ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy
Disability Employment Policy Resources by Topic
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are Questions we receive often, and we hope they address your concern. If your Question is not addressed, please feel free to contact us at the InfoODEP@dol.gov.
- Where can I find more information on specific disabilities or medical conditions?
- How many people with disabilities are there in the United States?
- How does the federal government define "disability"?
- What is the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy?
- How many people with disabilities are working?
- What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
- What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)?
- Can organizations apply for grants from the Office of Disability Employment Policy?
- What is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act?
A good place to start is Disability.gov, which is the federal government's central website for disability-related information. If you are seeking information about job accommodations for specific disabilities, please visit the Job Accommodation Network's (JAN) A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations index.
A good place to find information on the prevalence of disability in the United States is DisabilityStatistics.org, a comprehensive online resource maintained by the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University.
The term "disability" is defined by the federal government in various ways, depending on the context. For the purposes of federal disability nondiscrimination laws (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act), the definition of a person with a disability is typically defined as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. More information on federal disability non-discrimination laws, visit DOL's Disability Nondiscrimination Law Advisor.
For purposes of Social Security disability benefits, a person with a disability must have a severe disability (or combination of disabilities) that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or result in death, and which prevents working at a "substantial gainful activity" level. State vocational rehabilitation (VR) offices define a person with a disability to be eligible for VR services if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a "substantial impediment" to employment for the applicant.
More information on the varying ways disability is defined and the origins of those definitions is available on DisabilityStatistics.org, a comprehensive online resource maintained by the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University.
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities. More information about ODEP and its various efforts and initiatives can be found on the ODEP website.
Both the labor force participation and unemployment rate for people with disabilities are measured monthly through the Current Population Survey (CPS) and reported on DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) website under "Current Disability Employment Statistics." More detailed disability employment statistics can be accessed on DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the nation's primary disability nondiscrimination law. One part, Title I, addresses employment, while other parts address issues such as state and local government services and employment, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. In 2008, the ADA was amended and thus is referred as the Americas with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) in certain contexts.
DOL does not administer Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rather, it is administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) does provide several resources to assist in understanding the employment provisions of the ADA on its ADA webpage.
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), a free service funded by ODEP, also offers information about the ADA on its website or by calling 1-855-AskEARN (1-855-275-3276) (Voice/TTY). In addition, ODEP's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers individualized assistance with accommodations, a key aspect of the ADA's employment provisions. JAN's website is AskJAN.org. Live phone service is also available 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET by calling (toll-free) 1-800-526-7234 (Voice) or 1-877-781-9403 (TTY).
For broad information on the ADA, visit the U.S. Department of Justice's ADA website .
Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign spearheaded by DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. For more information, visit ODEP's NDEAM webpage.
In support of its goal to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, ODEP does award grants on a competitive basis to non-profit organizations, state and local government agencies, and academic institutions. When such grants become available, they are published in the Federal Register and on ODEP's website. More information about ODEP's current and past grants can be found on ODEP's Grants webpage. Information about a wide range of grants from various federal agencies can be found on Grants.gov.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained or used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue burden to do so. This relates to both employees of federal agencies and customers of federal agencies who use information technology devices (e.g., kiosks, computers, electronic voting booths) to access government information and interact with government agencies. Comprehensive information about Section 508 can be found on the Section 508 website maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA).