Premier Assistive Technology is awarded Best of Practices from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Premier Assistive Technology teamed up with the Arnold Center to make Michigan Works – a one stop, accessible to all clients who use the services at Michigan Works – even those with hidden disabilities. Before the grant Michigan Works did have automated door openers for those with mobility challenges, as well as being able to put things in large print for low vision users. They even had TTY for the deaf patrons, how ever they did not have any tools for individuals with literacy challenges.
Literacy challenged individuals make up not only the bulk of the individuals with disabilities that received services from Michigan Works, but make up nearly half of all those in some of the classes. Individuals with low literacy skills, literacy level 2 or below or did not complete high school are 6 times more likely to be on government assistance than any other groups. So when you run a welfare to work program it is not surprising that 43 percent of the individuals did not graduate from high school, and nearly 80 percent had very low literacy skills. The spirit of the grant was to find a way to help ALL individuals not just those with labels or visible disabilities.
“I took on the project because I wanted a chance to meet up with the students, now adults, that did not make it through or those that were pushed through school to see what happened to them.” said Dr. Steve Timmer. “I wanted to see if the technology I developed had an impact on the employment opportunities for those with hidden disabilities.” Well after two years the results are in and there is a direct link to literacy skills and employability options. With nearly one third of the U.S. population not completing the 12th grade, we are going to run out of jobs for those with low literacy skills as the job market becomes increasingly more technology orientated. Accessible computers and information are going to play a critical role in the employment and employability of nearly one third of the U.S. population. Effective literacy skills are no longer an option but a requirement for employment.
For a complete write up on the research click on the link below or cut and paste the link into your address bar of your browser.
For More information about this project contact either:Judith Burton PhD