Blind Man with a Vision the Joe Ashley Story. Special thanks to Joe for his willingness to interview and share his story. Joe Ashley works for the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). Andrew Stowe is a rehabilitation counselors and works for DARS in Charlottesville, Va. Doug Foresta is a podcast producer. Thank you Doug for the new segment “Foresta Five.” Find out more about Doug at www.workforce180.com/podcast . Anne Hudlow is Executive Director of the WWRC Foundation and co-host of the VR Workforce Studio. Rick Sizemore is the Director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center
Transcribed by: Douglas Council, a current student at WWRC in the Business and Information Technology program. If you are interested in hiring a wonderful typist call 540-332-7162. (Different Voices are transcribed in different colors, a unique feature of Doug’s transcription skills.)
This is the VR workforce studio, inspiration, education and affirmation “AT WORK”. The workforce and disability employment podcast from the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, a Division of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. The VR Workforce Studio is published by our Foundation at wwrcf.org and is available in iTunes and at vrworkforcestudio.com. You are listening to the vrworkforcestudio.
He was at a teaching hospital and the gentleman said, “Well, you have retinitis pigmentosa. You’ll be blind by the time your thirty five and there is no treatment.”
Mom burst into tears and that was the start of the process of trying to figure out how I was going to deal with this over time…………..
Rick: On Todays Episode of the VR Workforce Studio; A Vision for Disability Employment.
Rick/Anne: Through the Eyes of a Blind Man.
Rick: Hi I’m Rick Sizemore, Director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center.
Anne: and I’m Anne Hudlow, Director of the WWRC Foundation
Rick: and we are bringing you the stories of people whose lives have been profoundly affected and, well sometimes forever changed by disabilities. Like our Inspiration Showcase Big Interview today…. Blind Man with a vision. Anne a question for you, you remember high school maybe college or some other leadership course where you had to close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to be blind.
Anne: Sure Rick. I certainly do, yea
Rick: I think at one time or another most of us have thought about what it would be like over time to lose your vision slowly.
Anne: On today’s episode, we’ll hear how Joe Ashley’s vision slipped away over time until he was completely blind. But our podcast is so much more than stories about people with disabilities these are Stories of how through vocational rehabilitation these unique and determined people have become independent and employed.
Rick: That’s right Anne. Stories of people who show everyone that individuals with disabilities have an enormous capacity to overcome the obstacles to independence and employment. And Joe’s happens to be a two for one, his story that is. He is not only a person with a disability who’s had to overcome challenges to be successful in his vocation, but he’s dedicated his life to vocational rehabilitation and helping others along the way to their goals of employment. Following our Inspiration Showcase Big Interview, Anne is going to take us on a trip down to the mansion and we’ll hear how Governor McAuliffe is opening up new access for individuals with disabilities.
Anne: And Rick, we have Andrew Stowe in Studio A. Hi Andrew
Andrew: Well thank you, it’s great to be here.
Anne: He is with us for some quick highlights from the Virginia Rehabilitation Association and something new over in studio B, Doug Foresta. Welcome Doug
Doug: Hello, it’s great to be here Anne. Andrew, Rick I’m delighted to be working with you.
Anne: Doug is here with a review of the top workforce podcast.
Rick: While our show is all about the rock stars that go over, around, or through the obstacles that are in their way of independence and employment. The picture just isn’t complete without the champions of business and industry that hire individuals with disabilities. After all to really concentrate on jobs driven training we have to know where the jobs are so I’m really look forward to talking with my friend Doug Foresta about his top picks in workforce podcasts.
Anne: Rick I also have some updates on a great new video, the safegait and the June Manufacturing Academy, but I know you are anxious to hear Joe’s story which is up next.
Rick: Dr. Joe Ashley has been a leader in the states Vocational Rehabilitation Program for decades, and now leads a team that is implementing a significant new career pathways initiative. He is regarded at the state, well and national level as an innovator and inspires his colleagues with his energy and his determination.
Anne: But Joe’s success is a reward that has been achieved through his grit, iron will and determination across the years through vocational rehabilitation and assistive technology.
