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Breaking Down Employment Barriers

Guest Blogger Elizabeth Hassett Schmidt, M.S., is Director, Workforce Development at VIA. Elizabeth oversees the programs and staff in VIA’s workforce development department in collaboration with our local, state and national partners.

Guest blogger views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of CharityLogic and iCarol.

Since 1907, VIA, formerly the Olmsted Center for Sight, has remained the leading organization providing comprehensive vision rehabilitation, education, and employment services to individuals of all ages throughout the eight-county region of Upstate New York.

Our Mission: To help people who are blind or visually impaired achieve their highest level of independence.

Our vision is to be recognized as the Center for Excellence for blind and visually impaired (B/VI) children and adults by promoting independence, empowerment, inclusion, and hope. Each year, over 2,500 people benefit from vision rehabilitation, education, and employment services provided by VIA. We are the only Western NY organization providing a full spectrum of services with trained/certified vision rehabilitation professionals. We are located on part of the larger Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, a 120-acre world-class collaboration of medical providers existing to better the community we live in.

Our vocational training and workforce development programs have a statewide and national reach supporting students from over thirty-seven states who seek our training for employment. Our hospitality curriculum was the only program of its kind at inception in 1998, and today we remain a leader in vocational programs for the blind and visually impaired with curriculums ranging from Telecommunications, Customer Service, Office Software, Transcription, to Food Service Preparation. In 2017, VIA invested in, developed and implemented a distance learning platform to allow potential candidates the ability to participate from anywhere in the country. This interactive platform now houses all of our traditional in-house training to offer more flexibility for clients especially those in rural areas and to graduate more employees to meet workforce demands.

The purpose of VIA’s “Breaking Employment Barriers” initiative is to convey to employers the benefits of hiring people who are B/VI not solely to celebrate diversity and inclusion, but because it makes sense to their companies’ bottom line.

The 2019, State of the Workforce, Labor Market Snapshot provided by NYATEP (New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals), examined workforce needs and training/educational output to understand who is working and who isn’t and the “number of potential workers produced by New York’s education and training systems.”1

Among the key findings of this report were:

  • New York must grow its labor force by maximizing underutilized labor such as young adults and persons with disabilities.
  • Workforce development is a core aspect of the State’s economic development and programs that promote education and skills development directly correlate to wages and therefore an increase in skilled labor directly affects the overall incomes of New Yorkers.

Nationwide, individuals with disabilities have an unemployment rate of 67.9%2 and individuals with blindness or vision loss have an unemployment rate of 63%3, yet we know that with education and skills training, the complete inverse of these numbers is possible. In fact, OCS boasts a placement rate for graduates of our vocational programs of 82% employment in competitive, integrated employment in New York State and 77% employment in competitive, integrated employment for graduates nationally. We know from experience that the complete inverse of employability is possible when skills training occurs and when employers are knowledgeable about the B/VI population as an underutilized workforce. In New York State alone, the population of working-age persons who report significant vision loss or blindness is 410,103, with the number of working-age B/VI persons between the transitioning ages (10-18) group and 18-64 years old group at 19,6704. These numbers do not even include already employed workers who may be experiencing significant vision loss on the job with no knowledge of how to stay employed and an employer who may not know what simple accommodations could retain an already trained employee. We believe those numbers to be significant.

In order to address the need for a skilled, trained workforce, VIA seeks to match employers to this underutilized, able workforce by breaking barriers of common misconceptions or lack of knowledge of what it means to “hire blind”.

We understand that most hiring managers are not aware of the abilities of people who are blind or visually impaired because they simply have had no exposure in their own workplace or careers. The occurrence of blindness and visual impairment among people of typical working age is approximately 1.1%5 with extremely low employment presence in the general labor force.

However, the lack of blind and visually impaired in the workplace has nothing to do with talent, skill or ability – more so, it’s a reflection on the difficulty associated with finding employment and eliminating the barriers of an employer’s lack of exposure and knowledge.

The BEB focuses on answering typical questions about hiring the blind and visually impaired such as:

  • How does a blind person use the computer?
  • How do they get to work on time?
  • How do they find their desk or the breakroom?
  • What will my staff say?
  • How much will it cost me to hire someone who is blind?
  • WHY should I hire someone who is blind?

In reality, there are very few jobs that are not able to be accommodated for a blind or low vision person— simple accommodations such as screen reading software, magnification, color contrast, lighting, and other adaptations can open up the door to a pool of potential employees with natural skill set that in some ways outperform sighted counterparts.

