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DRC Handbook Chapter 1: Mission


The mission of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Disability Resource Center (DRC) is to assist the Department in meeting its obligations toward the employment, promotion and retention of individuals with disabilities by providing the following services: 

  • identify and purchase appropriate and effective assistive technologies and services as reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants with disabilities;
  • provide guidance and information on recruitment, and retention and advancement of employees with disabilities through the Departmental Selective Placement Program;
  • provide technical assistance, referral and outreach services to the DOT community through electronic communications, written materials and presentations; and
  • educate and support awareness of and conformance to the Department’s policies on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Through these initiatives, the DRC plays a critical role in removing barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities.

1.1 Terms and Definitions

This section includes a list of terms and definitions used throughout this document.

Assistive Technology—Generally refers to computer or electronic devices designed to provide accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Examples include screen reader software, telephone amplifiers, and CCTV’s.

Common Operating Environment—A uniform configuration of hardware and software throughout an organization.

Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP)—A program by the Department of Defense (DOD) that provides computer and other technology accommodations to Federal employees within DOD and other agencies with which it has an agreement.

Individual with a Disability— An individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Personal Assistant—People or services that assist a person with a physical, sensory, mental, or cognitive disability with tasks that the person would perform for him or herself if he or she did not have a disability.  Examples can include lifting and filing, retrieving objects, or providing assistance with certain tasks of daily living, such as toileting or removing and hanging a coat.

Reader—A Reader reads aloud hardcopy materials that are not available electronically or cannot be otherwise scanned and are not available in any other accessible format with or without the use of assistive technology.

Reasonable Accommodation—Any change in the work environment or in the way things are usually done that results in equal employment opportunity for an individual with a disability.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973—Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors, in programs conducted by Federal agencies, and in programs receiving Federal financial assistance. There are several “sections” of the law. The ones discussed in the context of this handbook are:

  • Section 501—Requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment by a Federal agencies of the executive branch.
  • Section 504—Requires that agencies ensure that no otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities are excluded from or discriminated against under any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance or any program or activity that is conducted by a Federal agency.   Examples of programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department of Transportation are the State and local transit authorities; highway/road administrations and airlines/airports/aviation fields that receive Federal monies to operate their programs.  An example of a Federally-conducted training program or activity is the Merchant Marine Academy.  Section 504 applies to employees and members of the public.
  • Section 508—Establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.

Requestor—Person who initiates the reasonable accommodation process by asking for a reasonable accommodation. This individual could be the employee who will receive the accommodation, or an individual making the request on behalf of the individual.

Schedule A Hiring Authority —A Federal regulation regarding the excepted service appointments of persons with mental retardation, severe physical disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities.  The regulation is issued by the Office of Personnel Management and is used to improve the Federal Government's ability to hire persons with these disabilities.  It is designed to remove barriers and increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.  There are two subparts that relate to the employment of persons with disabilities in Federal service.   

  • Hiring qualified persons with severe disabilities: (5 CFR 213.3102(u)) Appointment of Persons with Mental Retardation, Severe Physical Disabilities, or Psychiatric Disabilities. (1) Purpose.  An agency may appoint, on a permanent, time-limited, or temporary basis, a person with mental retardation, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability according to the provisions described in the regulation. 
  • Hiring readers, interpreters, and other personal assistants: (5 CFR 213.3102(ll)) Positions as needed of readers for blind employees, interpreters for deaf employees and personal assistants for handicapped employees, filled on a full time, part-time, or intermittent basis.

Supervisor/Decision Maker—This is the individual responsible for approving/denying reasonable accommodation requests for employees. In most cases, this is the employee’s direct supervisor; however, an Agency can decide to designate a different decision maker.

Working Capital Fund—A funding mechanism used by the Department of Transportation that the Operating Administrations contribute to for the purpose of providing centralized services across the Department.

To read the Schedule A regulation, visit the Government Printing Office website: FR 213.3102:
Last updated: Monday, October 19, 2020