IAJVS' National disAbility Employment Initiative


To meet the needs of our rapidly changing economy, IAJVS initiated a collaborative training program to provide computer skills training and job placement for persons with HIV/AIDS, severe mental health disabilities, and physical disabilities. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, five Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) sites around the country – Boston, Chicago, Gulf Coast (Tampa Bay), Philadelphia, and San Francisco – train clients in the marketable skills in demand within the computer industry, with a particular concentration on web design.

Specifically, the disAbility Employment Initiative training program:

  • provides computer training and placement targeted to specific career-ladder jobs in high growth industries;
  • integrates work readiness, job search, and customer service training;
  • makes available fully accessible computer and software resources for skill development and job search; and
  • incorporates retention and career advancement services.

Understanding the need to work with employers, JVS staff developed the program curricula in coordination with the needs of local employers, and have incorporated materials, equipment, and software used in the workplace, in order to increase the ability of participants to subsequently meet job requirements. Each participant has access to his/her own computer during class time. All training services are designed to provide both group and individual instruction, and additional tutorial sessions are offered as needed.

Computer-based training provides a whole new array of employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The development of adaptive technology and the expanding use of telecommuting provide the disabled population with the ability to participate in alternative work arrangements. Because there are limited resources for the targeted populations in this proposal, our program serves as a model to agencies nationwide, illustrating how training in the technology arena can not only break the cycle of dependency, but also secure well-paying positions with excellent career tracks.

The disAbility Employment Initiative was refunded by the Department of Labor in May 2002 for continuation of this successful program. Stay tuned as we publish lessons learned and successful strategies here on this site.