U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Was this page helpful?

Individuals with Disabilities Program


On July 26, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13548, which provides that the Federal Government, as the Nation's largest employer, must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities. The order directs Executive departments and agencies to improve their efforts to employ Federal workers with disabilities and targeted disabilities through increased recruitment, hiring, and retention of these individuals. The Executive Order also adopts the goal set forth in Executive Order 13163 of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities into the Federal Government over 5 years, including individuals with targeted disabilities.

In addition to the Executive Order, federal agencies are obligated under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended to affirmatively employ people with disabilities and to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and qualified employees unless doing so would cause undue hardship. The specific requirements of this obligation are spelled out in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Management Directive (MD) 715.

The Disability Program is responsible for providing policy guidance and oversight to ensure the Department complies with these legal and statutory requirements. Also, through the Disability Program, the Department develops strategies to increase the recruitment, hiring, and retention of employees with disabilities, ensure procedures for the reasonable accommodation program and accessibility standards are met, and conducts inclusion and awareness training.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

NDEAM is observed each October to recognize and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and to educate on the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. NDEAM dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." The return of service members with disabilities from World War II sparked the public interest in the contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace. In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. Then in 1988, Congress expands “National Employ the Handicapped Week” to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” To learn more about the origins and evolution of NDEAM and other important disability employment information, visit the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), website at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep


Executive Orders

  • Executive Order 13078, Increasing Employment of Adults with Disabilities, March 13, 1998.
  • Executive Order 13124 - Amending the Civil Service Rules Relating to Federal Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities, June 4, 1999.
  • Executive Order 13164 - Requiring Federal Agencies to Establish Procedures to Facilitate the  Provision of Reasonable Accommodation, October 20, 2000
  • Executive Order 13548 - Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, July 26, 2010 -

Department of Commerce Administrative Orders


The text of Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112) (Rehab. Act), as amended, as these sections appear in volume 29 of the United States Code, beginning at section 791. Section 501 prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the federal sector. Section 505 contains provisions governing remedies and attorney's fees under Section 501. Relevant definitions that apply to sections 501 and 505 precede these sections.

Section 508 requires that Federal agencies must ensure comparable accessibility to persons with disabilities whenever that agency uses electronic or information technology, unless such access would impose an undue burden. This web site contains the text of Section 508, as amended, as well as other materials.

  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) - Effective November 21, 2009 This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. genetic information includes information about an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual's family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual's family members (i.e. an individual's family medical history). The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) 

This law makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in employment (Title I), in public services (Title II), in public accommodations (Title III) and in telecommunications (Title IV). EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I's prohibition against discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.

This law made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability.” It also directed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to amend its ADA regulations to reflect the changes made by the ADAAA. EEOC provides information about the ADAAA.

Guidance and Regulations


Commerce Program Manager: Monique Dismuke

In August 2023, the Department of Commerce issued its updated Reasonable Accommodation (RA) procedures (DAO 215-10). In November 2023, the Office of Civil Rights hosted a special panel discussion for DOC employees to learn what’s new in the updated DAO. The discussion was facilitated by Commerce subject matter experts who provided insightful information on common questions raised about the RA process.

Featured Panelists:

  • Mr. Jean Vincent, Team Lead, Reasonable Accommodations Branch, Human Resources Division, Census Bureau
  • Ms. Naveen Paul, Supervisory Attorney Advisor, Informal Complaints/RA Program Manager, Office of Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity, US Patent and Trade Office
  • Ms. Lilia Irizarry-Felix, Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator, Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary
  • Moderator:  Ms. Monique Dismuke, DOC Disability/Reasonable Accommodation Program Manager, Office of Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary
  • 0:00

    what I like to do is have each one of you go around and introduce yourself first so can we start with you Jean can


    you please introduce yourself the audience please thank you good morning everyone I'm John Jensen and I'm over at


    the Census Bureau as the team lead rmo accommodations I've been here for about four years and I truly truly enjoy the


    work that I do thank you and I'll pass it on to mine


    now you can go next and introduce yourself hi everyone my name is navine Paul I am


    the AR program manager at the United States patent and trademark office um so


    if you're within doc you may not be familiar with who I am but we uh


    essentially do the same thing that Mo'Nique and her team do um just at the patent and trademark


    office hi everybody I'm Lilia I'm the reasonable accommodation coordinator for


    the office of the secretary um we are here in hbhc today


    and looking forward to your questions thank you all for introducing


    yourself uh to the uh audience today and I also want to bring out that this


    training definitely is needed as we are uh recently have revised the department to revised their reasonable


    accommodation procedure so for all those in attendance the Department of Commerce


    um there are procedures outlined in Dao 25-10 in August 2023 that uh revised


    version was released and available to you on the OCR web page it would eventually be available on you on to you


    on the opo web page but you can also look um information on the OCR web page


    that Dao RIS to uh be in accordance with the depart the


    US commiss standards for reasonable accommodation in harmony with Section


    501 of the rehab act so the the uh revision was necessary because of course


    things change over time but more importantly we just it was important for federal agencies to make sure that their


