Each year I look forward to October because it is designated as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and everyone is called upon to join us in our vision of "Employment, Independence, and Equality for all Californians with Disabilities." NDEAM is practiced day in and day out as we raise awareness and provide services to individuals with disabilities with their employment and independence goals. This year's theme is, "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?" This calls us to promote inclusion more than ever and not be satisfied with the status quo. It calls us to dream, act and make positive changes towards the betterment of all.
Vicki Apton, PRIDE Industries leads Interview Skills Breakout at Job Seeking Skills to Pay the Bill$, October 4, 2012
Historian James Truslow Adams' definition of the American Dream says that life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone. Historically our country was built on the premise of independence and equality, and in the years since, pioneers of the disability movement have made great strides toward including people with disabilities in the pursuit of equality and the American Dream.
As a part of the disability movement in California, for nearly 50 years, the Department of Rehabilitation has advocated that hiring qualified job seekers with disabilities is not solely about fulfilling the individual's American Dream, but it's also a good business decision for employers. This issue of DOR-WAYS features people attaining their dreams and benefitting the workplace.
NDEAM's true pioneer spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level throughout our state and across the nation every October. We all play an important role in fostering a more inclusive California, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities - every hour of every day of every month.
As always, if you have an idea for a particular story or issue you would like to see covered in future editions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alia Kuraishi instructs Counselor Claudia DeLaCruz in the LEAP and Schedule A Certification room at Job Seeking Skills to Pay the Bill$, October 4, 2012
Federal and State Hiring initiatives for People with Disabilities
For many people with disabilities, self-sufficiency through employment means independence and a higher quality of life. Federal and state initiatives designed to open the gateway to civil service jobs can offer both of these things. The federal government offers the Schedule A hiring authority and in California, the Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP) is available to job seekers with disabilities.
Federal agencies fill jobs two ways, competitively and non-competitively; persons with disabilities may apply either way. Anyone selected for jobs must meet the qualification requirements for the position and be able to perform its essential duties with or without reasonable accommodation.
Jobs that are filled competitively are advertised through USA Jobs. Each job advertisement contains instructions on how to apply. Approximately 16,000 jobs are available each day. People with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities who have documentation from a licensed medical professional; a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (i.e., state or private); or any federal agency, state agency, or agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits may apply for non-competitive appointment through the Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) hiring authority.
Additional resources on federal employment
To learn more about federal employment, visit the link below to the view the Schedule A fact sheet. It includes information about the process and applying for positions within the federal government. http://dor.ca.gov/Workforce-Development/Schedule-A-Fact-Sheet.rtf.
The Office of Personnel Management also provides information on Schedule A appointments and information about employing people with disabilities, including recruitment, interviewing, and telework policies, visit www.opm.gov/disability/mngr_3-13.asp.
State of California Jobs
The State of California is the largest employer in the state, with over 235, 000 people. As such, it's important for this workforce to be representative of all people in California, including those with disabilities.
Cover of the LEAP Video
LEAP gives people with disabilities an alternative way to enter into state service. The examination and appointment process differs from the standard process, and is designed to facilitate the recruitment and hiring of persons with disabilities into California civil service employment. Instead of the traditional process, which includes taking exams, list eligibility requirements, and a probation period, LEAP candidates demonstrate qualifications in an on-the-job setting followed by a customary probation period.
The first step is to go to the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) to obtain LEAP certification and then have the information entered into CalHR's database by the Examination Services Program. Once approved, one may take any LEAP exam as well as traditional civil service exams on the www.jobs.ca.gov website to obtain list eligibility. To see a side-by-side comparison of LEAP versus non-LEAP entry into state service, visit the DOR media page and click the "State Employment for People with Disabilities" video link www.dor.ca.gov/Media/index.html. To learn more about LEAP, visit www.dor.ca.gov/LEAP/index.html.
Additional resources on state employment
To learn more about the hiring process and the benefits of hiring from the LEAP list, view the Talent Connection video on the DOR media page, http://www.dor.ca.gov/Media/index.html.
A Note of Thanks to Bernita Laney, Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
Hello, my name is Kiyana Timmons, I live locally here in Fresno. I am a single mother of 2 children. I have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. My children are my life and my primary motivation for doing positive things with my life. I have a loving family and a mother who provides enduring love, support, and encouragement to be the best that I can be. After having my children, I went back to school. I completed two vocational courses, one in Medical
Assisting and the other as a Certified Nursing Assistant. After completing school, it became difficult to find employment, not to mention the declining state of the economy, which made it that much harder. I did however, find various jobs through temporary agencies, but could not find permanent fulltime work needed to make ends meet. Through it all, I never gave up on my goals or the tireless efforts to find a job to support my family. I have a birth defect, I am hearing impaired.
