March 14-April 15 is National Deaf History Month
According to recent study at Cornell University, nearly 150,000 people living in Arkansas are deaf or have a hearing-related disability. According to the National Deaf Center, 60 percent of individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind are unemployed, in comparison to the 4 percent national average. Goodwill Industries of Arkansas (Little Rock) has launched a program to combat this disparity.
The Deaf Readiness to Employment and Achieving Maximum Success (DREAMS) program is conducted in American Sign Language. Participants learn skills in more than 12 career-related subjects. These include résumé construction, interview preparation, job training and on-the-job support, time management skills, understanding work culture and more. DREAMS also teaches personal development skills such as character building, social interaction and conflict resolution.
“It was created because there’s a great need within the deaf community. Our participants need to find employment and they’re wanting to find employment,” said Brittany Fuhrmann, an interpreter and job coach with the DREAMS program. “They’re capable of doing this.”
In addition to the financial stability attained through working, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas found that most people who are deaf or hard of hearing have a strong desire to work and achieve self-sufficiency. Individuals enrolled in the DREAMS program show a lot of determination and a strong work ethic. Within a few short months, several program participants have already found employment across the hospitality and retail industries.
The DREAMS program is free. Interested individuals go through Arkansas Rehabilitation Services to obtain a referral to the program.
National Deaf History Month ends on April 15. You can join Goodwill Industries of Arkansas and other advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing community on Thursday, March 28, as they gather at the Arkansas State Capitol.
For more information on the DREAMS program, please contact Goodwill Industries of Arkansas.