    reasonable accommodation procedures were in line with the guidance provided in


    the law so again it was a long procedure within the Department of Commerce to make sure we get that right but our


    guidance is right there and and da 25-10 so today's presentation uh we are


    providing guidance based on 25-10 so it's pry broad um your Bureau may have


    some specific proceed processes that they utilize internally for Effective flow of the ra process so if some of the


    procceed some of the things discussed today are U maybe more um Broad and you


    have more unique things you would consult with your Bureau or a coordinator regarding those things we do


    also encourage you to put questions in the chat but again based on the time we may not get a chance to get to all of


    your questions but feel free as we go along to put those questions in the chat um let's go ahead start off with talking


    about the reasonable accommodation process first of all for those who not


    know we'll start off with what is a reasonable accommodation and why is it


    important vny could you answer that question for us what is a reasonable accommodation why yes so accommodation


    allows an individual with the disability to more participate in the application process perform the essential functions


    of their job or enjoy equal benefits or privileges of employment so and if you


    have some type of disability and you're requesting a change in the workplace


    that's when you you would request a reasonable


    combination aesome thank thank you and yeah elaborate a little bit more why


    accommodations are important what how did they um how sure it's extremely important number


    one if you are needing a change in the workplace they can be something as simple as hey I need a cant desk in the


    office because you have a back issue and it doesn't have to start off with you


    knowing why the reasonable accommodation is it could just be hey I need a change in the workplace because of a medical


    condition and that's when you would start with your supervisor tell them hey


    I'm needing this and then we would start the process of the reasonal


    accommodation thank you so um when with


    based off of what you're saying when must an agency actually provide that accommodation is there a certain time


    period have to provide it um is it you know right right so you can request the


    accommodation at any stage from the application process if you're starting a


    job or anytime during the your tenure with the agency so you would go to your


    supervisor and let them know I'm requesting a Reas more accommodation and they have 20 business days from the time


    that you request it to process it again that's without any extera circumstances


    that make make it longer we would and once we come to our office will alert


    your supervisor let them know if you've requested a Reas more accommodation and that 20 business days is for the whole


    process to be completed there will be times that it does take longer in the


    event that we do request medical documentation from the employee then


    that stops the 20 business day timeline but we do try to process it as soon as


    possible the 20 business days typically is the max that it will take us


    but we to process it as soon as possible well thank you you kind of give


    us a broad overview and we'll get a little bit more into that time frame in just a few minutes so can does a person


    have to use any specific words like do they have to say I have a dis do they have to say I need a reasonable


    accommodation Are there specific words that they have to use absolutely not they just need


    to alert the supervisor or office that they need a change in workplace because


    of a disability or because of a medical condition and a lot of times a supervisor might not know exactly what


    the employee is requesting and that's when it's extremely imperative that they


    reach out to our office or let the individual know I believe you're requesting a reason accommodation let me


    send you to the reasonal accommodation Branch where we would be able to help the individual more but if a supervisor


    you have questions about a statement that was made to you you reach out to our office and we'll definitely guide


    you in the direction we will take over from there and reach out to the individuals so were able to get the


    person the accommodation that they're requesting and sometimes it might not be a reasonable accommodation they're just


    letting you know that there's something going on with them and as a supervisor one thing you always want to start off


    with is how may I help you and let the employee tell you exactly what they need


    what they think they may need and if it's not a reasonal accommodation then help them that way but if it is a


    reasonal accommodation send them to our office and most importantly if you are


    able to give that accommodation and we'll talk about that later is the supervisor ultimately is some who's


    going to approve or deny that accommodation so if you're able to provide that accommodation without the


    idual coming through our office and through the whole process please do so and provide that accommodation


    to the individual so I hear you I understand


    you to say that the ra process begins with the person letting the uh supervisor or even in our office know


    that they have a need and that they need something a change in the way things are customarily done or in their job or


    their position based on a medical condition right so I'm just recapping


    not necessarily they they don't have to say they have a disability but starts the process now since that begins the


    process we'll talk a little bit more about what's the next step when it comes to the interactive process which is in


    the in the Dao it outlines three steps in this process initiating the process


    of what you said the interactive process and then the decision so it start staying with the in initiating the


    process uh Jean do we have any specific forms or online systems that we want


    people to use to to start the process to let us know that they have a request to kind of keep track of it right so couple


    things so the first thing is once you come to our office we'll send you intake forms which is a


    c575 which is what you're going to fill out to send back to our office to let us


    know what it is that you're you're requesting so that form comes to us and we know go over it and we'll get back to


    and ask you if you need additional medical documentation but now with the new release of the Dao when it gives the


    intell track tracking system is another way that you can go and request a


    reasonable accommodation and once you do that it's just like filling out the CD 575 and it'll come to our office we'll


    provide you with the REO accommodation coordinator that process your case and


    it is a lot easier to use that cd5 I'm sorry the intell track tracking system


    it lets you track the whole progress of your accomodation from the time you


    submitt it to our office to alert your supervisor that you request the reasonal accommodation every step of the way from


    has there made has there been a recommendation is there an approval you can view that on your own to see what


    the process is at but if you don't go through that route of course the bureau


    Rex will keep you updated throughout the whole process also and and Okay so let me clarify


    again with that one so now we we utilize the um on online automated tracking


    system which you mentioned is a new system for the Department of Commerce it's the ell track reasonable accommodation tracking system and a


    person a person may go in and put their request into the system and the system allows them to verify their request and


    then track as it proceeds along in the process now who maintains that system


    who actually monitors and maintains and updates that system so the only people who have access to that system is going


    to be the bureau rack so it's not open to the supervisors to be able to see


    what you're submitting it's not going to if you submit your medical documentation


    in there no one is going to see what you submitted into the system other than for


    the REO accommodation coordinators that's going to be processing the request for you and of course the


