Group standing on the capitol steps.

Connections Helping Another Navigate
and Guarantee Employment

In the U.S. today, more than 70% of blind people are either unemployed or underemployed. The National Federation of the Blind of Texas’ has responded to this important issue by creating Project CHANGE. This workforce readiness program empowers blind teens and young adults to develop the job and blindness skills necessary to reach their full career potential. As one of the NFBT’s three youth program’s Project CHANGE is changing what it means to be blind.

About Project CHANGE

Project CHANGE addresses the many factors that contribute to underemployment within the blind community. The ten-month long program combines vocational and blindness skills training, work experience, mentorship and community service to create an encouraging, individualized experience for its participants. Project CHANGE staff members will also work with protégés’ employers to ensure workplaces that are accessible, well-informed and welcoming. Between October 2012 and August 2013, Project CHANGE protégés move through five phases:

  1. Application: Interested individuals apply online or over the phone and then participate in a phone interview with Project CHANGE staff.
  2. Selection: Applicants participate in an in-person interview at the NFBT’s state convention; those selected for the program sign a contract.
  3. Goal Setting: Program staff makes home visits and holds person-centered planning meetings with protégés’ support networks; all involved work together to set individualized project goals for each protégé and identify internship and community service opportunities.
  4. Cornerstone Curriculum: To prepare for their internships, protégés fulfill 80 hours of training in essential blindness and vocational skills.
  5. Work Experience: Protégés complete their 100-hour internships along with 20 hours of community service.

Project CHANGE Protégés

NFBT is currently seeking 20 protégés to join Project CHANGE’s first-ever cohort. Protégés will benefit from vocational and blindness skills training, meaningful work and volunteer opportunities, as well as career-specific mentorships with the working blind. Candidates must be between the ages of 14 and 24, residents of Texas, deemed legally blind by a physician or accredited agency, eligible to work in the U.S. and able to fulfill the 200 hours of training and work required by the program.

To apply, fill out the age-appropriate application at www.nfbtx.org/youthprograms and confirm your submission by contacting Richie Flores, Youth Services Coordinator (rflores@nfbtx.org) or Nicole Gurgel, Assistant Youth Services Coordinator (ngurgel@nfbtx.org). If you would like assistance completing your online application, call Nicole at 512-323-5444.

Project CHANGE is made possible by a grant from the TEXAS Workforce Commission. Blind Texans have equal access to search and apply for jobs through Work in Texas.