Self-Employment: An Important Segment of North Carolina’s VR Services
Known chiefly for preparing people with disabilities for traditional employment, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, with the help of federal recovery funds, is beefing up efforts to assist more citizens with starting their own businesses.
Our consumers’ self-employment successes reflect a diversity of gender, geography, ethnicity, disabilities and business types. Here are two:
Maria Owens has cerebral palsy, vision impairment, a mild developmental disability – and a desire to contribute to her own support. Her VR counselor, Alice Farrar, helped Maria grow her shredding business into “Security Shredding Service of Raleigh.”
With the heavy-duty shredder, adjustable
worktable, document containers and office supplies
that VR equipped her with, she provides service to
doctor’s offices, businesses — and at least one
client in Alaska. “I do everything myself, I’m my
own boss,” she says with a smile “and I make my own
Edenton’s Julio Posada, who had lost both arms,
was determined to become a draftsman/designer. VR
rehabilitation engineer Phil Protz helped him
acquire and install
computer and scanning equipment that he could
operate with his feet.
After passing the drafting exam, he started his
own business, Arrow Drafting & Design, and became
the area’s only certified draftsman. He says that,
even though he had the skills and knowledge, “if it
weren’t for VR, I couldn’t have gotten established.”
With revised self-employment policies, statewide staff training and the hiring of a self-employment program specialist, the division has embarked on a fresh commitment to provide small-business supports to more North Carolinians who won’t allow disability to stand in the way of successful employment.