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PANORAMA CITY : Goodwill Helps Disabled Enter Job Market

Through the Deaf Services Program, Shell Moore learned to communicate in a whole new language: DOS.

Having recently lost her hearing, Moore moved from Ventura to Encino so she could participate in the Goodwill Industries program, which offers computer classes and job placement for the deaf.

“Before I took the classes, I was scared. Now, I am willing,” said Moore, who has landed a job as a film and video editor because of her computer skills.

At its San Fernando Valley facility in Panorama City, Goodwill provides training in clerical work, data entry and computer programming for deaf and developmentally disabled people and later helps them with job placement or hires them to work as Goodwill employees.

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“More than 90% of the jobs advertised will want someone to fill in as a phone operator or a receptionist,” said Joe Bates, a deaf interpreter and employment specialist with the program, illustrating the difficulty the deaf experience when looking for a job.

Ronald Gough, the coordinator of the Deaf Services Program, said there are many barriers for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the job market, such as employers not having the appropriate equipment or awareness. But with incentives to hire the disabled, such as tax breaks for the company, more businesses are looking for deaf employees.

For the developmentally disabled, Goodwill offers a basic program where its clients are taught to sort and mend donated items that will be sold in thrift stores. In addition to the training program, 20 sheltered employees (people not suited for jobs in the mainstream work force) work at the Panorama City location.

Throughout Los Angeles, Goodwill provides training and some employment in the areas of truck driving, janitorial skills and retail sales, according to Goodwill’s director of community relations, Rholan Wong.

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