Throughout my years as a transition specialist in Tallahassee, Florida, I remember introducing myself to a number of incoming students with multiple disabilities, getting to know them, assessing their pre-employment readiness skills, and working with teams to establish individualized career-related goals. Often the process was straightforward. Other times I wished there was (as “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” hosts would say) a lifeline. Call a friend, poll the audience, anything.
Teachers of students with visual impairments, VR counselors, and transition specialists, if you too need an occasional lifeline, may this be the starting place. Here you’ll find an inventory of skills and activities that will help your consumer with successful employment.
Pre-Employment Skills for Successful Employment
- Friendly disposition through smiling and self-regulating emotions
- Positive communication through word choice or alternative communication methods
- Asking for assistance and declining help (Read the Assertiveness Training lesson series for information and suggested ideas)
- Proper grooming habits
- Establishing an appropriate routine when waiting
Orientation and Mobility
- Basic safety moving within familiar and unfamiliar environments
- Learning specific travel routes (as simple as a trip to the bathroom or as complex as independent bus travel)
- Using paratransit services or other transportation options
- Identification of personal strengths, abilities, interests, skills, and limitations
- Following directions
- Understanding the principles of work (You can utilize lessons within the “What is Work?” lesson series)
- Identification of community support, including supported employment
Pre-Employment Activities for Successful Employment
- Exposure to a variety of job tasks, workplaces, and potential interests
- Short-term work experiences or volunteer experiences that utilize strengths and abilities; recognize jobs can be restructured or carved for the individual
- Determination of job accommodations and practice use of accommodations in natural environments
- Provide the individual with opportunities to be the helper
- Utilize peers to provide guidance in social skills
These skills and experiences will begin preparing the consumer for successful employment, whether standard, competitive employment; supported employment (long-term use of a job coach); or employment within an enclave (a workplace with six or fewer individuals with disabilities), mobile work crew (small, supervised group of individuals with disabilities who travel to job tasks within the community), or a sheltered workshop (supervised worksite employing only people with disabilities).