Opportunities for Inclusions is a community center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One of the ways they serve the community is by helping clients find and hold on to jobs. Employment is extra important for their clients because it provides them not only with income, but also an opportunity to use their skills and engage socially with the community. People with disabilities face extra challenges when applying for jobs as the typical job listings do not include specifics about environmental conditions that may affect the clients. Currently Lisa, the job employment specialist at Opportunities for Inclusion, relies on traditional job listings to place clients into jobs based on convenience such as location, transportation, or even just wherever there is a job opening.

What it does

In order to help job seekers with disabilities and their job coaches connect with more meaningful jobs and increase job retention, we have created a supplementary tool to traditional job search platforms that allows job seekers to match with jobs based on their ideal working environment needs. Our tool will assign tags from a list of 9 default tags that are important to people with disabilities when finding jobs to job postings. Employees will take a situational assessment to identify which tags are their strengths and weaknesses. The 9 tags are people skills and interactions with customers, standing for extended periods, physically demanding, teamwork, manual dexterity, tactile stimuli (touch), fast paced, auditory stimuli (hearing), olfactory Stimuli (smell), and mental stimuli (organization, thinking fast). The platform then creates suggestions for job seekers based on best fit based on the tags and/ or by location.

How we built it

To begin with, the business team brainstormed the features of the tool. We designed a series of assessments based on our experience working with people with disabilities and understanding of the research process and survey design. After brain dumping all our ideas, we started to consolidate a plan that would be feasible to build and also solve the specific needs of our client.

Jobs for Inclusion is built on a Django framework. We used HTML+CSS and Javascript to build the frontend with the goal of making the site as user-friendly as possible, and used Javascript to interface the database with user inputs.

We also wanted to make intentional design elements when considering the users of the application. We created an interface that matched the design of the current website in order to allow for a seamless transition from main site to this web app.

In addition, we designed the interface with all users in mind creating the least amount of barriers to overcome when using the forms. This includes high contrast font colors/background color, large font size, large buttons, and highlighting active input fields. According to web accessibility standards for web development, elements of our project earns a AAA, the highest rating awarded.

Challenges we ran into

During this process our team pushed ourselves as coders trying to fit a somewhat complicated setup into 'production' in this short window of time, as well as communicating on a very new team and dividing responsibilities over zoom.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of how we progressed from a group of strangers to a team in less than 2 days. We are also proud of building a platform that will help the OFI better serve its clients and help them find more meaningful and permanent job positions.

What we learned

For most of the team this was our first time meeting, some of us had never been to a Hackathon before, and we were working together virtually, so one of the most important skills we learned in our short time together was communicating effectively and dividing our work efficiently. On the business side, we learned how to turn our abstract ideas into a clear plan that the programmers could use to build out the tool. On the tech side, we learned how to leverage each of our skill sets to rapidly build a platform.

What's next for Jobs for Inclusion

We plan on testing this tool with a cohort at Opportunities for Inclusion. Specifically, we want to identify whether the 9 tags we have selected are the most important, when or not this tool will actually improve job matches/ satisfaction, and the usability of the tool.

We would love to continue building out the site’s functionality by incorporating Google Maps API to display distances between job seekers’ and job listings’ addresses and filter for users’ distance and public transit accessibility preferences. We would also like to use natural language processing to associate common job listings with automated tags to save employers and career coaches time. Incorporating either technology would require an additional 1-2 weeks of development and testing.

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