The Fort Hood Equal Employment Opportunity Office hosted an Assistive Technology Expo at the Community Events Center, Sept. 14, as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is observed every year in October.
“Fort Hood has 1,451 employees with disabilities,” said Ana Videtto, the U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood EEO program manager. “To me, employees with a disability or without a disability should have equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working on Fort Hood.”
The American Disability Act defines an individual with a disability as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a person who has a history or record of such impairment; or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”
People with disabilities are a diverse group, crossing lines of age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. The U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood also supports the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires federal employers to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities when needed and expects supervisors’ and managers’ support when faced with recruitment/selection employment actions; managers and supervisors are to hire the best-qualified candidate based on their knowledge, skills and abilities and not based on whether they have a disability or not.
“I think it’s incredibly important for all of our community members, whether you’re an employee, a team member, a family member, or even a service member, to understand the resources that this community brings to bear to help us do our work,” said Greta Buccellato, deputy to the garrison commander. “Oftentimes, we rely on websites or podcasts or social media, and those are all great communication tools. I’ve found that nothing substitutes for face-to-face interaction.”
Buccellato added that events like this one are key to getting people the right help.
“These events are incredibly important, because they connect providers with the customers with a personal touch,” she said. “That personal touch can go a long way when trying to find work with a disability.”
That personal touch can make a difference.
“I think everyone has value, they are worthy of something, and if we can make a difference in just one person’s life,” Videtto said, “that would make it all worth it.”
Ronny Edwards, who works in the EEO office spoke with the Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center about how he has trouble understanding people on the phone because of his hearing aids. The people at the HOCTIL booth took some information down and was able to give him a call within 72 hours to set up an appointment.
“A lot of times, people with a disability don’t know about the organizations that are out there offering services,” Edwards said. “It’s a free service, and they will come to my house next week and set everything up.”