Developing Successful Employment Opportunities by zfk17069


									Developing Successful
Employment Opportunities
Forum for Ohioans with Disabilities
August 18, 2009
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Columbus, Ohio

Summary of Testimony
Hosted by:
Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council
Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council
Ohio Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities

To request copies of this booklet at no charge, contact:
Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council
8 East Long Street, Suite 1200
Columbus OH 43215
(614) 466-5205
(800) 766-7426 Toll free in Ohio
(614) 644-5530 TTY
(614) 466-0298 fax

Funded by the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council under the
Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.
More than 50 people with disabilities testified at a forum on em-
ployment held August 18, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. Twelve other
people mailed their testimonies to be included in this summary.
Speakers shared their employment experiences, successes, barri-
ers, frustrations and suggestions to the audience of over 150 family
members, friends, service providers, and many policymakers.

This report presents a summary of the day’s testimony and in-
cludes recommendations to improve gainful employment for
people with all types of disabilities. The report will be shared with
people who can make a difference—service providers, legislators,
government officials, employers and others.

Welcome from the Governor’s Office
Amy Rohling McGee
Executive Assistant for Health & Human Services
Governor Ted Strickland’s Office

Opening the program, McGee provided the back-
ground of the event. In 2008 Governor Strickland
convened an interagency workgroup to discuss
strategies for improving services for individu-
als with disabilities across Ohio. The challenging
economy was one major reason for establishing the
workgroup. Members thought it might make sense
to look at ways that, even as resources are shrinking, they might be able to
continue to provide high quality services for people with disabilities.

After several months, the workgroup members decided to focus on:
• Finding administrative methods to conserve resources, such as
   joint trainings,
• Holding combined public hearings, and
• Improving employment services for people with disabilities.

The Governor’s workgroup narrowed the topic of employment to these
specific areas for further exploration:
• Looking at improvements in transition from school to work
• Expanding people’s understanding of the Medicaid Buy-In Program
• Improving services for people with disabilities, particularly those with
   mental health or substance abuse concerns at Ohio’s One-stop Centers
• Increasing access to RSC services for people with chronic disabilities,
   especially those with developmental disabilities
The Governor’s Workgroup undertook a survey of people with disabilities
regarding their experiences with Ohio’s employment services. The results of
1200 responses will be released in the fall of 2009.

McGee concluded her remarks by explaining that the Forum Summary and
the Survey Report will be used to guide efforts to improve employment ser-
vices for Ohioans with disabilities.

             “Today…we hear the stories and the
             real-life experiences of people who are
             accessing these (disability) services.”
             —Amy Rohling McGee

Employment is part of the mosaic
Michael Rench
Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission

Administrator Rench discussed the need to find the right pathways to help
people with disabilities enter the workforce. He shared a story about his
stepdaughter, Julie, who has a developmental disability. Seventeen years ago,
a BVR counselor helped her get a job at Walgreens, where now she is head
cashier. Rench noted that at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game, people stopped
to talk to Julie, calling her by name.

                                   “When she started her job, she started a path
                                   where she made friends, where she became
                                   known in the community as somebody who
                                   worked, where people associated her with
                                   something that’s important in their lives.
                                   Successful employment is not about just
                                   making a wage, although that is critically
                                   important.“ —Michael Rench

Rench noted that he was approached just prior to giving his speech by some-
one who had lost his job. He said that, as everyone knows, many Americans
are losing their jobs. However, since the economy is already showing signs
of improving, agencies need to position themselves so people with disabili-
ties are ready and able to take opportunities when they come. Another of
Rench’s themes was the need to bring people with disabilities into the work-
force so others can benefit from their gifts. Using Julie as an example, Rench
said that she has shown people a smiling, receptive, open face every day.

      “We don’t get those gifts unless we bring people with disabilities
      into the workforce. We have among the population of citizens with
      disabilities, incredibly untapped, unrealized talents.” —Michael Rench

Turning to the topic of consistency, Rench said it is an important factor for
people with disabilities and begins with collaboration among all concerned.
He concluded by comparing inclusion of people with disabilities in the
working world to a mosaic, where each piece of the mosaic is needed to
make the picture. If you start taking one or two pieces out, the picture looks
less and less right—there is less color, texture and fullness. Each and every
citizen needs to be part of the mosaic.

      “So the work at RSC, as well as at all our sister agencies, is to
      think about what pathways we can help people develop to get
      those employment opportunities.” —Michael Rench

ODJFS assists job seekers
Gwen Ivory
Program Manager
Disability Program Navigator Initiative
Ohio Department of Job & Family Services

Gwen Ivory provided information about Ohio’s
ninety One-stop Centers. Sixty are at an actual
physical location and the remainder are satellite
centers. Their purpose is to assist all job seekers, including people with dis-
abilities, in finding employment. According to Ivory, at the majority of the
physical centers, a person with a disability is able to get into the building,
use the equipment and participate in programs and activities. ODJFS contin-
ues to work on accessibility at all the One-stops.

Ohio is one of 45 states that employ local Disability Navigators Programs in
the One-stop Centers to work with job seekers, employers, One-stop staff,
and disability employment providers. Currently there are only seven local

Core services of the Navigator Programs include resource rooms, equipment,
access to job postings, and staff who are available to assist people with dis-
abilities. There also is an intensive level of service to provide assessments, as
well as training for those who qualify.

“Right now, we don’t have enough people with disabilities who are participating
in our intensive level and training services. We are very pleased to be working
with the Governor’s initiative on improving the employment process for people
with disabilities.” —Gwen Ivory
Many people who testified at the Employment Forum are unemployed and
looking for a job. Others who spoke have a job or are retired. Some obtained
their job with services from the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR),
the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI), an organization
such as an Independent Living Center, or a special program such as Project
SEARCH. A few of those who spoke are self-employed.

Both those who are employed and those who are unemployed expressed
frustration regarding one or more problems with policies and programs de-
signed to help them find employment. A number of those who testified had
difficulty with transportation to and from an interview and/or a job. Many
people cited attitudinal barriers and discrimination as factors that prevented
them from obtaining jobs.

Young people with disabilities spoke to the lack of or inadequacy of services
and supports to transition them from school to the world of work. Other
barriers to employment addressed during the Forum included lack of coor-
dination of services, and employers overlooking education and experience.
Many people with disabilities at the Forum have experienced more than one
of these barriers when seeking employment.

The Forum Summary has been compiled into the categories that were most
frequently described by participants.

Transportation barriers
Problems getting to and from job interviews and job sites were key barriers
for some of those who testified. One person said that she had a job she liked,
but transportation was a major problem for her. She spent hours at work
waiting to be picked up and ended up quitting the job. She has been looking
for work ever since.

“Either they were dropping me off late or
picking me up early—if they showed up at all.”
—Pam Stapleton, Columbus

Another person thought that transportation
for people with disabilities was almost non-
existent in his community.

One man gave powerful testimony about
transportation issues. In his town, the small
bus line runs only from 8 am to 4 pm each day. He was told during a job
interview that he was qualified for the position but he wasn’t hired because
he didn’t drive. He offered to get a driver but the interviewer was concerned
about the reliability of the driver and stated that the applicant couldn’t have
the job because he didn’t have a way to work.

Another individual with a disability spoke about wanting to work more
hours, but being unable to do so because of transportation difficulties. She
has held a job she likes for the past three years. She works from 9 am to 2 pm
and would like to work more hours.

             “I use a (workshop) shuttle to get
             to work and I would like to work
             longer hours…but at this time, the
             shuttle doesn’t have more time.”
             —Bethany Gladieux, Northwood

Another speaker described troubles encoun-
tered by relying on drivers for transportation,
saying that the drivers don’t always
follow directions well.