Rick: Along his journey, Joe has not only adjusted to being blind, he excels in his vocation in VR. Joe is the Director of Grants and Special Programs for the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. He’s currently is the Agency representative on the Career Pathways Workgroup and on the WIOA Implementation team. He has served as co-director on a number of Department of Labor grants and as the co-principal investigator on the University of Richmond’s Vocational Rehabilitation, important words here, Return on Investment grant. It is a real pleasure to welcome Dr. Joe Ashley into the VR workforce studio. Joe there are so many different forms of blindness and, well, low vision and so many different circumstances that people face with their vision. Can we get started with a description of your blindness and how it came about?
Joe: I have a condition called retinitis pigmentosa sometimes inherited in, also has other ways that it starts. In my case I’m simplex I’m the only one in the family in terms of the family tree. What it does is it means that over a period of time, in my case, I was diagnosed at nineteen. It starts with a night blindness, the peripheral areas of the retina; the pigment leaves them and they end up creating a tunnel vision over time. I was having trouble at night getting around. I had two car wrecks before I figured out that I didn’t drive very well at night. I was having trouble in collage studying. The way it showed up for me was floaters and things getting in the way when I was studying. I went to an eye doctor that I have been going to for years and he basically put me through a bunch of tests I never been through before and this guy never talked above a whisper to me and he, at one point came back on a second look and said, “Oh my god.” Jumped up and ran out of the room and next thing I know I’m on my way to St. Louis to go to a specialist.
Anne: So Joe, was the next set of test more in depth?
Joe: This gentleman put me through a whole bunch of tests that day. So he basically sat down after a bunch of residents looked at my eyes. He was at a teaching hospital and the gentleman said, “Well, you have retinitis pigmentosa. You’ll be blind by the time your thirty five and there is no treatment.” And that was the end of it right there. My mom and dad were in the room. My dad was positioned and he sort of took it in. Mom burst into tears and that was the start of the process of trying to figure out how I was going to deal with this over time. I went up to Mayo and got the same diagnosis.
Rick: So there were no surprises on the second opinion
Joe: My eyes were so textbook classic that they were used as a uh, they took slides which is one of the more painful things I’ve ever done.
Anne: Wow….how do they take slides of eyes
Joe: They took, basically the brightness of a flashbulb and would shine them on to your retina through your dilated pupils and it’s just like looking at a bright light and you can’t blink or anything but they were able to use it to train other doctors and in what to look for so I was willing to go through that.
Rick: So Joe, what was it like dealing with the loss of your vision?
Joe: It was one of those things where, oh well now some of this stuff makes sense that I’ve been going through as a kid and you know trying to do an astronomy merit badge and everybody else is talking about all these stars their seeing. The only thing I see was the North Star.
Rick: So Joe, it sounds like you lost your vision over the course of several years
Joe: At twenty-one I was told to quit driving a car. I pretty much, particularly at night. I quit driving a car at thirty. I didn’t have the big wreck that most people have when they quit driving. I still had a driver’s license. I had gone back to school to get my doctorate. Living close to a collage campus, I really didn’t need to drive as much then and I let my license elapse rather than get it renewed and that was a tough decision for me because a lot of freedom is in that driver’s license.
Anne: So Joe when you think back on that time when you were going through this transition, what scared you most?
Joe: I was teaching, uhh I was a grad assistant and I was teaching intro to rehabilitation counseling and one of the students, this was a six o’clock to nine o’clock pm class and one of the students was a VR counselor in the state and they came up to me and said, “You need to be my client.” And l learned a lot in that process about what blind services are and learned how to use a cane to get around and one of the scariest thing I did up to that point was, use a cane to come home at night when I could see nothing at all and I had practiced enough with it and I had kept. You know, you just keep moving forward and you know I’m a big believer in you take what you’re dealt and then you just work with it and figure out how to move forward.
Rick: Joe, I just have to ask you. How did you deal with all this?
Joe: Some people would say not well. I would say one of the things in college when I was trying to adjust to this. I don’t like the word accept, I use the word adjust to this. My fraternity brothers were really helpful. When I would get really melancholy or have some problems with things they were always there to help me so they were a big emotional support for me.
Anne: As you think back on it what were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?
Joe: It was hard on me to figure out how to…to do the do the things. Change how I was doing things. You know, I was used to getting in the car and going so I had to figure out how to get rides places. The adjustment piece of having to be successful. Having to learn to use a cane and just change the things I like to do. I still was water skiing. I was still involved with anything on a boat, still sailing. That kind of stuff and it just was hard. I would say mostly it was a challenge for me, until I got into some of my doctoral counseling classes and at that point I was able to figure out some of the adjustments I needed to make.
