1999 Conference Proceedings

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CAREERS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY (CTT)

Leonard Margolis
Assistant Superintendent
Cathy Tamburello
Adaptive Computer Specialist
Bergen County Special Services School District
64E Midland Avenue
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
(201) 265-6300 x6069

Introduction

Careers Through Technology, a program serving adults with multiple disabilities has been in operation for 18 months by Bergen County Special Services School District in New Jersey. Supporting individuals in the pursuit of successful, gainful employment is especially challenging when an individual requires adaptive computer technology to complete job assignments and communicate with supervisors and peers. Success on the job requires that the adaptive technology be setup and supported so that the individual will be able to complete assigned work requirements. Challenges of compatibility, speed and accuracy must be solved and the solutions continually modified. The challenges do not end with the technology. Each individual must be supported in all aspects of work including communication, transportation and work skills. The CTT program provides these supports empowering each individual to reach the goal of successful employment.

The purpose of this presentation is to review the program model as well share some of the job specific software and hardware adaptations that have enabled our participants to be successful. The use of adaptive equipment such as IntelliKeys, Overlay Maker, Discover Switch, job specific macros and task specific enabling devices such as a switch operated page turner will be presented. Handouts will include individual profiles, workplace challenges and solutions.

The CTT Mission

The CTT program provides individuals with multiple disabilities the employment instruction, resources and support needed to pursue successful, gainful employment in a technology based career. The CTT serves the total person with the goal of gaining independence and success in all aspects of life. Technology becomes a key tool in the pursuit of this goal. Specifically, the program provides:

Who is Served?

The CTT Program serves individuals who are in need of employment and those who need to enhance skills to maintain employment. The program also serves individuals who are employed and attend the CTT program on a part time basis just for those units of study that have a direct application to their work situation. Persons who have been full time pre-employment individuals may return to refresh their skills at any time.

Program Components

The following components will be available to individuals in the program and their families:

Technology services are provided in two areas; adaptive technology and business training. All individuals are assessed for the use of adaptive equipment, system adaptations and software that will enable them to work accurately and efficiently. Individuals choose from computer course offerings in the areas of word processing, data entry, spreadsheets, internet use, graphics and design, web page development and leisure use.

Career Exploration

Career Exploration takes place both at the program site and in the community. Individuals participate in activities designed to enable them to make the necessary choices when selecting a career path. They select and seek placement in a variety of job sampling sites with the goal of making an accurate informed career choice.

Employment Related Skills

Employment related skills classes are geared to learning about strategies obtain and maintain employment. Individuals learn how to search for a job, prepare a resume,interview and skills needed to keep a job.

Community Access

Community Access provides the individuals the tools to enjoy restaurants, movies, shopping and other services that will enhance their life. Community Access trips can be used to complete assignments from required course work.

Self Advocacy

Through the support of outside agencies like Heightened Independence Program (HIP), individuals learn how to successfully pursue their own goals and dreams. Individuals are supported as they take ownership for their career, living and social choices.

Travel Training

As individuals move out of the CTT program, a factor in their continued success is transportation. Individuals are taught how to use New Jersey Transit, Access Link and other community resources to get where they need to go.

Family Support

Regular family support activities are scheduled to empower families to help strengthen the efforts of their family member as they move to greater independence.

Mentoring

Mentors that have a similar profile as an individual are identified to provide support and share how they successfully gained employment and made other life choices.

How Is the Program Organized?

The program format is modeled after a college or adult education program. Courses in all of the component areas as listed on the previous page are offered on a quarterly basis. Courses are mapped out for an entire year so that individuals can plan long term to meet their goals. Two days each week are designated as an individualÕs community access days during which they and staff are out in the community either at job sampling or recreational sites. As these individuals move out of the program to work, this model makes it easy for them to come in for a refresher course on just the topic they need.

How Is the Program be Staffed?

Currently the CTT program is staffed full time by a Program Instructor and two Job Coach/Assistants. The program is supported part time by an Adaptive Technology Specialist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Rehabilitation Engineer, Program Administrator and Transition Specialist.

Program Facility

The program facility consists of both classroom and life and provides a prototype model of educational structure.

Individuals who are employed are encouraged to return to the program for refresher courses and/or additional instruction.

This model allows for the program instructor to become a case manager for each client and therefore coordinate very closely all aspects of the individuals program including career, community, technology and independent living as related to personal outcome.


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