District Administrators – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).
October 9, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Marci Katona and Shannon Austin, District Administrators – Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).  Both guests will discuss in-depth their disability advocacy, roles and the mission of OVR.

Bio of Marci Katona:

  • Has worked for the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation's (OVR) Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) for 18 ½ years and has been the District Administrator at Pittsburgh OVR-BVRS since June 2011.
  • Has worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, Assistant District Administrator, and Western Regional Manager.
  • Some accomplishments include:  Chairperson for the Allegheny County/City of Pittsburgh Transition Coordinating Council, Steering Committee member of UPMC Project SEARCH, member of University of Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Counseling Advisory Board, Board member of the local workforce investment board, Partner4Work, and member of the United Way of Allegheny County’s 21 and Able Advisory.

Bio of Shannon Austin:

  • District Administrator with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)/Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services (BBVS) that serves nine counties within Southwestern Pennsylvania. 
  • Responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring complex vocational rehabilitation programs in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Independence Living for Older Blind (ILOB), and Specialized Services Child (SSC).
  • Has championed numerous public/private collaborative projects and has always been committed to creating and maintaining effective working relationships with employers, community partners and professional organizations to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and minority communities. Strives to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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Transcript

BENDER CONSULTING SERVICES

OCTOBER 9, 2018

“DISABILITY MATTERS”

1:00 PM CT

 

 

 

 

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     >> Welcome to “Disability Matters” with your host, Joyce Bender, all comments and opinions are those of the hosts, guest and callers. The host of “Disability Matters” here is Joyce Bender.

     >> JOYCE: Welcome, everyone. Hope you're having a great day. And as you all know, we are celebrating national disability employment awareness month. Oh, I love that. I love -- although you know what I call it? I call it national disability employment month. National Disability Hiring Month. Because at the end of the day, it's beyond awareness, it is really where the rubber meets the road, hiring people. So first, special shout-out to Yoshiko dart. I love you. I love you. And I appreciate everything you do and everything Justin did to change the world for people with disabilities. Then, okay, Ireland. I mean, you're determined that you are going to be out of the 17 countries, the largest listening audience, and I love it. By way, did I ever tell you I'm like 5% Irish? I want to make sure you all know that because I'm so excited about this following from you. So thank you, thank you. And to our lead sponsor, Highmark. Everyone knows without Highmark there wouldn't be a Bender Consulting Services and every CEO right through our present CEO, David Holmberg, has continued to carry the flag. 

So although I've been throughout the world talking about employment, which is what I do, the employment of people with disabilities, in Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Panama, South Korea, my heart and soul is right here in Pittsburgh where we're headquartered. And that is why there is no way we could have this month without having Shannon Austin and Marcy Catano, district administrators from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and industry Office of vocational rehab with us. I love them both. Shannon and Marcy, welcome to the show.

     >> SHANNON: Thank you for having us, Joyce.

     >> MARCY: Hello, Joyce, thank you for having us. Good to be here.

     >> JOYCE: Great to have you. Okay, so Shannon, I'll start with you. Why don't you tell our listeners how you first became involved in the disability advocacy world and why.

     >> SHANNON: Well, for myself, I've probably been doing, you know, vocational rehab for close to 20 years. I've had a disability myself since childhood. I have had asthma and very severe, and as an adult, I had a slip and fall where, you know, it caused me to have limited range of motion in both my knees and from there just being a mother of five, with three children and them having a disability and advocating for them was an individualized educational plan or IEP as some parents would say, in the school system in order to advocate for services for them, whether it was extended time on tests or just community resources for them through their childhood. And I think this was my family background. I have a strong sense of social justice where I want everyone to have access to programs and services. So this kind of drew me, I think, naturally, into the place of rehab so I could help others with some of the obstacles and barriers that I had personally with myself or family. Just, you know, trying to work through systems to make sure that we, you know, the leveling field was equal for my kids going through the school district system.

