommodations are not available to
individuals who have a "record of" or are "regarded
as" having a disability may not accurately reflect the law in the
federal circuit where the state is located or may fail to take account
of the fact that the issue is unresolved in some circuits.
- Managers should not be instructed to give a medical
form to all employees requesting reasonable accommodation. An
employer may request medical information to support an accommodation
request only from those individuals whose disability and/or
need for accommodation are not obvious.
- Some state training materials instruct ADA
Coordinators and management that an employee seeking reassignment as an
accommodation has the burden to notify the employer of any known vacant
position for which he or she is qualified. The ADA generally assigns to
the employer responsibility for identifying vacancies, while the
individual with a disability is responsible for providing information
that might aid the employer in its search, such as information about
3. Sovereign Immunity
- Some states incorrectly train ADA Coordinators or
management that the state cannot be sued for monetary damages. In fact,
although the Supreme Court's decision in Univ. of Alabama v. Garrett,
531 U.S. 356 (2001), limits the relief available in ADA employment
discrimination suits brought by individuals against state employers to
injunctive relief, the federal government may still bring suit against
state employers under the ADA for monetary relief.
We are encouraged by many of our findings concerning
state best practices aimed at recruiting and hiring qualified individuals
with disabilities. These practices include not only the establishment of
some training and hiring programs specifically for individuals with
disabilities, but more significantly, efforts to increase the number of
qualified applicants with disabilities for jobs available to the general
public. Ultimately, however, very limited data is available concerning the
number of individuals with disabilities who applied or were hired for state
jobs as a direct result of many of these measures.
Based on information reported by the states, it
appears that individuals involved in the hiring process have access to more
than adequate training on subjects such as interviewing people with
disabilities and preparing job descriptions. The job announcements that we
have examined do not describe jobs in a way that would inadvertently screen
out qualified individuals with disabilities. In fact, many job announcements
and job descriptions specifically reference the availability of reasonable
accommodations for the application process and on the job.
The use of written procedures for providing reasonable
accommodations, methods of documenting and tracking the disposition of
requests, and the provision of appeal processes following denials of
reasonable accommodations are also positive trends in some states. States
that have not done so may wish to consider the adoption of specific
timelines for the provision of reasonable accommodations and use of a
centralized funding source for the provision of more costly accommodations.
States might also examine whether it is possible to use data concerning the
disposition of accommodation requests to revise aspects of their reasonable
With respect to ensuring that individuals with
disabilities are treated fairly once they are on the job, the states we have
surveyed appear to offer significant ongoing training on the ADA and
disability issues for managers and supervisors. We are particularly
encouraged that training on disability issues is increasingly becoming part
of the states' diversity programs. However, we saw little evidence of
mentoring programs or training opportunities specifically aimed at promoting
the advancement of employees with disabilities after they are hired, or
evidence that the states undertake any measures to determine the
distribution of employees with disabilities among the various levels of the
state government workforce.
Finally, the states we have surveyed have taken a
significant number of steps aimed at increasing the employment of people
with disabilities generally. We particularly commend states for those
efforts initiated by legislative or executive action, as this sends a clear
message "from the top" that the employment of people with
disabilities is a state priority.
||Number of Employees
||Personnel Structure for Job Seekers
||Florida Department of Management Services
develops state-wide hiring and employment policies, which provide
minimum requirements that all state agencies must follow, although
state agencies have some latitude to exceed these requirements.
||Each agency establishes its own policies,
practices, and procedures, including policies related to reasonable
accommodation, with assistance from the state's Division of
Personnel Services, Department of Administration where necessary.
||Maryland has several different personnel
systems, each of which has its own employment policies, practices,
and procedures that apply to the agencies under that system.
||State Office of Administration, Employee
Services Section, is responsible for reviewing job applications for
employment within the Missouri Merit System. For jobs outside of the
merit system, each state agency handles job openings and hiring. A
state web site lists state agencies with direct links to each
agency's internet job posting page.
||Division of Personnel coordinates and posts
open recruitment announcements. Applications can be submitted to the
Division of Personnel or to the agency that has the vacant position.