    Department of Commerce and you you also track to make sure everything's moving Al


    along thank you Vinny and and I am the disability program manager and the product administrator so so yes I I do


    have access to that system for the department and and so thank you for clarifying and and verifying that it is


    a confidential system U no one has access to except those limited individuals to what you put in that


    system now another thing another good great thing about that system is we don't it's not mandatory that you use


    that system it's not mandatory that you fill out a CD 575 those are just two options for us to confirm and verify


    what you've requested so if an employee contacts an RA coordinator um submits a


    request they can do it verbally they can do it in an email but and then the ra


    coordinator now they are responsible for ensuring that that uh request is put


    into the system so it can be tracked but we do ask individuals to put it to go in


    and and do it because we want to hear from you specifically and make sure we got your request right so that system


    definitely is like a confirmation verification for us of what you're requesting okay so I want to make sure


    that individuals know that yeah right and we will also I some questions coming


    into for the link for the intell track system we'll put that in there also but


    most importantly you do not have to fill out a CD 575 right it's not a requirement for you to do so but we do


    need to know what you're requesting so we will fill it out for you and typically it will go into etk and you


    will get an alert notice tell you exactly what you requested so if it's not what you think or we didn't capture


    it correctly get back to our office and said no what I'm actually requesting is this we'll fix it for you but again it's


    not a requirement that you fill it out but we do want to hear from you to let us know exactly what it is so it's not


    we're not missing anything or the request that you are asking for is exactly what it is and of course we'll


    follow it up with the medical documentation to support it but we definitely want to capture the request


    that is going to be sent to us in your supervisor to let us know exactly what


    you will need okay awesome thank you n let me ask


    you is PTO uh that you're you have an online tracking system that's separate from the system that we use uh


    throughout the rest of the department fortunately PTO had the system first before it became a department-wide


    system so we were able to kind of see learn about that system you got it a few years ago so naine is your system work


    the same way as far as like tracking and submitting a request do they use that online system or a different form okay


    yes we do and the capabilities I think differ in a little bit but it's essentially the same uh you register for


    the software once you can log on you'll see a a screen that says submit new


    request and you fill out the for the online form and it will ask you uh you


    know your home address because it's important that we' be able to get in touch with you uh the duties that you're having difficulty performing what


    accommodation you're requesting and if you're unsure about the accommodation that you need uh there is a list on the


    new request page uh and maybe the accommodation you need is not on that list it's not an exhaustive list if


    there's something different that you need you can fill that in maybe you already know because your doctor made a


    recommendation um but if you don't know you can always interact uh with your case processor and they'll work with you


    and your medical provider to identify what you need so you know then you certify that your request is accurate


    you hit submit um you are automatically assigned an eeo specialist to process


    your case you're automatically assigned a deciding official um and we begin


    processing your case immediately okay and so I will U add


    some clarification too on slight differences in processes So within PTO


    that the you um you have automatic deciding official within uh the rest of Doc we operate just a slight difference


    so your supervisor is your deciding official or someone in your chain of command who will be notified as you


    mentioned that uh system does notify the supervisor once you put that request in


    that you've submitted a request so whoever you put down in that system as your supervisor uh for the rest of Doc


    separate from USPTO that's who will get the notification that a request has been submitted now I we also have a question


    there did you discuss it with your supervisor so if you have you'll say yes if not then we're aware that this is the


    first time your supervisor may be aware of uh your need so it's important that


    you let us know that as well one last thing I'll say about that then Lily I want to ask you if you have any other


    input on that as well on the um initiating the process one last thing about that is that um there are


    categories on that uh screen on that form online form that are M marked with


    an aster that means you have to fill those in the others are optional but again even with the optional information


    is helpful to us so please put in the um optional information if you have it okay


    thank you very much now Lilia yes yes hi um here um under the office of the secretary yes


    um the same as PTO um it's different as PTO and closer


    to what the census does uh the deciding official is the uh immediate supervisor


    base on your essential functions and the accommodation you are requesting we are


    also Beering out uh to of having more um


    files on on each accommodation on the electron um file system the etk because it


    creates continuity it creates you know um a safe place to have your


    information uh it's accessible from you know anywhere that you have a computer and you have access to the Department of


