From coal miner’s daughter to software engineer at Dell

Plus RSA’s Carol Dobak talks about enhancements at the National Clearinghouse.

International Podcast day 2022
Lindsay Barton

National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials logo

NCRTM YouTube Premiere Launch Party – 10/24/2022

Event Date and Time: 10/24/22 at 1pm EST

Event Details: The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will launch a new version of the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM) website in Fall 2022. The NCRTM is the central clearinghouse for vocational rehabilitation (VR) information for individuals with disabilities and offers the VR and education communities an opportunity to contribute new knowledge to their specific fields and gain visibility for their work.

On October 24, 2022 a YouTube Premiere of the recorded NCRTM Launch Party will air on the NCRTM YouTube Channel at 1:00PM (EST). More information is forthcoming. NCRTM YouTube Channel

Save the Date:  Sign up to receive information about NCRTM YouTube Premiere Launch Party.


VR Workforce Singers:  VR Workforce Studio.

Lindsay Barton: My dad actually used to be a coal miner. No I, I cannot thank you, everyone who supported me and helped me enough, DARS included.

Jake Hart:  VR Workforce Studio, podcasting the sparks that ignite vocational rehabilitation through the inspiring stories of people with disabilities who have gone to work.

Flora Frazier:  Working in a field that I understand.

Jake Hart:  As well as the professionals who have helped them.

James Hall:  A job and a career, you got to look at how life-changing this is.

Jake Hart:  And the businesses who have filled their talent pipelines with workers that happen to have disabilities.

Debby Hopkins:  To help expand registered apprenticeship.

Jake Hart:  These are their stories.

Megan Healy: Because there’s such a great story to tell about people with disabilities.

Jake Hart:  Now, here are the hosts of the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore and Betsy Civilette.

Rick Sizemore: Welcome to episode 110 of the VR Workforce Studio podcast, the coal miner’s daughter becomes Dell’s new software engineer, as we celebrate international podcast day with an excellence in media award from the National Rehabilitation Association. And later in today’s show we’ll learn about new developments at the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials with Heather Servais, and NRA’s Carol Dobak.

Betsy Civilette: And it’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Disability: part of the equity equation”. You know Rick, our National Employment Team or the NET, has led the way in forging relationships between VR and our national business partners with great companies like Dell. And these efforts go a long way toward making disability part of the equity equation. You can learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, as well as download their free poster, just check the show notes at

Rick Sizemore: Well we’re excited in our big inspiration showcase to talk with Lindsay Barton who now works for Dell as a software engineer. Welcome, Lindsay.

Lindsay Barton: Thank you, thank you, Rick. Good to be here.

Rick Sizemore: We’re so delighted to talk with you, you have a new job with Dell Technologies, let’s get started there, tell us all about this new job!

Lindsay Barton: Um, I mean it’s great so I’m, I’m a software developer with uh, a focus in cybersecurity. I mostly write like internal programs for inside of Dell, so like helping out other people on my team. It’s just, it’s great, it’s a great job.

Rick Sizemore:  There’s tremendous excitement, just generally speaking, about Dell Technologies outreach to people who are neurodiverse, or people who have disabilities. You found this job through an internship, can you tell us about how that happened?

Lindsay Barton:  Dell Technologies, they have a they have a cohort with neurodiversity in the workplace where they, it’s like an extended interview process. So, instead of having like your typical interview process where you go in and you just kind of talk about yourself um, at length, which I’m not great at personally, it’s, it’s, it was over two weeks and it included some job coaching. Uh, and we worked on a project that let us kind of show our skills. So I applied for that, got into it, went through that, got, got, got one of the jobs. And I was an intern for about a year um, which is longer than, than most other uh, interns who come into that program. But there was just an issue where there wasn’t any available full-time positions for me yet, and just recently in the beginning of August, I finally got my full-time position. So, it was a really nice intern, internship. It was a paid internship, which is the best kind!

Rick Sizemore: Absolutely! (laughing).

Lindsay Barton:  Absolutely. Went from team to team, kind of just doing uh… little, little projects and things like that, before I finally got put on my, my full team that I’m on now.

Rick Sizemore:  Well that’s amazing. Now you were doing this internship while you were going to Old Dominion University, is that right?

Lindsay Barton:  Yes that, yes. I was taking four classes at the time of when I started the internship. Um, I’m currently one, one semester away from graduating finally with just about two classes left. So I’m, I’m super excited to get that, get that knocked out of the way.

Rick Sizemore:  So you’re finishing, finishing up your degree in computer science, and finishing … and you finished an internship that lasted more than a year. You’re now moving into this full time job as a software engineer working remotely with Dell Technologies. The job, before we move on, the job sounds like a really good job. Great salary, benefits package, those kinds of things?

Lindsay Barton:  Yeah, yeah.

Rick Sizemore:  Tell us about that part of it.

Lindsay Barton:  It’s a great salary and yeah, full benefits. Definitely better insurance than I was getting before, so that’s always nice. Tuition reimbursement, so that’s up to $5,000 a semester… what else? And working remotely is just, is just great. It’s really, it’s really helpful for me as someone with like agoraphobia, it’s hard to get out. Um, so definitely working remotely has helped.

Rick Sizemore: Well let’s talk about your, your disability. Tell us about your disability, what brought you into uh, vocational rehabilitation.

Lindsay Barton: It was when I was 21, I’m 23 now, so just two years ago, I finally went back and got “tested” quote-unquote. Evaluated, I guess is a better word.

Rick Sizemore: Right, right.

Lindsay Barton: I was diagnosed with uh, ADHD and autism, as well as dyscalculia which is math-learning disability. It’s like a really high co-morbidity with both ADHD and, and autism. Which as someone in computer science is not great ’cause you have to take a lot of math classes.

Rick Sizemore: Right!

Lindsay Barton: But now that I have um, accommodations it’s, it’s, it’s helped a lot. On top of that because I have a lot of sensory issues, I wear, I wear ear defenders just about everywhere I go now. Which help, kind of not… sound is my big, my big… sensory, like… lot of sensory issues especially with sound. But thankfully because I work from home I don’t really have to deal with like loud noises from the office or things like that. Or like you know riding in a car, driving in a car, hearing very loud noises. So for a while there was about a period about two-and-a-half years where I just did not leave my house, at all. And that was actually right, that was actually right around the time of COVID, so it kind of worked out! Unfortunately.

Rick Sizemore: Yeah, like everyone else.

Lindsay Barton: Yeah. And Dell actually during COVID had moved to a remote workforce. And then when they saw that it was working for a lot of people they, they, they kinda kept that remote workforce in large numbers. So, most of my team is in Austin, Texas, and then I’m, I’m here in southwest Virginia.

Rick Sizemore: Which through the past few decades has struggled in many ways economically. And so having access to a computer engineer job in Texas, from southwest Virginia, is a really good thing for you.

Lindsay Barton: Mm-hmm, for sure. My dad actually used to be a coal miner so definitely, definitely know like those, you know, the struggles. So it’s, it’s… I’m very, I’m very thankful and I you know I, I, I cannot thank you everyone who supported me and helped me enough. DARS included, ’cause. Shout out to Pam!

Rick Sizemore: Absolutely. Let’s, let’s talk about vocational rehabilitation, how did the agency, and how did vocal rehab help you with the various challenges you have getting into the workforce. What did they do for you? How did they help you get to this great job you have now?

Lindsay Barton: So one thing, the big thing, was that they, they helped me get my um, like pay for my evaluation. Because my insurance would not cover it. Um, which I think has been… I mean that’s helped me have my accommodations for school which has helped me greatly. Also pointing out this opportunity to me, which was which was great. And Pam, I know she’ll say that I just went and ran with it, I mean she, you know, she definitely, she definitely helped me out. Supporting me any time that there was like, especially with school, there’s always been, it’s never really been an issue with Dell as much as it’s been an issue with Old Dominion University. There was a time where Old Dominion due to some what’s the word like, uh… clerical errors ended up saying that I owed them $5,000 and there was a period of time where I was out of school for about two months, because of that. But Pam was able to point me in the, and DARS in general was able to point me in the right direction, help me see about getting some loans to, to pay for that and cover it. And just like, just general support, like… if something’s going something’s going wrong, I know I can always, you know, especially with school I know I can call Pam and, and, you know, get some get some advice. And, and me, me graduating on time is, is imperative for me keeping my, my full-time position. Thankfully we’re almost over that hill, but yes, for sure. (laughing).

Rick Sizemore: What a, what, what an accomplishment. And as you’ve moved through this uh, this process with VR and you have this great job, how would you describe the way it feels to move from a time when you had some pretty significant disabilities, to now? How does it feel to be working for a great company like Dell Technologies, in an industry that you’re obviously very good at and attracted to?

Lindsay Barton: It’s like, it’s like I’ve been drinking uh… like um, like Walmart brand Dr. Pepper for a very long time, and then drinking actual Dr. Pepper. It’s just it’s, it’s, it’s incredible. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Rick Sizemore: That’s wonderful.

Lindsay Barton: Yeah it’s just my, my life is completely changed. Before I had a lot of um, housing, housing insecurity. I was always afraid, you know, where’s my, you know, how am I going to pay rent this upcoming month? I worked at CVS for a little while actually, before starting at Dell. During the pandemic, which is also very scary for different reasons. But now, I really don’t, I really don’t have to worr-worry about that. Back a while ago I actually got pre-approved and I’m currently looking for a house. That is exciting, especially ’cause I might have a house before I finish my degree. I don’t wanna brag which, I yeah excited about that.

Rick Sizemore: Claim it, that’s wonderful. You’re buying, you’re buying a house, and your concerns about housing insecurity have vanished, because of this great job.

Lindsay Barton: Yes, yeah, yeah. It’s just been it’s been incredible. And then also knowing that Dell has a lot of support groups, so there’s these things inside of Dell called ERGs, employee resource groups. I’m a member of a couple of them, but one of them is true ability, which is disability or people who are neurodiverse. And I’m actually part of the committee, well we have a committee that we meet up, um, the neurodiversity committee, I’m actually a member of that. I get to give like any of my feedback every, every month and things like that.

Rick Sizemore: What would you want the people who listen to this podcast to know about you, and your neurodiversity, and your potential to be a phenomenal worker? Describe for us what, what it’s like being neurodiverse and being in this great job?

Lindsay Barton: My best device I guess would just, don’t be afraid to like reach out for help. Because like I said I, I went undiagnosed for… well yeah, over 21 years in my life. And you know I, I was actually in college before that happened, so I was I was really struggling in college with that. So like don’t be… and, and it wasn’t I was like afraid to reach out for help, it’s just I didn’t know how. But there’s like resources and stuff online and, and, and you know DARS in Virginia is a good, a good place to start. But also like, one thing I really struggled with was like I said like, talking, talking kind of about myself at length. Which I’m doing, I’m doing good today.

Rick Sizemore: You’re doing great!

Lindsay Barton: Thank you! You know look for, look for any of those like modified interview processes, such as like the two week long program we did. Those are really good, and also just like don’t give up I would say. Like the big thing for me for a while, I know I applied for gosh probably over, probably over 50 jobs um, before getting the e-mail about Dell, and trying that. None of them like having to do with like neurodiversity or anything like that, uh just like different software developer jobs. And even when I would get energy I just, you know, it felt awful. I felt like, you know, I wasn’t like there was like these rules that I really couldn’t figure out, that’s how I felt like a lot of time. So stuff like that. But thankfully with this like, you know, this two-week interview process it wasn’t, there wasn’t really like, oh you know, you said this, you said something kind of wrong so we’re not gonna hire you. It was more “OK can you do these skills and how well can you do them” and just show us basically what you can do. I, I think honestly that’s how all interviews should be, not even, not even neurodiversity.

Rick Sizemore: Right. So what would you say that Dell does really well, in terms of understanding people who are neurodiverse and attracting them to work for this great company? What do they do the best job at?

Lindsay Barton: Oh gosh, there’s a lot of stuff that they do really well. Um, I think understanding how to communicate with like neurodiverse people is, is probably the best. So that’s actually something we bring up a lot in the, in the committee meetings is… we, we talk a lot about how we want to connect to different people, especially like new people who are coming in with each other. I mean it can be kind of hard, you know, like to make friends especially like in a new job and just in the new place in general. And then on top of that you know you know having maybe having neurodiversity, being neurodiverse rather, doesn’t really help that sometimes, I know I’m definitely a case of that. And so the one of the things we talk about is how can we, how can we help connect these people so we’re like, we’ll do like a coffee, a coffee chat. Which is like you know, just like informal little chat that we’ll just go and, you know, talk about ourselves and try to introduce people, and see there’s any common interest between people, and try to like make friends or you know work buddies and things like that. And I think Dell does that, does that really well. I know in the, in the two week internship program, I say internship program, the two week work developed workplace development program, there, there was a lot of effort put in with like communicating with people and staying on top of tasks and things like that.

Rick Sizemore: Yeah. Well it’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and then this year’s campaign for 2022 talks about disability is part of the equity equation. So my question to you as a person who’s neurodiverse and a person who’s gone through vocational rehabilitation, what is your message to other people who are neurodiverse, about vocational rehabilitation, and the potential for someone who’s neurodiverse to go to work?

Lindsay Barton: Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There are, there are programs and resources in place, and great people, you know working, with us. Like, like you and Pam, and everyone who, you know, I think I’ve ever met through DARS. And also the neurodiversity in the workplace cohort, who are always willing to help try to find things, like and change people’s lives. Um, so definitely I think is the biggest thing is you know, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I know like a lot in society become like stigmatize both, both being neurodiverse and also reaching out for help for anything. And I think that needs to change. Because I went for a very long time without, you know, being evaluated or anything like that. And I, you know, I think a lot sometimes about how when I was in, you know, when I was in elementary school, in high school, struggling with math and just, socializing and connecting with my peers. Um, and staying on top of things. How maybe something like DARS, even though I’m, you know, I was a kid then, could have like helped. You should, you should definitely, definitely reach out for help when you need it.

Rick Sizemore: Lindsay Barton is a software engineer with Dell Technologies, works remotely from southwest Virginia. Thank you so much for being on our podcast today, Lindsay, and good luck with all of your work at Dell.

Lindsay Barton: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been great talking to you, Rick. And thank you.

Rick Sizemore: Kathy West-Evans, director of business relations for the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation and our National Employment Team has led the way in forging relationships between VR and national business partners like Dell Technologies. Kathy helped connect Lindsay’s VR counselor, Pam Spurgeon with Dell’s neurodiversity hiring program. Kathy how does it make you feel to hear about Lindsay going to work for Dell?

Kathy West-Evans: All I can say Rick is way to go Lindsay, you deserve this, and we are so excited to partner with Dell because they see the talent, and they provide the opportunity and understand that people work differently, but they bring great skill sets to the workplace. So congratulations Lindsay thank you to our partnership with the team in Virginia, and Dell I can’t say enough about Dell. They have great leadership, they understand that people who are neurodiverse bring a lot of diversity and skill sets to the workplace. And they have opened that opportunity with us at the national level, whether it’s in-person or remote. We’re so excited to be working with Dell and Danielle Biddick, who formerly worked with us on the project with Microsoft. She was the actual career life coach at Microsoft, and then helped us set up Hewlett-Packard, and now is managing and running the program, the neurodiversity program at Dell. So this is a long-time partnership across companies.

