Train for a new career at your own pace with our online study options


World Services for the Blind now offers online study for select career-training programs, including Assistive Technology Instructor, Call Center Specialist, Certified Administrative Assistant, Certified Credit Counselor and Microsoft Office Specialist.

The programs are all open enrollment, which means they can be joined at any time. Once a program has been chosen, potential clients and their Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor will work with WSB staff to answer any questions the client may have to ensure the program is a good fit.

 

online programming computer illustration


How Does it Work?
 

The enrollment process for online programs is as follows:

  • Fill out an application from wsblind.org and clearly indicate your interest in an online training programs.
     
  • Please note all program skill prerequisites and necessary equipment, and discuss with your VRC.
     
  • You will be contacted by a representative of our Assistive Technology department for an equipment check, and an assistive technology skills pre-assessment.
     
  • You will receive the results and any further recommendations concerning that assessment in a minimum of five business days by email.
     
  • If there are skill deficits, a recommendation for further assistive technology training will be submitted to you and your VRC.
     
  • If there are no difficulties, you and your VRC will discuss an official online start date for your training.

 

Computer keyboard illustration


Which Programs are Available Online?
 


ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY INSTRUCTOR
The nine-month Assistive Technology Instructor (ATI) program is designed to prepare a graduate to work as an academic instructor of assistive technology qualified to instruct customers in learning the proper use of assistive technology, Microsoft Office, Windows operating systems and Apple iOS at a rehabilitation facility; as a sales representative for an assistive technology vendor; or to develop his/her own independent consultant company for assistive technology analysis, instruction, training and equipment recommendations, or long distance/in-house problem solving or tech support assistance.

CALL CENTER SPECIALIST
Offering impeccable customer service is critical for any organization or company hoping to create and maintain a loyal customer base. World Services for the Blind’s eight-week Call Center Specialist training program imparts a vast skill set upon its participants so that, upon graduation, they are prepared to take on the role of call center representative with confidence. Organized into 11 components, the eight-week program covers the following topics: customer service, soft skills, communication, relationship building, sales and marketing, difficult customers, operations, human resources, and Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel programs.

CERTIFIED ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
The Certified Administrative Assistants (CAA) certification exam prepares individuals for a career as an administrative assistant/secretary across a wide range of professional companies. Attaining national certification displays that individuals have studied and mastered the necessary skills to be a recognized professional in the field of administrative assistants. The CAA holds its own as a standalone certification, and can be paired with other programs such as MOS or our customer service/call center training.

CERTIFIED CREDIT COUNSELOR
Credit counseling is a huge industry with significant opportunities for employment. With the proper training and instruction, clients will learn the ins and outs of becoming credit counselors. The training and instruction will provide them with the tools to educate and guide others looking to improve their credit and financial situations. The curriculum explores credit cards, debt collection, mortgage and small business lending, housing issues, retirement income options, student financial aid, the psychology of spending and options for resolving debt. Clients will earn three certifications, with the opportunity to earn two additional certifications, for a total of five certifications upon completion of the program. The first three certifications will take approximately 12 weeks to earn, and include credit counseling, financial counseling and debt settlement certifications. The additional two certifications are housing counseling and student loan counseling, which will add 12 additional weeks of classroom training.
 
MICROSOFT OFFICE SPECIALIST
The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) program is designed to effectively prepare adults who are blind or visually impaired to successfully earn certifications for the Microsoft Office applications. The program prepares a client to function in an office environment or as a first-level application support specialist. Computer training is accomplished with the use of assistive technology such as screen-reading programs and magnification programs, depending on the individual’s needs.
 

 

If you're ready to take the next steps towards beginning online study, or if you would like to speak to someone about a program, don't hesitate to contact us. The WSB Admissions & Recruiting Department can be reached at at 800-248-0734 or training@wsblind.org.

Press Release: President Trump’s federal hiring freeze suspends training programs that guarantee IRS jobs for people who are blind

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Mel Jones, Director of Communications & Development

 

LITTLE ROCK, February 1—IRS job training programs at World Services for the Blind will be suspended until further notice because of an executive order from President Donald J. Trump that imposes a 90-day hiring freeze on civilian federal workers. The order, signed on January 23, 2017, states that “no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances.”  

The IRS programs, which are part of a 50-year partnership between WSB and the IRS, provide intensive training for people who are blind or visually impaired to work in a variety of positions within the federal agency. Participants interview for the positions prior to beginning the program, and those accepted are assigned to work at one of several IRS offices around the country. Participants are guaranteed those jobs upon successful completion of the program.

Immediately affected are the 10 students who, as of last week, were in their third week of a four-week evaluation for the Taxpayer Service Representative (TSR) Program. The 13-week program is designed to prepare a person to assist taxpayers with filing information at the Taxpayer Service Division of the IRS. The curriculum includes instruction in IRS tax law, accounts, procedures and forms. The students had been scheduled to begin their interviews on Friday, the same day staff confirmed the program’s cancellation with the IRS.

“Last week was one of the hardest weeks of my 17 months at WSB,” said Sharon Giovinazzo, president and CEO of the organization. “Standing before these 10 people and having to tell them that because of the hiring freeze they would not have a class was devastating. And while we are working to get these students into other programs that they may be interested in, they came here specifically for the guarantee of employment that the IRS programs offer. Instead they learned the lesson that the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees.”

The suspension comes at a time when WSB has experienced a turnaround under Giovinazzo’s leadership. With an expanded suite of career training programs, WSB has seen a renewed interest in programs that will help decrease the 70-percent unemployment rate among people who are blind. And while the hiring freeze is only effective for 90 days, the effects will last much longer.

