The Cutting Edge ~


Mr. D. originally applied for ACCES-VR services in 2004, after successfully completing a substance abuse program.   At the time, Mr. D. was on parole after having spent several years in prison and had a very spotty work history.  While serving time, he earned his GED and also took classes in computers, electrical, painting, barbering and Commercial Drivers License (CDL).  Mr. D. found that he really enjoyed barbering, and upon release, was seeking ACCES-VR supported to attend training where he could be trained as a licensed barber.  Mr. D. completed the training program in 2006 and was successfully placed in an existing barbershop.

Several years later, Mr. D. re-applied for ACCES-VR services after a hip injury which caused him to have to leave his driving job.  Although he had difficulty standing and walking, Mr. D. enjoyed the barbering field and was hoping to open his own shop with ACCES-VR support.  After discussing the possibility with his counselor, Mr. D. was instructed that he needed to develop a business plan that would need to be reviewed by the ACCES-VR Business for Self Committee.  Mr. D. worked diligently to meet the required deadlines for his business plan.  He met with the Business for Self Committee twice, as they reviewed his plan and made suggestions.  Mr. D. incorporated the suggestions from the committee and successfully opened his business, Dickerson’s Barber Shop, initially in his home, in 2008.  Since that time, Mr. D. has been able to prove that he is able to maintain his business, and with ACCES-VR support he moved his business to a store front.  

Because of Mr. D’s determination, he is a successful small business owner.
Mr. D was nominated for and received the Statewide Entrepreneurial Award signed by New York State’s Governor and Regent’s Chancellor.

Talk about the CUTTING EDGE!!!
Laura Maas, Local Workforce Development and Business Relations Representative
ACCES-VR Rochester District Office (RAEN MEmber)

Did You Know…?

Did you know… “92% of customers surveyed say they are more likely to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities?”


Did you know… “People with disabilities are less likely to change jobs, reducing the cost of turnover estimated to be 50%-150% of the position’s annual salary?”


June 2011 National Unemployment Rate:

People with disabilities: 16.9%

People without disabilities: 9.0%

Reference: Office of Disability Employment Policy/ DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics

just  shout of CONGRATS to one of our member agencies, LDA Life and Learning Services for their accomplishment

June Unemployment Rate of LDA’s ACCES-VR and OPWDD Extended Programs combined:  3.9%

“Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things…”

Before ACCES-VR I did not have much confidence in myself. I felt like a failure. I was in my mid forties living with my parents. I spent much of my day doing household chores and running errands for my mother. We lived in a small rural town. I don’t have my driver’s license. My social life was non existent. I wanted a job but did not think anyone would hire me. I lacked the confidence and felt discriminated against. I felt alone.

I met with a ACCES-VR Counselor who assigned me to a ACCES-VR job developer.  I met with the Job Developer every week at my local library, a place where I felt comfortable. I learned basic computer skills and how to talk and interact with people; skills I would need in order to find and keep a job.  My job developer taught me to use my artistic ability as strength during interviews, and I became a volunteer in a preschool classroom.

Working with preschoolers added much value to my life. I felt needed and appreciated. The children liked me and the teachers and staff relied on me.

After almost 1 year I was hired to be a substitute teacher’s aide. I now get paid for the work I enjoy doing. I get excited going to work each day whether I am being paid or not.

After getting the job, I moved out of my parents’ home and into my own apartment 15 miles away. Walking is my only mode of transportation, so getting to work became a problem. But because of my hard work, good attendance and reputation, and a letter of recommendation, I was able to transfer to a preschool within walking distance to my new home.  I now volunteer 2 days each week and regularly get called to work as a substitute.

ACCES-VR’s services help me to find my confident self and I learned that I do fit in.   I’m now living independently, earning a pay check and I am fully integrated into my community.  Without ACCES-VR’s help I don’t think I would have achieved these goals.

Laura Maas, Local Workforce Development and Business Relations Representative
Rochester District Office (RAEN Member)

Rochester Hot Job Leads ~ July 30, 2011

Weekly hot job leads are posted for job developers working with individuals with disabilities through the Rochester ACCES-VR office.  The detailed list is provided on the Rochester Area Employment Network website.  If you have any questions regarding these job announcements, please contact Laura Maas @

In the Driver’s Seat… a Success Story

In the Driver's Seat...Prince had always worked in labor intensive positions, but with the diagnosis of kidney failure and high blood pressure, he had to find a new career that didn’t require long periods of standing or walking, and allowed him to go for his dialysis treatments.  But changing careers would be a challenge for Prince.  He didn’t have a high school diploma or GED, and he found classroom work to be a struggle.  He needed something that would be hands-on, and since he enjoyed working with the public, he wanted something that would allow him to continue to have that interaction.  After some career exploration with his ACCES-VR counselor, Prince decided that he would like to obtain his Commercial Drivers License (CDL).

Prince began a ACCES-VR sponsored training program in 2005 to obtain his CDL, but he wasn’t able to pass the driving test because of difficulties, stemming from years of dialysis, in operating the gear shift.  After some discussion, it was felt that a different vocational path should be explored.  Although Prince was considering other jobs, he remained committed to his original goal of driving.

After several setbacks, Prince was able to locate a position as a bus driver that didn’t require a CDL. This position gave him the opportunity to interact with the public and to use the skills he learned while in the training program.  Although this position initially did not require a specialized driver’s license, this changed.  With hard work and support from ACCES-VR and his employer, Prince was able to pass the CDL exam.  Today, Prince continues to work as a bus driver, driving the children to and from school.  The employer reports that Prince does a great job and Prince feels his job match is perfect.  

Laura Maas, Local Workforce Development and Business Relations Representative
Rochester District Office (RAEN Member)

Biggest Concern in Workplace: Attitude

In an article Barriers for Disabled at Work, “disabled people say their biggest concern in the workplace isn’t accessibility; it’s attitude.”  (Komp, 2006)  “Impressing a potential employer during an interview and getting a good job offer is difficult for many. But for those with disabilities — who must prove they are as qualified as non-disabled candidates — finding any job has its own challenges.

When Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 15 years ago, supporters hoped the equity legislation would increase disabled peoples’ opportunities for employment. But, according to researchers at Cornell University, the employment rate for people with disabilities peaked around 25 percent in the 1990s before dropping below 20 percent by 2004.”  (Komp, 2006)


Walgeens More Than a Drugstore

The Distribution Center for Walgreen’s located in Windsor, Conn is proving more than just a facility that ships its retail merchandise to other stores… here the company has taken major steps in the advancement of hiring workers with disabilities.  CNN Newsroom has the complete story

{Story provided by one of our RAEN members, Jeanne B.}