n Monday, July 26, during the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the ADA, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing plans for the Federal Government to hire more people with disabilities. This order move will not only provide jobs to many disabled individuals, but also make the federal government a “model employer of individuals with disabilities,” which will encourage private employers to follow their example.
While signing the order, the President praised the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as “one of the most comprehensive civil rights bills in the history of this country.” However, he acknowledged that more must to be done to enact the spirit of the law in our everyday lives, starting with the government’s hiring practices. Even more important than the President’s hopeful words; however, were the measurable objectives which he attached to them. The Executive Order compels agencies to develop strategic plans and calls for hiring managers and human resource employees to be trained to accommodate disabled applicants and workers. It also requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to assist other offices in hiring those with disabilities and report their progress both to the president and to the public.
As a member of the Justice for All Action Network (JFAAN), a coalition of disability rights organizations, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has long advocated an executive order of this nature. While our proposed executive order included the creation of a Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment, Economic Empowerment and Social Security, which was not present in the President’s order earlier this week, the order nonetheless included many provisions which the NAD believes will be beneficial to our community. The order represents a step forward and we are grateful to President Obama both for allowing us to be involved in an ongoing discussion with his administration, and for issuing an order that will help to employ members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
For more information, review President Obama’s order.