At The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) our vision is to provide students the opportunities to Do More, Be More, and Achieve More as they prepare for a lifetime of success. Career Development and Career and Technical Programs (CTE) enable our students with deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired to compete in the world of work. FSDB offers students comprehensive programming to prepare them for college and careers. Students can explore potential careers and obtain skills within those career paths such as Construction Technologies, Culinary Arts, Digital Media, Horticulture Science and Services, Promotional Enterprises, and other exploratory courses. In addition, students can participate in post- secondary CTE programs at local colleges.
However, even with these courses available, students who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired still have obstacles to overcome before entering the workforce. At FSDB, we are grateful to have the Johnson Scholarship Foundation that graciously supports the work we do to give our students the readiness career skills they need to be successful and contributing citizens. Our CTE programs prepare students to learn technical skills and earn industry certifications by utilizing rigorous curriculum rooted in critical instruction, professionalism, and employable skills.
As our motto at FSDB states, students…
“Do More.” By guiding them through the process of advocating for themselves and taking initiative, students who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired are taught to embrace their passions and abilities. This is supported by our Job Coaches who give our students the personal guidance specific to the tasks they perform on the job. Our community partners and employers can count on the Job Coaches to assist the students to learn the hands on tasks while continuously providing guidance and feedback to students on how they can improve their work and effectiveness in the workplace. This enables students to become valuable employees for life.
“Be More.” In the Career Development office, students can apply for on campus work through our After School Work Program. Students have over 40 available paid positions on campus. They are guided through the job search, application and interview process — just like in the real world. Students look for job postings through various communications on campus, obtain an application, complete it, and wait for the email for an interview. By going through the interview and receiving feedback this entire process improves their job searching skills.
“Achieve More.” Students are asked to go above and beyond when preparing for the work placement programs at FSDB. Students have opportunities to work on and off campus to gain hands-on real world experience and put the skills they have obtained to the test. These experiences enable our students to further develop knowledge and skills to select career options, access community resources, and apply work-related behaviors through guided practice in school and community work settings. Some students are able to obtain community work placement as paid employment.
Entering the job market can be a stressful time for anyone. Often, deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired have more to overcome than the average person with the same skill set. Our students enter the workforce with career skills, preparation and practice — all of which build confidence and resilience. This prepares them to overcome the obstacles placed before them. As this is National Disability Employment Awareness month, FSDB is grateful to have business partners that understand our students’ abilities and potential. We ask them to share their employee success stories with other employers to spread the awareness. We desire for our students to have positive employment opportunities in the community through the FSDB K-12 work placement program. This is just one way in which employers will be able to perceive all people as potential employees. Through personal experiences, they recognize there is a greater population of skilled and ready-to-work individuals with the ability to become successful employees.
Leonora Hughes is Executive Director of Career Development for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. She works in the Career Development office overseeing Career and Technical Programs as well as instruction, workforce training, campus and community internships, paid employment for students and developing industry partnerships with community stakeholders.