The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Boosts Effort to Increase Number of Federal Employees with Targeted Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Giving greater presence to a pressing – and largely unknown – problem, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today launched a website section on its LEAD Initiative, designed to address the declining number of employees with severe disabilities in the Federal workforce.

The section, on EEOC’s website at, offers basic information on the initiative and on the declining number of disabled federal employees. As the effort progresses, announcements and updates will appear regularly.

The Commission launched the LEAD (Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities) Initiative in June under the leadership of Commissioner Christine Griffin, a legal expert and long-time advocate for disability issues.

“I commend Commissioner Griffin for her efforts to ensure that individuals with disabilities are fully included in the federal workforce,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “EEOC’s LEAD Initiative will complement the Commission’s outreach and enforcement efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities.”

Commissioner Griffin noted, “In order to improve the overall employment rate for people with targeted disabilities, we have to begin with the federal government. Congress directed the federal government to set the example for all other employers. Our example needs improvement. I fully expect the LEAD initiative to significantly contribute to this improvement. The LEAD website section will allow us to provide important and useful information to a broad audience, so I look forward to it having a positive impact.”

LEAD aims, ultimately, to significantly increase the population of individuals with disabilities employed by the federal government. This national outreach and education campaign is designed to:

The LEAD Initiative draws on educational events and seminars and focus group sessions with federal managers, hiring officials and other interested parties to explore the issue of declining employment for individuals with severe disabilities, and to come up with concrete solutions to address the problem.

People with targeted disabilities have dropped to less than one percent of the permanent federal workforce, continuing a long-term decline, according to data released in June by the EEOC. Targeted disabilities include blindness, deafness, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, mental illness, mental retardation, convulsive disorders, and distortion of limbs or spine.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that federal agencies take proactive steps to provide equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Moreover, under Executive Order 13164, agencies are required to establish effective written procedures for processing reasonable accommodation requests, which are submitted to the EEOC for review.

Additionally, under the EEOC’s Management Directive 715, agencies annually report their efforts to implement a Model EEO Program; to identify and eliminate barriers to equal opportunity in the workplace; and to implement special program plans for the recruitment, hiring and advancement of individuals with targeted disabilities.

The EEOC is also striving to advance employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities through the President’s New Freedom Initiative and the agency’s Freedom to Compete Initiative -- a national outreach, education and coalition-building campaign launched in 2002 to provide unfettered access to employment opportunities for all individuals. The agency just launched the application process for its third annual Freedom to Compete Awards, with nominations due Dec. 13 for awards to be presented in June 2007.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the agency is available on its web site at

This page was last modified on October 4, 2006.

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