Deaf Link and DoD CAP programme to help deaf employee work and live successfully overseas

Vicenza 28 August 2006The United States Army Garrison Vicenza, Italy, is at work breaking down recruitment and workplace barriers with the hiring of its newest employee under the Workforce Recruitment Programme (WRP) for college students with disabilities, sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Labor (DoL).

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Working as an information technology assistant in the Plans and Operations Division, Directorate of Logistics, Marc Rubin is the first deaf WRP student hired to work overseas. "Shocked", stated Marc Rubin, a recent graduate from the University of Texas, San Antonio, recalling his initial reaction when he was offered the job in Italy. "I had other WRP job offers when I was a student in the past, and this time I couldn't turn down the opportunity to work in Europe. I want other deaf and hard of hearing people to know that they can work anywhere in the world."

Marc Rubin came to Italy knowing there would be no on-site, let alone in-country, American Sign Language interpreters. This has not proven to be a barrier though in communicating with coworkers or performing his job duties.

"Gone are the days of the old Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) keyboards", stated Cindy Pierson, Equal Employment Opportunity officer in Vicenza. "Now, there is state of the art teleconferencing technology and video remote interpreting (VRI) via broadband Internet connection. With the assistance from DoD's Computer/Electronic Accommodations Programme (CAP), we are using video remote interpreting services from Deaf Link in San Antonio, Texas." Interpreting assistance is only a click away, 24-hours a day for Marc Rubin and others who use Deaf Link.

"When Marc Rubin needs interpreting assistance during meetings, one-on-one conversations, or other communications needs, he simply clicks the "call" button on a remote control and is instantly connected to Deaf Link's 24/7 call centre in San Antonio, Texas", stated Deaf Link Director Dan Heller, describing how the video remote interpreting services work. "Marc sees a Deaf Link interpreter on his TV screen. When he signs to the interpreter his comments are voiced to hearing participants through TV speakers at the meeting. When a hearing person speaks, those comments are transmitted by microphone and video camera to Deaf Link where they are signed for Marc by the interpreter."

Marc Rubin, information technology assistant, Plans and Operations Division, Directorate of Logistics, United States Army Garrison Vicenza, Italy, speaks with an interpreter from Deaf Link in San Antonia, Texas. Marc Rubin, who is deaf, has been working in Vicenza through the Workforce Recruitment Programme. Deaf Link is a 24/7 operation, which allows Rubin to connect to an interpreter at anytime for communication assistance.

"We couldn't do this without the support from CAP", Cindy Pierson added. "CAP provides free assistive technology and accommodations for people with disabilities at all phases of their DoD employment lifecycle from recruitment and placement to promotion and retention. WRP is one of many programmes, including the Wounded Service Members Programme, CAP supports with assistive devices.

"We're excited about sharing Marc Rubin's story with deaf workers and employers all over the world", stated Cindy Pierson. "DoD and Deaf Link are working together to open up the workplace for the deaf and hard of hearing like never before."

"It is an exhilarating experience for me", stated Marc Rubin. "Not only for employment itself, but personally - living and working in the world of unknown and living up to the challenges I encounter such as culture, social, language, and making good decisions to make my experience here more fulfilling. I strongly encourage all variety of disabled individuals to grab the quickest opportunity to work overseas whether it will be Europe or Pacific", he stated. "It will expand a new outlook on working with people, provide career advancement opportunities, and overall, it will enrich everyone's experiences personally and professionally."

For more information, you can visit DoD's Workforce Recruitment Programme.


Leslie Versweyveld

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