In 2016, Workforce Solutions partnered with local non-profits, radio stations, for-profit businesses and social media as part of the Texas HireAbility campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and to highlight the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce.
Workforce Solutions co-chaired and participated in community events such as White Cane Safety Day, promoting awareness of the blind, and a transition hiring fair for young adults, in conjunction with Vocational Rehabilitation Services. The transition fair resulted in 31 on-the-spot hires and more than 180 projected hires.
To prepare for the transition hiring fair, Workforce Solutions conducted more than two dozen soft skills training sessions in accordance with 18 Houston-area high schools and six additional high schools in Aldine ISD. Additionally, Workforce Solutions teamed with The Greater Houston Business Leadership Network for a hiring event that brought together 50 employers and more than 300 disabled job seekers.
During the summer of 2016, the Board installed assistive technology for deaf and hard of hearing clients to complement existing TTY/TTD technology. These new systems use real-time American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters which allow the client to easily participate in job interviews, training and seminars. All 24 career centers in the 13-county Gulf Coast region now utilize this technology.
Beginning in August, Workforce Solutions began rolling out Sorenson nTouch Video Relay Systems. nTouch VRS allows the deaf and hard of hearing and employers to interact using American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. nTouch VRS complements Workforce Solutions' existing TTY technology, giving our customers an additional resource in their job search. Between October 2016 and April 2017, more than two dozen customers utilized the nTouch Video Relay System for various reasons including job interviews, training, and conferencing. The addition of nTouch VRS at the career offices increased our capacity to serve this community as serves as a complement to existing services offered by Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
Both social media and traditional media were used to raise awareness among job seekers and employers about the assistance available at Workforce Solutions and the benefits of hiring workers with a disability.