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Programs offer job experience to disabled Native college students

Programs offer job experience to disabled Native college students

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MISSOULA - Two programs are available to assist American Indians and Alaska natives with disabilities in the employment arena.

The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities is available to undergraduate and postgraduate students within one year of graduation. WRP connects public and private sector employers nationwide with postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities.

Interested students must be a U.S. citizen, have a substantial disability and be seeking a degree at an accredited institution of higher learning on a substantially full-time basis, unless the severity of their disability prevents them from taking a full-time course load.

Students also qualify if they are seeking a degree from such an institution and are taking less than a substantially full-time load in the enrollment period immediately prior to graduation, or have graduated from such an institution within the past year.

Interested college students should contact their school's disability services or career services department for more information. If these departments don't have information about the program students should ask the department to contact the WRP coordinator at 202-693-7880 voice, 202-693-7881 text telephone, or 202-693-7888 fax.

Meanwhile, American Indians and Alaska natives with severe physical or mental disabilities interested in gaining work experience with the federal government could benefit from the Schedule A hiring policy.

The policy allows federal agencies to streamline the hiring process for an individual with a disability, completing it in two to three months instead of the four to six months needed in a standard hiring process.

People with disabilities do not need to compete with other job applicants for a position. A manager who has met an applicant and knows his or her qualifications can contact the applicant without notifying the public or posting the job.

Anyone with a severe physical or mental disability qualified to perform the essential duties of a given job is eligible to apply under Schedule A. Applicants must provide certification which proves severe disability and eligibility. Applicants also must prove the ability to perform essential job duties and describe needs for reasonable accommodations.

To confirm that a disability meets the criteria a candidate should contact a vocational rehabilitation counselor or the federal selective placement program coordinator at the federal agency he or she is interested in. A directory of coordinators is available online at http://www.opm.gov/disability/appempl_3-08.asp.

For more information: 866-424-3822 toll free, 406-243-4200 text telephone, or 406-243-5441.

On the Web: http://aidtac.ruralinstitute.umt.edu.

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