    Commerce um also I would like to add to when when you become uh when you have a


    disability when for the first time in your life or you become you know um you


    find yourself in need need of requiring uh diagnosed with uh something um you


    find yourself that you need something to continue working but sometimes you don't know what and it's always helpful to


    have your job description and discuss it with your supervisor that with your doctor and um see you know which


    essential functions you need to perform in order to kind of like have you know


    your full potential at work that will be that will not nrow uh the list uh of


    potential accommodations that you can request um the person with a disability


    is the person that uh has firsthand knowledge of their


    limitations uh but sometimes it's hard to point out what kind of accommodation


    will work with my limitation it's very important that you create a relationship


    with your reasonable accommodation coordinator because um we we can offer you not only resources to this process


    but we can offer you resources to where to seek information like the Department of


    Labor um ask genen uh or or that um agency which can help you and give you


    examples of uh certain accommodations uh depending on your condition or what you


    are experien everything with re yes yes


    and and thank you so you and again you know I I didn't mean to cut you off I I apologize for that but you're leading


    right into the next segment which is interactive process and I really appreciate that for the sake of time


    we'll just kind of keep the flow going but you just really connected us to the interactive process so after a person


    has now um said hey I have I have a need I have a medical condition I need to change something in a way I customarily


    do my job or whatever um now I need to figure out what I I want to request um


    or what the agency can provide for me or what what is you know what I can get in terms of what I need what this we go


    into what we call the interactive process can you kind of talk just briefly about what this process is what


    happens during the interactive process tell me a couple of the things that people need to know about what happens during that


    process um first uh it's confidential very important because


    that's open up the um the flow of information for anything you know you


    need to say or about your condition that you don't want anybody else to know um


    basically it will be giving you an overview of the process and what what we


    need what we don't need uh and what will happen and within what time this


    interactive process will happen um like you mentioned before the etk has uh a


    question that says uh and etk is the electronic format that says have you spoken to your supervisor


    some people are very open about their life H with their supervisor and with the whole office other people are more


    uh reserved so I mean it's not a requirement but if you feel more comfortable you should know that um we


    won't discuss your medical history we won't reveal anything that uh just basically uh we will focus on your


    limitations and what would you would need to keep performing the same level that you were performing


    before this disability or It's ability you will be doing something the same job


    but with some in a different way I like to put it like that I don't like to use


    the word much disability so very good so yeah so you have some


    limitation maybe some functional limitation if you have a a condition that um impacts your ability to you know


    maybe walk or sit down or stand or something like that that those are what we call functional limitations so now I


    have a limitation I'm talking to the ra coordinator about my limitations and am


    I required to give you medical documentation on this um during this interactive process


    Lilia well basically if you have a obvious uh


    disability uh some no uh but in some cases um yeah we do need to see you know


    some medical documentation that will help us um assess and classify you as


    you know as a person that does have disability under the law and or has an impairment for you know a short period


    of time um and that's something that um uh we do need to have that evidence in


    order to kind of like process and I appreciate it you adding


    that the impairment so when we Define disability we say that it is a physical


    or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities right and we major life activities and we


    don't need the employee to determine that they have a disability we don't need the superviser to determine that


    they have a disability the determination on as to whether a person has a disability or not rest within a


    reasonable accommodation office so the coordinators program managers we assess based on your medical documentation


    information we receive from you and sometimes in in uh you know using the


    the requirements outlined in guide the EOC and the law we determine if you have


    um a disability now but that being said you that's the reason why we don't have


    to you don't have to say I have a disability just if you have an impairment that impacts one or more of


    your major life activities or bodily function talk to your ra coordinator and


    the determination will be made at that point the fol focus is what do you need so how do we do uh A needs assessment


    and I'm going to ask all three of you to kind of chime in on that just slightly how do you determine if a per what the


    um the options are for accommodation how how does a person um kind of help how do


    you help a person or how do they provide information on what they need for an accommodation and we'll start with you


    Lilia can you help I would I will say that um based on the um


    essential functions what kind of job you do are you sitting down in a computer all day are you an analyst are you you


    know just all all that kind of your your essential functions what you do every day um I I I always like to give an


    example oh I am i t I'm a typist I type all day uh suddenly I broke my arm I can


    no longer type uh it could we know it could be a temporary limitation uh so


    what would you need you know maybe then you look into the um resources out there


    that can be used to help you you know work during that temporary limitation or


    permanent limitation I mean technology definitely has help us make out our job


    a little better thank you and how about you Johan


    what what what would you say on that question added information what I would


    say is the person who would know best what's going to work for them is that individual right they're the one who has


    that disability so through the interactive process we listen to get exactly what they think will work for


    them and a lot of times it's a life from disability that might have just gotten to the agency so they know exactly what


    worked for them in the past so that's where we we still starting point is what you say is going to be that's going to


    work best for you and the next step is want to make the recommendation to the supervisor that individual might think


    that's the best thing but the supervisor might say Hey you know it might not work for my business needs but here's an


    alternative accommodation that should be just as effective and that's that's where we're gonna try that first and see


    if it works but at any point in time if that accommodation that you're requested does not work for you then it's time to


    come back to us or go back to the supervisor and say can we reevaluate this so it's a continuous process to get


    the exact accommodation that works best for not only you but for the the


    business needs of that unit thatal working for okay awesome now we have a lot of


    questions coming in in the chat but what I'm going to ask is that we're we're trying to get through um the primary


    information that you need to have we're going to have about we're going to try to leave about 10 or 15 minutes at the


    end to respond to these questions and if there are questions that we do not get


    to we we definitely will ask you to contact your Bureau ra coordinator your bureaus do conduct training on a routine


    basis so I would say look out for the training but also you can reach directly out to your ra coordinator for your


    specific questions okay so definitely we do want the questions we thank you for the questions and we will definitely get


    back uh to you on those answers okay thank you all right so again we're


    talking about the interactive process so nine in the interactive process do it it


    the the person may say well you know do do I have to get something from my


    doctor specifically to State certain things what should I tell my doctor what needs to be on my form or my information


    um can you talk about that a little bit what are ask for yeah so uh hopefully we


    all know that uh every human is different um and the way that we experience disabilities can be different


    you can have the same disability but need something else as someone uh who has the same disability um so if they


    don't know what their doctor needs to say well the great thing is we have internal forms docc has forms PTO has


    forms and those forms are very specific to the information that the agency needs


    now sometimes you don't need that form so in lilia's example someone who has a broken arm or a broken wrist it might be


    obvious right dictation software is going to help them because they won't be able to type sometimes there are more


    complicated conditions like neurodiversity conditions for example and that affects different people in


    many different ways maybe someone needs extra time maybe someone needs a different schedule maybe someone uh you


    know needs a different kind of assistance um in that case we would have a conversation there is usually a


    release attached to the form so it is up to the employee to authorize uh the


    agency to reach out to their medical provider uh so that there's no delay you don't have to do that um but it


    certainly helps and it makes things quicker if we can just pick a the phone and call your provider and say this was


    unclear these are the employees duties you know can you tell us what would work


    for this employee wonderful and just to clarify a


    little bit more what's needed in the medical documentation I know sometimes folks submit to us their VA rating um


    letter and sometimes they even give us like I have a um State decal for


    handicap parking um so therefore you know that shows that I have disability


    and I should be able to get you know something whatever I request it is that sufficient I will take that from anyone


    or what do you what do you it it is not so it needs to be specific um you know


    sometimes your medical documentation the easy example is they broke their wrist that you know we know what we can


    provide in that situation but if there is a general statement that you have a disability or that you have they could


    even specify the disability but it could affect you and different ways we need specificity as to the condition and


    specifically what accommodation will assist you because we are not medical professionals we cannot guess what you


    might need um if for example you have ADHD which has a broad range of symptoms


    and also a wide variety of uh technology and accommodations that can


    help thank you and and go ahead yes I add Monique that I i' like to say that


    like naine perfectly mentioned earlier I mean each ACC accommodation is unique


    you may have like shean like she said you may have the same disease but it


    manifests differently or your limitations are different so it's it's


    something that uh people tend to compare uh I may need a chair I may not need a


    big monitor I may need a big monitor I may not need a chair I mean it's it's


    yes it's human nature to compare but each accommodation is unique it's


    tailored to the individual need limitations and


    job very so that is very important to have in the uh interactive and part of


    our job in the interactive if is also educate the um supervisors um because we


    always come from the perspective of the employee having the disability but that


    supervisor may not be um you know the first time that he's dealing with something like this uh or it's something


    that and we tend to immediately go to our memory um experience of something


    that oh I remember seeing such and such doing this um so we are here to educate


    both you you and help you through the process and help the supervisors to the


    process um so it's it's very important to to remember that when it comes to


    medical documentation support your condition and the accommodation your


    requesting thank you Lilia so one one last question on this interactive process before we move into the


    decision-making process and I I'll point this to Jean so Jean once is my medical


    information safe who gets my information who gets to see it how is it kept confidential so one of two things so if


    you go to the intell track system and you upload that documentation on there only our office is going to see it at no


    point in time should you as a supervisor request medical documentation from an employee and vice versa an employee you


    should never give that documentation to your to your supervisor it's only going


    to be kept in our office confidential and most importantly we never discuss


    what your medical condition is with the supervisor throughout the whole process you'll never know what your disability


    is and we won't div that information we only provide the function limitations


    associated with the request that's coming to our office so you do not have


    to ever worry that your medical documentation is going to be given to your supervisor or once it's uploaded to


    the intell track system that anyone other than the pure rack is going to be


    able to see that information thank you and I'll add one point to this so we know that that the


    confidentiality um uh requirement um extends to even the knowledge of you having a reasonable accommodation so a


    supervisor can talk about your reasonable accommodation request with you those in the chain of command may


    have a need to know in terms of making a decision and they would discuss your limitations along with your needs right


    your actual needs which they can get from the ra coordinator and if the employee has that relationship and they


    give it to the supervisor their medical you haven't done anything wrong but again that confidentiality to protect


    your confidentiality we recommend that it only be provided to your ra coordinator or upload uploaded in our


    tracking system to protect your confidentiality um if a supervisor receives it again pass that on to the ra


