Whether you’re just beginning your career or you’re seeking ways to overcome challenges you face in your current position, you’ll find the support and resources you need at Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB). Working closely with a team of experts, you’ll have the opportunity to identify your strengths and interests, explore adaptive equipment and develop skills and strategies to compete and succeed in the job market. Our clients have gone on to build successful careers in a wide range of areas including customer service, information technology, law, education, social service, health care, retail and food service.
- Devise an action plan tailored to your individual circumstances and level of vision loss.
- Master interviewing and job search techniques.
- Polish your existing skills and acquire new ones.
- Learn to use adaptive equipment in the workplace.
- Get real world experience through an internship placement.
Vocational Evaluation and Training
You’ll receive one-on-one vocational counseling, partnering with one of our placement specialists to identify work environments and opportunities that could be a good fit for you. Your evaluation will help you to set goals and make an action plan to achieve them. Once you’ve decided on a career path, the placement specialist will help you to develop the skills you need to land a job and to keep it.
When appropriate, the placement specialist will conduct a situational assessment, observing you on the job for a one-week period to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, note areas for skill development and offer suggestions for strategies to overcome challenges presented in the work environment.
The process also can include identifying the adaptive software that’s right for you. You may work with computers using speech and/or Braille output, or if you have some residual vision, you may learn to use programs that enlarge text on the computer screen.
Succeeding in the workplace takes more than the ability to perform a specific job function. Soft skills—like the ability to communicate, work with a team, lead a group or adapt to new situations—can be the key to excelling in an interview, landing a job and advancing your career. At HKSB, you’ll hone these skills, and in doing so, you’ll make yourself a more attractive candidate for a position in whatever field you choose.
Work Experience Training
During your time at HKSB, you will have the opportunity to work in real world settings, building marketable skills and enhancing your resume through internship opportunities. HKSB staffers will help you find a placement in a field that interests you, enabling you to learn firsthand what it takes to work in that field on a day-to-day basis.
When reporting to a work site, if needed, you’ll be accompanied by a placement specialist, who will provide support and identify accommodations and adaptive equipment that might be helpful on the job. Once you’re ready to work independently, the placement specialist will take a step back, giving you the chance to get the full employee experience.
- Learn what it takes to do the jobs that interest you.
- Gain hands-on experience in your field of choice.
- Put your new skills to the test in an actual work environment.
- Find the right fit for you.
Internships are available year-round. Most placements are scheduled for a 12-week period and can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis.
Participants from HKSB’s Foundations Program, a comprehensive work-readiness program that addresses the holistic needs of potential job seekers, excel in their next steps in obtaining employment. Working in collaboration with their respective counselors at the New York State Commission for the Blind, HKSB’s multi-disciplinary team assist participants in developing their short-term and long-term vocational goals. Further services are provided alongside The Foundations Program – such as orientation and mobility instruction, vision rehabilitation teaching, social work services and counseling, and work-readiness training – which enable them to increase their independence and learn the daily living skills needed to successfully find a job.
The 3rd round of Foundations will be rolling out virtually starting August 3, 2020.
Here are a few of the individual success stories that occurred in our first session of the Foundations Program in 2019.
- Melchion is employed by UseableNet to assess and evaluate the accessibility of various companies' websites to ensure they are compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
- Julie is working as an associate at CardWorks.
- Andy is working for Stop & Shop as a bagger. He is also responsible for replacing merchandise on the shelves and maintaining cleanliness in the aisles.
- Avareta works at HKSB’s Wantagh Community Residence which houses some participants of HKSB’s Day Habilitation Program. Avareta ensures that residents are involved with all activities related to home life and planning recreational activities such as games, movie nights and group outings on the weekends.
- Jennifer has worked as a certified nursing assistant for many years. She is now happily employed as a one-to-one home health aide.
- Asma recently started working at Target as a seasonal guest advocate and is responsible for hanging, folding and sorting clothing for a welcoming presentation that says, “Buy me!”
Orientation to Work Program (Ages 15-21)
This 12-week summer program will give you a taste of the world of work. One of our placement specialists will work one-on-one with you to find placements that match your interests and will provide on-site support when you’re on the job. Our clients have worked in variety of industries and settings, ranging from retail and food services to data entry and local government.
You’ll have the opportunity to:
- Get real world experience in a part-time summer internship.
- Develop your interviewing skills.
- Explore your strengths and weaknesses.
- Try out assistive aids and devices.
Pre-Vocational Training (Ages 10-14)
During this five-day program, you’ll learn about different career possibilities—and you’ll learn about yourself! You’ll identify your particular skills, abilities and interests, and find out how to communicate them to others.
You’ll have the opportunity to:
- Explore career options.
- Take field trips to work sites.
- Define your goals and create a plan to achieve them.
- Interact with—and learn from—people who know firsthand the challenges you face.
- Find out how to get the resources you need in school and beyond.
- Try out the latest in assistive technology.
- Learn how to write a resume and a cover letter.
- Build your interviewing skills.
Our placements are as varied as our clients’ background and interests. We have placed individuals in a variety of settings including: non-profit organizations like The Murphy Institute, BRC, MHA and The Brooklyn and Bronx Independent Living centers; government sites such as the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation; retail stores like Walgreens and TJ Maxx; professional service offices, including medical practices and law and accounting firms; and in the corporate arena within National Grid and JetBlue, just to name a few.
Recent placements include:
- Best Buy
- St. Barnabas Hospital
- Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
- Visionary Media
- Rosicki and Rosicki
- Department of Social Security
- Town of Hempstead
- NYC Mayor’s Office for Disabilities
- Sparkling Points Wineries
Helen Keller Works
Hands-on experience is the cornerstone of the Helen Keller Works initiative. We help clients to develop the skills and strategies they need to overcome obstacles in the workplace through vocational and technology training; internship placements; employer partnerships; and in-house employment creation programs.
Proof of legal blindness is required for admission. Services are free if you if you meet the eligibility requirements and participate in a NYS Commission for the Blind rehabilitation program. Certain optical aids and adaptive equipment are provided based on economic need.Contact us for more information
Video & Transcript
Steve just wanted to feel useful—but now he’s so much more. He has become the “go-to guy” at Enterprise Process Service.Go to Steve's Story Go to All HKSB Success Stories