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DHS Commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act

Posted by Acting CRCL Officer Tamara Kessler

Today, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – a foundational piece of civil rights legislation that commits the Federal government to ending discrimination against persons with disabilities in federal employment and in federally-conducted and federally-assisted programs and activities. 

At the Department of Homeland Security, we are committed to continued progress in providing full inclusion and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.  Whether a person with a disability is traveling through an airport, crossing into our country at a border, becoming a naturalized citizen, or rebuilding their life following a disaster,  DHS has an obligation to ensure nondiscrimination and equal opportunity under the Rehabilitation Act.  Our efforts to meet this obligation are led by the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), which coordinates the Department’s compliance with and enforcement of the Rehabilitation Act. 

To commemorate the anniversary of the law’s passage, CRCL has collaborated across the Department to develop and release a number of products to build on prior achievements:

  • A new Management Directive that establishes policy and implementing mechanisms in DHS for ensuring nondiscrimination for individuals with disabilities served by DHS-conducted programs under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • A video that looks back at the importance of the Rehabilitation Act and looks forward to reinforce the Department’s commitment to strengthening implementation of the Rehabilitation Act throughout DHS.
  • A Guide to Interacting with People Who Have Disabilities to assist DHS personnel, contractors and grantees in their interactions with individuals with disabilities.
  • A dedicated webpage with disability-related information and resources for providing equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in DHS programs and activities.

Earlier this year, CRCL established the DHS Disability Access Working Group to further the Department’s commitment to the principles of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Through this Working Group, DHS components are working together to share strategies for effective communication, program and physical accessibility, and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities.  

You can learn more about the Department’s efforts to provide equal opportunity and full inclusion for individuals with disabilities by visiting our Disability Policy webpage.

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