“You may end up somewhere
you don’t want to end up
(by using a driver).”
Cleveland Heights

Furthermore, the regular bus transportation, paratransit, and a voucher sys-
tem were commented on by a man who likes the voucher system the best.
He urged leaders to develop a method to self-fund the voucher program. He
said it is less expensive than Mainstream (the paratransit in Columbus) and
takes you directly where you want to go. Further, the regular bus doesn’t go
to all the suburbs and a lot of work is in the suburbs.

             “The (bus) drivers don’t always
             tell the stops and Mainstream can
             keep you on the bus for an hour,
             which causes a lot of people to lose
             their jobs.” —Mike Russell, Columbus

Discrimination during interviews
and on the job
Testimony about discrimination against people with disabilities seeking em-
ployment and on the job ranged from subtle to outright illegal.

An individual who had just graduated from college experienced blatant
discrimination. In a phone call from an employer to whom he had sent his
resume, the employer told him he was just the person they needed. How-
ever, when he arrived for the interview with his service dog, he was told the
company wouldn’t hire him because of his dog.

After sending out 125 resumes and going on multiple interviews, he ob-
tained a job that he kept for four years. Then, he decided to work in a nurs-
ing home and his service dog was welcomed there and was seen as a benefit
to the seniors. Yet, a new administrator who didn’t like dogs pressured him
                               to quit. While seeking another job, he found
                               that even a disability service organization
                               wouldn’t hire him. The interviewer told him
                               that people would pay more attention to his
                               dog than they would to him doing his work.

                             “First thing the lady says is ‘I can’t hire you.
                             I’ve got people allergic to dogs. You can’t
                             work here.” —Stephan Thomas, Marietta

      “My employer asked illegal questions. When I
      informed the director of human resources, he
      just brushed it off.” —Tracy Ghoris, Columbus

Another speaker with multiple disabilities was
discriminated against while employed at a position
she liked. The discrimination was evident through
harassment, ridicule, humiliation and illegal questions about her disability.
The employee overheard her supervisor and two coworkers laughing and
calling her one of “Jerry’s kids” in reference to the annual Jerry Lewis Tele-
thon. She felt that her employer did not have any understanding or compas-
sion. Soon after receiving news of her newly diagnosed disability, the com-
pany forced her out and gave her a small severance pay.

One speaker found the idea of disclosing or not disclosing an invisible dis-
ability to be a real dilemma. She was fearful of not disclosing an invisible
disability because should a problem, such as a seizure occur, an entirely new
can of worms would be opened in terms of why it wasn’t revealed.

Another form of discrimination is related to an employer’s concerns about
pre-existing conditions and costs of health insurance.

             “I think that potential employers are fearful their
             healthcare bills will skyrocket if I am hired. This,
             even though I see a specialist twice a year...and am
             otherwise rarely sick.” —Shari Veleba, Columbus

A subtle form of discrimination can take place in agencies and organizations
that serve people with disabilities as one woman experienced first-hand. She
realized that the people with the most significant disabilities were on the
lower rung of the totem pole and really did not
have an opportunity to move up.

             “I wanted to grow, but even in
             organizations that serve people with
             disabilities, there is discrimination. I
             don’t think it is done on purpose.”
             —Renee Wood, Toledo

In fact, discrimination can be as subtle as “a
look,” according to a woman who testified at the
Forum. Now employed, she graduated with an Associate’s Degree in disabil-
ity services in 1995, eager to get a job, pay taxes and move away from home.
To her dismay, she went on interview after interview and wasn’t hired. Now
working as a community and relations staff associate, promoting an agency,
she says:

                                          “I think it’s funny—the young lady
                                          with the speech impairment is now
                                          giving speeches.”
                                          —Shari Cooper, Dayton

Transition from high school to
the world of work
Students with disabilities, family members, and a professional educator
addressed the need for better transition services in Ohio.

A recent high school graduate was in the work
study program during her junior and senior
years of high school. In the second year of the
training program she was paid to work in a col-
lege library. BVR provided services to the student
during part of her senior year, but then stopped
assisting her.

“She did her job at the library better
than the college students. However
this job was for training purposes
only; they wouldn’t hire her.
Hopefully, we will reapply for the
job solution program.”
—Donna Drouhard, mother, and
Clarissa Drouhard, Ravenna

Another recent high school graduate left school without a job.

          “I am attending a program where I am
          looking for the kind of job I would like to
          have. We also work on becoming more
          independent.” —Micah Hetrick, Dublin

The student’s mother explained how she has
continually worked to assure her son’s full par-
ticipation in his full array for his peers, and
expects this effort to continue into his adult life.
Her son has much to offer employers and the

          “It has been our experience, beginning with BVR last summer, that
          what Micah needs in order to be gainfully employed in his community,
          beyond what is offered in the school district, is not just lacking but
          is absent. Supports and services for community-based employment
          seem to be available only for those who require supports for a short,
          predetermined amount of time.” —Sue Hetrick, Dublin

An educator at OSU’s Nisonger Center discussed current laws and practices.
Law requires that all students must have measurable employment goals at
age 14. The goals must be based on age appropriate transition assessments.
The rehabilitation laws state that an individualized plan for employment
must be an employment goal.

Students with disabilities are five times more likely to be employed if they
complete an internship and receive a job offer. Additionally, students are
more likely to be employed if they have high self-determination skills.

There is a lot of research on the kinds of education and training programs
that correlate with improved employment outcomes. Students can benefit
from participating in programs such as:
•   School based programs that include a career major
•   Community training programs, like Project SEARCH and others
•   Vocational education and work experience as
    part of the school program

             “I believe we are missing an
             opportunity for agencies to work
             together collaboratively to assure
             that all students with disabilities in
             our high schools have an opportunity
             to try real employment situations.”
             —Margo Izzo, Columbus

A parent sent in written testimony that gave
an account of the lengthy and well-planned transition process from school
to work that resulted in his daughter having a 40-hour-a-week job at union
wages. He had seen that one of the biggest mistakes made in preparing in-
dividuals with disabilities for the workaday world is that of starting too late.
Waiting until the individual has graduated from high school to begin work-
ing on the transition from school to community is often too late, because
transitioning from one phase of life to another is a process that takes time
and effort.

His nonverbal daughter with autism and severe behavioral issues had a five-
year transition plan that included four years of work in the community prior
to graduation from high school. This helped her develop the skills needed
for a real job in the real world. It began with a placement for one hour per
day, one to two days per week, with support. The hunt for a paid job in the
community began one year before graduation.

“Statistics show that if a person with a disability seeking work upon graduation
does not have that job before he or she graduates, that person has only a 20%
chance of becoming employed after graduation when the supports are no longer
mandatory.” —Joseph Henn, Macedonia
Although the parents obtained RSC/BVR services for their daughter, the
parents also subcontracted the job find/job development work to a graduate
student. Another key factor of this successful transition plan was the use of a
Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), a Social Security work incentive, which
helped pay for a one-on-one job coach.

BVR and BSVI policies, practices
and services
Programs of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) and Bureau of
Services for the Visually Impaired (BSVI) received mixed reviews during the
Forum. Some people who received services through these programs from the
Rehabilitation Services Commissions (RSC) expressed satisfaction with and
gratitude for them. On the other hand, some speakers identified problems,
including lack of services, poor quality services, termination of services, and
other areas that were barriers to finding employment.

A young man testified that he received valuable assistance from RSC to at-
tend college. And a friend who works in the disability field advocated on his
behalf to get him the accommodations he needed, including textbooks, read-
ers and scribes. Another man was very satisfied with the services he received
to attend college, including hand controls for his car and other supports.

          “I had all of the accommodations in place
          to be successful in school (college).”
          —Robert Shuemak, Cincinnati

“They’ve (RSC) been
very supportive and I
really appreciate that.”
—Gregory Roth, Columbus

                              “BVR enabled me to get a Master’s Degree, and I
                              know that BVR and BSVI have helped others get an
                              education. Education is the way that people with
                              disabilities have of making the playing field equal.”
                              —Marty Martinek, Boardman
One person who testified found it less cumbersome to find a job through
networking, volunteering and working as an advocate than it was to go
through BVR services.

