Self-Advocacy

Work is a significant part of your life and it is important that you make your own decisions about what type of work you want to do. Being a self-advocate means speaking up about the important decisions in your life and being in control of decisions about your life.

If you have a career that you find interesting and satisfying, it can become a great source of purpose, enjoyment, and self-confidence. The best way to make sure you find satisfying work is to make sure that your job search stays focused on your interests and the type of work that you enjoy doing.

A self-advocacy quick guide from Advocating Change Together is available for download.

Part of the process of self-advocacy involves improving your job seeking skills so that you are more in charge of your employment search process. Focus on core issues first such as improving your resume, writing a clear cover letter, and taking advantage of opportunities to meet people who might help you with your job search. Other important skills are interview preparation and interview skills.

Comprehensive sites such as HireAbility.com and CareerOneStop.org have articles on job seeking skills. The Job Accommodation Network Job Seekers Guide also has a page discussing these issues.

For in-person help with job search skills, you can work with the Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists at your local Minnesota WorkForce Center. You can find the closest center on this map or this list of locations.

There are also many nonprofit organizations that can help you build these skills. This list includes contact information for many organizations as well as descriptions of the services they provide.

Available Assistance

In addition to the list of general Job Banks and Job Portals provided by CareerOneStop, there are several disability specific job banks.

DisABLED Person allows individuals to connect with future employers by posting their resume and finding detailed information about potential jobs.

HireAbility.com provides a job search database, career tools, and a site where you can post your resume.

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) is a national association that includes more than 600 colleges and universities and over 500 major national employers. COSD's mission is to improve the employment rate of college students and recent graduates with disabilities on a national basis.

Local Resources

There are several local resources available to help you with your job search and career planning. We will discuss three here: the Minnesota Workforce Center System (WFC), Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and Minnesota State Services for the Blind.

Check this section’s Next Steps Page for more local resources.

Minnesota Workforce Center System (WFC)

Minnesota WorkForce Centers can help you with your job search or career planning. There are nearly 50 WorkForce Centers statewide. Each one has a knowledgeable staff to guide you. Each provides essential tools to make your job search a success. Most services are free of charge.

All WorkForce Centers have assistive technology to help you use their services and resources. The WorkForce Center System also has staff who are available to help people with disabilities access WorkForce Center services.

Services Provided

All WorkForce Centers have staff that can tell you about the services offered at the Center and any special services that might be available to you. They can help you use online job banks and other employment websites such as the statewide WorkForce Center job bank. WorkForce Center staff can also give you advice about local employers that are hiring, teach you the basics of conducting a job search, and help you with your resume.

All WorkForce Centers have office equipment that will help you in your job search, such as: telephones; photocopy machines; computers with internet access; printers, and fax machines.

Each WorkForce Center also has a library with books about how to search for a job, how to write resumes and cover letters, how to interview effectively, and which industries and jobs are expected to offer good prospects for the future.

Assistive Technology

All WorkForce Centers have assistive technology to help you use their services and resources.

Each center has a TTY for people who are deaf or have hearing impairments, and access to speech-to-speech service for people with speech impairments.

Other available assistive technology includes:

  • Closed Caption Decoder-Enabled TV/VCR
  • Job Access with Speech (JAWS) for Windows
  • Okay Vision Aide Corporation (OVAC) Reader
  • Pocket Talker Personal Amplifier
  • ZoomText Software

Workforce Center Locations

To find a Minnesota WorkForce Center close to you, call toll-free,1-888-GET-JOBS or visit the Minnesota WorkForce Center Website

Courses, Workshops and Trainings

WorkForce Centers offer various events throughout the year.

Each WorkForce Center offers a variety of workshops to help you with your job search and career planning. Examples of these workshops include: Interviewing Skills; Networking; Internet Job Searches; Completing Job Applications, and; Writing Effective Resumes and Cover Letters. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has a schedule of workshops and training sessions being offered throughout the state.

Career fairs bring many employers together at once. They are great places to apply for jobs or just to learn about what industries are hiring and what types of positions are available. Visit the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to find a job or career fair near you.

Other excellent courses, workshops, and training on career planning and skills are offered through local community colleges, community education departments, and nonprofit groups.

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services can provide you with a wide variety of counseling, training, job skills and job placement services. They can help you get the training or other services that you need to return to work, to enter a new line of work, or to enter the workforce for the first time. The services they provide to you are carefully chosen to match your individual needs. You and your counselor will work together closely to set goals and then develop a plan to help you reach them.

Eligibility

Eligibility is based mostly on whether you have a physical or mental disability that makes it difficult to prepare for, get or keep work.

People who receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are automatically eligible.

Minnesota Rehabilitation Services sometimes does not have enough resources to provide services to every person who is eligible to receive them. People who have the most severe disabilities will receive services first.

Cost

All services will be free if you are eligible for a Ticket to Work, or if you receive:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on your own disability
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) based on your own disability
  • MFIP/TANF
  • General Assistance (GA)
  • Medical Assistance (MA)

How to Apply

To apply for services, you can call or visit a vocational rehabilitation counselor at a WorkForce Center. Information about the location of Minnesota WorkForce Centers is available on this map or a list of WorkForce Center contact information is available at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Use the contact information found on the map or list to schedule an appointment with a counselor at a WorkForce Center.

Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB)

If you have a vision loss, the Workforce Development Unit of Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) can help you prepare for, find and keep a job, and live as independently as possible.

Rehabilitation Counseling

If you have a significant vision loss that makes it hard for you to get and keep a job, you may be eligible for a variety of counseling, training, job skills, and job placement services from SSB.

Services vary depending on your individual needs. SSB counselors will work with you to determine which services you will need to reach your job goal.

After you have decided on a goal and figured out what services you might need to reach it, you work with a counselor to make a plan that will get you to your goal. SSB counselors know about vision loss and understand workplace demands so they can help you choose which options are the best for you.

For more information about SSB Rehabilitation Counseling, call 1-651-539-2300 or 1-800-652-9000.

Eligibility and Application for Services

Eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services from the Workforce Development Unit of Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB), is based on several criteria. The main thing you must have to qualify is a significant vision loss.

People who receive SSI or SSDI because of their vision loss are automatically eligible.

To discuss your eligibility and the programs or services that might be available to you or to request an application for services, call 1-651-539-2300 or 1-800-652-9000 and ask to speak with someone in the Workforce Development Unit.

If you would like to ask a question or receive more information, you can also fill out the SSB Information Request Form and a member of the SSB staff will contact you.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development provides a list of local SSB offices.