WASHINGTON --- Army posters, brochures, challenge coins and other visual material are created to educate and motivate through visually attractive and easy to understand designs.

Very rarely do Soldiers learn the back story of the person behind the illustration.

Tracy T. Tao-Moore, an Army civilian, is one such person. She's the lead graphic artist for the Mission Support Branch, Technology Division at Army Human Resources Command's Personnel Information Systems Directorate.

She is also hearing impaired.

But that hasn't stopped Tao-Moore from leading a productive life and being a valued member of the Army family, said her boss, Dan Walker, supervisor of Mobile Technologies/Multimedia, MSB, HRC.

"Tracy is passionate about her work," he said. "There's not a day that goes by that she doesn't bring me an example of what she did for the command that impresses me and everyone else."

As a result of her work, Tao-Moore was awarded the Department of Defense Disability Achievement and Recognition Award at a Pentagon ceremony, Oct. 4.

Although hearing impaired, the graphic artist effectively collaborates with customers, he said, through reading lips and other innovative ways of communication. The fact that this talented artist was born deaf would be unknown to anyone through casual interactions.

Tao-Moore is also beloved by members of her graphic art team, he added.

The team produces more than 500 illustrations each year. "Tao-Moore excels at telling the Army story through the quality of her products," according to her award citation.

Tao-Moore said that besides talent and training, the key to becoming a successful graphic artist is accepting constructive criticism from customers and members of her design team and actively soliciting feedback on the work in progress or finished product. "Doing so allows you to continually grow and develop."

Upon learning that she would receive her award, she said: "I was shocked and totally surprised and feel so humbled to be selected for this prestigious award. It never occurred to me that I would receive it. This is probably my proudest achievement."

COMMITMENT BEYOND JOB

Beyond her daily graphic art tasks, Tao-Moore participates in the Workplace Recruitment Program, where she interviews deaf college graduates who are interested in applying for federal government jobs, according to her citation. She provides summaries of each person, based on their character, skills and experience.

Eight years ago, Tao-Moore became a geographic bachelor when HRC relocated from St. Louis, Missouri to Fort Knox, Kentucky, as the result of a base realignment and closure initiative, or BRAC.

The move resulted in separation from her husband -- who is now a contractor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in St. Louis. She now has most of the responsibility for raising their two sons, she said.

Despite the challenges of working full time and raising two children alone, Tao-Moore managed to find the time to volunteer with a youth baseball team, according to her citation, which noted that "Tao-Moore clearly demonstrates a continual commitment to her family, career, and the Army mission, and she is a valued member of the HRC family."

Tao-Moore graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, in 1992 with a Bachelor of Fine and Applied Arts degree in Graphic Design. A year earlier, she earned the "Greek Programmer of the Year Award for 1990-1991" from R.I.T.'s Department of Residence Life for a program she developed for her sorority titled "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness."

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her sons, taking them to their extracurricular activities; watching movies and St. Louis Cardinals baseball games, and cooking and baking for family and friends.

OTHER AWARDEES

Other Army awardees besides Tracy Tao-Moore were:

-- Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jonathan W. Hosley, brigade human technician for the 21st Signal Brigade, Fort Detrick, Maryland

-- Nathan "Dale" Whittaker, International Program director and People with Disabilities Special Emphasis program manager, Program Executive Office, Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Florida.

Hosley was the first amputee selected to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, according to his citation.

"Hosley's can-do spirit and positive attitude were instrumental in building teams that participated in foot races as far away as Atlanta, raising funds and building awareness of domestic violence, breast cancer and mental illness," it states.

"He selflessly volunteered more than 500 hours of off-duty time to support various volunteer organizations in support of Wounded Warrior Projects and Breast Cancer Awareness. … He also supported the Walter Reed Medical Center Wounded Warrior Program as a combat-wounded warrior ambassador," it states.

Whittaker planned and coordinated an annual "Get-on-Track with MYBIZ" campaign, which provided an opportunity for PEO STRI employees to receive training and instruction on how to access MYBIZ to update their disability codes and other pertinent information, according to his citation.

Also, he was instrumental in developing a comprehensive "Going for the Gold" booklet to educate hiring managers and supervisors on the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities through the Schedule A Hiring Authority, it states.

His citation includes many more achievements in areas of disabilities and equal employment opportunity.

ARMY LEADS ON DISABILITY ACCOMMODATIONS

Stephanie Miller, director of the Office for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, Office of the Secretary of Defense, said the Army made reasonable accommodation training mandatory for all its civilian supervisors and non-supervisors as well as all Soldiers who supervise civilians to ensure compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations.

The Army also initiated a barrier analysis working group to personnel policies, practices and procedures to eliminate systematic barriers and leverage partnerships with stakeholders to institutionalize the barrier analysis process.

Kevin Kelly, deputy director, Force Resiliency, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, commended all of the services for their advancement of "diversity and inclusion."

"As leaders, it is our job to attract, recruit, and retain a strong and disciplined workforce in order to ensure the readiness and lethality of our military," Kelly said. "Strength can only be found within diversity. Diversity of thought, skills, experience, and perspective. A workforce of solely like-minded individuals breeds nothing but status quo and complacency. It is in our diverse perspectives and experiences that we advance. It is in our ability to bring together shared goals, but unique perspectives, that we remain at the forefront of innovation."

Each October, DoD celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, he noted.

This commemorative month had its origins in 1945. During the World War II era, as service members with disabilities from the war began to return home, the American public became increasingly interested in the workplace participation of people with disabilities, he said. That launched a week-long celebration during the first week in October 1945 and later was extended to the entire month.

This year's theme, "America's Workforce: Empowering All," highlights the importance of the full participation of all individuals in the total workforce, he said. Fundamental to mission readiness is the promotion of an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent personnel from rising to the highest possible level of responsibility commensurate with their abilities.

(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS)