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7 WITH DISABILITIES GRADUATE FROM JOB-TRAINING PROGRAM

SHARE 7 WITH DISABILITIES GRADUATE FROM JOB-TRAINING PROGRAM

Computers scared Kimberly Funk and that created a far worse barrier to employment than the physical disability for which she uses a wheelchair.

Although she had failed two computer classes in high school, Funk didn't give up. Tuesday her effort was rewarded as she joined seven others with disabilities to graduate from a corporate-sponsored job training program that included computer work, quality control and use of varied phone systems and office equipment. The training also focused on interview skills and resume writing.BOOST - Business Organization Occupation Service Training - is a program started by Discover Card to enhance the skills of people with disabilities so they can find jobs. Participant disabilities range from depression to hearing impairment to cerebral palsy and mobility disabilities.

The biggest barrier people with disabilities face in getting good jobs is a lack of pre-employment training, said Staci Da Rosa, project manager.

Adele Herman, regional training manager for Discover Card, believes the benefits of hiring "physically-challenged, well-trained individuals," is they "become loyal, dependable, professional employees."

The graduates received certificates of competency to show prospective employers.

"We'll go out and talk to other employers and say that we have trained people," said Debbie Inkley, volunteer board president for United Cerebral Palsy. "There are a lot of companies that function like Discover Card and these people have the skills needed."

Several of the BOOST graduates now work for Discover Card: Scott Earl in the register department; Funk in the mail room as part of a supported-employment enclave (she plans to go out on her own soon) and Nipattra Tungmala is an intern there.

The others - Anne Post, Natalie Olson, Losepina Leilua and Tonya Neerings - believe they have the skills and confidence to find employment.