Category Archives: Work

Starting the Day Off Right

Starting the Day Off Right

This morning I had two people talk to me about issues that needed to be taken to the boss. This, on top of the 2-3 I already had, is going to make this a fun conversation.

Him (walking past my desk): Morning.

Me: Morning. I need a few minutes when you get a sec.

Him: Okay. I’ve got time now.

Me: Do you really want to start your day off with management problems, employee concerns, and me in a bad mood because of it?

Him: I’ll get back to you.

Ha. We’ll see. I think I’ll just write it in an e-mail. 🙂

Okay. Back to writing software and training memos.

Hitting the Road

Hitting the Road

I survived grocery shopping… mostly… and I realize I owe a post on the events of the convention. You will get it assuming I survive my trip to Brookville or Ceder Grove or wherever this client actually lives (according to the people in my office it’s anywhere between here and the Kentucky line :-)). Look like we might be driving through some fun weather too. Best make sure the HT is reprogrammed from Atlanta with local stuff.

Only 2 more days until HP 7 comes out. Well, more like 40 hours and 10 minutes. Not that I’m counting.

I Haven’t Disappeared… Yet

I Haven’t Disappeared… Yet

Um… Hi… No, much to the chagrin of my few mortal enemies I have not been mauled by a pack of wild bores resulting in the loss of my hands and therefore stripping me of my ability to type.

I haven’t posted in a while owing, mostly, to the fact that I am lazy and procrastinate. (sidebar: also the same reason we have not podcasted in a while). So, I beg your forgiveness and indulgence as I try to catch you, who are still paying attention, up on the goings on around the Niner compound.

As I alluded to in an earlier post I got a job in May. I have been hired as a Resource Specialist by the Independent Living Center in our area. Our agency (Treva works there as well) is a private, nonprofit, consumer directed and controlled, organization which serves people with disabilities in a 7 county area in this part of the state. We provide 4 core services to our consumers:


  • Advocacy, both for individuals and systems change. We not only help people with disabilities receive the services they need to help them gain, or maintain, their independence, but we also work for broader community changes such as increased public transportation, curb cuts for people with mobility impairments, accessible public facilities, and other issues of that nature.

  • Information and Referral. We provide information on community and private resources including housing, transportation, benefits assistance, educational services for children, and other areas of interest to people with disabilities and their families.

  • Peer Support and Mentoring

  • Independent Living Skillt Training

Everything we do can end up fitting into one of these categories. Our goal is to empower people with disabilities and help them to find the services and products to help them live as independently as possible.

My job is quite a challenge for me. It involves a wide range of areas that are completely new in addition to some of the things that I have done before. I am responsible for new program development, supervising fundraising efforts, helping with grant writing, budgeting, clinical supervision and caseload management/assignment, computer database systems (including rewriting the consumer database I wrote 3 years ago [it has some issues]), quality assurance, staff training, working on our website, being a verbal punching bag for the 7 women in the office (there is a 7:2 female/male ratio), and of course the all-encompassing “other duties as assigned.”

I still may enter the arena of public safety in some capacity at some point in time. Rebekah thanks for the encouragement, it does help! For now I’ll see how this goes. It’s been fun, challenging, and of ourse occasionally frustrating, but I’m learning a lot and gaining some valuable skills.

Other than work, we’ve been trying to keep busy. We started out the summer by putting a new roof on the house over Memorial Day weekend. Treva’s family and my Dad were a huge help with that. We started tear-off about 11:00 on Friday morning and I hammered the last nail in at 21:00, in the poring rain, Saturday night. The rain was great though, it washed things down, cooled us off, and gave the roof a leak test. I guess it was just Mother Nature’s way of pitching in too.

June has been crazy too. We just got back from Wisconsin/Illinois where we attended my cousin’s wedding. It was a wonderful ceremony and I’m really excited for her. Her new husband fits right into the family and I think they will be absolutely blessed by God on their journey together.

Last week we were in Muncie for another friend’s wedding. Sheesh, I’m noticing a pattern of weddings. Scary! 🙂

Friday we ead for Atlanta for the 2007 NFB convention. This is going to be a crazy fun week for us. I can’t wait.