Rick Sizemore: And it’s really beginning to show in the success stories that are popping up here, and in Michigan, and other places. We wanna have you back on the show on a future episode to talk about all the places that people are being hired, and the great jobs they’re being hired into. Thank you so much for being on our podcast today, Kathy.

Kathy West-Evans: Thank you for the opportunity, Rick, and thank you for the work that you’re doing to get the word out about the great talent and skills that are supported by VR across the country.

Rick Sizemore: Kathy West-Evans is the director of business relations for CSAVR and the NET.

Well the National Rehabilitation Association just finished their fall conference, here’s their president Lou Adams with the conference wrap-up.

Lou Adams: We just finished up our National Rehabilitation Association fall conference and it was a great session. We had everything for integrated resource teams, transition readiness, working with employers, legislative updates from Tonya Ferguson from CSAVR, so really all of the folks that are in the broad spectrum of vocational rehabilitation professionals within National Rehab Association got something out of it. It was a great conference and I might also add that there was an excellence in media award given to the VR Workforce Studio.

Rick Sizemore: Oh, you’re so kind, thank you so much. Well Luke, congratulations on a great conference and on behalf of all of our team here at VR Workforce Studio, thank you and the NRA for this excellence in media award. But the podcast really wouldn’t exist without the compelling stories of people who have gone through vocational rehabilitation and entered the workforce, we’re very passionate about sharing their success stories. Like to thank my talented co-host Betsy Civilette, of course Randy Sizemore who does all of our Technical Support. Our dear friend Heather Servais, from RSA’s national clearinghouse. Special thanks to Eric K Johnson, the podcast talent coach, and Dave Jackson school of podcasting. And of course our champion, our leader, and the woman who gives up her heart and soul so freely to people with disabilities every day, our DARS commissioner Kathy Hayfield. So thank you NRA, and keep up the great work you do on behalf of people with disabilities.

Betsy Civilette: Well we are pleased to have Carol Dobak, acting deputy commissioner for the Rehabilitation Services Administration, and Heather Servais from the National Clearinghouse for Rehabilitation Training Materials join us today. Many of our listeners tell us that the national clearinghouse report from Heather brings them back time and time again. Because they can always find the latest news, the most current research articles and a wealth of information in one place at That’s

Rick Sizemore: And what they like about this podcast is how Heather shares the latest news and updates against the backdrop of our guests, and their amazing vocational rehabilitation stories.

Betsy Civilette: And Heather joins us now along with Carol Dobak. In her role as acting deputy commissioner of the RSA, Carol is delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the commissioner. Today she and Heather will share more about the exciting new version of the NCRTM! Carol it’s so nice to have you back on our podcast, thank you for joining us to talk about RSA’s New National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials.

Carol Dobak: Well thank you Betsy, and thank you Rick. You know it’s great to be back on your podcast, and, and thank you so much for inviting RSA the Rehabilitation Services Administration to participate in this particular episode of the podcast. At RSA we are very excited about the launch of the new version of the NCRTM, the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials. For more than 43 years the NCRTM has been collecting and, or cataloging and disseminating a wide variety of technical assistance and training materials, as well as events for the vocational rehabilitation community, and the individuals with disabilities it supports. During this time, it has amassed more than 3,500 separate and discrete materials that can benefit the employment of individuals with disabilities. And it has done so while taking advantage of and using 21st century technology, and social media. As the NCRTM has continued to evolve to meet the needs of its audiences, we at RSA again, are very pleased to be able to launch this new version of the website during the month of October, specifically on October 12th, during the middle of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrations. The new version of the NCRTM is the result of feedback from its users gathered over the past two years. As a result of that feedback there are several new improvements to the NCRTM. Users will now be able to view materials and information on a much more simplified layout. They’ll be able to share information with their colleagues, and they’ll be able to find the wide variety of training materials, events, and library resources using highly-improved search and filter functions. So whether you are an individual with a disability, a vocational rehabilitation professional, or service provider, an educator, a sign language interpreter or a, a business, you will be able to find highly-relevant, useful and accessible materials on the new version of the NCRTM.