For example, a skilled screen reader user may navigate digital content with higher speed and accuracy due to the ability to use keyboard commands to search and answer specific content areas and, because the auditory skill allows a screen reader user to access a greatly increased speech rate thus cutting down on listening and response time in a call center mdash; allowing for higher productivity and performing rates. The use of dual headset technology- screen reader in one ear and caller in the other – is something that most call center hiring managers have never seen in action and when they witness the speed, accuracy, and performance of a blind CSR agent, their understanding of labor market is never the same again!

There are different assistive technology tools that B/VI might use in the workplace. Assistive technology (AT) refers to hardware and software that enable people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job. For those who are blind, the main AT are screen readers, screen magnifiers, braille displays, and speech recognition software.

Screen readers

A screen reader is a program that analyzes the layout and content of a website and provides a text to speech translation. The playback speed rate can be set by the user and keyboard commands allow them to skip from heading to heading, click links, and complete other important tasks on the computer. Much like how a sighted person can visually skim a website to find the section they want to read, a person who is blind can do the same with their screen reader—as long as the content has been coded properly.

Screen magnifiers

Have you ever pinched to zoom on a touchscreen device? If the answer is yes, you have used a small part of assistive technology. For individuals with low vision, it is helpful to magnify a section of the screen so that they can read easily.

Screen magnification can happen by using in-page controls, system setup tools, and accessible level zooms.

Refreshable braille displays

A braille display is a flat keyboard-like device that translates text into braille and enables blind individuals to interact with digital platforms using only their fingers.

Speech recognition

Dictation software allows a user to navigate, type, and interact with digital content using their voice.

WHY should I hire someone who is blind?

Because it makes smart business sense and there are no additional costs to hiring a B/VI person versus a sighted person. Blind and Visually Impaired employees have: Low attrition rates. Hiring blind employees can actually improve staff stability for your company. Because hiring barriers are so difficult for a blind person to overcome in the first place, blind persons tend to be “company people” in that they are very loyal and tend to be long term employees with very low attrition rates and very low absenteeism.

Creativity/Problem-Solving – The world in which we operate is a visual world- this puts those with vision loss at a disadvantage. In order to overcome daily obstacles and challenges, the blind and visually impaired have to problem solve and create workaround solutions to encumbrances they face every day. This type of problem-solving and the ability not to get “ruffled” is a huge asset when looking for behavioral-based responses in screening potential employees.

For Federal Contractors – it’s the law – Section 503 of the 2014 Rehabilitation Act6, applies to all federal contractors and established a 7% hiring goals for companies to hire persons with disabilities and data collection on the number of persons with disabilities who apply for hire. Hiring blind or visually impaired can help federal contractors meet this requirement.

Tax Credits – the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides a tax credit for each new employee hired who was referred by their state vocational rehabilitation agency- this arm of each state government exists to provide employment services to people with disabilities. Most states have additional tax incentives for hiring persons with disabilities. Working with your state’s VR agency that serves the blind and visually impaired can introduce your company to a host of different training and try-out incentives to support the hiring of that individual including salary compensation during the try-out.

Customer service/Conflict management – It is true; when one sense is impaired the other senses are heightened in skill. For blind and visually impaired, this can mean an increase in auditory skills— not just the speed at which a BVI person can listen to screen reading materials but also the ability to really listen and pick up on personality and emotions expressed by a customer. Often times, in the areas of customer service and conflict resolution, the blind are quickly able to pick up on a caller or customer’s tone and quickly diffuse a potential conflict.

Increase your Consumer Market – Businesses that are in tune with diversity and inclusivity are not only opening the door to a potential workforce but also opening the door to a new population of customers. Once a company has the barrier of accessibility within their purview of hiring, they open up the door to attracting a consumer base that is able to access digital media and interact with the company which will grow the customer base. Find out about the demand occupations in New York State and how you may need needs by hiring diverse by accessing the NYS Department of labor site here: https://labor.ny.gov/workforcenypartners/lwda/lwda-occs.shtm

So, how do I go about finding potential employees who are Blind or Visually Impaired in my state and what supports are available to me?

By contacting your state VR agency. Under the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), state VR agencies are required to provide services to businesses in addition to the services they provide to persons with disabilities. This is meant to bridge the gap between participant and employer at no cost to an employer. In this way, your state VR agency can learn more about what your workforce needs are and provide qualified applicants. In addition to this, the VR agency can assist with:

  • Work Try-Outs, On the Job Training Support, Internships at no cost to an employer
  • Disability awareness/sensitivity training/etiquette in the workplace for staff
  • Jobsite assessments for accessibility
  • Job analysis of skills required for potential referrals
  • Education about financial incentives for hiring BVI
  • Assistance with accommodations for a new hire
  • Assistive technology evaluations to determine what software may be used to accommodate for a new hire
  • Post-hire follow up and ongoing employer relationship to a pipeline of talent

In NY State, you can contact the New York State Commission for the Blind- https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/cb/employers.asp

In other states, you can find your state’s VR agency listed here7: www.ntac.blind.msstate.edu/information-and-resources/ncsab/

And, of course, you can contact non- profit agencies such as the VIA (www.olmstedcenter.org) to ask about our free Breaking Employment Barriers initiative and our trained graduates who can meet your company’s needs.