Interviewing and hiring decisions are made at the agency level.
||Centralized system: State Personnel Office
coordinates and posts official position announcements.
||Large agencies handle own personnel/hiring;
smaller state agencies rely on Department of Human Resource
||Department of Human Resources develops policies
and procedures to govern statewide human resources management
practices. Interviewing and hiring decisions are the responsibility
of the agency/department hiring official.
||Department of Personnel developed state-wide
policies that individual agencies implement. Washington also
included a mix of centralized recruitment for some job classes and
individual agency recruitment for others. (Washington is
transitioning to a system wherein collective bargaining agreements
will establish most personnel policies and procedures.)
For more information on best practices noted in this
report, please contact the following individuals:
Julie M. Shaw
Executive ADA Administrator
Governor's Working Group on the ADA
4030 Esplanade Way, Ste 315K
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
(877) 232-4968 (TTY)
Anthony A. Fadale
State of Kansas ADA Coordinator
900 SW Jackson, Room 114
Topeka, Kansas 66612
(800) 766-3777 (TTY)
Jade Ann Gingerich
Director of Employment Policy
Maryland Department of Disabilities
217 E. Redwood Avenue, Suite 1301
Baltimore, MD 21202
(800) 735-2258 (TTY)
Steven D. Serra
Director, Recruitment and Examination Division
Office of Personnel Services and Benefits
Maryland Department of Budget and Management
301 West Preston Street, Suite 608
Baltimore, MD 21201
(800) 735-2258 (TTY)
Robert Honan, Executive Director
Governor's Council on Disability
301 West High Street, Suite 250-A
P. O. Box 1668
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1668
Director of Personnel
25 Capital Street
Concord, NH 03301
Carol A. Nadeau
Governor's Commission on Disability
57 Regional Drive
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-6895 (voice/TTY)
Director, Governor's Commission on Disability
Lamy Building, Room 117
491 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Commission for the Blind
2200 Yale Blvd. SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
John W. Golom
Human Resource Manager
Department of Human Services
State of Utah
(801) 538-4371 (TTY)
Karen R. Joeckel
Office of the Commissioner
Vermont Department of Human Resources
110 State Street, Drawer 20
Montpelier, VT 05620-3001
Toby Olson Executive Secretary Washington State
Governor's Committee on Disability Issues and Employment P.O. Box 9046
Olympia, WA 98507-9046 (360) 438-3168 (360) 438-3167 (TTY) firstname.lastname@example.org
1. See http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/nfi/int_states_best_practices_report.html.
2. 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
3. See 42 U.S.C. § 12102.
Pursuant to statutory directive, the United States Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission has issued regulations implementing Title I of the
ADA. Those regulations can be found at 29 C.F.R. Part 1630.
4. For information on the New
Freedom Initiative, see http://whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom/.
5. EEOC publications on the ADA can
be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/types/ada.html.
6. The ADA considers an individual
with a disability "qualified" if he or she can perform a job's
"essential functions" (or fundamental duties) with or without
reasonable accommodation. See 42 U.S.C. § 12111(8); 29 C.F.R. §
7. See 42 U.S.C. §
12112(b)(5)(A); 29 C.F.R. Part 1630, app. § 1630.2(o).
8. See 42 U.S.C. §
12112(d); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.13.
9. See 42 U.S.C. §
12112(d)(3)(B), (C), and (4)(C); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(b)(1), (c)(1), and
10. Reducing workers' compensation
costs also is listed as a goal of the program.
11. In 2001, the President's
Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities became part of the
Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.
12. Missouri Office of
Administration, Division of Personnel, 2004 Annual Report 21 (available at http://www.oa.mo.gov/pers/AnnualRpt.pdf).