“I was working at a job manufacturing garments, but was laid off when business slowed down. Looking for a new job is a struggle since I am Deaf and communicate via American Sign Language (ASL). Communication was a barrier – even in getting an interview, I was out of work for half a year and began struggling financially.”
Despite improvements in technology and accommodations that have made translation between ASL users and hearing individuals easier, more than 50% of Deaf Americans do not work due to obstacles to obtaining employment, despite their qualifications. To overcome these challenges, Monica Salazar sought help from the Texas Workforce Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services; her counselor suggested that she enroll at PRIDE Ascend in El Paso, TX.
To help break down barriers to employment while meeting the growing demand for skilled labor, PRIDE Ascend enables people with disabilities to gain technical skills and attain industry-based certifications in El Paso, TX, and Sacramento, CA. Participants receive an assessment and meet with PRIDE’s dedicated staff to explore career interests and job placement. Accommodations and instruction are tailored to each individual while they receive training needed for the workplace to ensure success.
After completing an assessment, Monica entered the program and graduated with an NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) certificate in Construction Technology and an OSHA 10 Safety Card. Once she obtained the certificate, Ascend’s Employment Services staff placed Monica into a paid internship at the Hampton Inn, which was made possible by generous donors to PRIDE Industries Development and Donor Services.
“After making the connection and sharing information about PRIDE’s programs, Hampton Inn’s General Manager Gabe Ayoub was very enthusiastic about having Monica as an intern,” said Sezne Hernandez, Employment Placement Specialist. “To facilitate communication, he posted a chart with signs for the ASL alphabet, and immediately had all the staff learn how to sign Monica’s name in ASL, as well as “good morning” and “good evening” so she would feel welcomed and as a part of the team.”
During her internship, Monica performed cleaning tasks around the hotel, including vacuuming halls, cleaning restrooms, keeping up the lobby, maintaining the swimming pool area and gym, and doing laundry. She excelled in this welcoming environment, and after her 90-day internship, Monica was hired on the spot as a Houseman. Along with the tasks in her internship, she is now able to use her construction skills and performs maintenance in guest rooms, as well as painting and caulking.
“PRIDE Ascend’s support helped me be successful in my classes, allowing me to obtain a certificate and to gain the skills that I use today in my job,” said Monica. “Through the internship, I was able to learn a lot, and my job coach helped me transition into my new position, which eventually lead me to getting hired permanently!”
“From the support of PRIDE Ascend and my co-workers, I have found success. Through overcoming the challenges of entering a new career field, I have become more motivated and will continue working hard to achieve my goals, including obtaining my driver’s license and buying a vehicle, as I currently take public transportation. I am working to become a supervisor in my department and savings to buy a house.”
To help other people like Monica find a path to successful employment, donate here.