“All exemptions under the Schedule A Hiring Authority, which allows preferential hiring for people with disabilities, must be placed by September 30. At the end of September those exemptions are no longer valid, and new exemptions will need to be reevaluated by each federal agency and will not be released until sometime in 2018,” Giovinazzo said.  

In addition to the TSR class, the executive order also affects the Service Center Collection Representative Program, scheduled for summer 2017. The IRS has not issued an official statement regarding the executive order’s effect on the programs. The partnership between WSB and the IRS is the only one of its kind. 

 

Happy Holidays from World Services for the Blind

WSB Staff Holiday 2016.jpg

The staff at World Services for the Blind would like to extend holiday wishes to you and yours.

Our staff is committed to delivering quality programs and services that will allow clients to have the right tools in their tool box to secure not just a job but a career in their chosen field. After all, we know that a construction worker cannot build a house without the proper tools. Providing a solid foundation of skills with which to build their lives while helping chip away at the 70% unemployment rate among people who are blind or visually impaired is a gift we are honored to give.

World Services for the Blind offers pre-vocational programs for transitional-age youth, a comprehensive suite of life skills and career-path training programs that will arm them with the skills to secure not just a job but a career in their chosen field. We are the only program in the nation delivering these types of customized services that will help people who are blind or visually impaired achieve sustainable independence.

As we reflect on 2016 and move into 2017, our staff is committed to helping our partners navigate the new requirements under the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) in order to achieve successful outcomes and meet the demands of employers.

Thank you for being a committed partner of World Services for the Blind. We look forward to working with you in the New Year.

It's #GivingTuesday 2016! Donate Your Used Assistive Technology

On this #GivingTuesday 2016, World Services for the Blind is launching an assistive technology donation drive. Watch the video to learn more about how you can help! 


From iPhones and iPads to Braille displays and notetakers—if you would like to donate your used assistive technology devices, simply fill out this form and we will contact you to make arrangements for pickup or delivery. 

Don't have any devices but want to help support the AT lab? Visit our donations page and make a financial gift today!

Name *
Name
What kind(s) of devices would you like to donate?

Guaranteed Job Placement for IRS Program Grads—Enrollment Open!

The 13-week Taxpayer Service Representative (TSR) program is designed to prepare a person to assist taxpayers with filing information at the Taxpayer Service Division of the IRS. The program is scheduled for February 13-May 12, 2017, with the last day to begin evaluations January 9, 2017

The curriculum includes instruction in IRS tax law, accounts, procedures and forms. The client learns to use a personal computer to quickly and effectively access taxpayer information in the IRS database while assisting the taxpayer on the telephone. The client is also taught telephone etiquette to assist taxpayers with questions over the telephone. The computer equipment and assistive technology used in the classroom includes state-of-the-art adaptive systems utilizing JAWS and ZoomText, as well as refreshable Braille displays.

Hiring cities include: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Fresno, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis, Andover, Baltimore, Richmond, Buffalo, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Franklin/Nashville and Memphis.

PREREQUISITES

  • Print reading speed of 100 wpm with 75% comprehension and proficiency with ZoomText, or Braille reading speed of 60 wpm with 75% comprehension and proficiency with JAWS and the Focus 80 Blue Braille display
  • 90% accuracy on a math test (using a calculator)
  • 12th-grade spelling level, and good written communication skills
  • Keyboarding speed of 30 wpm
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Strong logical reasoning ability
  • Emotional maturity
  • Good independent living and orientation and mobility skills
  • Ability to work well with others

For more information or to begin the admissions process, email Rebecca Reid, director of recruiting and retention, at rreid@wsblind.org or call 800-248-0734.

IT Fundamentals Program Now Available

World Services for the Blind is now offering a new program—IT Fundamentals—that is designed to be a stepping stone to the Desktop Support Technician program. The IT Fundamentals program is based around the CompTIA certification of the same name, and covers software, hardware, networking and security basics, as well as fundamental IT literacy. Preparing for the IT Fundamentals exam is a great activity for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of how computing technology works, something that every modern PC or mobile device user can benefit from having.

The first session of IT Fundamentals is currently open to students who are considering the Desktop Support Technician program. Enrollment for the program will be open to all potential students in early 2017. 

Shana Kassel, who is a WSB graduate and member of WSB's IT team, developed the curriculum, and will be the program's instructor. Watch the video below to learn more about the IT Fundamentals program.

For more information or to begin the admissions process, contact Rebecca Reid, WSB's director of recruiting and retention, at 800-248-0734.


shana2web.jpg

Originally from Southern Orange County, California, Shana Kassel is the newest member of the IT team at World Services for the Blind. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and Cystoid Macular Edema at age 19, but this hasn’t stopped her from doing what she enjoys in life. From technology to nature, sci-fi to wine, her interests are as far-reaching as she is. Since moving to Little Rock, she enjoys trying new local restaurants and spending time near the Arkansas River, the closest thing in Arkansas to the beaches from back home.

Video: 2016 Vision Award Speeches & Presentation

If you missed the 2016 Vision Award luncheon on October 27 at the Little Rock Marriott, you're in luck! Check out the videos below, and for photos of the event, have a look at this post.

World Services for the Blind president & CEO Sharon Giovinazzo addresses guests at the 2016 Vision Award luncheon honoring Dr. Joel E. Anderson, retired chancellor of UALR.


WSB graduate and Jr. IT administrator Shana Kassel shares her story with guests at the 2016 Vision Award luncheon honoring Dr. Joel E. Anderson, retired chancellor of UALR.


Ron Copeland, retired director of the University District Partnership in Little Rock, Arkansas, presents Dr. Joel E. Anderson with the 2016 Vision Award. Dr. Anderson is the recently retired chancellor of UALR, which has been a neighbor to WSB for decades.