     >> JOYCE: Well, wow, you are a busy person. If you knew this woman, oh my god, is she like a dynamo. I mean, dynamo. She is. Shannon, I'm not surprised you do all of that and we also have my own rock star Marcy. Marcy, how about you? What caused you to become involved in disability advocacy and why?

     >> MARCY: Well, thanks, Joyce. Similarly I'm coming up on 19 1/2 years in vocational rehabilitation with OVR. And prior to coming to OVR, I think it's really two reasons. One is family and personal experience with disability. You know, me myself having some background in that and experiencing that on a personal level. And then the second thing is, you know, a key moment in my life was in 1995 I was a college athlete, I was a junior at a college and I had a college sociology professor who taught a class, again I will tell you this was 1995. The name of the class was called physical and mental handicaps. And in that class he talked specifically about the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in Pennsylvania. So I'm 19 years old and first time knowing there was a profession in which I could help people with disabilities and help individuals overcome barriers  torques as Shannon said, to have similar access and opportunity for success. And that was the first time in my soon to be professional career as a college student that I was understanding that this might be something I want to do beyond playing college volleyball. So it was a really time in my life where, you know, I had some professional drive where I wanted to help and I knew this was a profession that made a lot of sense to me.

     >> JOYCE: Well, thank goodness you had that professor. And isn't it amazing when you think about it how teachers impact us in high school and beyond like that? Great, sometimes not great. We just found employment for a chemical engineer here in Pittsburgh with speech difficulty. To me not, you know -- not significant at all, but to make a long story short, his professor did not want him to speak in front of everyone at the class because of his speech difficulty. Now we're not talking years ago, we are talking a couple years ago. And when I hear this, I think how the heck do they do this? Like why are they able to do this? I think the impact that has on other people because, as we all know, stigma is the problem. And one great avenue for people with disabilities and for companies with disabilities seeking to hire people with disabilities is the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, OVR. Marcy, explain to everyone who OVR is and what the mission is.

     >> MARCY: Sure. OVR, as Joyce said, we are the state entity that carries out the federal vocational rehabilitation program. And in Pennsylvania, OVR falls under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and industry and we serve every county in Pennsylvania under our 21 district offices across the Commonwealth. In doing so, our mission is to assist people in Pennsylvania with disabilities to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment and independence. And I think across the state historically we have had about 1200 staff both field and administrative staff, dedicated to serving this mission and I know Shannon and I are proud to say that we're members of the largest office in the Commonwealth across our two bureaus. In serving our mission for helping people in Pennsylvania to go to work, this past year we helped employ over 7,000 individuals in Pennsylvania to reach employment success.

     >> JOYCE: Wow. That's awesome. Especially since I continually read articles and hear people speak about where the heck are we going to find talent? Where will we find talent with this shortage of skills available? I mean, not just Pittsburgh articles, but national periodicals all across the United States. People -- companies will say this is our biggest problem. We cannot find talent. What will we do? Where will we find it? Well, here we go. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. A good start. And Shannon and Marcy, have you noticed how often you read about that?

     >> SHANNON: I have, you know, also, Joyce, one of the things that your readers or your listeners should know is that there are 80 different VR systems just like the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation across the United States. So that, you know, they're able to get a talent pool. It is not unusual annually for those VR systems to be working with upwards of a million people annually at some phase of the job seeking experience in order to access services, to seek employment, to also help with job retention and job jeopardy type cases that employers are heavily impacted. This is from where I see that, you know, VR systems or employers in particular could really benefit from working with a VR system because we have a ready and available talent pool in order to meet their needs.

     >> JOYCE: Right. And I think in many cases people don't know about this untapped labor pool or they are uninformed. Not educated and think that the skills that you are seeking are not there. But I'll tell you, I talk about this all the time and I'm writing op-eds about it and if you're listening to the show right now I'm saying to you listeners, the talent is there. Talent available. You have to include people with disabilities when you are doing your outreach. So here we have a source right here today, OVR, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation right here in Pennsylvania and, of course, there are VR district offices across the United States. This is an example. I wanted to use them as an example because they have done such a phenomenal job. And with that we're going to be right back with Shannon Austin and Marcy COTONA. This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where “Disability Matters” at Voice America.com. We'll be right back with Shannon and Marcy.      

