Knowbility, Inc. – Access Works: A Field Initiated Employment Project

Access Works: A Field Initiated Employment Project

Statewide Need
National studies continue to indicate that people with disabilities have higher levels of unemployment than people without. In some cases, self-employment can solve certain problems associated with unemployment and/or insufficient income; however, starting a small business or micro-enterprise can be difficult, especially for people who do not have the necessary capital or the borrowing power. Furthermore, working for oneself can result in isolation or difficulty in finding ongoing social support. Other existing employment models have been successful in enabling many people with developmental disabilities (DD) to be employed successfully.

Project Goal
Establish a program that employs individuals with DD to help businesses evaluate and improve their services, including how people with DD can access their products.

Project Summary
The Access Works project employed people with DD in the information technology (IT) field as User Experience Testers (Mystery Shoppers) and Document Remediation Specialists. Participants were able to do these jobs at home using their own computers and assistive devices. User Experience Testers provided accessibility assessments of websites, and Document Remediation Specialists created documents that are accessible to persons using assistive technology. The jobs promoted accessibility and disability issues, and are valued by companies and institutions working to expand their markets and comply with state and federal accessibility regulations. By August 2010 the project had a total of 12 employees: four permanent full-time workers and eight contract workers. Four of the workers were veterans with disabilities.

The project developed technical manuals, human resource documents, training and other job-related tools and supports. In many cases, the project worked with individuals’ caseworkers and other agencies to secure funding for necessary computers and software. Workers received a minimum of three days of classroom training along with weekly training and support via conference calls and web sharing.

For marketing and sales, the project created a target list of more than 10,000 state agency personnel in Texas and six other states. The project secured the services of Synergy Electronics to promote project services to the target list along with Synergy’s internally generated leads. In addition, the project secured a Texas Department of Information Resources contract to market and sell project services, making the process of selling to Texas state agencies directly much easier.

  • Impact
    • 12 individuals with DD gained employment through the project: four full-time workers and eight contract workers
      • Four veterans with disabilities gained employment
    • Participants were provided with a stable working environment
    • Participants gained skills and knowledge for an evolving technological workforce
    • Marketing and sales efforts have increased awareness of disability issues, especially related to IT accessibility and the independence of people with DD
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Project Period
Aug 2007 – Jul 2010

Contact
1033 La Posada Drive, Ste. 307
Austin, TX 78752
512-527-3138

Geographic Reach
Statewide

Orange shape of Texas indicating state wide coverage