By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
Vocational rehabilitation is made up of a series of services that are designed to facilitate the entrance into or return to work by people with disabilities or by people who have recently acquired an injury or disability. Some of these services include vocational assessment and evaluation, training, upgrading of general skills, on-the-job training, career counseling, employment searches, and consulting with potential or existing employers for job accommodations and modification.
We are lucky enough to have a VR office right here in Sanford where folks with disabilities can receive the services mentioned above. But it’s not just about the individual living with a disability. It’s about all of us. I believe employers have the responsibility to not only consider job applicants who have disabilities, but there is also an opportunity to teach other employees about working with people who live with a disability.
This opportunity is called Windmills Training. VR professionals would love the opportunity to come to your place of work to offer this complimentary training that will be beneficial to employers and employees alike. There are multiple modules, but employers can choose the one (s) that matches their needs the most.
The Story Module. This is an ice breaker exercise that allows participants to realize that they have all had experiences with disabilities or persons with disabilities and can identify with the importance of disability inclusion.
Pick a Disability Module. This examines stereotypes associated with common disabilities and illustrates participants’ emotional reactions to specific disabilities. Helps participants understand how an individual’s prior perception of a disability can keep successful applicants with disabilities from being hired.
Profiles Module. Examine how stereotyping of persons with disabilities may impact employment decisions and teaches participants to evaluate on a case-by-case basis each person with a disability.
Reasonable Accommodation Module. In this interactive exercise, participants are asked to evaluate the potential needs of persons with disabilities and to formulate possible creative solutions. Participants learn the interactive communication process to develop reasonable accommodations.
Disability: Fact or Fiction Module. This diversity disability inclusion module is an exercise wherein participants complete a questionnaire and review their knowledge about disabilities. The goal is to become more comfortable and effective in our workplace interactions with people with disabilities. Participants become aware of respectful etiquette and language for creating a comfortable work environment and they learn the basics of disability employment law.
Taking the Emotion out of Emotional Disabilities. This exercise introduces the concept that persons with emotional disabilities are also able to perform on the job as effectively as persons without emotional disabilities. Participants learn to objectively consider reasonable accommodations for persons with emotional disabilities.
The Calendar Game. This exercise gives participants a chance to formulate better ways to utilize employees with disabilities. The activity includes interactions between four departments within the same company needing to resolve a schedule problem while examining the dynamics of the groups’ interactions with their new employees with disabilities.
Traumatic Brain Injuries. This module will introduce participants to practical information about traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as participants’ assumptions and beliefs about how traumatic brain injuries affect job performance. Participants identify effective ways to accommodate employees with traumatic brain injuries.
Encounter Module. This interactive session will help participants feel more confident and relaxed in dealing with disabilities. Participants are able to ask questions to a panel of people with disabilities in a safe, information-sharing environment. This exercise may be combined with Module 12 – Ask It Basket.
Whose Fault Module. A successful diversity program is reflected in a company’s hiring practices and is embedded in the company’s culture. The hiring and promotion of persons with disabilities relies on an integrated working relationship among many levels of management and staff. Participants will hear examples of how “miscommunications” can impact the workplace. Participants will then determine where miscommunication occurred and brainstorm strategies that might have prevented the miscommunication.
The Rumor Game. This exercise is designed to illustrate how rumors and inaccurate information can affect the employment and return to work of people with disabilities. It offers practical suggestions for avoiding rumor problems that can arise when employing people with disabilities.
Ask It Basket. This exercise is designed to reduce inherent fears about asking questions regarding disabilities or persons with disabilities. Participants will learn simple and easy ways to get answers to any future questions they or their co-workers might have about disabilities.
May I suggest that you consider bringing this training, or portions of it, to your place of work. Contact Beth Bray, Business Relations Representative for the NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at 919-579-5125. She would love to hear from you!