Rick: So did you go into vocational rehabilitation as a result of your disability
Joe: I had been over to Carbondale cause its close to my hometown to look at their rehabilitation institute and went up there and got accepted and just enjoyed rehab counselor training actually education and training and get some program evaluation pieces and some program development training and just really enjoyed that and while I was there one of the; my office mates was from Richmond, Virginia. Actually two of them one was from Richmond, Virginia and other person in class was from Richmond and I saw this flyer from the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center and it was about a psych services internship and I was looking to do a dissertation and had seen some people from what is now Wilson up in Chicago looking at learning disabilities as one of the first places in the country to really deal with that and that was an area of interest of mine. So I found a way down to Wilson to become an intern in psych services and I got a dissertation research award. So the path that brought me to rehab was more around learning disabilities and substance abuse and their correlation and then spinal cord injury and but I like the program development side and I got to Wilson and just saw that if you were in Rehab you can do it here.
Rick: Joe you are an amazing success story
Anne: You went through that difficult adjustment and turned it into a career helping other people with disabilities.
Rick: Joe – you are known far and wide as an assistive technology guru- Are there AT devices you use to help you in your work?
Joe: Well, I; well let’s see it we can hear this. The time is 1040 a.m.
Anne: Oh how cool a talking watch.
Joe: So it starts with little functional things like a watch that talks. I’ve got the, I look for products such as the apple iPhone or the apple products out of the box. They have a feature called voice-over that talks so you can access the devices.
Rick: So Anne, we are gonna take quick pause and you and Joe are going to give us a tour of his phone.
Anne: Looks like Joe has his phone out
Joe: Ok what I have here is my iPhone and I have it on my inbox for my email and it has a rotor on it that you just sort of turn your fingers in a clockwise dial and allows you to do several things. I’ve got in on what they call speech rate so I can speed this up.
IPhone starts to read his email.
Anne: Isn’t this amazing. So you are scrolling through all the various parts of the e mail and it’s not only reading to you but its allowing you so change the speed of the speech.
Joe: So, (Voice on phone starts to read Joes email) so I can speed this up (Joe put the speech rate at sixty percent) and that’s a little fast for most people, but you can also slow it down. (Joe puts the text speech rate down to forty percent) That’s about where I listen. So you got the option here with this one little device it comes out of box and with a program called voice-over that’s built into it and if you have an iPhone at home passed the iPhone 4, you’ve got this in your settings. You can just turn it on and it will read these things to you. You can also make things bigger. It’s got a number of different built in disability accommodations in this phone and it’s a powerful little tool that makes life a lot simpler for people who are blind so that they can read stuff. It does just almost everything you need to do.
Anne: You are listening to the VR Workforce Studio. We now continue our interview; the vision of disability employment through the eyes of a blind man- the Joe Ashley story.
Rick: Assistive Technology has come a long way hasn’t it?
Joe: When I first started off in my graduate school days; when I was starting to lose the vision. I had some… the were fixed focused magnifying glasses so there big barrels that would stick out of the lens and they were fixed focus at eighteen inches they are pretty much what a heart surgeon uses and I could see about eight letters at a time and you learn to scan with that so that’s one of the ways I got through grad school. Reading about a hundred and twenty words a minute which is terrible. I tried brail I’m not… I just, my fingertips aren’t sensitive enough for me to be successful at brail. I’ve tried it a couple of times, which is unfortunate because there would be some ways that it would be helpful. I’ve used hand held dictating machines to memorize stuff when I do presentations I have to memorize it. Jaws is a screen reader that basically takes what’s on the page in front of you, on your email or whatever and you can help make it read those things to you.
Anne: So what are your go to devices in your line of work Joe?
Joe: I’d say Jaws is; at this point in my career Jaws and voiceover off of the iPhone are the two big things I use. We do some optical character recognition; pieces that can convert a piece of paper in to text although we’re not having to do that as much but those are the big things I use. My next toy is going to be a hand-held scanner where I can put uhh… like a label you see in a… like the barcode you see. I could put a barcode on something and I would be able to put it on a disk or a thumb drive to tell me what’s on there and then you just wave this wand over it and it will read what it is on there so that’s where I’m going next
Rick: Joe, even though your blind you still live a really live a full life. What are some of the sports and outdoor activities that you still pursue?