     >> If you a question or comment call in toll free at 8-866-472-5788. Welcome back to host of “Disability Matters”, here is Joyce Bender.

     >> JOYCE: We're talking to Shannon Austin and Marcy COTONA. District administrators from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. I wanted to have them on so that across America, if you are seeking to hire people with disabilities, or if you are a person with a disability seeking help to find employment, this is where you go. And Marcy or Shannon, what is the website?

     >> MARCY: This is Marcy. I can help you with that. If folks go to WWW.DLI.PA.GOV and then look for disability services, you can find us.

     >> JOYCE: Okay. One more time what is that website, Marcy?

     >> MARCY: WWW.DLI.PA.gov.

     >> JOYCE: So it's probably the same across the United States. I mean for other offices, don't you think?

     >> MARCY: I would think so.

     >> SHANNON: They probably have their own. All of our systems are named slightly different. So they will probably have their own webpage and fall under labor and industry or some fall under Department of Education, if it would be useful we could probably send you a breakdown of all the VR systems that you can disseminate to your audience.

     >> JOYCE: That would be awesome. Yes, if you could do that; that would be fantastic. So Shannon, what is your role? What do you do at OVR?

     >> SHANNON: So I am currently for the last year and a half, almost two years now, I am the district administrator for the bureau of blindness and visual services here in Pittsburgh. Like Marcy said, I'm one of 21 offices. So with that with the bureau of blindness and visual services there is currently six co-located offices. And here in Pittsburgh we serve nine counties and that's everywhere on southwestern Pennsylvania, that's all the way from Uniontown all the way up to Indiana County. With that, I oversee a various group of staff. Our services is very similar to the bureau of vocational rehab services where Marcy is housed. That's where I came from. Me and Marcy have worked together for the last 12 years. But our services, we get to spend a little bit more time, because it's a very low incident rate with individuals with blindness and visual impairments. We get to spend a little bit more time with individuals from working on independence. So we are do vocational but we also spend a lot of time in independence. The folks that we work with, we work with children all the way from six months all the way up to 100 if they're still wanting some level of services with various programs.

     We help with employment, we help with independent living skills W you know, seniors that are 55 and up. We have the specialized children's service program that works with helping children and families to adjust to blindness. Do a lot of counseling and guidance, advocacy, instructional services, vision enhancement-type services. And in doing that, we are able to help them transition into V.R. services because a lot of times when a young person or maybe an infant has blindness or has some type of vision impairment, our social workers work very close with families to try to coordinate what those services will look like for the family to make sure that they are -- it's inclusive for the family and the child, whether it's at home, in the community or in the school district when they soon go to school. So we have the ability to kind of help coordinate that service on the front end. 

     The other thing we spend some time working with, we also have our business enterprise program through the Randolph Sheppard act where we're able to assist individuals that are blind to operate their own food service business, commercially, industrially and in government locations. So this could be anything from vending machines, franchise opportunities, gift shops, kiosks and things like that. We have a very comprehensive program to deal with the E.P. for a service. I have a diverse staff in that we have social workers, we have vocational rehab counselors, we also have orientation and mobility specialists and we have vision rehabilitation therapists and they go into the homes to help with everything from safety and labeling things and various phases of a case that we would have currently within Pittsburgh area.

     >> JOYCE: Wow. That is so wonderful because people who are blind sometimes face such obstacles trying to gain employment. And then once they are hired, of course, the company says, as they do with all people with disabilities, oh, what a great employee. Once again it's education. That's why I'm saying it's good to work with OVR because they can explain all of this and the accommodations that are needed. Marcy, how about if you talk about some of those different programs that OVR offers?

