April 13, 2018

Telecom Toolbox guest blogger series shares telecommunication tips

Telecom Tololbox logoRTC:Rural’s Telecom Toolbox, a website that helps people with disabilities find employment using online career development tools, is starting a new Guest Blogger series. So far, the series features two guest bloggers: Justice Ender, RTC:Rural Communications Associate, and Molly Spence, a blogger and advocate.

In his post “Digital Content: Moving Beyond Sunsets and Silhouettes,” Ender shares his knowledge on creating online content and how to find and use pictures that accurately represent people with disabilities. In his post, he shares links to resources to help users find pictures that depict real people with disabilities participating in their communities. Ender works on the Healthy Community Living (HCL) project, and highlights the HCL free-to-use picture database on Flickr, where HCL photographers and people around the country share pictures for others to use.

Justice Ender speaks into a microphone in a conference room.

Justice Ender, RTC:Rural Communications Associate, speaks at the APRIL 2017 conference.

The second post in the Telecom Toolbox Guest Blogger series was written by Molly Spence, a writer and disability advocate. Spence is a member of the West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council, and serves on the APRIL Youth Steering Committee. In “Blog Your Way to a Successful Career—Q & A with Molly Spence,” she shares how writing her blog, Molly’s Zone, helped her to gain confidence and become a more vocal advocate. In sharing her experiences with Telecom Toolbox, she also describes how using social media and her blog have helped her to network and grow both her careers as a writer an as an advocate.

By reaching out to guest bloggers, Telecom Toolbox aims to provide different perspectives, resources, and stories on how to use online communication tools in career development.

The Telecom Toolbox website has resources for both individuals working to find employment on their own as well as for service providers. Resources for individuals include pages on how to set up different social media accounts, how to manage your online presence, and how to use online job boards. The Telecom Toolbox Blog is also a great resource, where readers can find posts on how to prepare for interviews, how to use social media to search for jobs, and more.

Closeup image of Molly Spence.

Writer and advocate Molly Spence.

Resources for service providers and Vocational Rehabilitation counselors include information on using telecommunication, including email, text messaging, and video chat to communicate with clients, and how to make sure those channels of communication remain confidential and follow ethical guidelines. The website also provides links to external resources that address using telecommunication in counseling practice.

Telecom Toolbox is the product of years of RTC:Rural research exploring how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies serve their rural consumers.  Through conversations with VR counselors and partners at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Director of Employment Research at RTC:Rural, learned that many VR counselors do not feel prepared to use telecommunication methods with consumers.

Ipsen and the RTC:Rural employment researchers developed the Telecom Toolbox website as a resource to help counselors and consumers use telecommunication to communicate more efficiently and frequently, which has been shown to keep consumers from exiting the VR system before they secure employment.

To learn more about the research that led to the development of Telecom Toolbox, visit the Use of Social Media for Employment project page on the RTC:Rural website.

Are you interested in being a Guest Blogger for Telecom Toolbox? We’d like to hear from you! We’re currently looking for service providers and consumers to share their experiences and knowledge on Telecom Toolbox.

Tell us about your job search success stories, your tips & tricks for navigating social media, or your experiences using email or social media to communicate with a counselor or client. Pitch your idea to Lauren Smith at lauren.smith@mso.umt.edu.