Joe: I still sail; I have been on a couple of big boats where I have been allowed to be the helmsmen and with the iPhone compass. You can literally keep a heading and sail out. I was up at Saint Michel’s taking a class with a young man who was helping me work out how to use a compass off the IPhone to sail and we were pulling the boat into the slip and we sailed it right into the slip. This kid was so good at giving me directions and we had worked out as a team. I’m the helmsmen and we put that thing right where it was supposed to park and normally you would drop the sails and just putter in with the engine but we wanted to try something a little different and that worked out really well so I do still sail and we kayaks and we kayak and we take that out and paddle around a bunch.
Rick: And you are still a marksman?
Joe: Laughs Yes I am. Yes, my brother in law took and old .45 that my dad had and put a laser sight on it and at the time instead of looking down; straight head if I turned at a forty five degree angle, I still had a pocket where I can see the red dot from the laser on the target and I put that target around and then Judy would tap me on the shoulder when it was time to shoot. I will tell you however when you go into a shooting range and when you are blind and when you pull out a pistol people get a little nervous.
Rick Anne – Laugh
Anne: Joe you are an amazing man and you are well known for your ability to find your way around various cities. How do you do it?
Joe: One of the things I tend to do is to keep maps in my head. I have been known in some parts of Richmond when we were traveling around and people weren’t familiar, I’d just have them give me that location and can tell them the street to take where we needed to go but I have to come into the city from and have the directions in my head to be able to do that but I have gotten over the campus here at Wilson so many times when I was the PERT director and I did some internships here that I had all the routes in my head so I typically know where I am once I get a start point. If I don’t get a start point then sometimes it take me a while to figure out where I am and then go from there
Rick: Joe based on your personal success and as you look at individuals with disabilities. You have some thoughts about what some have called the level playing field.
Joe: If you have the newest device, if you have something that other people are also learning in, you can train people up on it. You create a demand for a student and they don’t really care about the disability. So to me it means, I’m sort of over this concept of a level playing field that people talk about. What I want to see is an edge for people with disabilities. I want either through credentials or training or experience that the people that come out of our particular service options here at the VR system are a desired candidate they’re not just a level playing field; they have an edge.
Rick: Joe, you’re leading a pretty significant effort with this career pathways grant through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services of course that is funded by our rehabilitation services administration. Can you tell us more about the career pathways grant that is designed to help individuals with disabilities?
Joe: I see with our new career pathways for individuals with disabilities grant project that we have now through umm… funded through the rehabilitation services administration is the opportunity to do systems alignment but with more systems. See for example we are going to use some services and new training here at Wilson in manufacturing and doing academy’s where people can do hands-on types of assessments to determine if they like advanced manufacturing and if they have the skill and the aptitude towards it by some exposure, get through an MT manufacturing technician one or other types of training. Look at the career readiness certificate. Look at these credentials and hopefully we can stack a number of them. Figure out to do the accommodations through assistive technology and then take it out to some of our communities where we’re pulling in adult education to line them up. So really what your trying to do in a career pathway is align the education, training, human services and other kinds of systems together with the skill needs in the industry cluster. So what we’re going to do train to exactly what the industry is looking for on this advanced manufacturing. That’s an example of one industry cluster were going to pick. So that we can do the alignment of all the services that one needs to have and puts education and training together. Some hands-on learning as well. Some of the education side of this and align that with the specific industry requirements for that particular position so that when you’re done you have a young person whose put their hands on things; they’ve tried things and they have learned how to be successful in a particular occupation and they have the skill needs that the industry says this is what I’m looking for. I find it amazing, if you listen to the industry and you read and their pretty good about telling you what it is they are looking for and then you set up the education and the hands-on training that goes with the education that meets that requirement and then that person pops out through this program where they might have several credentials lined up and then they have the opportunity to go get more with some articulation agreements with some community colleges. All of a sudden you have created a career path for an individual and people think that you are really smart when all you did was to take the time and listen and focus on what people are asking for and be sure that the students have the skill set that makes them successful and that will be the edge we can find is having these stackable credentials. Having multiple stackable credentials lined up for these folks.