     >> MARCY: Sure. I first wanted to just let everyone know that in 2014, President Obama signed the workforce innovation and opportunity act. And in addition to that act and part of that act, it reauthorized the rehabilitation act of 1973. We had not had a reauthorization of this act since 1998. So you can imagine that we were in for some significant change and change that clearly was going to expand and create more opportunities for individuals with disabilities. So we came into 2014 really excited to have this amendment and to deliver our programs.

The first program specifically is our federal VR program. This is a program in which we serve adults with disabilities age 17, as early as -- maybe a little earlier than 17, but we do have a youth program which I'll talk about next. But the adult program specifically is focused on the standard VR program. Working individually with eligible people with disabilities to develop a plan for employment in which we mutually agree upon a plan to use federal funds to assist that individual in achieving that vocational outcome. Earlier I mentioned the youth program. And as a result of the WIOA, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the federal VR program drastically increased the opportunity for OVR's role in serving students with disabilities starting at age 14. And what I mean by that is that it now gave OVR the opportunity to serve students with disabilities while still in high school and not only were we able to serve eligible students, we are also able to serve potentially eligible students in which all we had to do was identify an individual in high school who either had an I.E.P., a 504 plan or other health impairment in order to access pre-employment transition services. And under those pre-employment transition services, we are able to provide direct service to students while in high school. And those five required activities that we've been focusing on in the past four years has been job exploration and counseling, work-based learning experiences, that which extend into paid work while in high school. As we know, the statistics say that students with disabilities are 2 1/2 times more likely to be successful in postsecondary education and employment if they have a paid work experience while in high school. We're really excited about that.

     Also counseling on opportunities for enrollment in postsecondary education, workplace readiness training and instruction in self-advocacy. Which also would include peer mentoring. The staff that we have here at OVR, specifically that are carrying out this new part of the law are what we call our early reach initiative. These are Masters level social workers in the field called early reach coordinators who are able to access all of these services, allow students access these services. They go into the schools. We have four in Alleghany County, four Masters level social workers and they're working with students as early as ninth and 10th great to help prepare them for postsecondary education and work once they leave high school. And then the third part I just wanted to highlight as far as another program within VR is our business services.

Part of the workforce innovation and opportunity act also supports employer engagement. An increased opportunity for us to work directly with employers and to develop additional opportunities for folks with disabilities. Specifically within OVR we have a state business services outreach division that's carried out into the field in Pittsburgh. We have a full business unit supporting our customers and employer partners, we're providing students and adults with direct supports to help them when they are job ready to go back into the workforce. We're also developing employer-driven models to increase opportunities for people with disabilities and we're also providing no-cost services to employers and those staff within those hiring companies to help give them the support to increase their diversity and inclusion practices.

     >> JOYCE: Wow. You know what? It's amazing when you were talking about the update to the workforce innovation opportunity act. I had the great honor of being there when President Clinton signed the workforce investment act. I remember that so clearly as if it were yesterday. But what I love about this is now the emphasis also on young people. And so agree with Marcy about getting that work experience, oh, it makes such a difference. I'm on the board of the national technical institute for the deaf and we were just talking about that today, how having a Co-op at the company changes the ability for employment. I agree with you totally. Shannon, now, as I said before, there are many people who are blind that need support and I'm going to talk about that in a couple minutes. But first, it's time for advocacy matters. I love this. This is on every show we give our listeners and update on what is happening today that we need to know about. And Peri Jude Radecic from disability rights Pennsylvania is with us giving us all the time. Peri, are you with us?

     >> PERI: I am, Joyce, thanks for having me on.

     >> JOYCE: How are you?