The Breaking Employment Barriers initiative will:

  1. Make you aware of the advantages that hiring B/VI bring to the organization
  2. Show you how BVI perform customer service-based jobs as any other person
  3. Challenge myths about B/VI by answering questions you may have

Learn more about our Breaking Down Employment Barriers by clicking here: https://olmstedcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/BEB-Pamphelt.pdf

To Contact VIA or to arrange a BEB, please email us at Breakingbarriers@olmstedcenter.org or call us at 716-878-0543.

1 NYATEP.org; State of the Workforce- A labor Market Snapshot for New York;2019
2 Mississippi State University; National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision; blind.msstate.edu; “Blind People Can’t Perform This Job…Or Can They?”
3 Ibid.
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016) (Unpublished data tables of specific disability questions in Current Population Survey, 2015 Annual Averages). Washington., DC
5 Mississippi State University; National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision; blind.msstate.edu; “Blind People Can’t Perform This Job…Or Can They?”
6 US Dept. of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (2014) ; Section 503
7 Mississippi State University; National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision;blind.msstate.edu;”blind People Can’t Perform This Job…Or Can They?”

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Samaritans of Fall River and New Bedford seeks Volunteer Coordinator

Samaritans of FR/NB, Inc. is seeking a Volunteer Coordinator.

About Samaritans of FR/NB, Inc.

Samaritans of FR/NB, Inc. is a suicide prevention hotline open to all callers, 15 hours a day, 7 days a week and is available free to anyone who needs support. It is staffed by caring, compassionate and confidential volunteers specially trained in listening, crisis management and suicide prevention. More than 18,000 calls are answered at our center every year. In addition to receiving inbound calls from those in need, our volunteers are engaged with our senior citizen population, survivors of suicide, veterans and local organizations and school groups. Kare Calls are made to senior citizens who might otherwise be lonely and isolated. Samaritans of FR/NB hosts Safe Place, a peer-to-peer support group for suicide loss survivors. Our Outreach to Local Veterans Program at the Fall River Veterans Center eliminates isolation and provides veterans with a degree of hope. Samaritans of FR/NB also provides outreach education about suicide prevention to local school groups and organizations and at health fairs.

Volunteer Coordinator Role:

The role of the Volunteer Coordinator is to recruit, train, supervise and support volunteers who fulfill Samaritans of FR/NB’s mission to reduce and prevent future suicides from occurring.

Learn more and apply

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Stronger Together: iCarol Supports Collaborations and Integrations

In the industry we serve, collaboration is key. iCarol customers often need to join together with partners — another helpline, Community Based Organization (CBO), funder, or government office — to provide continuity of care to people in need, obtain funding, and enhance their relevance and marketability as a community partner and vital provider of services. At iCarol, we see it as part of our mission and stewardship of that data to help our customers harness it to do more.

What types of collaborations do our customers engage in?

  • Sharing Resource Databases or Contact Forms with other contact centers in their statewide or regional network
  • Making warm transfers to other service providers
  • Engaging in after-hours call handling agreements
  • Sharing service inventories/resource database records with local libraries, hospitals, and other interested entities
  • Dispatching Mobile Crisis Teams or other services to people in need
  • And much, much more!

We’ve helped so many customers with such a variety of collaboration project, we even wrote an eBook to share our knowledge and help organizations get their projects off the ground.

Explore the many options for collaboration and integration using iCarol

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Simple Ways to Make the Most of Giving Tuesday

In recent years, Giving Tuesday has emerged as a counterbalance to the consumer based Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shopping traditions. It serves as a reminder that the holiday season is about charitable acts of kindness and helping our neighbors in need.

Giving Tuesday (this year it’s held on December 3rd) is an excellent opportunity for non-profits and charities to tell their communities about the work they do and encourage charitable giving to their organization. Smaller organizations or those that may be completely volunteer based shouldn’t feel incapable of participating — you don’t need a dedicated marketing team to take part in Giving Tuesday. Below are some simple ideas to try that don’t take a large budget or tons of advanced planning.

