News | Oct. 7, 2020

Leveling the playing field 

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

Arthur Everette never envisioned himself as a model. But after appearing on a poster displayed in federal agencies around the country, he’s not only a print model but also a role model.

Everette, a contract specialist on the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Utility Services team, is featured in this year's U.S. Department of Labor poster commemorating National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  

Everette became disabled from a childhood illness. 

“I have a hearing impairment in both ears due to contracting spinal meningitis at age 3,” Everette said. “To overcome barriers, I try to adapt to different circumstances. I can lip-read, but it isn’t highly effective. DLA supports me with interpreters for meetings or trainings, which helps level the playing field.”

A graduate of Gallaudet University, Everette began his career as a summer intern doing DLA Energy human resources work and joined the DLA Pathways to Career Excellence Program in 2012.

Everette said that being hearing impaired is not a setback.

“One thing I learned is that I have the capability to anything but hear,” Everette explained. “So why limit yourself and let it hold you back? Sometimes, I whip out a phone and use text if I can’t understand.”

Ed Wolfe, Everette’s supervisor, said he could not ask for a better person to have on the team.  

“Arthur is a fantastic team member,” Wolfe said. “He keeps us accountable in tracking appropriations and disbursements for our contracts and in managing price analysis efforts for new utility work for the Services. He’s also very personable, which is on full display each summer when he leads our picnic kickball team to glory!”  

Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices. 

DLA Energy’s persons with disabilities population is 13% with some employees having targeted disabilities such as blindness or hearing loss, explained DLA Energy Equal Employment Opportunity Director Ahmad Burse.

“This does not include employees who choose not to identify that they have a disability,” Burse said. “Some employees don’t feel comfortable about disclosing their disabilities for fear of mistreatment or being stigmatized.”  

Individuals with disabilities are recruited through the Workforce Recruitment Program and Schedule “A” Appointment, Burse added.

“These are resources to recruit and hire people with disabilities,” Burse said. “Most job announcements offer schedule “A” as an option for hiring managers and the Work Force Recruitment Program allows persons with disabilities to brought into the organization temporarily through internships with the goal of preparing them to compete for positions within the agency.”

Reasonable accommodations are one reason for DLA’s success with disabled workers. Reasonable accommodations include assistive technology and modification of equipment or devices to help employees perform the essential functions of their job. 

During the pandemic, Everette said DLA was ahead of the curve and asked what they could do to accommodate. He said he was promised clear masks for his colleagues to wear so he can still see facial expressions.

“When COVID 19 hit, I was worried about losing access to the ability to lip read while trying to understand people,” Everette said. “I haven’t been to a workplace more supporting that DLA, specifically the Utility Services division. If there is ever an issue, this team knows how to eliminate the barriers to making me feel a part of a team.”

Sponsored by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month marks both the 75th observance as well as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

For more information regarding the Workforce Recruitment Program or Reasonable Accommodations please contact the DLA Energy Disability Program Coordinator Ms. Irrainna Blackmon-Corbin at irrainna.blackmon-corbin@dla.mil.