More than five percent of Arkansans has a hearing disability. That’s according to a 2017 report by Cornell University. Most of them are unable to find work. The National Deaf Center reports 60 percent of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind are unemployed. That’s a staggering number when you consider the national unemployment rate for the rest of the population is 4 percent.
This is why Goodwill recently began accepting clients into the DREAMS program. Despite the misconception that Arkansans with a hearing disability are unable to work, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas has found not only are most able – they WANT to work. In the short couple of months since the program began, we have begun to work with half a dozen clients – two already finding employment.
The DREAMS program stands for Deaf Readiness to Employment and Achieving Maximum Success. Services are provided in American sign language with a strong emphasize on deaf culture. Individuals have defined vocational goals and work with staff to create an individualized employment plan. Together they work on:
- Soft Skills/Character Building
- Self-Advocacy/Accessing Resources
- Identifying Interests & Skills
- Self and Time Management Skills
- Social Interaction
- Job Search Activities
- Understanding Work Culture
- Interview Preparation
- Conflict Resolution
- Work-based Learning Experience
- Financial Literacy
Through job training and on-the-job support, clients are able to gain independence through economic self-sufficiency, individual skill development, client-centered support and access to community-integrated employment.
March 14-April 15 is National Deaf History Month. March 28, advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing community, including Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, will gather at the Arkansas state capitol. We invite you to join us.