THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Diversity at the State
BY AMANDA J . R I CHARD
he Disability Action Group has been gaining momentum in
recent months. With the election of a new board in Decem-
ber 2014, DAG has undertaken a nonstop exercise to educate,
assist and advocate for State employees with disabilities.
While State provides many services to accommodate people
with disabilities, most employees are either unaware that they
exist, do not realize the process of securing assistance, or are
too afraid to self-identify
their disability and make the
request. As a result, DAG pri-
marily serves as a link between
diversity employee constitu-
encies and the department’s
senior management, Office of
Civil Rights staff and Human
Currently DAG has almost
100 members from various
State Department bureaus.
This is a testament to the
diversity that already exists at
the department. As interest in DAG continues to grow, the issues
become more apparent. There is clearly a need for employees
with both long- and short-term disabilities to understand their
rights and receive assistance. While assistance is a primary con-
cern, DAG has also been participating in discussions with vari-
ous parties regarding issues of reasonable accommodation andgeneral compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act Section 508, which requires the federal government to ensure that the
electronic and information technology that it develops, procures,
maintains or uses is accessible to persons with disabilities.
DAG also encourages awareness of Schedule A hiring, which
offers win-win advantages to State hiring officers and employ-
ees alike. Its existence, however, is largely unknown. Many
people do not realize that a disability gives a person noncom-
petitive status for Civil Service positions. For example, when
hiring a Schedule A, an office with an FTE can go to Selective
Placement Coordinator Lana Hiland to see resumes from the
Selective Placement Program talent bank. Qualified Schedule
A candidates do not have to apply through regular competi-
tive procedures and can be hired without a job announcement.
Thus with Schedule A hiring, offices can accelerate the process
and bring people on board faster.
DAG has developed a speaker series with a range of topics
aimed at educating the entire State Department on disability
diversity. On June 19, the group will host multiple speakers to
educate on transitioning to an overseas assignment with a spe-
cial needs child, a circumstance which has proved to come with
a number of challenges.
The group is also proudly celebrating the 25th anniversary
of the Americans with Disabilities Act here at State in July.
Embassies around the world will be celebrating on July 4, but
the actual anniversary is July 26. Activities will run throughout
the year, including speakers
and exhibits that acknowledge
how far disability rights have
DAG’s mission is clear:
promoting disability diversity
at the Department of State.
With that goal in mind, the
group is proud to assist in
paving the way for disability
education and raising aware-
For more information
about DAG or to find out how
to become a member, visit the group’s SharePoint site at http://collaborate.state.sbu/sites/DAG/ or send an email to DAG- Council@state.gov. If you would like more information abou
Schedule A hiring, please contact Lana Hiland at HilandLW@state.gov. Interested Schedule A applicants should email selec- email@example.com.
Amanda J. Richard is a visual information specialist in
the Office of Archiving and Access Systems Management
in the State Department’s Bureau of Administration.
She serves as the 2015 communications and outreach
board member for the Disability Action Group at State.
Richard was diagnosed at age 7 with progressive sensorineural hear-
ing loss. In 2014, at 31 years old, she received a cochlear implant. She
hopes to inspire others by proving that having a disability should not
hinder quality of life—professionally or personally.
On June 19, the group will host
multiple speakers to educate
on transitioning to an overseas
assignment with a special needs
child, a circumstance which has
proved to come with a number of