by Patti Logsdon
Rural communities encounter unique challenges for people with disabilities in achieving competitive, integrated, and lasting employment, as well as community participation and integration. Project E3 is a Vocational Rehabilitation technical assistance project that aims to help people with disabilities from underserved, economically disadvantaged communities throughout the country achieve their independent living and employment goals.
Kentucky has two targeted communities – which are defined as rural and remote, and have high poverty levels – that receive intensive technical assistance, enabling State VR agencies and partner organizations to improve outreach and employment-related services to underserved individuals with disabilities. The interventions have been developed around addressing identified barriers to employment and community integration. In Kentucky, we are working with two groups: transition age youth (16-24) with developmental disabilities and/or specific sensory impairments such as blindness or deafness, and people of all ages with mental health diagnoses.
Evan Miracle, who received accommodations through The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services Division, has been working at Blackboard Student Services in Somerset for a little over a year. Evan says, “Don’t treat your disability as something that prevents you from doing something. Even if you’re completely blind and doing this job, there’s always different technologies that can help you if you’re deaf, blind, have autism, anything… There’s always a job for you and you can achieve those goals no matter what.” To see videos of Evan and other workers with disabilities in Kentucky, visit our playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGU3TL4tpzkZhC7ZC8eZ-4_lg8V0j19XL.