CBP Hosts First Disability Mentoring Day
Twenty-seven people with disabilities gathered at CBP headquarters and agency sites around the D.C. metro region on October 19 to participate in CBP's first Disability Mentoring Day.
Franklin Jones, executive director of CBP's Office of Diversity and Civil Rights, welcomed the visitors, noting that CBP's Disability Mentoring Day is unique because the mentees were selected for their specific skills. "We have seen what you look like on paper and we want to see more," Jones told the group, "and that is what this day is about."
After gaining brief insight into how CBP offices work together to protect and secure our homeland, each mentee shadowed a workplace mentor. Personnel from every CBP office component served as mentors to the visitors.
"It's a great opportunity to get to learn about different areas of the workforce as I think about entering my future career," said Amy Langden, a computer forensics major at George Mason University who took part in the program.
Langden saw the vital role that CBP's Office of Information Technology plays in ensuring that all electronic and information technology that CBP develops, procures, maintains, or uses is accessible to those inside and outside of the agency. OIT works to ensure that all users, including people with disabilities, can benefit from all available technology, whether it is software and Web applications, telecommunications products, video and multimedia, information kiosks, or desktop and portable computers.
The half-day event wasn't just a learning opportunity for mentees. It also gave mentors a chance to showcase their offices and gain a greater awareness of an overlooked talent pool.
"I was so proud to show someone with a disability that, as a government agency, we are working to ensure that our electronic and information technology is accessible to persons with disabilities outside and inside of the agency," said Brooke Aiken, CBP's coordinator for compliance with the U.S. Rehabilitation Act's section 508, which provides accessibility requirements for electronic and information technology.
The Office of Public Affairs Visual Communications Division offered mentees a chance to get behind and in front of the camera to see how this team delivers CBP's message to the public. These mentees learned how video within CBP is produced, directed and edited.
Disability Mentoring Day was held in correlation with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a month dedicated to honoring and recognizing the contributions of workers with disabilities.
The event further enhanced this year's theme, "Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities," and proved that CBP is dedicated to recognizing the strengths of those with disabilities and making sure that they have a voice and presence in the agency.
CBP's Office of Diversity and Civil Rights conceived, organized and managed this program in addition to the other events marking October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.