Obama’s five-year goal is to have an additional 100,000 disabled federal employees.
In the order, Obama stated his reasoning: because the federal government is the nation’s largest employer, and because it has an active interest in reducing discrimination against disabled Americans, the federal government “must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities.”
A recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report stated that individuals with specific disabilities make up less than one percent of the federal labor force. The disabilities referred to in the report were partial or complete paralysis, deafness, blindness, convulsive disorders, mental illness, missing limbs, mental retardation and distortion of the spine or limbs.
The president stated that his executive order echoes an order signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000; an order Obama said wasn’t properly executed.
The practical effects of the new executive order is that it will open previously closed doors, enabling veterans injured in their service, among others, to receive the benefits of full employment. Federal agencies will now provide training tailored to the disabled, as well ensuring that facilities and technologies available help new employees make the most of their abilities.
The Labor Department is also going to work on helping injured employees have more opportunities to return to work and reap the benefits of their labor.
Obama ordered agencies to make concerted, documented efforts to “improve, expand, and increase successful return-to-work outcomes for those of their employees who sustain work-related injuries and illnesses.”
This is an overdue change that will benefit Colorado, with our many federal employment opportunities.
Employees who sustain workplace injuries or illness are often able to return to work when the focus is on their many abilities rather than any disabilities. Those who can’t return to work are, of course, entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help them cope with medical costs and lost income.