     >> PERI: I'm doing great. And today I think it ties in real nicely with your program on OVR. It's time to talk about what's been happening with special education and the 115th Congress. And special education is a top priority for so many disability organizations like the arts and disability rights Pennsylvania. I'm sure the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. So many organizations care about special education. And really it's a pathway to competitive and integrated employment. The U.S. Department of Labor, the bureau of labor statistics, reports that in 2013, a person without a high school diploma earns 27% less than a person with a high school diploma. That same year the graduation rate for students with disabilities was 64%. So with students with disabilities who really need to go out and get through high school and get into that competitive and integrated employment and get into the labor market, and we know so many people want to work. They want to work. So disability policy at a national level really has a great impact on what happens in Pennsylvania and across the country. So a really important question to ask as we near the end of this 115th Congress is what has this Congress done in the area of special education? Really, what has this Congress done? And the simple answer is not much. Simply nothing has moved. One major piece of legislation, the individuals with disabilities education act or the IDEA was last reauthorized in 2004, but no one in this Congress has been ready to re-- to move a reauthorization in this last two-year Congressional cycle. I think another important thing, Joyce, is funding. For many years, Congress has promised to fully fund special education for school districts. But they've not followed through. And so Congress has just not followed through on its promise to provide 40% of the average cost per pupil to help school districts meet their IDEA requirements. And Congress made that promise to states and school districts all the way back in 1975. That's 43 years ago. So each year school districts wait and they wait and they wait. And they hope that Congress provides adequate funding to meet the cost of educating students with disabilities. But another fiscal year has passed and there still isn't adequate funding to meet the needs. And we have information that is going up on our website from the national council on disability about special education funding. They issued a report in February of this year about the lack of appropriate funding by Congress, and so you can find that on our website at disability rights PA.org.

The one thing Congress did was confirm the U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, so so much of what has happened in Congress has centered on regulatory and sub regulatory activity. And what I mean by that is that you have your statutes, you have the regulations and then you have your sub-regulatory activity, which means maybe the secretary of education looked at additional data collection or maybe at her level issued guidance interpreting regulations maybe in a different way. So that's where the activity has happened. We hosted all of this information even links to where you can find more information about that regulatory and sub regulatory activity on our website again at disability rights PA.org and the links go to the Council of parents, attorneys, and advocates and the national Disability Rights Network. And that's where you can find more information about what has been happening at the U.S. secretary of education -- the Department of Education. So Joyce, advocacy matters and so does special education. If you know someone who needs help with a special education issue in Pennsylvania, please have them contact us. If the matter is in another state you can always find one of our sister agencies at NDRN.org. But I thought it was important to just give your listeners a little update on what has been happening in this Congress in special education and I have to tell you, they haven't been moving much at all and the funding hasn't been there for special education. Thank you, Joyce, for having us on.      >> If you have a question or comment call toll free at 1-866-472-5788. Please welcome back the host of “Disability Matters”, Joyce Bender.

     >> JOYCE: I love having Peri on, I just do. I just love my listeners. This is the thing, I want my listeners; all of you to know what's going on because we need to stay connected. We need to work together, and Peri, I just love this organization. I'm so proud to be on the board and that is disability rights PA.org.

     >> It is important to talk about special education and the pathway to competitive and integrated employment and even that pathway to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

     >> JOYCE: Yes, it is. Thank you so much. Talk to you next week.

     >> Absolutely. Thanks, Joyce.

     >> JOYCE: Well Shannon and Marcy, as you can see, we like to keep everyone in the know with what's going on. And as we are talking about employment, Shannon, you work with people who are blind. But when companies are concerned about that, you do support that individual with accessible products, is that correct?

     >> SHANNON: Yes, we do.

     >> JOYCE: Could you give an example?

     >> SHANNON: Yes. So, you know, Marcy brought up a little earlier one of the key areas to the workforce innovation opportunity act, our agency really has been tasked to work with assistive technology and I hope with the work that we've done across the Commonwealth we have really taken the lead in this space. Technology is nothing new, most companies are using that. But access technology is something that a lot of companies are excited to hear about and know what we do.

