Employment First

Employee using assistive technology.

Assistive technology, such as the videophone and sign-language interpretation pictured above, are available for state employees with disabilities through the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Real jobs, real wages through Employment First

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 92: Employment First for North Carolinians with Disabilities, on March 28, 2019. Employment First is a national movement that recognizes that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life.

In the context of state government employment, Employment First means real jobs, real wages.

The Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) is charged with ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to succeed in the state government workplace and that hiring managers are aware of and complying with Employment First as a process for recruiting and retaining qualified individuals for state employment.

More than 1.3 million North Carolinians, approximately 13 percent of the state’s population, have a disability. Of these individuals, more than 720,000 are of working age, but only 35 percent are employed, compared to 76 percent of North Carolinians without disabilities.

State Human Resources Director Barbara Gibson spoke about Employment First and North Carolina's efforts to make state government workplaces more welcoming and inclusive at the July 23, 2020 ADA 30th Anniversary Conference presented virtually by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Supporting Employees with Disabilities

A person is considered to have a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Executive Order No. 92 directs agencies to step up recruitment of applicants with disabilities, as well as to collect data regarding applicants and employees who self-identify as having disabilities, to ensure their representation and equitable treatment in the state government workforce.

To facilitate this, the OSHR is charged with providing non-discrimination guidance and policies to state agencies as well as expanded training and improved data collection opportunities. 

Expanded Training Opportunities

OSHR has updated the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Fundamentals (EEODF), which is required for all supervisors and managers to include a specific module on the Americans with Disabilities Act that discusses the definition of disability, the reasonable accommodation process, as well as the rights of individuals with disabilities in employment.

OSHR has also recently launched a virtual EEODF Refresher Course to allow managers and supervisors an opportunity to update themselves on current content related to the ADA and ways to support employees with disabilities.

In addition, OSHR continues to offer both classroom and virtual training on the ADA to employees, managers and supervisors. This course focuses exclusively on Title I of the ADA and provides employees, managers, and supervisors with the understanding and tools they need to better accommodate employees with disabilities in the workplace.

NEW: Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form

In time to mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July 2020, OSHR launched the Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form within the Employee Self Service portal of the state’s Integrated HR/Payroll System.








Created as a way to help measure how well we are doing in recruiting and retaining state employees, this confidential form is part of OSHR’s response to Governor Cooper establishing North Carolina as an Employment First State and the commitment to ensure equal opportunity to succeed in the state government workplace. You can easily access the form while updating your weekly time sheet, then click one box to confirm you have a disability, do not have a disability, or don’t wish to answer. Your response will help the state better understand where we can expand our efforts to build engagement and inclusion across state government as well as expand the state’s positive approach to hiring of individuals with disabilities.

To update your information, log in to the Integrated HR/Payroll System. Select My Data at the top left of the main screen, then choose My Personal Data. The Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability link is the first item under My Personal Information.

Thank you for supporting this initiative and helping North Carolina better serve individuals with disabilities.


Employees, job applicants and hiring managers seeking additional information may contact their agency Human Resources Office. Other resources include:

As part of Employment First, the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Division and North Carolina Assistive Technology Program of the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHS) provides specialized services to individuals with disabilities.

Another resource is Linking NC with Innovative Talent (LiNC-IT), a public/private partnership of government, nonprofits and employers. LiNC-IT leverages vocational rehabilitation funding from DHHS with high quality service providers who are experts in supporting individuals with autism.

OSHR also partners with organizations that provide services to people with disabilities to expand partnerships and connect with more potential workers with disabilities, and to attract these individuals for employment opportunities.