North Carolina’s Dual-Customer Focus Benefits Employers and Employees
The North Carolina Division of Vocational
Rehabilitation Services’ emphasis on a dual-customer
approach sees the agency’s consumers with
disabilities and their prospective employers as
co-equal elements in a successful rehabilitation
The approach has led NCDVRS to build stronger alliances with businesses, local chambers of commerce, Joblink Centers, and other organizations. The benefits are many to both the employer community and to those NCDVRS assists in seeking employment. A case in point:
As a teenager, Pam Lewis (pictured here with her
employer, Dr. Joanna Tysor) had to have her leg
amputated after a four-wheeler accident.
The North Carolina high school student felt discouraged about a future career, so she and her mom began to meet with local NCDVRS Counselor Ken Query. He remembers that Pam exhibited an interest in medical, particularly veterinary, work— but all three realized that pursuing that goal would be grueling.
After high school graduation, VR assisted Pam in
attending Central Carolina Community College. With
degree in hand, she took the state exam for
veterinary technicians—and passed.
But college and exam preparation had left Pam
feeling drained, and vet tech jobs in her rural
Montgomery County were scarce. That’s when NCDVRS
stepped back in.
Business Relations Representative Thelma Cox worked with Pam on résumé development and networking skills and visited every veterinary clinic in several nearby counties. Pam would follow up on her leads.
Meanwhile, veterinarian Dr. Joanna Tysor had a
need at her Siler City clinic. “Good veterinary
technicians are hard to come by,” says Tysor. So
when Pam contacted her, she was interested—but
skeptical that a tech with a physical limitation
could do the job. She agreed to a one-week trial
and, when that went well, welcomed Pam as a new
That was in March 2006. Today, employer and employee are happy with the decision.
“Pam’s a hard worker, reliable and organized,” says Tysor. “We’ve all learned how to work together” including co-workers assisting Pam with lifting animals when needed—at least until she gets used to a new prosthetic leg that VR has provided. But whatever the challenge, Pam concludes: “You’ve just got to figure out a way to get over it.”
The dual-customer approach reaffirms VR’s
founding concept and continuing mission—assisting
people with disabilities in becoming qualified
employees of our second set of primary customers,
their employers. This emphasis on building
relationships with employers while offering them a
range of support services more effectively positions
the agency as the employer’s primary resource for
disability-related issues in the workplace.