• SAAVI Staff and Students Hiking Group

    A large group of SAAVI Students and Staff equipped with their canes and walking sticks, posing for a picture before they undertake a great hike outside.
  • SAAVI Students on the move

    Two photos, one showing a group of students under learning shades walking alongside a river, with a bridge in the background. The other photo shows a student under learning shade getting ready to fly down a zipline.
  • SAAVI Students Doing Great

    Two photos, one showing four students posing in front of the Community Food Bank truck after an event. The other photo shows a group of students under learning shades getting ready to light their grills and cook that nights dinner.

Integrated Employment Conference – Cultivating a Culture of Strengths

This event will serve individuals, who include, but are not limited to, persons who are blind or visually impaired, persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), caregivers, families, professionals, educators, employers, community members, and other stakeholders. You can take a look at our list of presenters by visiting our Meet the Speakers page.

The conference will support the goal of “Integrated Employment,” while also incorporating other goals for “Self-Advocacy” and “Inclusion.” Our main goal will be to support the dissemination of information about integrated employment to our target population. Integral to this conference will be accessibility and inclusion, and we will promote person-first language throughout. The Integrated Employment – Cultivating a Culture of Strengths conference will also provide information critical to fostering a culture of asset-based employment by bringing together employers, community partners, families, and consumers who are blind and/or those who have other disabilities. The overall purpose of this conference will be for persons with disabilities to gain information to help them transition to competitive, integrated employment settings where they can work in positions that play to their strengths and allow them to earn a competitive wage. Most importantly, the conference will positively impact many Arizonans with IDD, some of whom currently working in sheltered work environments, and those who are under- or unemployed. Informing local companies and community members who will participate of our conference of our goals so they gain information and awareness will also be a critical component.

Date: May 14, 2021

Location: Zoom Meeting Room

  • 7:50 a.m. – 8:50 a.m. Breakfast Program
    • Master of ceremony (Tarik Williams of We Are Vision of Hope) -Welcome & Introductions
    • Opening Session Speaker: (Dr Arielle Silverman of Disability Wisdom Consulting)- CEOs focusing on the culture of asset-based employment, capitalizing on individual strengths how a blind worker can contribute to company productivity, celebrating strengths and identity.
  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Session 1: Americans with Disabilities Act and Your Rights
    • Presentation 1 (For Consumers):  Understanding your rights and responsibilities, accessibility options and solutions to perceived barriers of blindness (Ollie Cantos of Respectability)
    • Presentation 2 Presentation 2 (For Employers): How the law supports you in cultivating a high performing company (Meaghan K. Kramer (she/her) Staff Attorney of The Arizona Center for Disability Law)
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Break: Networking & Exhibit Space
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Session 2: Changing the Perception
    • Presentation 1: (For Employers): Industrial Complexes Perpetuating Sheltered Employment (Justin Salisbury)
    • Presentation 2: Misperceptions: How blindness and other disabilities will not affect work performance Panel discussion: (Jordan Lopuszanski- Social Worker CODAC) (Jason Snead Research and Communication Specialist, Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council) (Beca Bailey of Arizona Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
  • 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch Program: Master of Ceremony (Tarik Williams)
    • Lunch Session Speaker: (Arizona Industries for the Blind CEO Chris LaFollette & PR Manager David Steinmetz) How we transitioned from sheltered employment to competitive integrated employment interview
  • 1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Session 3: The Job Interview
    • Presentation 1 (For Consumers):  How to navigate the most common interview questions; disclosing your disability (Noran Muntasser- Guild Mortgage and Rachel Kuntz- Employment Specialist)
    • Presentation 2 (For Employers): Navigating the “unknown” how to see past the disability (Denise Resnik CEO & Founder of First-Place Phoenix)
  • 2:45 PM – 4:00 PM Session 4: Career Information Fair
    • Presentation 1 (for Consumers and Employers) Sourceabled resource shared by Jason Weppelman
      • (Consumers)Arizona Industries for the Blind Employment Opportunities shared by David Steinmetz.
      • SAAVI Services for the Blind Opportunities Shared by Joanne Gabias
    • Providers and employers available to network with consumers -Breakout Rooms