Consumer, Kiyana Timmons
This might be an obstacle for some, but it has never hindered me from doing anything in life. During my pursuit to find work, I was referred to the Department of Rehabilitation were I found a wonderful counselor who supported and provided valuable guidance towards my job search. I was very eager and was persistent in finding work. If I was given leads concerning job fairs, I acted upon each of them. There were many occasions where I never received a response to the resumes I handed out. But I never stopped going to job fairs, nor did I give up on the agency. I continued to check-in with my counselors every other week to take advantage of the resources made available to me. I'm here to tell you today that my prayers were answered and my persistence paid off. I'm employed full-time with Quality Group Homes and I love my job. I'm in a position to mentor and encourage young ladies requiring support and care.
Teagan Castellon working on a project at his work station
When he started participating in the Transition Partnership Program (TPP), Teagan Castellon was like many other young people with a dream of what he wanted to be when he grew up. For Teagan, a high school junior with a learning disability, that vision was to become an architect, and with the help of Department of Rehabilitation counselor, Camille Terzian, TPP was a step toward making it a reality. Teagan took part in exercises in resume writing, filling out job applications, interview skills, and job skills in the "Transition 101" class to prepare him for his future. The hard work paid off, and in 2010, after completing three years at Pierce Community College, he was accepted into the School of Architecture at Woodbury University in Burbank where he is excelling.
As a part of his undergrad program, Teagan and a design partner recently won third place in the Open Design competition at the American Institute of Steel Construction's 12th Annual Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The program challenged students to explore a variety of design issues related to the use of steel in design and construction. For their project titled "[Re]Purposed," Teagan and his teammate investigated the potential of a decommissioned refinery by using scavenged parts to support clean, environmentally responsive energy. The judges commented on the project's innovation and called it an ethereal project. To view the project, visit http://acsa-arch.org/programs-events/competitions/competition-archives/2011-12-steel-competition/2011-12-steel-winners.
With just a year to go until he finishes his undergraduate degree in architecture, Teagan is again looking toward his future. He hopes to continue his schooling at UCLA in the Masters of Urban Design program. "I plan to continue investigating urban design in graduate school with the hopes of it giving me greater opportunities and a more competitive edge in the job market," Teagan says. As a result of his outstanding achievements, he is currently being recruited by several employers.
"It has been an honor to work with Teagan. He is very diligent in his studies and appreciative of the services he's received," commented DOR Counselor Camille Terzian. "Teagan has reiterated many times that he could not have achieved his goal without our services."
Jacyln Greenwood at the wheel of her modified van
On the Road to Success...A License to Independence
Department of Rehabilitation consumer and recent college graduate, Jaclyn Greenwood, was well on her way to a career in the healthcare field. About to begin a graduate program at a Los Angeles area university, she had a more immediate goal in mind though, getting her license so that she could drive herself to school, medical appointments, and work. With the aid of her counselor, Stephanie List, Jaclyn began the assessment process with our Mobility Evaluation Program to determine her driving potential and what vehicle would be most appropriate for her needs, all the while studying for her master's degree.
During an initial evaluation session in 2010, an occupational therapist, driving instructor, and rehabilitation engineer determined that a van operated by a joystick control would best suit her. We customized the van for Jaclyn's comfort and independent operation and over the course of two years, 13 vehicle operation instruction sessions, 18 fitting sessions, and several driving lessons and road test drives, Jaclyn was ready for the her test at the DMV!
In addition to working toward her driver's license, Jaclyn was also busy with her master's program. In the spring of 2012, she graduated and began applying to jobs. Shortly after, in the fall of 2012, Jaclyn not only got her license, but did so just in time to drive herself to her first day at her new job as a Community Health Care Manager at UC Irvine.
Jaclyn recognizes our department with playing a significant role in helping her achieve her career goals. "DOR helped fund my education and vehicle modifications," she says. "College prepared me for a successful career and becoming a driver allowed me to seek more diverse job positions."
The team of counselors, instructors, and program experts have all commented on Jaclyn's success as well. Rehabilitation Supervisor Sandra Fagan remarked on her spirit and drive. "It has been a tremendous pleasure to see this outcome for Jaclyn and we're pleased that she has found a job in her field with great benefits!"
The Department of Rehabilitation's Mobility Evaluation Program provides driving evaluations for qualified individuals to help determine their transportation needs. We also provide passenger and wheelchair evaluations and training in adaptive technology and driver evaluation practices. For more information on the program visit, http://www.dor.ca.gov/MEP/index.html.