Rick: Joe, it’s been a real pleasure having you as our guest here in the VR workforce studio. Best of luck to you and all of your future endeavors.
Anne: Thank you, Joe.
Rick: Anne, you just heard Joe Ashley talk about the career pathways grant for individuals with disabilities. That’s supported by the rehabilitation services administration and is enabling our efforts to get into well skills training in modern manufacturing. We are holding an academy here May 30th through June 3rd to introduce, youthful populations to the possibilities of working in manufacturing and I think you’ve got something planed Thursday that June 2nd that’s going to be pretty exciting
Anne: Yes we do Rick. The foundation is going to be sponsoring a breakfast at 9 a.m. on the Thursday June 2nd. We have a lot of excitement surrounding this event. Lots of employers from around the state and locally who are coming to see the academy and the MTT. We have some friends that we are thankful to be working with through this event. Sponsors like Virginia Manufactures Association, Manufacturing Skills Institute, Provides US, Daikin Applied, Union Bank, and Dominion will all be helping us to have this exciting day prepared
Rick: We will visit the WWRC Manufacturing Technology Training Lab and see a solar powered water purification unit the students have constructed and they will use pre-collected ground water from a holding tank, run it through the unit and then bottle the water on a conveyor line just like a typical manufacturing process. So it’s going to be a great day and we hope that everyone will come out and see this exciting venture where were introducing youthful population to, again the possibility of working manufacturing.
Anne: Very cool rick and I heard that you are going to drink the first bottle of water (Rick starts to laugh (I’m up, I am up.)) that is manufactured by this academy plant
Rick: We are testing it very carefully and I will drink the first bottle of water.
Anne: You heard it here. Come on out and see this. You know the foundation is really excited about sponsoring these students and staff who are working towards seeing their way through to the manufacturing world.
Rick: Well Anne, how was your trip to see the governor’s mansion and the new accessible ramp?
Anne: Oh very nice, Governor McAuliffe and the first lady of Virginia recently held a ceremony at the mansion to dedicate the addition of a new wheelchair ramp on the Governor’s Mansion.
Begin with fife and drum corp
Governor McAuliffe: And so today, we dedicate this attractive new entrance to the mansion that’s insures the most accessible and dignified welcome for all Virginians. This project is about respect. Respect for our wounded warriors, respect for our disabled citizens and respect for our older Virginians. This project will be a meaningful improvement welcome by the hundreds of distinguished guests to the executive mansion every year and it is one day that I truly believe that it will be the primary entrance to the mansion for a future governor of the commonwealth of Virginia. Thank you for joining us here today
Anne: Bryson Minnix from WWRC had this to say about what this means to him.
Bryson: I think it will open the doors for a lot of them to have the chance to go in and personally meet the governor and see the governor and to get into a historical building to see what is available because a lot of historical buildings don’t necessarily have the access that this will now have.
Rick: Ok well Andrew Stowe from the Virginia Rehabilitation Association patiently waiting. Andrew, welcome to the podcast. It’s nice to have you here today.
Andrew: Well thank you Rick, it’s great to be here. We have a new quarterly edition of our Virginia Rehabilitation Association News Notes coming out.
Rick: I’m looking forward to reading those. Where can we find them?
Andrew: Well we can find them on the website which is www.vra.org.
Rick: And you’ve got some folks that just made it back from the National Governmental Summit.
Andrew: Yes we do, we had five people travel up to Washington DC to attend that summit and to meet with their house and senate legislators as well as participate in state of the art training on resent techniques and strategies for helping people find employment.
Rick: And I understand Virginia has a new official out at NRA
Andrew: Yes we do, we have a long time an esteemed Virginia Rehabilitation Association member Eleanor Williams, who is the incoming president for the National Rehabilitation Association.
Rick: And I’m sure she will represent Virginia well. What are some of the things VRA is emphasizing in its platforms with the governmental officials that you met with?
Andrew: We are emphasizing that it is very important to have a qualified rehabilitation counselor meaning someone with at least a master’s degree in counseling.
Rick: I think that’s important because in any given day, you are working with a lot of different kinds of consumers who need our services.
Andrew: Yes that’s correct. Last week for example I met with someone who had schizophrenia and that was followed by somebody in a wheel chair that was followed by somebody who was struggling with a substance abuse issue and each of those individuals I have to approach somewhat differently.
