October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Throughout the month, DES is sharing stories of individuals with disabilities who have utilized Arizona’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program to achieve success in the workforce.
Living with multiple physical and mental disabilities diminished Mary’s ability to pursue her dream of running her own web development business. Mary turned to Arizona’s VR program and worked with VR counselor, Lucy Jones, to create a career pathway that would make her dream a reality.
"I was unemployed due to disabilities when I applied for VR assistance. I needed to be able to work from home on my own schedule,” explained Mary. “My amazing VR Counselor, Lucy, helped me identify my existing skills and desired goals of being a professional web developer.”
Well-versed in Arizona’s workforce needs and projections, Lucy agreed that Mary’s career choice would be a fruitful pursuit. “The industry outlook is bright for web developers, and the occupation is expected to grow much faster than average,” explained Lucy. “The annual wage for employed web developers in Arizona is $63,470, which breaks down to about $30 per hour. However, self-employed web developers can make up to $100,000 or more.”
Mary received numerous VR services at no cost to her, which were specifically chosen to support her career aspirations. VR program funds were also used towards Mary’s college tuition where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Applied Studies degree in Internet and Web Development. VR also provided Mary with the means to obtain a vision exam and new eyeglasses, computer software, and home workstation accommodations, including a new computer and initial startup supplies.
“[Lucy] provided the support and tools that I needed to earn a bachelor's degree,” Mary said. “After I graduated, she then provided the support and tools required to start my home-based business, which will be up and running by early next year."
Mary is excited and well on her way of starting her new, home-based career. “VR and my counselor have helped me build a bright future worth waking up for every day,” said Mary.
To learn more about the DES VR program, visit des.az.gov/vr.