Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day was held recently by the State Assembly. The day highlights both the issues and the accomplishments of advocates, families, and individuals with special needs across our state. As part of the awareness day, more than 40 agencies and associations that serve people with disabilities participated in an outreach fair to advocate for disability-related issues and promote services, programs, and adaptive equipment. The hope is that the educational fair can help more New Yorkers obtain services and accommodations they need to improve their lives.
New York State Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) was just one of many participants on hand at the fair. ACCES-VR is part of the New York State Education Department and their primary focus is to help people with disabilities live independently through educational opportunities, access to career training and other support services that helps the individual reach their career goals. ACCES-VR’s services are designed to help individuals at all stages of employment – from obtaining entry level positions to professional occupations. Counselors work to help both adults and high school students in many different situations meet their individual goals.
ACCES- VR has made a positive difference in many people’s lives and has provided the help needed to overcome barriers to employment. On ACCESS-VR’s website, they share a number of success stories where they have helped individuals reach their career goals. In one success story, a high school student was helped by a job coach who temporarily accompanied her to a new job site. The job coach helped outline her work tasks in a step-by-step instruction booklet which helped her adjust to the new work environment and more confidently perform all of her assigned duties. The job coach also supported her in developing positive work relationships with her supervisors and coworkers which helped make things easier for the individual. The student excelled. She began to problem solve independently, was assigned new tasks, and moved up in the company.
It is important to note that ACCES-VR helps people whether the person is born with a disability, develops a disability, or becomes disabled while working. In one case, an owner/operator of a construction remodeling business fell from a rooftop. The accident prevented her from continuing in her business. After receiving appropriate medical and rehabilitation treatment for her injury, she wanted to work again and she subsequently applied for ACCES-VR services. A vocational counselor helped to identify her transferable skills and develop an appropriate employment goal. Together, they determined that she already possessed the qualifications needed to be a building inspector. This field related to her interest, knowledge, and expertise of the building trades industry and allowed her to meet her goal of working again.
These are just two of many examples where individuals have been assisted by ACCES-VR who have gone on to lead a fuller life as a result of the help they received. The state-supported services helps break down barriers so people can be more integrated, more independent, and more fully participate in their local community. It is important that the state provides these services so disabled individuals can lead the life that they want to live. ACCES-VR has a district office in Syracuse which services Cayuga, Oswego, Onondaga, Jefferson, Madison and Cortland counties. They can be reached at (315) 428-4179 or online at acces.nysed.gov/vr/syracuse-district-office. To learn more about NYS ACCES-VR services, visit acces.nysed.gov/vr or call 1-800-222-JOBS (5627).
For a complete list of organizations and agencies that attended the fair in Albany or for information on state agencies that assist those with disabilities, please write or call my office. If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (315) 598-5185.