Betsy Civilette: Thank you Carol, the clearinghouse is such a valuable resource for the VR community. Well Heather Servais and the National Clearinghouse Report have become such an important part of this podcast, and we are fortunate today to have Heather for an extended conversation about some of the new and exciting developments that Carol referenced uh, going on at the clearinghouse. So Heather, give us the scoop!

Heather Servais: Like Carol mentioned, we will be launching a new version of the clearinghouse on October 12th. The first change users will notice is the home page. It’s been redesigned to improve navigation between various sections of the clearinghouse, and will have a new streamlined look. The new version of the clearinghouse also contains two new sections, services and programs for individuals with disabilities, and business engagement. The services and program section highlights information and resources for individuals with disabilities about competitive integrated employment, job searching, career advancement, and other employment-related topics. The business engagement section provides information on how businesses can connect with state VR agencies, as well as resources about hiring individuals with disabilities, and creating inclusive workplaces. NCRTM has been well-known for our library, which contains more than 3,500 materials. The new version of the library contains enhanced search and filtering features, to more easily locate materials. Users can more easily share NCRTM library materials through multiple channels, including e-mail, Twitter, and other social media platforms with just a simple click. Users can also sign up to receive alerts when new items of interest are added to the library. The training and events section features events that are hosted and led by RSA grantees, federal partners, and other stakeholders. Many of the events offer certified rehabilitation counselor or CRC credits upon completion. Training and events can now be sorted and filtered to locate items of interest in the new version of the NCRTM. RSA is especially proud of the accessibility resources section of the NCRTM. This section includes guides, checklists, and video tutorials that can assist with making many types of materials accessible. The NCRTM will also continue to add new resources including new accessibility training videos in the upcoming months. Finally, listeners are invited to attend our virtual launch party on October 24th at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. This will help us celebrate the launch of the new version of the clearinghouse. Event information will be provided in the show notes, and we really hope that you’ll join us.

Betsy Civilette: Thank you Heather, that is wonderful news and look forward to the launch party on October 24th! So Heather this has been an exciting year for you, moving into this job at the NCRTM, do you have a favorite story about the how the clearinghouse is making a positive impact in the VR community?

Heather Servais: One of my favorite parts of working at the NCRTM has been collecting input and feedback from our users. Their feedback has been used to help build and enhance this new version of the website and was our key driver for making these valuable recommendations to enhance the website over the last few years. We’re really excited to see this new version of the clearinghouse launch and bring their feedback to life. We think that this will create a really valuable impact to individuals with disabilities, our VR professionals, businesses, and other NC RTM key stakeholders.

Betsy Civilette: So Carol, do you have any closing thoughts?

Carol Dobak: Uh, thank you Betsy and, and certainly, you know, we have been anticipating the launch of the new website for some time now. It has been a significant undertaking and I wanna recognize staff both at RSA and at New Additions for their dedication and contributions to the new version of the NCRTM website. And I encourage all listeners to this podcast to visit the NCRTM at

Betsy Civilette: Thank you so much Carol and Heather, it’s always a pleasure to have you on VR Workforce Studio. We’ve got Carol Dobak the acting deputy commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, speaking to our, to us from her office in Washington. And Heather Servais directs the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials and is a featured guest on the podcast with her monthly reports, so thank you both for being here today.

Heather Servais: Was a pleasure!

Carol Dobak: Well thank you.

Rick Sizemore: Well thank you for getting involved in today’s show. If you or someone you know has a disability and wants to get into the workforce, vocational rehabilitation may just be the answer to kickstart your career. Visit us at to find links and resources, as well as our contact information. On behalf of my co-host Betsy Civilette, I’m Rick Sizemore inviting you to join us as we podcast the sparks that ignite vocational rehabilitation.

Jake Hart:  The VR Workforce Studio Podcast is owned and operated by Vocational Rehabilitation’s Partners in Podcasting. Audio content for the podcast is provided to VR Partners in Podcasting by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in exchange for promotional considerations.