With a speech that literally tore down walls, John Evans displayed his passion to help people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment. Using examples of various barriers labeled on bricks stacked like a wall, John implored attendees to really ask themselves what the barriers they face are, in order to overcome them.
Shoreline Community College hosted and helped put on the third annual Overcoming Barriers to Employment Summit, Friday, Sept. 6. The event offered 15 workshops throughout the day as well as an employment resource fair with vendors from various community organizations where participants could ask questions and get more information. The intent is to help change perceptions and help employers look at abilities not disabilities.
This year, the committee asked past workshop favorite Evans to keynote the event. Evans is Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) within the state Department of Social and Health Services. Born with congenital hearing loss, Evans has spent almost 30 years in public service.
The summit is designed to assist job seekers with disabilities navigate the road to employment. Experts shared tips for overcoming barriers to employment. The event is a community partnership between Northshore Shoreline Community Network, DVR, Shoreline Public Schools and Shoreline Community College.
The event is the brainchild of Judy Parsons, from North Urban Human Services and Northshore Shoreline Community Network, who thought it would be beneficial to provide information and services for people with disabilities searching for jobs. Parsons, along with 14 people, including Shoreline Community College’s Kim Thompson, developed the idea of a summit with workshops on important topics.
“Our goal is to provide skills and information to help people obtain and keep a job,” Parsons said. “We also wanted to provide a way to encourage people to apply to DVR.”
DVR’s mission is to help people with disabilities who want to work find employment. The agency provides individualized employment services and counseling and also offers technical assistance and training to employers about the employment of people with disabilities.“They help people with placement in jobs and getting better accessibility and reasonable accommodations,” Angela Hughes, Shoreline Community College Office of Special Services said. “People with disabilities are already at a disadvantage and might qualify for support that they didn’t know about. A lot of support is unfortunately, really well hidden.”
Hughes said one of the best parts of the summit is it is one of the only places offering free classes designed for people with disabilities.