The Foreign Service Journal, September 2010

32 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 or family member can now receive a Class 1 clearance, but the patient must take responsibility for the required follow-up, at his or her own expense, even if medical facil- ities are not available at the post of assignment. This new policy offers a greater range of assignments to Foreign Service employees, while providing the depart- ment with a larger pool of people to be posted to hardship posts. All new employees and family members, as well as those with existing Class 1 clearances, will fall under the new criteria. However, those with existing Class 2 clear- ances may elect to remain under the old system, and be as- signed only to posts with adequate medical facilities. As part of this effort, MEDwill provide guidance about medical facilities available at all posts to help employees weighing their bids. In another move showing welcome flexibility and aware- ness, the department has created a new division within HR’s Employee Relations Office that provides one-stop services and assistive technologies to employees with dis- abilities: the Disability/Reasonable Accommodation Divi- sion. Additionally, in 2001 State became the first agency to partner with the Defense Department’s Computer Ac- commodations and Technology Program to provide assis- tive technology and services to employees with disabilities. Another new creation is the Disability Leadership Com- mittee, a group of assistant secretaries that will address dis- ability issues cutting across bureaus. Its first meeting took place in December 2009. On July 1, the department an- nounced the appointment of Judith Heumann as the Spe- cial Adviser for International Disability Rights. She has already met with members of the Disability Action Group. Finally, in May the National Passport Information Center won an award from NISH, a nongovernmental organization that supports employment for people with disabilities. So what are we to make of all this? I confess that I don’t have enough data to draw any firm conclusions as to whether State has truly changed its policies toward Foreign Service employees with disabilities. I await further devel- opments with interest. ■ F O C U S