Serving the Deaf Population

Next month marks my first full year with NEBA. One of the things that attracted me to this organization was their openness to serving any population.  This mentality has allowed me to be of service to the deaf population in Connecticut. I am hard of hearing and am able to speak in ASL (American Sign Language).  Last year Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) certified us/me in ASL so we could serve the deaf population.  We currently serve four deaf clients through BRS and one through the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).  I have enjoyed working with them, but we face a number of challenges and are working as a team to break through those challenges. 

Here are some of the things NEBA emphasizes in working with the deaf population:

  • Deaf people are able to compete in any competitive employment environment as well as anyone else.
  • Any accommodations that the people we serve require are reasonable and and are of minimal or no cost.  An example of an accommodation is a video phone.  Any deaf person can make calls in the same manner as a hearing person, but an interpreter interprets everything that is being said by both parties in a phone conversation. There are many examples of technology that has opened up a new horizon for the deaf population. 
  • Communication can be difficult but it is NOT impossible. When a deaf person is hired in an environment in which no one knows their language, NEBA is able to help facilitate communication.  This usually does not take too much time.

NEBA and I both take pride in being able to serve the deaf population in the employment world and make a positive impact. We want to do all we can to ‘bridge the gap’ between the beautiful deaf world, its unique culture and language, and the hearing world.  We hope to recount some great success stories in the coming weeks and months!

Connect-Ability

This will be a short post as I want to turn your attention to something important.

Here in Connecticut we are a Community Rehab Provider (CRP) for the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS).  We also partner with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)  and CT Works/DOL (Department of Labor).  There are acronyms for everything, I know.

It’s a lot to keep track of, but there is a great resource which NEBA uses that describes the wide range of services and providers available to the people of Connecticut. This website is: http://www.connect-ability.com

Take a moment to see what this website has to offer. It has personal success stories, a Career Center, an informational section for potential employers for commonly asked questions regarding hiring people with disabilities, and much more.

Happy reading! 🙂

 Timothy Blonsky, Senior Employment Specialist, Connecticut

Marketing

Marketing: “The activity set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” – Wikipedia

When I was looking to join NEBA after getting to know my current supervisor, I was impressed by how NEBA emphasizes something not often seen in our non-profit, human services world: Marketing. The concept of marketing is not just used in the business world to obtain greater profit, it is also used to help forge mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses and non-profit organizations.

When NEBA started its push  into the great state of Connecticut almost two years ago, one of the things we did to build our foundation was join various chamber and networking groups around the state. We started with the Metro Hartford Alliance, the Greater New Haven Chamber, and the Chambers in Cheshire, Manchester and Waterbury. We are also members of similar organizations in Massachusetts such as the Greater Springfield Chamber. Each of these chambers present monthly events that our staff are assigned to attend. These events are specifically for networking and relationship building. The general message that we try to put forth at these events includes:

  • Economic Development.  In my previous post I spoke about this at length. In summary, NEBA is bringing economic development to the communities we serve by helping people gain employment, in turn requiring less assistance from state and federal resources. We also contribute economically to our communities by hiring full-time staff to help with our ever-growing organization in Connecticut.
  • Community.  We appeal to the people we speak to that we are trying to help the people we serve to eventually become independent and achieve personal succes.  By hiring these individuals, regional businesses are serving the community they live in.
  • What are their needs?  By attending these  monthly events we build relationships with companies and try to find out what needs they may have. By building these relationships, we can help them fill those needs and in turn find employment for our individuals.

A lot of today’s business world is impersonal. We at NEBA continue to believe in the power of face to face, human interaction. This is why we seek out networking events and one-on-one personal connections with the various businesses that are members of these chambers.

– Timothy J Blonsky, Senior Employment Specialist, Connecticut Team

Economic Equality Through Employment

Equality. A word that has been fought for since the beginning of time. A word that is the subject matter of one of the greatest speeches in the history of the United States, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Some would argue that equality has been achieved, or at the very least has gotten better in the last 50 years of our country. However, there is still much work left to do in our evolving society. Equality will always be strived for, no matter one’s lot in life.

At NEBA, we strive for equal opportunities for our job seekers. We feel that the road to equality for individuals with disabilities is paid employment. Why? Because many of the individuals we serve are people who are in a search for purpose in life, and for their place in society. The common factor in all of this is employment.

Just as your job and my job give us purpose to get up every morning and realize our dreams (or pay our way to our dreams), the same is true for the individuals we serve. Their dream might be to get their own place to live, to buy a car, or to go on a vacation. A job gives our job seekers the kind of freedom and equality that they would never get from a monthly disability check. A job allows the individuals we serve to be part of a setting where they can interact and socialize with society in a way they can’t in sheltered workshops and group-supported employment, which many with disabilities participate in.

The  NEBA mission and vision statement, which I feel perfectly summarizes what we do and why we do it:

To enable people with disabilities, whose rights and freedoms are most likely denied them to be fully included in community life, primarily through employment.

In a way that:

• Incorporates and creates the best practices
• Creates valued typical societal roles
• Offers individualized opportunities
• Does no harm

So that the gifts and talents of all people are appreciated.

– Timothy J Blonsky, Senior Employment Specialist

Connecticut Team

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