WeCo Offers Professional Careers to Individuals with Disabilities

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A recent awareness of, and demand for, testing of accessible websites creates a need for additional testers and interns at WeCo. In its second year of certifying website testers, WeCo hires additional individuals with disabilities, who may have been overlooked by traditional work environments, to become Certified Test Consultants.

Most employers can’t get past the fact that I’m in a wheelchair. They think that making their offices accessible and bringing me under their insurance would be too expensive. Josh Straub

The Wehrman Collaborative (WeCo), an authority on website accessibility, provides another important and sought after service. WeCo fosters independence by utilizing and compensating the skills of people with disabilities who may have been overlooked by traditional work environments. WeCo has increased its staff of individuals who are disabled to become Certified Test Consultants (CTCs). WeCo has also provided a series of internships for those with skills in particular areas such as public relations, office administration or web accessibility.

One example is Josh Straub, WeCo’s latest Public Relations intern. Straub has a background in creative writing, but has had a hard time finding work. Straub says, “Most employers can’t get past the fact that I’m in a wheelchair. They think that making their offices accessible and bringing me under their insurance would be too expensive.” WeCo provides Straub the opportunity to work in an accessible environment (his home) and on a schedule that compensates for his physical needs. Working through his internship polishing his marketing and public relations skills, while learning about Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 website accessibility standards, may lead to an offer of employment.

Providing internships is just part of what WeCo offers the individuals with disabilities who are looking for a professional career. WeCo’s mission is to improve accessibility by providing high quality user experience testing focused on how individuals living with disabilities interact with electronic formats and the Internet. They do this by training their CTCs about web accessibility, as well as the legal requirements of Section 508, the body of law which mandates that people with disabilities have access to the web. They also work extensively with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) to become experts on how their disability affects a website’s usability.

As a result, WeCo is able to help make sure that the 54 million Americans with disabilities have access to the vital information on the internet, while simultaneously helping people with disabilities find meaningful careers that make them both independent and professional.

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, WeCo is a mission-based, for-profit organization. While creating a strong accessibility learning environment for businesses, WeCo also provides professional employment to people who live with disabilities. WeCo is recognized by the State of Minnesota as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. In the first year in business WeCo was featured in the MarketWatch Wall Street Journal, Google Finance and Tech{dot}MN. To learn more about the Certified Test Consultant and how they provide the expertise to become the most reliable accessibility testing for websites, visit theweco.com.

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Toni Grundstrom
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