    coordinator it takes that burden off of your shoulders of holding on to that because again it is protected by


    confidentiality laws so again thank you for uh providing that information and helping folks to understand that your


    medical documentation is confidential we do not need or want your full medical history so work with your coordinator


    they'll tell you specifically what's need needed okay so we don't want to have all your information we just need


    to know that you have an impairment U that is substantially limits oneor your major life activities um how it impacts


    you doing your essential functions of your job and what kind of accommodations may be recommended by your physician to


    help that um help you to be able to do your job or uh provide what you need on


    the job okay so let's move quickly into the decision making process and let's talk a little bit about this because


    this is a topic that comes up quite often um is the is the agency required


    and we'll start with you on this one nine is the agency required to provide me with the accommodation I requested


    and what what what might the agency consider to be you know unreasonable since you give me reasonable


    accommodations what might be unreasonable so uh unpopular answer uh


    no the agency is not required to give you the accommodation that you request I


    would love an accommodation of a billion dollars my doctor might say that I need the accommodation of a billion dollars


    the agency does not have to provide it um a more uh realistic example would be


    if an employee with on-site duties requests Tor and the reason for the request is perhaps they're distracted


    while they're on site um the agency does not have to in the


    first instance Grant Tork if there are equal and alternative accommodations


    available such as private office space noise cancelling headphones maybe a


    modified schedule so that there are less people around to distract the employee so that answers the first question and


    two what is considered unreasonable um that is a little bit out of our hands


    because the law and the courts sort of tell us what is unreasonable and include removing essential functions uh reducing


    performance standards personal use items um and sort of the catchall is anything


    that uh would cause an undue burden to the agency um that's a legal standard


    I'm not sure folks need to worry about the specifics of it because it's a very high burden to meet um but there is a


    specific list of what the law considers unreasonable all right thank you so much


    and so to to follow up on that question I want to ask about so there are times when has


    a particular accommodation and it was provided um in


    a particular job and now they either no longer have the job move to a new


    position um or uh the the commodation


    had a particular time frame so is there it can accommodation be changed is it a


    permanent accommodation once I get it I always got it if I move to a new job I keep that accommodation do I have to


    resubmit a request what exactly um is is is uh the process there when it comes to


    um that accommodation and um you want to take that one Leia


    basically you change supervisor you change you need to request you need to subm made it because


    that accommodation was approved on the that uh previous job


    uh job duties um


    position that's the first answer and


    when it com excuse me Lilia I think you're breaking up a bit um yeah okay so


    could you you might have to turn your camera off and


    continue hear me now better I can hear you go ahead yes keep


    talking okay so Bas the


    um I'm so sorry yeah you're still breaking up Lilia but yeah I'll answer


    can you take thatn okay yes an accommodation even though some


    accommodations might be permanent if you move to another place that permanent


    accommodation that you might have had out of previous is under even another supervisor or another division might not


    work for the next place you go to right so that accommodation might follow you


    but that new supervisor might say well it doesn't work for the essential function that's being performed at this


    new location so we would start the process over again you would come to our office and we work with the


    supervisor to the interactive process to ensure is there something that's just as


    effective because they couldn't Grant you the accommodation you might have worked at a place where full-time Tork


    was something that could be done I go to another office where you have to be on site now we start the process all over


    again but a lot of times that same accommodation will follow you to the next place if it's not causing any type


    of undo hardship to the next place that you're at but we will typically again


    reach out to the next supervisor if you let us know we're going to a new place so we can start that process


    over again if it needs to be started to add that um can


    you yeah we we can hear you Lilia I think it's still breaking up though but we you could try I just want to add that


    um you know once you get an accommodation is I think that it's a


    it's a dynamic process it's not the end of everything of all the process it's


    it's more of a let's say that you know they approve a software for you to use


    and you that software is not working uh for you so don't think you don't have a


    resource just go back and engage in the process until we find a suitable


    accommodation for you within and has mention we you


    know thank you Lily you broke up but I I think I'll recap what you said basically if the


    accommodation is provided if it's not working uh if it's not effective if it's not working for you or you're not able


    to perform the essential functions you can go back to the drawing board and um look at more accommodation options what


    else is out there what else can be done um to provide you an accommodation at works now the department is required to


    provide a reasonable accommodation but we know uh many times the the department is not required and folks are sometimes


    a little confused about this they're not required to provide the accommodation that the employee requested now they may


    they try to work with you to provide what you request but ultimately the final decision comes down to the


    deciding official and it must be reasonable so there is a process that's


    what we're talking about you with you today to determine what is reasonable and what's effective in terms of you


    being able to perform the essential functions of your of your position always keep that in mind so next


    question who is with that in mind who is responsible for considering that


    individual's request and making the ultimate decision or deciding I know it's slightly different with PTO than it


    is with the uh the procedures that we use for the rest of the department so we can just talk briefly um John if you


    will answer for the rest of the department and then PTO you kind of mention your Nuance there at PTO show me


    sure yeah first senses typically if you're at headquarters it's going to go directly to your first my supervisor as


    they're the ones who knows exactly what you do they're the ones who's going to be assigned your so that approval