In honor of the NFB convention, we are going to do something special for the podcast. We’re going to do one show on general blindness stuff, and one specifically on technology. So post your questions here or send them to me in email if you want and we’ll try to answer them.

All right. I’m off to bed. Hopefully I’ll get some more posting in. I’ve also got a new phone that talks to me and let’s me do fun things like e-mail, so there’s a good chance I’ll pop random thoughts in from time to time. 🙂

I love all of you for not giving up on this blog and deleting it from your reads list.

It’s A Good News, Bad News Kind Of Thing

It’s A Good News, Bad News Kind Of Thing

Hmmm. Has it ever been a week.

First of all, for the past 2 days I have been doing new system deployments for a client. That went really well actually. You know it’s a good deployment when the biggest problem is that “It doesn’t look like it used to,” and, “I need my favorites.” Both were easily fixed and everyone is happy… for now 🙂 I told the customer to basque in the satisfaction from his employees enjoying their brand new machines, for the 5 minutes it will last until something brakes :-).

Also. A message to the UPS WorldShip Customer Service line. If you’re going to read from cuecards please, for the love of spam, at least read from the right set. If I tell you I have version 9 and you give me version 8 instructions it’s almost a sure bet we’re going to have a communication breakdown somewhere along the line. Nevertheless, 90 minutes, and 3 calls to tech support, later the software was running and the data was where it should be.

Today I got news about both jobs I’ve applied for.

The good news. I have moved on to phase 2 of the testing process for Kenosha. April 28th is the day of the written test which, “will begin promptly at 9:30 […] and may take up to two and one-half hours to complete.” Uh… Exactly what are they going to be testing on? I think just to be safe I’ll find some sort of condensed, Reader’s Digest, index of all human knowledge and memorize it.

And now… onto the news that makes my blood boil with indignation.

I won’t be getting the other job and it’s because of the reason I was afraid of. The guy actually admitted to a friend of mine that he didn’t interview me because I am blind. He also indicated the agency’s lawyer said that was acceptable and legal to do. I am so beyond pissed right now and it’s been like 2 hours since I got the information.

Whatever happened to judging a candidate on their qualifications and not your preconceived notions of how you could or couldn’t do the job if you had the same characteristic? And yes, I do use characteristic and not disability because I consider my blindness to be one. All be it annoying at times, but a characteristic nonetheless.

I can understand how a potential employer, colleague, or whatever wouldn’t know how a blind person could do the job. A lot of people I talk to don’t know how we do things as blind people. That’s fine, they don’t usually have to think about it. I have. I thought this through long and hard before considering it. (since I was like 16.) I just want a fair shot. A chance to convince them I’m qualified… that I’d be good at it. They can ask questions to learn how I’d do the job. I’d be happy to explain what accomodations I would need, and that the state vocational rehabilitation agency and not the employer is responsible for the costs of those accomodations. We tried the computer program that talks to me with the CAD software. It works. A light probe would tell me what nonemergency line is ringing (the 9-1-1 line has a pretty distinct ring so that’s easy enough to figure out). Braille labels on the paging console would take care of knowing which buttons drop which tones. My handheld reader can read anything that is typewritten that might come through on FAX or be handed to me or whatever. Am I missing something? Is it just too out of the realm of possibility to expect someone give me a chance? Is it really that much riskier to train me than anyone else? Just because you can’t see yourself doing the job as a blind person, does that mean I should be denied the opportunity to try?

ARGGGHHHHH!!!!!

I’m just so annoyed right now. I can’t see straight…

Shush! You know what I mean :-).

I guess it makes me even question the Kenosha thing. How do I know they aren’t just going through the motions because they know it’s illegal to disqualify someone based on a disability? Maybe they’re just jerking me around and have no intention of giving me serious consideration. Maybe I’m just being uber paranoid, but I can’t help thinking that way.

I know God has a plan. I just wish I could see it a little more clearly. I wish I wasn’t so furious and unsure of what to do. I wish they had just given me the opportunity to interview and asked their questions (okay, well they can’t unless I bring blindness up first, but I would have. I wanted this job enough that I would have convinced them I could do it.)

Okay… calming down now… sort of.

If I’m really nutso and/or just plain crazy someone please tell me.

