People with mental and physical disabilities often have a difficult time finding employment.
The Georgia Department of Labor Rehabilitation Program's High School High Tech program provides help to disabled students looking for jobs in the area.
"We deal with students suffering from ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), ADD (attention-deficit disorder), dyslexia and other learning disabilities," said Ed Catchings, a program representative.
"We introduce students with special abilities to the world of employment."
High School High Tech, which began in 2002, served 293 students last year in Richmond and Columbia counties. The program works through the high schools by identifying students who would benefit.
"The teachers explain how the program will increase the chances of them getting a job," Catchings said.
The program provides counseling to new and prospective clients; an evaluation to determine a student's eligibility; a work tolerance review; instruction about rsums and professional dress; and a rehabilitation employment specialist to match an employer to the client, Catchings said.
Employers, in conjunction with the program, provide classes, including how to dress for success, interviews, self-advocacy, mentoring days and job shadowing.
The program also stresses the value of a college education.
"We take students to Augusta Tech, Augusta State University and Paine College to meet with teachers and employers," Catchings said.
Catchings said he's seen many changes in his 27 years working with the physically and mentally disabled.
"Services for the people with disabilities were not mandated back in the 1980s," he said.
"There were no curb cuts, no handicapped spaces, no Braille on elevators and doors didn't have to be a certain width. We've come a long way in making people aware of their abilities rather than their disabilities."
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