When we look at access technology, you may think mainly hi-tech. But when we define the term itself, access technology is a device or item or piece of equipment or product that is used to increase, maintain and improve functional capacity of an individual. It opens up that definition a little bit more and what we would consider low-end technology or high-end technology. With low-end technology that can be anything from a cane, reachers, grips, a wrist rest. High-tech: that can be communication devices, specialized computer access, or workstation design. So one of the things that I think one of the biggest services that we are able to offer employers is that we're able to consult with them in a way and come in to make sure that they're being onboarded properly and access technology evaluations and training with someone that may be with the employer. There may be another example as we may go in and maybe it's a job jeopardy or job retention-type case. Maybe they've lost their vision over a period of time and they may not know how to accommodate that person on-site. We may come in and not only do the evaluation and training but maybe assist with some of the software. We do a lot of adaptive software like jaws, and dragon naturally speaking and this allows the individual to navigate on their computer or laptop and have access to the internet and email and assignments and things like that in order for them to access that information, what's going on with the employer. So we do this all the time. This is something that we have been called in periodically with companies across the Commonwealth to assist with work site evals and work with consumers to maintain employment with employers.

     >> JOYCE: See, people don't realize, but as you just said -- well first, the person who is blind can be a software developer, engineer, anything by using jaws software and other assistive technology but it also includes help for all people. As Shannon just said from a cane to grabbers. I mean, it is for all people who are blind. So I'm really glad you explained that, Shannon. And Marcy, I know that OVR works with colleges and universities across Pennsylvania, and I thought maybe you could elaborate on that a little bit.

     >> MARCY: Sure, absolutely, Joyce. So two and four-year college training is one of our top three services within PAOVR. As you say we partner with colleges and universities and business trade, technical schools across Pennsylvania, and depending on the individual customer's needs and job goal we also partner with colleges and universities outside of Pennsylvania as well. So from our standard policy specific to college training and support, we've been doing that for as long as the VR program has been in operation. A couple things I did want to highlight was our longstanding partnership with the Community College of Alleghany County. Again, as I mentioned, we have a lot of students who are going into the community college either to obtain their skill degree or start the first two years of their collegiate education. And we have been working hand in hand with community college for many years to help support students on their paths.

     We have a strong relationship with the disability offices across the campuses. There are four main campuses. We also have been developing some summer programming and during the school year programming for those pre-employment training opportunities for our students in school. Currently we're running three different college training exposure shadowing opportunities within the community college setting. And we also offer in partnership with community college a one-credit course called promoting academic success, again it's giving  opportunity for students to explore postsecondary options while still in high school and the third thing I wanted to talk about today is our newest partnership. We are a huge proponent of making sure that we have our -- are providing good customer service not only to our customers that we serve, you know, our customers with disabilities that we're serving directly but also the community partners we're working with to allow good access, single points of contact methods so that we are able to provide some efficient services and support to the partners themselves. So what we did this year is one of our vocational rehab counselors within our business services department has become a single point of support in contact liaison to students who are attending the nine four-year colleges in Allegany County. That individual -- that counselor is working directly with students who are attending there who are also eligible for OVR. And she is also helping provide direct support to the college staff.

We talked earlier about the continuum for students in high school and into postsecondary training. One of the last steps in the continuum before they reach their career goal is to have an opportunity for an internship or externship while they're in postsecondary training. The partnership across these nine colleges within the county is creating an opportunity for us to make a streamlined approach to connecting students with internship opportunities with employers. So this year we've been really ramping up with that individual's role to educate and train the staff and give opportunities to the students to get the internship opportunities before they graduate. We're excited about all of that and seeing that come to fruition. I'm not sure if the listeners is familiar with Pittsburgh and Alleghany County, but of the campuses we're working with are Robert Morris University, LaRoche, Carnegie Melon, University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Carlow, Point Park University and I mentioned the community college as well.      

     >> JOYCE: Yeah. Marcy and Shannon, are you the

     >> SHANNON: Yes.

     >> MARCY: Yes.

     >> JOYCE: Sorry about that. I wanted to ask you a question about the colleges and universities. Have you seen any changes with the amount of funding that's being given from OVR across the United States to different universities?

     >> MARCY: Well, I think, you know, we have been seeing through -- not only our direct tuition cost to colleges, we have been increasing program support opportunities through our pre-employment transition services. So it is one of our top three services that we fund. I can't speak to whether we've increased the total amount towards -- direct towards the colleges.