Another individual had mixed experiences with BVR. Working in a sheltered
workshop, she approached the director and asked for a staff position with
the agency. A position was developed for her and BVR provided adaptive
equipment that enabled her to handle the job. She also was able to hire her
own care-provider through an RSC program.
However, about four years ago, she asked BVR
to update her equipment because her employer
could not afford it. BVR refused, limiting her
work capacity.

          “Because BVR wouldn’t update my
          equipment, I can’t use all of my
          workspace and my work performance is
          slower.” — Dee Tobias, Coshocton

BVR determined that a student who participated
in their career camp was not employable and closed his case. He was placed
in two jobs over a six week period. He worked four days per week. Both jobs
were physically demanding—one was gardening and the other was cleaning.
Because of the nature of his disability and the fact he has heart issues, he fa-
tigues easily, especially when outside in the summer heat. These factors were
explained on his application, but were not taken into consideration.

                             “The job coach had little patience with Micah and
                             his specific issues.” —Sue Hetrick, parent, Dublin

                             The student’s mother went on to explain that
                             the stress caused by this scenario is not uncom-
                             mon in Ohio. Systems that provide employment
                             opportunity and support are failing people like
                             her son. As a result, they end up at home every
                             day or in an institutionalized employment pro-
                             gram, like a sheltered workshop.

A woman who has cerebral palsy obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work
at the Ohio State University and worked for 12 years. When her eyesight
began failing, she went on disability. She wanted to try working part-time
and applied for services from BSVI. The counselor tried to help her keep her
original job but that could not be accomplished.

The woman obtained adaptive equipment through BSVI. However, she
found job development services inadequate. She and the specialist met once
a week and reviewed newspaper ads and openings on websites. The appli-
cant strongly suggested that job development staff build relationships with
employers. She believes that job development should involve more than just
helping clients fill out applications, write
cover letters and prepare for interviews.

            “What I needed was a job carve
            where I could perform using
            my professional skills. The job
            developers didn’t seem to be able
            to accomplish this because they
            didn’t know enough about the
            jobs.” —Gayle Stanford, Columbus

A mother with an intellectual disability, who has an eight-year-old daughter,
sought employment services from BVR. She was referred for one job, which
was working the third shift. She turned it down because of her daughter. She
felt BVR did not consider her situation and caring for her daughter.

A mother of a teen with a disability testified that there was not enough em-
ployer education, job coaching or follow up services through BVR. The agen-
cy referred her son for jobs washing dishes or sweeping floors. Her son could
not tolerate those work environments. She felt that job placements need to
be individualized, not “cookie cutter placements.”

A BVR client described her experience as one that left her emotionally and
physically drained. When she first turned to BVR, she sought social work
training. BVR overruled her choice and sent her to college to train for me-
dia production. After graduating, she couldn’t find work in that field. BVR
helped her get a part-time job that had no health insurance, so she had to
quit to keep her public medical coverage. After starting her own successful
business, she re-contacted BVR asking for technical equipment; it took four
years and advocacy by Ohio Legal Rights to get the equipment.

            “I spent twenty years trying to regain substantial
            employment. Instead what I gained from my
            ‘rehabilitation’ experience was exhaustion and
            dismay.” —Doreen Vincent, Cincinnati

A retired person had a successful job for thirty years and now has good re-
tirement benefits. When she started looking for employment years ago, she
turned to BVR which trained her to work at home. She stated that she lan-
guished at home for six years after graduating from high school. With fur-
ther assistance from BVR, this individual went to college in a field that she
chose and began her lengthy career. She started college during a recession
and graduated when agencies were having bad times.

         “I think you have to know
         there are going to be good
         times. There are going to be
         bad times. There’s going to be
         times when there is no work.
         Have patience, find what you
         want and go for it.”
         — Ann Christopher, Columbus

College and work experience discounted
People with disabilities who had earned college degrees, even Master’s De-
grees, often discovered that their degree was not the entrée to employment
they had hoped for. One person who testified stated that she had read that
there were two types of employers: those that wouldn’t be bothered by
a disability and those that would. She lamented that she had obviously
found the latter.

