Employment First is a movement that the Office of Disability Employment Policy (OEDP) introduced back in 2015 to help people with disabilities find real employment opportunities for equal pay. Deaf Plus Adult Community (DPAC) supports the Employment First initiative and believes that:
· Everyone has employable strengths and can work in jobs well matched to their interests and abilities with the right support.
· People with disabilities are the experts about themselves and should play a leading role in the decisions about their lives.
· Companies who hire people with disabilities will profit in many ways, including financially.
Employment First works! There are 10,285 adults who have disabilities working with support in the State of California. In Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, 547 individuals with disabilities have paying jobs. But that is only about 9% of the potential work force.*
Consumers – Potential Employees
Deaf Plus Adult Community offers a Supported Employment Program (SEP) and a Tailored Day Services (TDS) program. Through these programs, DPAC helps adults with developmental delays who are deaf or deaf/blind explore their opportunities of becoming permanently employed at competitive wages in integrated settings within the community. These consumers may also enjoy the benefits of the DPAC Adult Day Program or not depending on their personal desires. Both programs provide the same employment benefits but are structured a bit differently. With SEP, a consumer may also be part of a day program part or full time and work other hours. In TDS, the consumer wishes to direct all their energies to locating and maintaining a job.
Job development and placement are complex challenges for everyone and especially for our consumers. DPAC offers a step by step process to achieve success.
Job Club – DPAC provides clients with a place and curriculum to prepare for and to seek employment. The curriculum includes:
· Understanding the meaning, value and demands of a job
· Appropriate work behaviors
· Resume writing
· Interview skills
· Role playing various situations
· Transportation training
The consumer needs to determine what kind of employment they might want to seek. DPAC helps them develop information about their vocational interests, abilities and values. This includes basic work skills, habits, work tolerances, behaviors and interpersonal skills of each person. A variety of tools are used to help the consumer think through these things. Some vocational testing may be used. Visiting various workplaces to see what type of jobs exist and their entailed job tasks. Each consumer will develop a profile of who they are and what their interests are.
At the same time, the consumer will begin preparing a resume tailored to the type of job they might want to find. The DPAC Job Developer will assist the consumer in making the resume stand out from others and use the wording employers are looking for.
Interview skills are important as well. Our consumers need detailed training in how to accurately respond to questions from a potential employer. With our program, consumers will be able to ask their Job Developer to sit in on an actual interview with them, but the consumer should need little prompting in an actual interview.
Social skills in the work place are important. People with developmental delays often don’t understand social cues and body language. Time will be spent working with each consumer on appropriate work place behavior. Things such as how often to interact with coworkers and what kind of conversations are appropriate, how long to take a break, good manners in the workplace and avoiding conflict.
All consumers placed in a job in the community are expected to be able to get to the job independently. Travel training will consist of how to use AC Transit buses, BART and any other public transportation available. Training will also include accessing Lyft and Uber as well. Once a position is secured the travel trainer will make several trips with the consumer to and from the place of employment to ensure the consumer can travel safely on their own.