     >> JOYCE: Okay. Well, I just think it's so great what you do. And you know what? I love what you do with the community colleges because that gives an opportunity to people that can't go to a four-year school. But the opportunity for them to still find employment. So if a student or a family member, if someone is listening to this show right now and they want to reach you, is the best way to reach you by going to that website?

     >> MARCY: For us here in Pittsburgh they could call us directly. They could go to the website as I mentioned before and there is a section called disability services at WWW.DLI.PA.gov.

     >> JOYCE: And what is the phone number?

     >> MARCY: 412-392-4950.

     >> SHANNON: She can just call -- depending on what their disability is, they'll connect them with either bureau for services.

     >> JOYCE: Okay. Hey, Shannon, we talked about this a little bit earlier. You do a lot of work with the private sector. I know that because you have this fabulous conferences and events where you invite businesses. Could you tell our listeners a little bit about -- especially businesses listening to this show today -- about your work with the private sector?

     >> SHANNON: OVR, a lot of people don't know that OVR has a dual customer service delivery system, in that we not only work with consumers with disabilities but we also work with employers who try to meet their business need. We do that through several ways. We do that for direct job placement. If they're looking to outreach to us. To give us their job leads and we try to match them with consumers that we have -- that have matched job goals. We also do disability etiquette and training where we go in -- I think this has been more relevant since the implementation since the final ruling of 503 impacting federal contractors where they are required to have a 7% utilization goal. And with WIOA, the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act it has allowed us to work with employers in very creative ways from consulting on accommodations for employees, ADA accessibility issues, job analysis. We have several employers that we work with that have inclusion and diversity initiatives and sometimes we work with them. We also do job retention and job jeopardy type things where they have employees that have either developed disabilities or are currently on staff with them that they don't know what direction to go with them. So we consult with them concerning those things. Some of those accommodations could be a simple job coach or maybe the job task has changed and we come in to give more natural supports to the person that is on the job. And then I think like you said a little bit earlier, Joyce, we really work at trying to outreach and bring awareness and education to employers and we have two big huge events coming up this month alone. We have the vision works expo, and we have the vision -- the work matters summit coming up. And with the vision expo, that will be on October 19th. And we bring in consumers that have vision impairment or blind and we have keynote where we are bringing in a doctor from Helen Keller. The national center for the deaf/blind youth and adults and then we'll have a huge empowerment consumer panel. And yours truly, Jim will be a part of that consumer panel. Then we'll be bringing in mentors, professionals that have been successful in their various fields to talk to young people and young adults about going into different industries. We're going to have access technology and low vision and community providers there and we'll have employers there to talk about their places of employment and what employers are looking for. And with the summit that's coming up here real soon that we're in partnership with BDRS. Marcy and myself are having this event on the 29th, we're hoping to have a vibrant discussion on the state of the affairs of full inclusion in the workplace when it pertains to individuals with disabilities. And we have various people from the President of CCAC, we are going to have FedEx on that panel. The City of Pittsburgh. We have a consultant. Dr. Monica MUNDUZ who does diversity consulting within this region and have great speakers and break-out panels that will be part of that from access technology, accessibility. We are going to -- the power of partnership. That will be part of that day. So we're just really excited at that outreach to employers in a very unique way. We understand the importance of doing outreach and opening the doors to employers in a way that is very transparent but being there for a resource for them in order to meet their initiatives and then figure out ways how we can partner with them.

     >> JOYCE: Wow; that is so exciting. And I want to thank both of you for being with us today. This show always goes so quickly. It does. It always goes so quickly. Thank you, Marcy and thank you Shannon.

     >> MARCY: Thank you very much, Joyce, a pleasure.

     >> SHANNON: Thank you for having us.

     >> JOYCE: We end every show with a quote and today that is change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for said Barack Obama. Talk to you all next week on “Disability Matters”, thanks a lot.