                                       “Upon graduating, I applied for many
                                       jobs but another candidate always got
                                       the job. I was always told that someone
                                       had more experience than I did, but I
                                       wondered if my disability was a factor.
                                       It took years and several volunteer
                                       experiences before I got hired.”
                                       —Carmen Shelton, Columbus

Hopes of finding a job after college were dashed
for some as years of job seeking dragged on and
on. They filled out hundreds of job applications
and attended dozens of interviews.

         “In the individual’s mind, we know
         what we are capable of doing. It (the
         problem) is convincing others, of giving
         us a chance, showing them what we
         can do. People judge on the outward
         appearance.” —Bill Adams, Lucasville
After spending two of the last ten years looking for a job, one applicant feels
he may be getting cynical. Even with a college degree, computer skills, and
several years of experience, he believes that half the jobs posted aren’t really
available, and that career counselors only offer tools: job listings, online
access, workshops and interview practice sessions.

                               “If I were looking now, I’d tell them I don’t want
                               more preparation or possibilities. I want an actual
                               referral for an actual job.” —Denis Frazier, Columbus

                               Some people who found that a college degree
                               didn’t improve their chances of getting hired,
                               eventually created their own jobs. The follow-
                               ing participant felt her history is typical for
                               most people with physical disabilities.

             “If we are fortunate enough to be employed, we have
             created the position ourselves or own our business.”
             —Lucretia Crawford, Springfield

Policies, programs and services of County
Boards of Developmental Disabilities
Several people with disabilities testified about their involvement in County
Board programs, such as sheltered workshops and supported employment.

One young woman had three positions in the
community before she became employed full-
time by her County Board as a receptionist.
She has friends at work and likes her job.

             “Without CES (Community
             Employment Services), I don’t think
             I could have found a job.”
             —Kristen Fisher, Bowling Green

Another Forum participant spoke about having two part-time jobs,
but wanting to have a good full-time job in the community so he
can be independent.

“I do not want to be depending on the workshop
for the rest of my life.” —Denver Gray, Rockbridge

A person who is working in a workshop putting
pens together said that he doesn’t like the job.
There isn’t much work to do and it is boring and
repetitive. He would like to be employed in a uni-
versity dining hall or another community job.

“I think it would be
possible to do other work
that I want to do if there
were more opportunities
from other employers.”
—Dan Schnoonover, Athens

             “I just signed a contract last week
             for a supported employment
             micro-enterprise. I am going to
             be teaching people how to use
             computers.” —Jason Licht, Athens

Two staff members of a Supported Employment Program of a County Board
assisted someone who said it has been difficult to find employment for
several reasons. Staff thought outside of the box and helped this individual
become self-employed.

Lack of coordination and cooperation
among agencies
                             Several speakers pointed to a lack of coordination
                             of services and cooperation among agencies as
                             barriers to employment. Sometimes people have
                             to leave one agency in order to get helped by
                             another, since the agencies don’t work together
                             to benefit the job seeker.

                             “One of the biggest problems I run across is it
                             seems like the various agencies are in some kind of
                             war or something.” —Carl Bates, Columbus
         “The agencies that help people such
         as ourselves need to coordinate their
         efforts together better.”
         —Patrick O’Dwyer, Wauseon

A specific recommendation was made that
formal interagency agreements among service
agencies be updated “so that our agencies can
work together and have a common focus.”

Testimonial suggestions for people with
disabilities who are seeking employment
A number of people offered motivational suggestions to those in the audi-
ence. Networking and peer support were beneficial to many.

Networking with professionals and friends, volunteering with non-profit
organizations, and advocating for disability-related issues helped one job
seeker gain confidence and break down barriers.

An employed professional with a disability advised finding peer support.