    process starts with your direct supervisor for field it is a little bit


    different as it goes to the assistant regional directors that make the decisions for that specific region but


    typically if we send a recommendation to that DMO the deciding management


    official they will reach out to your first line supervisor to ensure that


    before approving that it is going to be something that they can support so we do


    things a little bit differently for field and same thing over at the national proess Center and PC for us it


    doesn't go to the first line supervisors but they are involved as the deciding


    management official will be the one who reaches out to ensure that it is something that can be supported and


    approved okay awesome and so and PTO you you're a deciding management official


    typically how do you do that over there so we have a dedicated pool of deciding


    officials and they are regularly assigned cases we try to do someone


    outside of the employees chain of command um just in case there's any concern about a conflict um sometimes


    that's not always possible because of how high level someone up is they might


    you know be an assistant commissioner and sort of everyone will eventually report to this person um but typically


    uh we try to assign someone that is not within the chain of command so you're not going to have to report to this


    person uh no one within your department is going to have information that you even have an RA other than your


    supervisor to make sure that they implement it and that the terms of the RA are not violated so that's how we do


    it f okay and so again to recap the most


    important thing is that there is a deciding management official is designated by the ra requirements you


    have to designate a management official to make a decision the reasonable accommodation Specialist or coordin


    coordinator does not make decisions we are not decision makers we're advisers on the process so we guide employees


    through the process we advise managers on the process we help you to make sure that you are engaging in the process as


    the determined and outlined in the policy and procedures the deciding management official has that Authority


    uh given to them to decide what accommodation will be granted on behalf


    of that employee uh as a representative of the Department of Commerce so um keep


    that in mind when you uh think about what we do as ra coordinators um that is not our role


    that is their role now we will say that we do also utilize of guidance and advice um from


    the partners um for legal you know for issues related to denials we ask that um


    when there's a denial there's also a process we have an process for approving which is pretty straightforward simple


    and then we have a process for denial so let's talk about that denial uh what is


    the requirement um for denials of reasonable accommodations what what is the


    requirement uh it has to be legally supported so we if we're going to deny it there's got to be a good reason to do


    that right either the medical documentation doesn't support it it's one of the things on the list that would


    make it an unreasonable accommodation maybe it's an ineffective accommodation


    and we provide all of that information to the employee at the time of denial we also provide them and sorry if this uh


    infringes on the next question but by law we have to provide a reconsideration process so if you are unhappy with the


    decision that you receive you have the opportunity to request a


    reconsideration and I appreciate you say and unhappy because again we we say to


    the employees the agency has to provide a reasonable and effective not necessarily the one you want so when we


    think about the term of unhappy we we're going to go back to this process if you feel that the process what is provided


    is ineffective it does not U meet your needs or may cause some other hardship


    or something for you or does doesn't help you overcome the barrier to performing The Essential functions of


    your job that's what we're talking about you can ask for reconsideration if the accommodation provided is not meeting


    that need and and be specific about you know why you feel that it's not working for you or it would be ineffective or


    unreasonable from your perspective now in the Dao you will find um the Dao


    25-10 outlines how you would go through that reconsideration process but that is a part of of of the reasonable


    accommodation process if you're provided something that doesn't work now let's quickly go to time frame I know we don't


    have a whole lot of time but I want to talk about um the required time frame


    and um how uh we have challenges in terms of time frame because we do have a couple


    of pieces in that time frame that have to be uh completed and it can be somewhat of a challenge so um we're


    gonna start with you nine and then i' like to get uh Vinnie's input and Lily if they have any other closing comments


    on that on time frame so PTO is a little bit different we have an internal 45-day policy to


    process the requests and then we have to implement it as soon as reasonably possible um there's no hard and fast


    deadline on that it's just what is reasonable and that's going to be case specific so if you were granted a type


    of assistive software um and you try it and it doesn't work then obviously you


    got to come back to the ra team and let them know it doesn't work right so then we sort of look for something else that


    might assist you um so essentially it is what is reasonable if it's something simple like an ergonomic Mouse and it's


    been two weeks and you haven't gotten one to me that's an unreasonable amount of time to wait and you should come back


    to us so we can put pressure on folks to make sure you get the hardware or


    software or anything else that you need okay awesome than thank you and


    then um Vinnie when it comes to to that time frame as as uh um nine mentioned


    it's no hard and fast but we have a recommended time frame um that we try to stick by in the department but there


    could be extenuating circumstances so for the Department's uh Dao uh what is


    the time frame and is it business days or calendar days so we have 20 business


    days to get that accommodation process like you said the time does stop if we're requesting medical documentation


    from you or any information that we may need to process that request like I said


    it before the 20 days is the max we try to do it as soon as possible and as far


    as implementation once it's been approved we do give you about 10 days to get that accommodation implemented and


    we do let the employees we do tell them to let us know once it's been implemented so we know


    it's closed but again if we have to order if we have to order any type of equipment that might take a while but


    most important thing is keep the employee in the know and let them know hey that's where out in the process we


