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Their Voice: Working to finding the perfect job for developmentally disabled
Monica Villar June 23, 2016
There is an incredible feeling of accomplishment that comes with applying for your first job and being accepted. Regardless of whether you are a teen finding your first summer employment or a seasoned professional climbing the corporate ladder, the feeling doesn’t change. This week Linda Bingham finally got to experience that feeling first hand.
In March, I introduced Linda Bingham. She is a 30-year-old woman with Down syndrome who was living at home with her parents and decided that she wanted to join the workforce. At the time, Linda had just been referred by her local vocational rehabilitation office to RISE Employment and agreed to let me share her story in this column. At the time she had just completed several assessments and reviews and was ready to start actively looking for work.
Bingham’s first step in was a Work Strategy Assessment. This assessment took a month but was broken down into an eight-hour process. Work Strategy Assessments include a variety of assessments in multiple settings. The conversational assessment, or intake, takes place in the person’s home. This provides insight into the living environment and the natural supports that are available to the person. Determining the extent of natural supports is important, as these are the people on which Bingham will rely in order to maintain employment in the future.
The other reviews that occurred during the first month period were a mock interview, a physical assessment to determine if there are any physical barriers that would inhibit Bingham from doing specific jobs, and a situational assessment. The situational assessment can take place in a number of settings and helps the employment specialist determine how well the applicant can handle different situations such as asking for help or finding items in a store.
The final phase of the Work Strategy Assessment is a work site observation where the employment specialist is able to watch the individual in a volunteer setting. In this case, Bingham volunteered at the Bishop’s Storehouse, where her employment specialist, Drew Shepherd, observed that she was very successful.
Accompanied by Shepherd, she attended several job fairs that are sponsored by Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. These job fairs give prospective employees the opportunity to meet with and talk to employers who are anxious to provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
Under the guidance of Shepherd, Bingham also was able to do some job development with local restaurants, movie theaters and Valley Services. This enabled Bingham to learn and practice a variety of skills that would help her when she did get a job. I am happy to report that all of Linda’s hard work paid off this week when she was offered a job at a IHOP restaurant near her home.
“Linda was just offered a job this week,” reported Shepherd. “We were able to ‘job carve’ something that suited her best. »
Job carving is defined is a strategy for employment development for people with disabilities. Shepherd explains, “job carving is creating a job from scratch. It is taking a persons skill sets and attributes and matching them to the needs of the company instead of molding the person to a pre-determined job description.”