Michael... Using Abilities and Fortitude for Success

Office Assistant
Picture of Michael Lewis

Michael was referred to ACCES-VR by his high school, for services that would assist him to transition successfully from school to work. Michael’s disability is Arthogyposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a congenital medical condition that involves the limb joints having limited or fixed range of motion.  Michael utilizes an electric wheelchair, has no use of legs/feet and very limited use of his hands. Michael is intelligent, has a great personality and is very articulate. Based on his interests, aptitude and capabilities his original career goal was to work with computers.

Following Michael’s graduation from high school, ACCES-VR provided financial assistance for Michael at college by funding tuition, fees, books and note-taker services.  Michael began work toward a degree in computer technology; however, due to disability-related limitations and the time commitments of becoming a father, he left college after the first semester. Michael was referred for supported employment services, during which time ACCES-VR also funded an assistive technology evaluation to identify potential technology aids that would assist him in employment. Despite the best efforts of the supported employment service provider, finding a position that was a good fit for Michael proved to be very difficult.

Meanwhile, Michael’s son grew older, and Michael became the sole provider for him, making him more motivated to work than ever. Michael’s ACCES-VR Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Debbie Gabrione, suggested a new service provider; an independent job developer, who, after meeting with Michael, agreed that he could be successful. This job developer had very high expectations for Michael, including requiring him to work on increasing his typing speed beyond 35 wpm, which Michael accomplished. Michael then became 55-b certified, as part of The Governor’s Program to Hire Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. This program enables individuals with disabilities to be hired for entry-level positions within New York State Government, without requiring the candidate take a civil service examination. Three months after Michael’s becoming 55-b eligible, the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance hired Michael in temporary status as a Tax and Information Aide, where he could utilize his computer skills, interpersonal skills and intellect.  Michael proved himself as a very strong and capable employee and after his first three months of employment he was offered a permanent position as an Office Assistant.  Michael states that this is the first time in his life where he can see clear, realistic goals for work and has set his sights to learn, grow, and earn promotions to a Salary Grade-18 position or higher. Michael has made great strides in his life, is now working successfully at a job he loves, and is gratified in being able to provide for himself and his family.

This story was submitted by Bryan Baszczuk
Local Workforce Development and Business Relations Representative
Albany District Office

Worker Success Stories