    we're purchasing this equipment is going to get here at about this time most if


    the employee knows the timeline that yes it's coming they'll feel a lot better than not knowing what's going on with


    that reason more accommodation okay and I will add to to


    your statement to that the uh the 20 business days um are based on decision


    so we have 20 business days to make a decision we have a little bit additional time for implementation so basically we


    try to get the the deciding official all the information that they need um so


    that they can make an effective uh decision and that's why it's important that the when you come in F ra if you


    don't have a visible disability um or obvious disability we ask for medical


    because we we can't interpret we can't see we work and all of us a lot of us


    work in these hybrid or telework environments so um it's very difficult sometime to assess what your needs are


    or to determine you have a disability so we just need to have the medical documentation basically explains what


    your limitations are and what type of accommodations would be effective in helping you to um overcame overcome some


    workplace barrier or help you to perform the essential function of your job all right so we are almost at the end we


    have about four minutes and I do thank all of the individuals who have been putting uh questions in um the chat I


    the questions are all is a lot you have a lot of questions there panelists but


    thank you for those who have been helping me um Stacy Carter and Laura soraa to be able to respond to some of


    these questions we have a lot of information on reasonable accommodations on the website which was posted um on uh


    the OCR website for reasonable accommodations that was posted in the chat so you can definitely go out there


    and look at that and also resources for reasonable accommodations there the link to the Dao 25-10 is there your Bureau


    coordinator you can find that also on that website you can find who your Bureau coordinator is so that you can uh


    go specifically back to them and ask your questions um I will say also that


    if you just feel like um the uh information we provided to you today was


    just a just a little taste please look out for your bureau's reasonable accommodation training there you can


    definitely get into more details ask more questions I know that there were you know there's some guidance in the


    Dao about telework um other than coach class uh travel sometimes individuals


    request accommodations for um other than what we typically provide economy or coach travel U because of their specific


    medical needs that is in there here also in the Dao we um talk about the need for


    personal assistant services so if you have a disability and you you have


    certain medical conditions that require you to have assistance with activities


    of daily living like eating dressing um you know doing things like that you can


    actually get a service call you can get your personal assistant Services uh paid for during your work time if you have an


    assistant that assistant will be paid for by the Department of Commerce during


    the time that you work so to get more details on that you can look in the Dao you can also talk to your ra coordinator


    who can assist you with that um before we leave I just want to go around the room and see if I missed anything is


    there anything important that maybe we should have mentioned you got about 30 seconds or so uh we'll start off Miss


    Lilia because I think you're coming in clear and strong real quick about 30 seconds or so oh


    unmute yourself you're coming in clear but we can't hear you because you're


    muted you look clear okay apologies so sorry about this I thought that coming


    to hchp today was gonna help with the presentation because using uh VPN from


    home I confronted several issues too previously so if you have any questions


    uh if you want clarification on anything that we said today just email us um I'm


    pretty sure um La Monique have putting the information for all of us I will be


    putting uh my contact information uh in the chat room for anybody that has a


    question and would like to kind of like um clarification on


    anything perfect thank you um


    Johan y so yeah one thing I will do I will put my information in the chat also


    but a couple questions that were asked before we came into the training was


    there's a new Dao there's a new Intel track tracking system do I need to request a new accommodation the answer


    is no you do not need to request your accommodation that's already in place


    just because the Dao has been republished re-released in the event


    that there is anything like that we would let you know and you did mentioned the other than coach travel one big


    thing that has changed with that is that it does have to be renewed on an annual


    basis now no longer is a permanent accommodation so even if you do need it


    every year you just have to reapply for it we're not going to ask you for the medical documentation to support that


    again if we already have it but we do need to recertify that request on an


    annual basis so the fin who would have that information thank you for bringing that


    up so yeah that's critical and important it's not our requirement it is a requirement um for


    the for government employees utilizing that travel because it is other than coach's business first class and oig has


    the report on it every year so it is required that you just let us know that you still need it so if you have a


    permanent lifelong disability we have documentation then we could just certify you still need that um


    that that travel Arrangement thank you all right Miss


    navine uh just thank you for having me and I'm I'm sorry that we couldn't get to all the questions you all can see how


    quickly they're coming in um but for folks at PTO who have any questions I dropped my email address in the chat so


    feel free to reach out to me whenever you have a moment yes and thank you for doing that as well because we again we thank you


    for your time because these are our um um these are the the experts that you


    will contact within your agency if you are in the hchb Miss Lilia ireri fix is


    your PC for the bureau and hchb Jean Vincent thank you for joining us from


    census naine thank you for joining us for USPTO you also have uh a p out at nist


    Miss uh khila Amin and then you have Miss uh Debbie Ferrara and a Jolie


    Braxton who are with Noah so again reach out to your poc's at your Bureau for


    additional questions comments I'm also here Monique dmuk if you need uh to ask


    me a question um your Rax work with me as well in ogc we also consult with them on various information pieces of


    information but we thank you so much for your time and unfortunately our time is up so thank you again for for being here


    today and uh if you put your questions in the chat we will definitely respond


    and get back to you on those questions um if


    not from directly from your and again thank you so much for your time today


    thank you