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Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 gives us a chance to reflect on the progress we've made and the challenges that still exist for people with disability in the 21st Century.   As the predecessor to the Americans with Disability Act, the Rehabilitation Act continues to serve as the foundation for enhancing access for all Americans.

Section 504 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs receiving federal funding.   While many people are familiar with the idea of accessible sidewalks, and buses,  one of the lesser-known keys to achieving transportation progress for people with disabilities is access to travel training.

Learning to navigate the available options safely and confidently can make a big difference not just in your mobility, but in your quality of life and the number of opportunities open to you.

Photo of student in wheelchair on streetcar

Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Our committment is to make DOT a model employer of a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities, especially those with targeted disabilities (deafness, blindness, partial paralysis, total paralysis, missing limbs, distortion of limbs or spine, mental illness, mental retardation, and convulsive disorders).

DOT is committed through its five-year plan to set goals for the employment and advancement of people with targeted disabilities. Qualified people with severe or targeted disabilities may be hired either non-competitively through the Schedule A Hiring Authority, or by using the On-The-Spot Hiring Authority (for FAA only).

Low Vision Awareness and Accessible Documents

Employees with visual disabilities use different types of alternative formats that may include large print, electronic/diskette, Braille, or audiotape. The DOT Disability Resource Center (DRC) urges employees and supervisors to begin creating accessible documents and to learn about the benefits of DRC services.

Whether you're a supervisor, co-worker of an employee with a visual disability, or if you're sponsoring a meeting or event, information must be provided in alternative formats to ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities in the DOT workplace.

DRC Handbook Chapter 10: Services Outside the Scope of the DRC

In some situations, the employee and supervisor/decision maker might request an accommodation that the DRC cannot provide because that accommodation is beyond DRC’s authority.  If possible, in those instances the DRC will provide information and resources on how the accommodation can be obtained outside of the DRC, should the supervisor/decision maker and employee wish to pursue the accommodation.

DRC Handbook Chapter 9: Section 508

The DRC works closely with Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to provide technical assistance upon request, and to support their compliance program (which includes privacy, security and other IT regulatory requirements besides Section 508). This is accomplished through technical assistance and training. OCIO provides technical support for training as well as for other requests. DRC maintains the information contained on the OCIO Section 508 website including technical resources, various DOT policies, and functional guidelines. DRC also assists OCIO with the biennial Department of Justice report data collection.

DRC Handbook Chapter 8: Training and Outreach

DRC offers training and outreach to all DOT Departmental Offices/OAs on a range of disability-related employment topics. Managers and employees may request trainings or briefings to help improve understanding of disabilities, the use of assistive technology, and disability etiquette. When possible, employees with disabilities within the requesting organization's work group are encouraged to participate.

DRC Handbook Chapter 7: Technical Assistance

The DRC provides technical assistance to all DOT employees, offices and OAs. These services are separate from the products and services provided through the reasonable accommodation process. The DRC's technical assistance services can include answering disability related questions; working with third-parties such as IT to get assistive technology devices approved or supported by the Department/OA; 508 compliance; accessible meetings; program access, etc.