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Maria Nicolacoudis, executive director at TransAccess
TransAccess, a Bay Area nonprofit organization, helps youth and adults with disabilities to achieve their goals. In partnership with local schools, government agencies, and businesses, we provide individualized assessments, career and job placement assistance, adaptive technology, and more. Since 1997, TransAccess has served 10,800 youth and adults with disabilities through direct services. Our programs include the Access Technology Center, giving persons with disabilities the opportunity to identify, evaluate, and train on the latest computer adaptive technologies; the School-to-Future Program providing tools and support for students to further their education and prepare for employment and Access-to-Jobs, an employment service for persons with disabilities.
Computer training is vital for just about every job that will be in demand in the coming decade. We provide training that empowers persons with disabilities to work in a variety of careers, and continue vocational learning if they choose. Through our partnership with Microsoft we have expanded our services to more youth and adults with disabilities. Microsoft has provided software and financial support that allows us to integrate computer use training while we are teaching job preparation skills such as resume writing, web based job search skills, budgeting and presentation skills. Microsoft support has also increased our ability to provide assistive technology training, integrated with basic computer skills. The assistive technology training is critical for so many individuals with disabilities who need accommodations to use a computer to be successful in school or at work.
Our clients goals are to achieve success in their education and careers, Melissa, a good example of someone who completed our pre-employment and job placement services, which were integrated with the technology provided by Microsoft states: ”TransAccess has helped me find employment by helping me understand what employers look for and expect from an employee.” TransAccess started working with Melissa during her sophomore year. She was interested in working, but did not know where to begin. TransAccess assisted Melissa in identifying her career goals, transferable skills as well as skill she would need to acquire for her future profession. Through our classes, she learned Microsoft Office skills while she learned how to create a resume, cover letters and a career portfolio. She developed professional communication skills which she used successfully to network with employers and self-advocate for any accommodations she might need. Through TransAccess’ assistance, Melissa was able to conduct a job search, obtain and maintain employment, pursue her educational goals and obtain her driver’s license. She is currently attending a community college pursuing a degree in nursing and working at a local retail store. Melissa will also be volunteering at a clinic where she will be getting basic nursing skills.
Like Microsoft, we also understand that the community is the other side of the equation of success. Our services extend to employers and other community organizations to meet the diverse needs of persons with disabilities in our area. We train their staff in how to provide appropriate accommodations, disability awareness, and the use of assistive technology.
We are most proud of the real results we have for our clients. Melissa summed it up well when she told us:
“TransAccess has impacted my life by providing information about school and work. I have learned a lot and continue to learn something I will use on a day to day basis.”
Watch a mini-documentary on TransAccess and our work at: http://transaccess.org/news_events/video.php
Maria Nicolacoudis is the executive director at TransAccess.