In the meantime, I’m going to sleep.

Thanks for reading… sorry it wasn’t more interesting.

7788/99.5

7788/99.5

WOO HOO!! YEEHA!

I’m doing the Happy Dance right now. I passed my data entry test with 7,788 keystrokes per hour and an accuracy rate of 99.5%. The mistake I made is one I usually make. I wrote “Bldv.” instead of “Blvd.”

The test itself wasnt bad at all. I had to enter records into a database. There was an ID, a name, address, city, state, zip, contact person, position title and phone number. After a 3 minute warm-up, I took the 5 minute test and it was over.

Now I just wait to hear when the written test is going to happen.

Cover Letter Help

Cover Letter Help

All right. You’re all probably sick of my neverending quest for work, particularly in the dispatch field, (and quite frankly, so am I) but hey, my blog, my content. 🙂

I was all ready to submit the same cover letter I submitted the last time I applied for a job at the local PSAP in our county until tonight. As I was sitting in my Bible Study Fellowship class I got the feeling that i needed to change some stuff in my letter before submitting it. The words were in my head and I was feeling like I had to do it. I took a minute and asked God if 1) it was from him, and 2) shouldn’t I really be paying more attention to Roger’s teaching? I don’t know if he answered my second question, but the idea still stuck with me so I made the change. Now, as usual, I’m second guessing my writing skills and whether I’m getting the idea across that a) I would be good at this job, and b) I really want to do this job. If anyone has any suggestions I would really love to hear them. Particularly the couple of you who are already doing it and might have a better concept of what it takes to get hired.
Read the rest of this entry

Data Entry Test

Data Entry Test

Wow. I actually heard back from Kenosha County. I have to go take a typing test. I called to find out if there was somewhere I could take it down here, but she said the job centers aren’t that well connected. They’re going to try and get me a back-to-back testing date for the data entry and the other written test which I really appreciate.

Now I just need to work on my accuracy. I have to do 6200 kph (which works out to like 30 wpm) with 95% accuracy. The speed, not the problem. I tend to type too fast and end up backspacing a lot. I wonder if they count it against you if you correct when you realize you made a mistake.

I think I’ll just take Treva’s advice and slow down and work on the accuracy since I know I can type around 70 wpm.

It’s kind of exciting. Although, I’ve gotten to the testing phase before for other jobs, so it’s really nothing new. Nonetheless, it’s kind of cool.

Update: The personnel department called back. If I want to guarentee a spot for the data entry test I need to go on the 26, 27, 1st, or 2nd. She said the Job Center couldn’t guarentee an appointment when the next Saturday written test is since they don’t know when. So, unless God leads me otherwise, I think the plan is this. I’m going to get to Indy on March 1, take MegaBus to Chicago, Metra it to Kenosha and crash with the familia. I’ll take the test Friday and come back Saturday… or Monday. Whichever is cheaper. Yeah, I’m cheap. I know. 🙂

Another 9-1-1 Job Possibility?

Another 9-1-1 Job Possibility?

Last night I received an e-mail from my father with a link to a job posting for a Public Safety 9-1-1 Dispatcher with Kenosha City/County Joint Services. KCCJS is a consolidated public safety group providing, among other services, 9-1-1 dispatching to all law enforcement and fire/rescue services in Kenosha County… Wisconsin. (Yeah, I knnow I’m threatening to leave Richmond again.)

I read through the info and filled out the application. Let me tell you, this was a pretty serious application too. Six pages, plus a 2 page checklist (which I will explain more about later). Additionallly they said you could give them copies of your resume, and any relevant educational information. I enclosed my highschool transcript and copies of the certificates I’ve earned from FEMA’s independent study courses. All told, it was 15 pages worth of stuff when I dropped it off at the post office today. Hopefully it will all arrive by the deadline on Friday.

What I found particularly interesting in this application was the “Dispatcher Checklist.” This 2-page document was a list of 30 odd items that they would like a potential applicant to consider before applying for the job. The application packet sites an unacceptable rate of attrition of new dispatchers because they are unaware of the more difficult aspects of the position. They ask that you read and consider each item and check it off indicating your consideration.

