October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) sponsors the observance to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate contributions of American workers with disabilities. This year’s theme, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes the important role that people with disabilities play in a diverse, inclusive, and successful workforce where all contribute to the mission.
“In the Coast Guard, employees with disabilities are a valuable source of talent who play a vital role in accomplishing the service’s missions,” said Caroline Mapp, the Coast Guard’s People with Disabilities program manager. “Employees with disabilities are just as qualified as those with no disabilities in performing their assigned jobs, and they should be provided the same opportunities, access, and privileges,” she added.
Mapp helps raise workforce awareness about topics related to disability employment, reasonable accommodations, and barriers to employment. She addresses the unique concerns of the Coast Guard’s disability community by providing them information and resources like assistive technology that will allow them to successfully perform their duties. Assistive technology is any item that helps a person with a disability perform their job and can include adapted computers, speech communication devices, alternative keyboards, screen reading software, and devices with larger buttons.
Mapp also educates supervisors on how they can lead in a manner that ensures the success of their employees with disabilities. Like management officials, the total Coast Guard workforce can play a role in being allies to the disability community.
“We can support [people] with disabilities by continuing to ensure that the workplace remains accessible, including through virtual presentations and training, and ensuring that budgets take into consideration funds for interpreters, software, assistive technology, and other programs or services,” Mapp added.
Communication is also a key part of supporting the Coast Guard’s disability community. “We must include employees with disabilities in discussions about employment issues and opportunities. We can solicit their input, experiences, and expertise which can help foster a work environment that is welcoming to the talents of all individuals.”
The Coast Guard strives to be a model employer of people with disabilities by affording every member and applicant an opportunities to chart a meaningful career.
During NDEAM and throughout the year, Coast Guard service members and civilian employees can make disability part of the equity equation by promoting affirmative employment outcomes for people with disabilities. We can all play a part in fostering equity servicewide by empowering all employees, regardless of disability, to succeed and thrive.
- The Coast Guard’s Disability Allies Resource Group (DARG) strives to raise awareness of workplace issues affecting individuals with disabilities, reinforce inclusive hiring efforts within the Service, and create a space for open discussion among employees. For more information about the DARG or to join, please contact Linda Aase.
- The Coast Guard has its own Section 508 program managers who help offices understand electronic and information technology accessibility. Visit this website for a list of the Coast Guard’s coordinators.
- The Coast Guard Mobility Program is an assistive service that provides Coast Guard members, applicants, and visitors with temporary mobility accommodations, such as motorized scooters and wheelchairs.
- NDEAM - Department of Labor