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DAF highlights participation in Disability Action Working Group

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- The Department of the Air Force Disability Action Working Group helps disabled people by providing an open forum to share concerns and forge better working environments for employees with disabilities. 

The group is one of six Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Groups.

“This team is charged with retaining and developing current employees and military members with a disability, recruiting new talent, and removing barriers to advancement,” said Kendra Shock, Air Force disability program manager. “With these goals in mind, we are able to provide a resource to the Department of the Air Force leadership regarding the interests, needs and policies affecting Airmen and Space Professionals with disabilities.”

The team is focusing on increasing the participation rate of individuals with targeted disabilities. The Air Force currently has a 1.57% participation rate of individuals with targeted disabilities, which is approaching, but still shy of, the federal goal of 2%. 

One of the initiatives addressed by the working group is encouraging individuals with disabilities to self-identify utilizing the SF-256 form, explained Maj. Cindy Roberts, co-lead of the disabilities action team. 

“Raising awareness of the use of the SF-256 form is critical because it affords employees to self-identify both visible and invisible disabilities to provide the Department with data to help identify additional programs or services needed to support civilian employees with disabilities,” Roberts said. “Too often members with disabilities fail to disclose their limitations out of fear it will damper their career growth. By doing so, they miss out on potential support from the Air Force. The updated form provides a larger list of medical conditions recognized as disabilities.”

The team has also successfully advocated for a Personal Assistant Services choice, which provides commanders with the opportunity to hire or contract someone to aid an employee with life functions (e.g. eating, restroom use, medication, etc.) while in the work environment.

“This program allows many with severe disabilities to return to work without having to rely on a family member or medical staff to provide assistance,” Shock said.

This year, the Disability Action Working Group is working to build a partnership with wounded warriors and the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to help identify the needs of Airmen with invisible wounds. 

“We want to support them in a way where they can reach their goals and be successful,” Roberts said.

Department of the Air Force teams are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals and objectives.

Those interested in getting involved should contact the
Air Force Equal Opportunity Office at Workflow@us.af.

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