I found this an interesting approach to curbing the attrition rate. I’m not entirely sure how effective it will be considering you could easily check things off without reading them. I’m sure that lack of attention will show up eventually, but I’d be interested in seeing some statistics relating to this before and after including the checklist in the application packet. Below is the list they included.


    WORKING ENVIRONMENT
  1. Unable to physically leave your worksite (i.e. walk around, use the restroom, get coffee, etc.) At any time other than two 15 minute breaks and a 20 minute lunch scheduled dependent upon workload
  2. Unable to schedule your own lunch or rest breaks
  3. Unable to smoke at your worksite at any time
  4. Work at a small, confined work area in a room with low lighting
  5. Have a very limited opportunity to talk with your fellow workers during your work shift
  6. Work within an organization structured on the “military” model, i.e – Working through a highly structured “chain-of-command” -Having all phone and radio activities monitored/taped       -Having a disciplinary policy
  7. During training, be regularly reminded of errors and mistakes
  8. Work at a rapid pace over which you have little control
  9. Maintain intense concentration and attention for extended periods
  10. During training receive a daily rating of your job performance including criticism
  11. Work at a radio console and a computer terminal at keyboard rate of 30 wpm for a full shift
  12. Required to work different shifts
  13. Required to work weekends on a regular basis
  14. Work Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and any or all holidays
  15. Obtain child care between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (swing shift) or 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. (graveyard shift) as well as during the day
  16. Obtain child care for weekends and holidays on a regular basis
  17. Work overtime, before or after a shift, sometimes with little notice
  18. Have limited choice about which shift you are assigned to work
  19. Have limited choice of which days you work
  20. During on-the-job training, you may have to work all shifts
  21. Be in a high stress environment
  22. May be criticized by co-workers, officers and/or citizens



    TYPES OF CALLS

  23. Answer telephone calls where someone screams at you
  24. Answer telephone calls where the caller directs obscene language at you
  25. Answer telephone calls from suicidal subjects
  26. Answer and respond to telephone calls where the caller is hysterical, intoxicated, irrational, or confused
  27. Answer and respond to rescue and fire calls
  28. Give medical instruction over the phone
  29. Answer and respond to calls where a violent crime is in progress
  30. Answer and respond to telephone calls in which the caller is almost impossible to understand
  31. Make quick decisions on which one or more person’s safety is at stake
  32. Prioritize calls to be dispatched, deciding which is most serious
  33. Tell someone who expects police service that their problem does not require police unit response

After reading through this, and being aware of most of it from sit-alongs at WCECD and dispatcher blogs, I still want to give this a shot. Probably proves I’m a little nuts, but, as most of you know, I really have been interested in this type of work for a long time. We’ll see what comes of it.

Unteachable?

Unteachable?

I have a question for my readers. Especially those of you who are teachers. Is it possible for someone to be incapable of learning something, or is it merely finding the way to teach it to them?

Example.

If I am paid by the state Vocational Rehabilitation agency to train someone in the use of software required for a job, including screen access and Microsoft Office products, and that person has absolutely no grasp of what I am teaching them how do I handle that? When I taought this person a specific task and they could not repeat the task mere minutes later I begin to wonder is it a problem with my teaching or their comprehention. I have also been told that this individual has already been taught everything I am reteaching her.

I’m kind of frustraited. I have an obligation to the state to teach the client the software they purchased for her. I have an obligation to the employer to teach the software required for the job. I also have an obligation to my student. Is there, however, a point at which I say, “hey. I’ve taught this task eleventy-billion times and there is absolutely no retension. This person is not trainable.” Or am I just giving up too soon.

I know the fundamentals of the screen reader are there. The person knows how to open programs, type, surf the web, so they are capable of learning new things, but why can’t I get them to understand how to switch folders in Outlook and remember that task 5 minutes later.

Maybe I just suck as a teacher.

I’ve got 2 more hours of traiing authorized before I have to ask for more if necessary. I’ll see on Tuesday if anything I have taught has sunk in.

Treva said that if it were a child she’d say repeat, and reinforce (or something like that). I don’t know that the state will pay for that, and I know the employer won’t be happy with that either. All the time I spend training is time taken away from productivity.

All right. Chime in. Please????? *pathetic wine* 🙂