Workplace Inclusivity in Lincoln, NE – 2017
Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.
Connie Daly of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCBVI) highlights just one of the many programs offered that’s having a big impact on workplace inclusivity, the Work and Gain Experience in the Summer (WAGES) program.
“NCBVI provides rehabilitation services to blind and visually impaired people so that they can build meaningful careers. Most every task that you do visually, you can do non-visually. Blind people work as teachers, carpenters, project managers and a host of other jobs with the skills that they have gained from NCBVI.
WAGES is a six-week program held in Lincoln every summer and it provides work experiences, blindness skill enhancement and life experiences for blind and visually impaired students ages 16 to 21. The program has been in existence for over 20 years. Blind teens come to Lincoln and stay in the dorms on UNL campus. Our agency works with businesses to develop great job experiences for them. We have worked with Canine Design, UNL, Capitol Humane Society, CHI Health St. Elizabeth and Antonio’s Taste of Lincoln, just to name a few. Our clients have worked a variety of jobs such as clerical, maintenance, tour guide, pet grooming, and landscaping. Our agency provides any accommodation that is needed as well as a staff person to help train the student.
Throughout the year we look for businesses to partner with across the state to provide these valuable experiences for our clients. Businesses have shared how much it benefitted their company to have a blind or visually impaired intern. Many companies have talked about how it increased morale to have an intern work with their employees. They also found that the techniques that blind people use are sometimes more effective than the techniques that they currently employed. They started employing those techniques even after the intern finished the program. Many of our clients end up being hired on permanently.”
Here are some of the things that local employers who participate in the WAGES program have said about working with NCBVI:
“Having WAGES participants at the Capitol is a great opportunity for both the students and the Capitol. The students help us out during the busy summer tourist season and the students gain confidence in their public interactions by making presentations in front of large diverse groups of people. Visitors often compliment the students on their presentations and are surprised to learn the students are visually impaired. It’s a wonderful program and we are very pleased to support the work of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” -Roxanne Smith, State Capitol
“I can’t say enough about the ease of working with the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Their program provides the opportunity to help visually impaired individuals have the resources and training needed along with equipment and visual aids to build confidence to perform necessary job duties that may not have otherwise been possible.” – Renee Lucero, Cabela’s Inc.
“Because of the Commission we have an individual who has worked at the south Grand Island Walmart Supercenter for quite a few months now. This individual has done a great job for us working on our 2nd shift in-stock crew. He helps unload the trucks and also helps stock in our paper goods department. He lends a hand to his fellow associates by putting their cardboard into the baler when needed. We are happy to have this individual as our Walmart associate.” – Brad Koza, Walmart
It’s up to each and every one of us here in our local business community to do what we can to make our workplaces inclusive to all. To learn more, contact your local organizations that have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and suggestions to share.