Friday, September 8, 2017

Build Confidence Working with a Vocational Counselor

   When Erin Hickman started working with The Choice Group back in early 2014, she was prepared to start working.  Already knowing what type of job she wanted, Erin came in with a typed list of places where she would potentially like to work.  One of her choices was at her local grocery store, where she has now worked for over 3 years!

    At first, Erin had misgivings about working the cash register.  She didn’t feel confident handling other people’s money.  But after working with her job coach and training on register operations and procedures, it quickly became one of her strong suits.  She received recognition from management for remembering a change in procedure with checks - not an easy task - as well as an Excellent Customer Service award after helping an upset customer.  Erin now talks to customers with ease and when the grocery store upgraded to a new check out system, with Ian’s help, she was one of the first employees to learn it!

    Erin loves playing arcade games in her free time, especially Basketball Shoot Out, and enjoys going to the movies.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Success Story!

Kat has been working with her client for the last two months.  Her client knew that her vocational goal was to be a full-time dishwasher, so when they started working together, her clear direction led them to find a position that was perfect!  Having previous work experience, she found a great fit as a full-time dishwasher for a corporate dining service.  During the interview process Kat helped her client on how to answer interview questions appropriately, interpreting verbal instruction, and after her client was hired for the job, negotiated her start date and the times she would be working because of transportation issues.  Kat worked with the employer to negotiate a special schedule to accommodate transportation needs.  In less than a month, Kat’s client was already training others! Her fantastic sense of humor and award winning smile has made it easy to get along well with her other co-workers.  Kat continues to check in with her client and her supervisor and is very proud that her client has so quickly started becoming a leader on her team!  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

VRA Special Projects nominates REACHCycles for Special Donation

The VRA Special Projects Committee solicited nominations for this quarter for projects in the state of Virginia that highlight the values of VRA that are in need of support and funds for their endeavors.  Upon review of the nominations, the VRA board voted to support REACHcycles for the second Special Projects recipient in 2017.

The VRA Special Projects Committee honored REACHcycles with our $500.00 donation during their celebratory event at ARCpark in Richmond on August 6, 2017.  At this event, REACHcycles presented 22 specially adapted donated three-wheeler cycles (AmTrykes) to area children with disabilities who had been pre-selected by REACHcycles based on desire and need. 

The Choice Group representatives, Ericka Neville nominated REACHcycles for this special donation, while Chris Lavach presented the check as part of the celebratory event on August 6, 2017.

What a touching event it was to see all of the children receive and ride their adapted cycle. -  It is great to know that VRA will be bringing the same smile and joy to future REACHcycle children with this VRA donation!

Check out more news coverage of this event from ABC 8 Local News, click here!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Success Story!

Angela Volkening has a client that works in one of the many major grocery store chains in the Richmond area.  When she first started working with him, she said there was a lot of anxiety surrounding interviews and applying for positions in person.  However, he knew he wanted to work for a company that was supportive of people with disabilities.  Originally, he had applied for an order-filling position, however, the store needed help elsewhere and they hired him to be a bagger.  This presented a unique challenge for Angela and her client because he only has the use of one of his arms.  Figuring out how to best set up the bagging station for his needs and how to maneuver the bags were things Angela and her client worked on together when he started working in June of 2016.  Once he saw that he was able to do his job as well as the other baggers he grew in confidence and gets positive feedback from customers.  Now, over a year later, he’s doing great and enjoys his job!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Welcome Newest Team Members!

We'd like to welcome Robin and Rachel, two great additions to the team!

Robin Dawkins - Human Resources Manager

Rachel Brand - Hampton Roads

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Myths About Americans with Disabilities Act

Myths about the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 25, 2017
John Duvall

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, prohibiting employers, schools, and public places from discriminating against anyone on the basis of their disabilities, and requiring them to provide reasonable accommodations.
However, even after nearly 30 years with this law in place, many employers still don’t understand their obligations, and often carry misconceptions about hiring workers with disabilities. Let’s take a look at some common myths about hiring employees with disabilities, and whether there’s any truth to them.

Myth #1: It’s expensive to accommodate employees with disabilities

Not true. In fact, most employers (at least 73 percent) will pay nothing at all to accommodate employees with disabilities in the workplace. Of the workplaces that do need additional accommodations put in place, over half of them will incur expenses that total under $500. For more extensive or costly accommodations, the federal government offers tax incentives to help employers make their businesses more accessible.
Depending on the type and severity of the employee’s disability, accommodations can be very simple, such as providing an appropriate chair or color-coding regularly used office items for easier identification. A commonly-requested accommodation is flexibility in hours and work location, which is rapidly becoming a best practice in workplaces for all employees (whether they have a disability or not), and functionally costs nothing to provide.

Myth #2: Employees with disabilities can’t perform their job tasks without a lot of help.

False. In numerous studies on this question, the findings have been clear: managers rate their employees with disabilities to be as productive and valuable to the workplace as the rest of their colleagues. Managers also generally find that their employees with disabilities do not require any more management or support than any other employee.
According to, “The majority of people with disabilities can perform their jobs without any assistance and prefer to be responsible for themselves. Also, they should have the same expectations and work requirements as employees without disabilities so that they can participate in the full range of human experiences—including success and failure.”

Myth #3: If you hire an employee with a disability, the ADA prevents you from firing them.

Also untrue. Employees with disabilities can be fired or laid off just like any other employee, as long as their termination meets one of these three conditions:
  • If the firing isn’t related to the employee’s disability.
  • If the employee is not performing their job tasks up to standard, even with necessary accommodations.
  • If the employee poses a threat to the safety of the workplace as a result of their disability.

Myth #4: Accommodations for an employee with disabilities have to be available to all employees.

Nope. The employee’s disability allows them the right to have accommodations that do not necessarily apply to your entire workforce. For instance, if you have an employee whose disability requires accommodations such as limited on-call availability, the option to keep a snack at the workspace for their blood sugar, or telecommuting on certain days of the week, you are not required to offer those considerations to employees without disabilities.
That being said, there are many benefits to incorporating more flexibility in terms of work location and hours for your entire workforce, where possible. Parents of young children, employees with aging parents, and younger workers (millennials and Gen-Z) regularly list workplace flexibility as among the top benefits a workplace can offer. Providing this option to your whole staff will give you a significant recruiting and retention advantage.

Myth #5: If a person with a disability applies and interviews for a position at my company, I’m required to hire them.

This is also incorrect. When you’re hiring a new employee, and you interview a candidate with a disability, you’re not permitted to take their disability into consideration as a reason to disqualify them for employment. Instead, as with any other employee, you should solely look at their ability to succeed in the position.

What can employers do to create a more accessible and diverse workplace?

Creating a diverse workplace has far-reaching benefits, both for the productivity and innovation of your internal teams and for your reputation as a fair employer. Any misgivings managers and colleagues may have when adding a person with disabilities (or any other kind of difference, for that matter) to the team are generally a result of misunderstanding, not malice. Regular diversity and inclusion training can be useful to any workforce to help clear up any misconceptions about co-workers with different backgrounds and experiences.
Most workplaces could also benefit from a more robust mentorship program. Including employees of all backgrounds, abilities, ages, and skill levels in this kind of initiative can go a long way in terms of creating an inclusive environment, and it’s a wise investment in the professional development of your most valuable asset: your employees.
To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, be sure to refer to the official website: