Press Release


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Those with Targeted Disabilities Now Comprise Less than 1 Percent of Federal Workforce, EEOC Reports

WASHINGTON – 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 today by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during a public meeting on the topic. Commission Chair Cari M. Dominguez called for aggressive steps to stem the decline.

“It is unfortunate that despite the President’s tenacious leadership in promoting workplace access and inclusion for people with disabilities, the federal sector in general has not yet met expectations,” Chair Dominguez said. “By highlighting the issue, we hope to accelerate efforts toward finding solutions that will open the doors to federal employment for more people with disabilities.”

Chair Dominguez tasked Commissioner Christine M. Griffin with developing a strategy to create greater opportunity in federal agencies for individuals with targeted disabilities – identified as blindness, deafness, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, mental illness, mental retardation, convulsive disorders, and distortion of limbs or spine. Commissioner Griffin, a legal expert and long-time advocate for disability issues, announced her new initiative at today’s meeting. The initiative is called LEAD: Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities.

Commissioner Griffin said, “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.”

People with targeted disabilities comprised .96 percent of the federal work force last year, according to EEOC data for FY 2005. The percentage of permanent federal workers with targeted disabilities has been consistently below 1.3 percent.

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.

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 free and unfettered access to employment opportunities for all individuals.

Earlier this month, the EEOC presented one of its annual Freedom to Compete Awards to the Department of Defense (DoD) for its Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), the first federal agency to win the award. CAP provides assistive technology and other accommodations to federal agencies free of charge. Additionally, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations recently established a strategic, cross-functional team to examine data and provide recommendations that may improve employment opportunities for people with targeted disabilities.

During today’s public meeting, the Commission heard testimony from senior leaders of the Department of Defense, Office of Personnel Management, Social Security Administration, and the Department of Veterans Affairs; disability rights organizations, including the American Association of People with Disabilities; private employer representatives; and persons with disabilities. In cooperation with these stakeholders, the EEOC examined barriers facing individuals with targeted disabilities in obtaining federal employment, and addressed new and existing strategies to eliminate those barriers. The written testimony of the invited panelists is available on the EEOC’s web site.

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

This page was last modified on June 28, 2006.