From November 15-18, 2018, NASA participated in the Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (oSTEM) Conference at the Westin Galleria in Houston, TX. Since 2011, the oSTEM Annual Conference has brought together diverse students and professionals from various STEM fields in the interest of professional development and the creation of safe and inviting places to study and work in the sciences. During the 2018 conference, the NASA team interacted with more than 800 students and professionals who were in attendance.
A group of 5th grade students from the Florida School for the Deaf visited Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex recently. Several NASA employees met with them at the Center for Space Education to share their experiences working for NASA. It was great to see their excitement!
NASA addresses issue of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) as required under Executive Order 13166, in part through translations of key strategic documents. The Agency has an LEP Plan for language assistance, including both translation and interpretation.
NASA has translations of Key NASA program documents into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese for individuals with limited English proficiency.
SERVICE ANIMALS AS WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS: A PRACTICAL APPROACH Because more people are using service animals, employers are receiving more requests from employees who want to use their service animals in the workplace. This guidance is based in part on information from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but does not represent the EEOC’s formal position on these issues or legal advice.
Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) include a definition of service animal? There is a definition of service animal and specific guidelines in parts of the ADA, but not in the part that deals with employment. Under the employment provisions (title I), there is no definition of service animal and no specific guidelines for employers to follow when an employee asks to bring a service animal to work.
Do employers have to allow employees with disabilities to use service animals in the workplace? Because title I does not specifically address service animals, a request from an employee to bring a service animal to work can be processed like any other request for reasonable accommodation. This means that employers must consider the request, but do not have to automatically allow employees to bring their service animals to work.
What this means for employers: From a practical standpoint, a request to bring a service animal to work is really a request for an employer to modify its no-animals-in-the-workplace policy. If you do not have a policy and allow other employees to bring in animals, then you should allow employees with disabilities to bring in service animals without going through the accommodation process. For employers who have no-animal policies, you must consider modifying those policies on a case by case basis to allow an employee to use a service animal at work, unless doing so would result in an undue hardship.
What this means for employees: You should ask your employer before bringing a service animal to work unless the employer allows animals in the workplace in general.
Can employers opt to provide other accommodations instead of allowing an employee to use a service animal in the workplace? The ADA allows employers to choose among effective accommodations so an employer might opt for another accommodation, although providing a substitute accommodation for a service animal could bring up other tricky issues. For example, the service animal may help with personal, medical issues. Service animals may also provide support that other types of accommodations cannot provide, such as a sense of security, independence, and confidence.
What this means for employers: In general, employers should not be involved in an employee’s personal medical decisions so you should not insist that an employee take care of his medical needs in a different way. Because a service animal often helps with personal medical needs and provides supports that employers cannot provide, when possible you should give preference to an employee’s request to use a service animal in the workplace.
What this means for employees: When requesting to use a service animal in the workplace, you may want to explain to the employer that the service animal also provides personal and medical support.
For additional information, feel free to contact NASA Disability Manager Rebecca Doroshenk at (202) 358-0038, Rebecca.D.Doroshenk@nasa.gov.
Every year, just prior to Thanksgiving, the United States begins what people call the “Holiday Season.” When asked what this means, many will refer to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and often throw in Hanukkah as the holidays of the season. In reality, there are many more religious and secular events at this time of the year.
For example, Bodhi Day is observed by Buddhists on December 8, celebrating the day that Siddartha Guatama experienced enlightenment and became the figure we know as the Buddha. Many Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati from December 21 to 25 honoring Lord Ganesha, Lord of culture and new beginnings. Many Pagan faiths celebrate the Winter Solstice (Yule, Yalda). The Hopi and Zuni celebrate Soyal at the Solstice, as well. Dongzhi festival is another Solstice festival in in parts of Asia. Kwanzaa begins December 26 and ends on January 1. In addition, there are many more observances besides these.
One thing to note is not all Christians who celebrate Christmas do so in December. The Orthodox Churches, as they remained on the Julian calendar for the religious holy days, celebrate on January 7. Moreover, there are devout Christians who do not celebrate Christmas at all.
As we at NASA look to be inclusive of all our team, look to celebrate with each other and have your holiday parties or celebrations share and bring your NASA family together.
If we look, we find the holiday season is twelve months long. The year is full of holidays and celebrations both religious and secular as shown by just one Wikipedia page.
We all have our favorites (I am partial to 4 May and 13 August despite no special food for these days!), and they are a great opportunity to learn about other traditions and share some fun times.
Individuals with dexterity or with mobility limitations can include individuals who use wheelchairs, individuals with limited mobility, and individuals with upper extremity dexterity limitations. Giving these individuals opportunities to describe their preferred methods of functionality and giving them equal access will allow for better work environments.
The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program’s (CAP) disability etiquette training video is targeted to supervisors and co-workers of individuals with disabilities. CAP (http://www.cap.mil/) provides assistive technology and services free of charge to DoD and civil service customers with hearing, visual, dexterity, cognitive, and communication impairments to make their work environments more accessible.
Access the short CAP video:(http://www.cap.mil/NewsEvents/TrainingVideo.aspx?enc=XL89cyjGZIZzaTkYRwFfCw==).
For questions about NASA Reasonable Accommodations process, please contact NASA Disability Program Manager Rebecca Doroshenk at 202-358-0038 or Rebecca.D.Doroshenk@nasa.gov.
Individuals with disabilities are the most unique federally protected class, crossing all ages, genders, races, and religions. The reported percentage of NASA’s workforce with a disability has increased as a result of hiring Schedule A candidates, encouraging self-identification, and making NASA a more inclusive environment.
To help NASA meet the 12% Federal goal, civil servants can self-identify their disability in Employee Express (https://www.employeeexpress.gov/). After logging in, select “Disability Update” on the left-hand menu. Choose the appropriate condition, then save your selection. This information is covered by the Privacy Act.
If you have any questions, please contact NASA Disability Program Manager Rebecca Doroshenk at 202-358-0038 or Rebecca.D.Doroshenk@nasa.gov.
We have a fantastic new NASA video – please take a look!
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations to employers as well as to employees, job seekers, family members and service providers. Beyond accommodations, JAN provides information and assistance to individuals with disabilities who may find that self-employment is their best career choice. It also provides easy-to-understand technical assistance and training to employers on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability employment-related laws and regulations.
JAN annually responds to more than 40,000 individual requests for assistance via phone, email and/or chat services. Sixty percent of the requests are from employers. JAN also conducts nearly 100 trainings per year for employers, employer organizations, Federal, State and local governments, and service providers in person, via webinar, and/or by teleconference. More than 8 million visitors use JAN’s comprehensive website, www.AskJAN.org, to access publications, tools, and online training on job accommodations and the ADA. JAN conducts the ongoing study, “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact,” to demonstrate that the benefits employers receive from making workplace accommodations far outweigh the low costs of the accommodations.
Finally, JAN continues to share information on best practices on accommodations and the ADA through its outreach campaigns.