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SCCB Connects • October 2020

Crossing the BRIDGE to success

Shanadria Rush is empathic, an excellent listener, and has a passion for helping others. In 2012, when her vision became impaired, Shanadria came to SCCB and received training to help her adjust to vision loss and in how to use JAWS assistive software.

Shanadria Rush, sitting at her desk, discuses an issue with someone over the phone.

In discussions with her SCCB Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, Shanadria explained that she wanted a job in Human Services where she could utilize all of her skills. She had attended Denmark Technical College, where she received her Associate Degree in Office System Technology, and later earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from South Carolina State University.

She said that she wanted a job in Human Services where she could utilize all of her skills. However, she had difficulty finding employment opportunities in her area, and wanted assistance to help her prepare to enter the workforce.

Her counselor thought that Shanadria would be a good candidate for SCCB’s BRIDGE program, where she received training that helped prepare her for entering the workplace and prepare for a career path.

Shanadria completed the classroom portion of BRIDGE training in November 2018, and soon afterward she began on-the-job training at Homeless No More, a nonprofit organization that helps families that are homeless remain together, meet their needs, and transition into affordable housing.

After completing her on-the-job training, Shanadria was employed as a Family Support Specialist at the Homeless No More family shelter in Columbia, SC. She is also employed as a Direct Support Professional at the Midlands Center, which is operated by the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs.

“BRIDGE helped prepare me for my career goal,” says Shanadria, “and job shadowing taught me how to interact with different personalities, and prepared me for working with people with mental health disabilities.”

About the BRIDGE program

BRIDGE (Building Readiness for Individualized Development of Gainful Employment) is a pre-apprenticeship training program that provides a career path for consumers into employer-based apprenticeships or direct placement.

The 6- to 8-week paid training incorporates work readiness development, job shadowing, and a Job Club experience to provide consumers with skillsets that meet specific needs of industries and align with the consumer’s vocational goals.

Earlier this year, BRIDGE was invited to be a pilot program with Apprenticeship Carolina, which will allow graduates to compete for apprenticeship opportunities in the Customer Service field. Graduates will also be considered as candidates for BlueCross BlueShield’s Customer Service Associate Apprenticeship program or a direct hire.

BRIDGE is also working with Midlands Technical College to offer credential attainment and training opportunities for healthcare support occupations and technical jobs.

Virtual workshops for consumers cover voting, other topics

Voting in the upcoming election

Red, white and blue button with the word VOTE surrounded by stars.

During a recent virtual workshop presented by the Ellen Beach Mack Rehabilitation Center (EBMRC), consumers learned about the voting process, the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, and the different accessibility options available to voters.

John Michael Catalano and Hampton Miller, from the South Carolina Election Commission, discussed the process for voting by mail and utilizing absentee ballots. They reminded attendees that, due to a recent court decision, absentee ballots must have both the voter’s signature and a witness’s signature for the vote to be counted.

Next, they talked about the process for in-person voting and the accessibility options available to all voters. All voting machines in each polling location have accessibility features, and all poll workers have been trained in how to use those features.

Catalano and Miller informed consumers that they can bring someone with them to the precinct to help them use the accessibility options when casting their vote. They also talked about how individuals can request help from a poll worker and what to expect.

Miller and Catalano stressed that if a person needs assistance from a poll worker, they have to ask for help. The poll workers will not assume a person needs assistance even if that person has a visible disability.

They also stressed that all ballots are anonymous, and using accessibility features does not change this. The only information recorded about each voter is whether they actually cast a ballot.

Anyone who has questions about the voting process or how to use the accessibility features of the voting machines can visit the SC Election Commission, or contact John Catalano at jcatalano@elections.sc.gov.

Talking Book Services

Kristin White, Director of South Carolina Talking Book Services, spoke about how they had resumed services to individuals in June, and the various ways that talking books, large print titles, Braille books, or descriptive videos could be ordered by phone, mail, fax, email or online catalog.

