Donka’s Training for Individuals with Disabilities – An Overview
If you or someone you know is thinking about enrolling for Donka’s AT computer training program for persons with disabilities, it is super simple and available online. Use this link to access the form required to get you started.
Once you have completed the form and hit ENROLL, you will be contacted by Donka’s Program Manager, Samantha Moore, to gather more information and schedule an in-person visit and computer skills/assistive technology pre-assessment. The pre-assessment is used to develop a customized curriculum that builds upon your current computer skills – as well as to determine which type of assistive technology will allow you to access a computer on your own. You will also be asked to choose a training path.
There are three (3) training paths Donka students can follow:
Employment – Students on an employment path are generally seeking a first-time job, working but transitioning to a different job as a result of a recent or progressing disability, or returning to work after a period of unemployment. Students learn computer basics, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Outlook), Internet, email, and business networking (LinkedIn). They also review job-readiness basics. Training is one-on-one with a Donka Instructor/Microsoft Specialist and is approximately 100-120 hours.
Education – Students on an education path are generally seeking to go to a college or vocational school for the first-time, are in school but facing study challenges, or plan to go back to school to train for a new position – oftentimes due to a recent or progressing disability. Students learn computer basics, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Outlook), Internet, email, job-readiness basics, and business networking (LinkedIn). They can also learn various tablet, phone, and computer apps that assist them with notetaking and communication in the classroom – as well as other stand-alone devices, such as a Smart Pen, that help with classroom and homework navigation. Training is one-on-one with a Donka Instructor/Microsoft Specialist and is approximately 100-120 hours.
Personal Enrichment – These students are generally seniors and people with mobility and transportation issues who wish to connect to the outside world through technology. They might be far from friends and family and want to connect through social media, or they have interests they want to pursue like reading, writing, gaming, photography, and more. Students learn computer basics, Microsoft Word, Internet, email, and social networking (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). Students can also learn how to use an iPad or other tablet to download library books, use Instagram, and more. Training is one-on-one, or two-on-one with a Donka Instructor/Microsoft Specialist and is approximately 50 hours.
Because Donka offers a business curriculum that is approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), students who graduate from the Employment or Education paths can earn a “Certificate of Completion” that is recognized by other IBHE approved institutions.
Employment and Education graduates can also opt for additional Workforce Development training (21 hours) at Donka. Through this opportunity, which is taught one-on-one by a certified vocational rehabilitation specialist, graduates review more advanced topics related to gaining employment, understanding their rights as a person with a disability, talking about their disability during an interview, asking an employer for an accommodation, and more.
Through Donka’s vigorous fundraising efforts and the generosity of our community, Donka’s training is generally free to persons with disabilities who meet certain income requirement. During your first meeting with Donka’s Program Manager, your eligibility for no-cost training will be reviewed.
Additionally, students might be eligible for funding through the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, and well as Illinois’ WIOA (Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act) program. Each of these agencies provide strong supports for individuals who are seeking employment or training to strengthen their employment skills.
Lastly, we hope that you are not hesitating to seek training at Donka because you are worried about your comfort level with a computer – or just about entering a space that is unfamiliar to you. Donka’s staff is warm, friendly, knowledgeable, and – very importantly – patient. Quite a few of our staff have been caregivers for family members with disabilities or have a disability themselves. Our graduates are so happy and comfortable at Donka that they have either worked, interned, or volunteered for us after training. It is a special place of caring and opportunity where everyone can “empower their abilities through technology.”
Alyson- “Attending Donka has been a really rewarding experience for me. I now feel stronger and more confident to face the future in graduate school and employment.”
Janine- “The team at Donka is extremely supportive and eager to assist in training with a smile and sense of humor.”
Chris –"I am most thankful for everything at Donka including the instructors, one-on-one training, assistive technology, confidence and gaining skills.”