Rick: And connect them to everything that’s going on in the community
Andrew: That’s correct
Rick: Or at WWRC or with other service providers.
Andrew: Exactly that we’re a… we have two functions. One is as a career counselor and the other is an effective informed case manager
Rick: You seem like that point where everything needs to come together with individuals with disabilities in the community.
Andrew: That’s correct and as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Rick: So absolutely true. I know that VRA is one small group that is doing just that. If you would like to find out more about VRA check them out and they’re new News Notes out at www.vra.org. Andrew Stowe is a rehabilitation counselor working with the DARS office in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thanks Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you Rick
Rick: And next door in Studio B. Something we’ve been waiting on Doug Foresta – with our new segment of Top Workforce Development Podcasts.
Anne: As we listen to these wonderfully inspiring stories about disability employment, like Joes, and hear Andrews’s reports about everyone who is working to help people with disabilities get jobs, we can’t help but to stop and think, where are the jobs. If we are truly offering jobs driven training – like those programs here at WWRC then we have to stay focused on the labor market and drive our programs toward the needs of business and industry.
Rick: That’s right Anne so we are delighted to have my good friend Doug Foresta is the producer of the workforce 180 and numerous other podcasts and he is going to bring us his top picks in workforce development podcasts called the Foresta Five…..Take it away Doug.
Doug: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my top picks for workforce podcasts. I would say that one podcast that I’m really enjoying that just came out is the searching in San Diego podcast by San Diego metro career centers. They have a really fantastic new podcast that has tips for job seekers. Talks about mind set and I think is a really great podcast. Another one that is also launching in the next week, kind of a newer podcast is called “before you cross that bridge” by career opportunities in Hyannis Massachusetts and this podcast although it is a regional podcast for people who are in Cape Cod and helping them to find jobs in Cape Cod, there’s some great stuff in there for all jobseekers about networking and about how do you maximize relationships. How do you talk about transferability of job skills. Really a fantastic podcast. Then, of course, there’s workforce central by NAWB and in full disclosure I do produce that podcast as well but that’s a fantastic workforce podcast about national trends, tips, and tools for how to make America competitive in the job market so I really recommend that. That is done by Ron Painter the CEO of NAWB is the host of that. Of course vrworkfocestidio is defiantly on the top of that list as well. That’s definitely a podcast I really enjoy and I want to finally put out a shout out for another podcast that is launching which is called “human potential at work” by Deborah Ruh. My friend Deborah Ruh and I’m really excited about that podcast and that’s also workforce podcast. It’s really about this idea that the only disability is not being able to see human potential and how we put that human potential to work which I know is along the lines of rehab and what rehab stands for. So those are my top picks at this moment for workforce podcast. Some are relatively new. Some will be coming out as people will probably be hearing this episode but thank you for the opportunity to share.
Rick: Well Anne we’ve had a lots of feedback on Jennifer Britts Episode; the fierce attitude on four wheels and as we follow that you have a new video about the safegait system that you’re working on through the foundation to install in our physical therapy department?
Anne: Yes we sure do Rick. The safegait is a device that assists in our physical therapy department for teaching individuals to walk again or brace walk. We invite you to go to wwrcf.org where you can learn more about this and find out how you can help with this exciting project. We appreciate you for giving your time to listen and what we really hope is that you’ll continue to follow us and listen to episodes – share them with a friend. And from our Foundations perspective we hope you will visit us wwrcf.org to learn more about joining in our efforts to support WWRC. I’m Anne Hudlowe
Music starts to play.
Rick: And I’m Rick Sizemore, until next time won’t you join us as we all work together to create hope and a path forward so individuals with disabilities can live independently and go to work.
Vrworkforcestudio, inspiration, education and affirmation “AT WORK” The workforce and disability employment podcast from the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, A Division of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. The VR Workforce Studio is published by our Foundation at wwrcf.org and is available in iTunes and at vrworkforcestudio.com. Support for the Foundation’s publication of the VR Workforce Studio comes from the Manufacturing Skills Institute; providing relevant education and skills training for careers in advanced manufacturing by offering world-class training programs through its academic and workforce partners. and the Virginia Manufacturers Association creating the best business environment in the United States for world-class advanced technology businesses to manufacture and headquarter their companies for maximum productivity and profitability.