Talking Book Services is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page.

To qualify for Talking Book Services, a person must have some type of disability which has been verified by a certifying authority, which includes--but is not limited to--medical doctors, optometrists, and rehabilitation counselors. Complete eligibility information and how to apply is available on the Talking Book Services website.

White also said that librarians at every public library around the state can certify a person qualifies for Talking Book Services if they have a visible disability.

Other Workshops

Other business presenters at workshops have included Crystal Brunson, Rehabilitation Counseling Specialist at Sothern Illinois Carbondale, and Jessica Smith, a Certified Yoga Instructor and member of Yoga Alliance. As part of a series on career exploration, former consumers who are competitively employed talked about the services and training they received from SCCB, their career interests, and how they achieved employment.

Future workshops

Upcoming workshops at the EBMRC will include a virtual cooking lesson. Participants will receive a list of ingredients and will be able to prepare a simple dish by following along with instructor Robin Glenn. EBMRC Workshops are held each week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10 am.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Increasing Access and Opportunity. Celebrating 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities act.

NDEAM turns 75

This year marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which is observed annually in October. NDEAM raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme is theme “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” As the nation continues to be effected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to increase the participation of workers with disabilities in the nation’s workforce. “Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”

NDEAM’s true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries participate in NDEAM.

“People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt,” says Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary, Jennifer Sheehy. “Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”

NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices. NDEAM began in 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The word “physically” was deleted in 1962 to include individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name NDEAM. Since 2001, NDEAM has been administered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

Find out more about NDEAM and its 75th Anniversary.

Read the Presidential Proclamation.

Read the Multi-Agency Task Force on Increasing Employment Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities NDEAM Statement.

SCCB Virtual Open House

As part of NDEAM, South Carolina Commission for the Blind will be hosting a Virtual Open House on October 27 at 10 am.
No registration is required.

Get more information, including how to attend the event.

ADA 30, Americans with Disabilities Act. Celebrate the ADA! 1990-2020.

ADA 30th Anniversary

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities.

This legislation established a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

The ADA has expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers and changing perceptions, and increasing full participation in community life.

Find out more about the ADA 30th Anniversary.

VR100, Vocational Rehabilitation, 1920-2020.

Celebrating a century of success — VR’s 100th Anniversary

This year was the 100th anniversary of the first federally funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disabilities as a result of serving in the military.

President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act of 1920, also known as the Industrial Rehabilitation Act and referred to as “The National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act,” into law June 2, 1920.

As part of the celebration, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) developed a historical perspective video. In addition, the VR Workforce Studio has a VR Turns 100 Podcast discussing this milestone with RSA Commissioner Mark Schultz.

Find out more about the VR 100th Anniversary.

White Cane Day 2020

Governor Henry McMaster signed a proclamation at the State House on October 15, declaring that White Cane Day. Among those in attendance were SCCB Commissioner Darline Graham, and Ed Bible, Treasurer for the Foundation for the SC Commission for the Blind.

The mission of White Cane Day is to educate the world about blindness and how the blind and visually impaired can live and work independently while giving back to their communities, to celebrate the abilities and successes achieved by blind people in a sighted world and to honor the many contributions being made by the blind and visually impaired.

The white cane is an essential tool that gives blind and visually impaired individuals the ability to achieve a full and independent life. It allows them to move freely and safely from place to place—whether it’s at work, at school, or around their neighborhoods.

In 1964, Congress declared October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. While the white cane does keep blind people safe (because drivers and other pedestrians can easily see it), it is also a tool that blind people use to explore and navigate our environment. For this reason, the emphasis of White Cane Safety Day has shifted over time away from safety, and toward independence and equality. To emphasize the shift in focus from safety to independence, and to continue to use the white cane as a symbol, the National Federation of the Blind has chosen to refer to this day as White Cane Awareness Day.

Ability is what you're capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.

—Lou Holtz