In honor of National Disability and Employment Awareness Month this October, we are showcasing The Chicago Lighthouse’sEmployment Services program. The program serves people who are blind, visually impaired, disabled or Veterans, and helps them prepare for and find employment. From learning basic work etiquette to helping clients transition to new jobs, the Employment Services staff works one-on-one with each client so they can realize their goals of finding and keeping a job. This is an overview of the services provided by the program:
During this stage, staff evaluate each client’s employment needs and goals. Some of the assessments include computer and orientation and mobility skills, as well as the client’s career interests. Staff also assists in resume writing and preparation, conducts mock interviews and provides training on appropriate dress code and professional protocol with things like the use of email and voicemail. Participants also learn about applying for a job, and how to answer questions related to their disability.
The Lighthouse’s Employment Service program offers different training opportunities. Job Club is a weekly series of meetings, where participants have networking opportunities and practice interviewing and other job readiness skills. Special presentations on topics of interest to people with vision loss or other disabilities, such as social security, public transportation and money management are also held.
The Customer Service Training Program provides instruction in customer service skills. Often, students become employed in one of The Lighthouse’s customer care centers. The Transitional Jobs Internship provides paid internships to participants in various Lighthouse departments, including the front desk and our call centers. Internships provide participants with valuable hands-on experience that will help them once they are placed in a permanent job. Throughout the internship, participants receive job coaching from one of the Employment Services counselors.
Job Placement and Retention
Once clients are ready for employment, staff will work with them to find a competent job, either in The Lighthouse or an outside business. Participants then meet with staff for the first 30, 60 and 90 days of starting their new job to discuss their progress and solve any issues that might arise. Client focus groups also help staff keep track of former participants.
Program staff also gives presentations to prospective employers to educate them about the employment services offered at The Lighthouse, and about the types of jobs people who are blind, visually impaired or disabled can do. In addition, they will conduct site visits to assess what types of accommodations future or current employees with vision loss or other disabilities might need.
The unemployment rate for people who are blind, visually impaired or have other disabilities is above 70 percent, and The Lighthouse is constantly working to help more individuals find a job. For more information about the Employment Services Program, visit ourwebsite, or contact Sheila Perkins, Senior Vice President of Employment Services, at Sheila.firstname.lastname@example.org, or 312-997-3647. You can also read Andre’s story to get a firsthand account of how the program is making a difference in the lives of people with vision loss, other disabilities or Veterans.