         “Peer support gives you people you can
         talk to about challenges you are going
         through.” —Mark Seifarth, Columbus

Another individual at the Forum confirmed
the value of peer support. She started in a sup-
ported employment program performing jani-
torial work at a disability service agency and
was promoted to Employment Peer Specialist.
The services involve helping people with re-
sumes and job searches. Peer counselors are in a
unique position to support those in the job market.

                               Some mentioned finding informal supports,
                               in the form of a friend, to help people find

                               “If you really want a job and if you have a
                               person who can help you, like in a workshop,
                               look into that.” —Glenda Murray, Athens

                               A man shared ideas about working at home to
                               make money by working in customer service

for one of the large companies that employs people to work from home, or
using the Internet to become self-employed.

“It (Internet) can give us our independence.” —Greg Powers, Columbus

Six Forum participants cited the value of securing services from a Center for
Independent Living (CIL).

      “IL Centers are required by law to employ
      people with disabilities to help others to
      become gainfully employed in competitive
      employment.” —Donna Prease, Cleveland

One gentleman thought it would be possible to do
more work if employers had the patience to teach
people with all kinds of disabilities. It would help
create more opportunities to learn new skills and
to help overcome the way people without disabili-
ties see the capabilities of people with disabilities.

                             Two people talked about using Project SEARCH
                             to be trained and get a job.

                             “Through Project SEARCH, I am now a full-
                             time employee with Fifth-Third Bank. I do filing
                             of mortgages and other paperwork. And I’m
                             determined to slow
                             down because I work
                             too fast.” — Krista
                             Vonderbrink, Cincinnati

Another woman shared her perspective of work.

“Work has been essential to my life and my
recovery. It is the largest part of my independence
and personal success. And I want employment for
everyone.” —Belinda Spinosi, Columbus

                             Many presenters stressed the importance of sup-
                             portive family, parents and siblings, in helping
                             them find jobs and stay employed.

                             “ I got a job working with my uncle, and that was
                             OK because I got to work with my mother and
                             aunt...Then I got to work at the Resident Home;
                             I’m there for 35 years. I am independent. I bought
                             my own house and my sister lives with me.”
                             —Linda Kunick, Cincinnati
Improving gainful employment of
people with disabilities
Based on the testimony given during the Employment Forum, the following
areas need to be addressed:
• Develop transportation resources for people with disabilities, including
   expansion of the voucher system
• Provide additional training for job developers and improve job
   development services
• Expand BVR’s job coaching and follow up services
• Strengthen community employment programs and services for
   individuals in County Boards of DD who don’t want to work in
   sheltered workshops
•    Individualize job placements; don’t use “cookie cutter placements”
•    Insure that all high school students with disabilities have transition
     services and that the services begin early enough
•    Increase collaboration and cooperation among service provision
•    Influence employer attitudes and expand employer education and
•    Expand the Disability Navigator program at One-stop Centers
•    Insure that individuals with disabilities have access to peer support
     during their job searches
•    Train people with disabilities about their rights concerning
     accessibility, employment and the ADA

Forum is just the beginning
Carolyn Knight
Executive Director
Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

Director Knight explained that this Forum was
not the end, but rather the beginning of efforts
to be undertaken to improve employment ser-
vices in Ohio. She informed the audience that
everyone’s testimony was being recorded for use
in developing a written report.

              “All of the members of the Governor’s workgroup and
              everyone here today will have access to the report and begin
              to ponder it, and come up with a plan. We want to improve.
              We are all committed to doing that.” — Carolyn Knight
The hosts of the Employment Forum thank all the people who participated
and told their stories, including these individuals whose comments we were
not able to include.

   Sylvia Fields           Gary Gomez                Gary Holley           Ramona Johnson

                   Jeannie Joy         Marqisha McDade          Stephanie Mitchell

   Troy Moore              Marvin Moss              Greg Powers             Kathleen Scheil

                           John Stuart              Vicki Vinzant

             Every effort was made to correctly transcribe and summarize the
                testimonies given by individuals at the Employment Forum.
                Neither the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council or the
      AXIS Center for Public Awareness may be held liable for errors in this publication.
8 East Long Street, Suite 1200
    Columbus OH 43215

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