NSWC Philadelphia Division Hosts National Disability Employment Awareness Month Observance – Naval Sea Systems Command

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By Gary Ell
Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division hosted a National Disability Employment Awareness Month Observance featuring Jeffrey Dallos, program analyst and assessment team lead of the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), a Department of Defense (DoD) centralized funding program, on Oct. 20, 2022.

Disability Employment Awareness Month dates back to 1945, when President Harry S. Truman approved a congressional resolution declaring the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”. The word “physically” was removed in 1962 to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.

Forty-five years later, in 1990, the Congress came together to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which helps to ensure our workforce is more productive, prosperous, and inclusive by banning disability discrimination. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States counts around 61 million adults with disabilities. That’s one in four Americans.

Noah Zorzi, NSWCPD’s disability program manager in the command’s EEO, Diversity and Inclusion Office, welcomed participants to the hybrid event observing National Disability Employment Awareness Month and introduced NSWCPD Commanding Officer, Capt. Dana Simon.

Simon provided a background recognizing the countless contributions of Americans with disabilities provide on an annual basis. He pointed out that twelve million Americans 40 years and older have vision disabilities. That’s 26 percent of the population. Among them, there are one million people who are blind. Approximately 48 million people are deaf or hard of hearing, and six and a half million people in the United States have an intellectual disability.

“These statistics are striking and with a growing elderly population, this means that the number of people with disabilities will probably continue to increase,” Simon said.

“This year’s Department of Labor’s theme is ‘Disability: Part of the Equity Equation’. Studies have found that Americans with disabilities are especially productive and motivated workers,
and today we are honored to have a special presentation by someone who really understands this equity equation, Jeffrey Dallos,” Simon added.

Dallos serves as a program analyst/assessment team lead for the Department of Defense (DoD) Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), a centrally funded program which provides free assistive technology and training to wounded, ill and injured Service members and DoD employees with disabilities.

With over 20 years of federal service, CAP has benefitted greatly from Dallos' contributions since he joined the program in 2008. He began his federal career in 2000 as the Bureau Disability Program Manager for the Department of Interior's (DOI) United States Geological Survey (USGS). In this role, Dallos oversaw all reasonable accommodation requests for USGS.

“CAP’s vision is to empower all people with disabilities throughout the DoD to obtain equality, inclusion and accessibility to information and communications technology, positively impacting mission,” said Dallos through an interpreter.

Dallos currently serves as CAP's subject matter expert on technology for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as individuals with disabilities that affect communication. In this role, he is responsible for identifying appropriate assistive technology and services to allow individuals to perform their job responsibilities. As an Assessment Specialist, Dallos has conducted more than 650 comprehensive needs assessments to ensure individuals receive the most appropriate assistive technology based on their needs.

During his informative presentation, he provided an overview of the DoD’s CAP program, its customers and services, as well as its resources.

“CAP is a DoD centrally funded program that supports DoD employees with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members. It equips employees and service members with assistive technology (AT) and services, as reasonable accommodations and empowers employees with equity, inclusion and accessibility, promoting their support of the DoD mission,” Dallos said.

According to his presentation brief, the CAP program was established in 1990 to accommodate employees with disabilities within the DoD. Ten years later, in 2000, it was expanded to cover select non-DoD Executive Branch Federal Agencies. In 2004, it was expanded to cover wounded, ill, and injured (WII) service members (SM) who remain on active duty to include National Guard and Reserve members under Title 10 and allow service members to keep AT upon separation from the military.

In 2021, CAP conducted needs assessments and consultation to 70 non-DoD agencies of the executive branch. This past year, CAP conducted needs assessments and procures AT for DoD employees and WII SM. CAP continues providing needs assessments and consultation to non-DoD agencies.

“CAP customers include active duty service members, including: wounded, ill, and injured active duty service members, service members continuing on active duty (COAD) and National Guard and Reserve service members serving on full-time active duty under Title 10, U.S.C.,” Dallos said, adding, “CAP customers also include DoD employees with disabling conditions including, such as: workers’ compensation beneficiaries; term and temporary employees; Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) interns, and detail appointments.”

He said this includes DoD managers who are ready to hire and accommodate (Schedule A), DoD agencies that want to ensure their programs and services are accessible, and Federal partner agencies with employees that require needs assessments.

CAP provides accommodations for five categories: cognition, communication, dexterity, hearing and vision.

“And all of these services are offered at no cost to you or your agency,” he said. “We provide the funding, and we can ship the equipment directly to the end customer.”

“Within each disability category there are an array of assistive technology products that are available. Some of the assistive technology and communication tools CAP provides are speech generation, voice amplification and transcription,” he said.

Dallos pointed out the many stakeholders supporting CAP, including: DOD, Defense Human Resources Activity; Defense Personnel and Family Support Office; and the wounded, ill or injured service members.

“The goals of the program are to improve customer service and stakeholder relationships, optimize outreach engagements, and sustain agency partnerships while improving operational performance,” Dallos said.

NSWCPD employs approximately 2,800 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel. The NSWCPD team does the research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for the non-nuclear machinery, ship machinery systems, and related equipment and material for Navy surface ships and submarines. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.
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