  • Simple Social Media

    At a minimum, your social media accounts should publish posts about Giving Tuesday (remember to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to maximize your reach!). Post throughout the day or schedule your posts ahead of time with social media management software like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. Posts should include a call to action, i.e. do you want them to donate? Volunteer? Learn more about your work? Become an advocate? Depending on the call to action, include links to applicable web pages such as your volunteer opportunity or donation pages. Posts can focus on the work you do, success stories (shared either with client permission or written to remove identifying info), milestones and achievements, goals, and other information that you’d like your community to know about you. Examples of general Giving Tuesday social media posts can be found here. We’re always happy to help you boost your Giving Tuesday social media messages, so be sure to follow us on Twitter so we can follow you back to see your posts in our feed, then we can retweet your message to our followers.

  • Share Video or Photos

    Images and video are more compelling than text-only posts, and most social media sites say that posts that include them get more views, so use them if you can. Your video doesn’t have to be Academy Award worthy — spontaneous and unrehearsed videos are authentic and give people a sense of who you are. Try a quick interview with a colleague about what they do and why they love working for your agency. Or maybe do a fast tour around the office showing everyone hard at work. It can even be as simple as a 30 second video talking about the work of your agency. Videos should be short and sweet, as most research shows short videos are the most watched. After taking the video you can usually do some light editing or clipping right on your phone before posting it to social media. If you’re feeling brave you can even do a live video right from your Facebook or Twitter app on your phone.

  • Visit Your Neighbors

    Hopefully your organization is lucky enough to have some supporters in the business community that work with you throughout the year by holding fundraisers or making donations. Giving Tuesday is another perfect opportunity to engage with your biggest fans. Perhaps they’d be willing to participate in a short video. Or maybe they’d do something as simple as keep a donation box or stack of your agency’s brochures at their register or other space in their business. Most businesses, especially those that already support your work, will welcome the opportunity to continue their advocacy during the holiday season.

  • Meet and Greet

    If your organization is open to the public then Giving Tuesday is a perfect time to invite people in so they can learn more about what you do and become a supporter. Let your reception staff know about Giving Tuesday and equip them with brochures and other materials to give out. Consider hanging a sign in your lobby or outside your building to encourage people to stop in and learn more about your work in celebration of Giving Tuesday. Don’t forget — the holiday season is a great time for recruiting volunteers, too, so make sure applications or volunteer information is on hand as well.

  • Work Your Website

    Your website is one of your greatest assets, so make sure your Giving Tuesday participation is prominently featured somehow. This can be accomplished through something as simple as a blog post or homepage image, or more advanced like adding a new temporary widget to your site that directs website visitors to your donation page, volunteer application, etc.

  • Don’t Let Callers Off the Hook

    If when people call you they first hear a general message or listen to a menu routing them to their desired destination, consider temporarily altering your greeting in honor of Giving Tuesday. This can be as simple as a 10-15 second “hello” wishing them a happy holiday season and inviting them to support your work, along with an invitation to visit your website for more information. This won’t add much at all to their wait time but will get your message in front of everyone who calls you.

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iCarol at the National Crisis Center Conference

Salt Lake City skyline

This week, Polly McDaniel, Director of Business Development, and Veronica Ross, Solutions Expert, are joining crisis center directors and staff from across the US at the National Crisis Center Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Reaching the Summit: Innovate to Elevate.” Of the theme, organizers say, “During times of division and uncertainty, crisis organizations are needing to use their collective creative energies to remain relevant and sustainable. But challenging times can bring out the best in crisis organizations. We are excited to hear what innovative and creative programs and approaches are being implemented by our crisis organization colleagues.”

At iCarol, we are strong proponents of innovation as a means for a crisis center’s growth, improved efficiency, and better outcomes for the people they serve. We’re very excited to partake in the conversations at the conference this year, and to see how we can help crisis centers innovate to elevate their service delivery.

The two entities presenting this conference, CONTACT USA (CUSA) and the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD) have a phenomenal history of supporting crisis work and we recommend considering membership for your service if you are a helpline, warmline, crisis center, suicide prevention service, or similar organization. By joining them you’ll discover fantastic networking and knowledge sharing from caring individuals who can relate to your day-to-day joys and challenges as a manager or executive director of a not-for-profit. Find out more about CUSA membership here and NASCOD membership here.

Our history with this group and conference is our longest association, going way back to iCarol’s earliest days, and many of the helplines and crisis centers who host this conference were some of iCarol’s earliest users. It’s a long standing relationship that we value and we’re proud to not only attend but are also long-term sponsors of this important gathering organized by pillars of the helpline industry.

As with all conferences we attend, we welcome the opportunity to connect with old friends and new ones. We’re eager to hear about your latest projects and discuss ways iCarol can support you and the needs of your community. Both Polly and Veronica will be on hand throughout the conference to answer questions and talk about how iCarol can help. We look forward to seeing you!

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Going “Beyond the Breakthrough” at the National Sexual Assault Conference

broken glass with sun shining through

CW: The following blog post discusses the topic of sexual violence and harassment.

On August 21st and 22nd, iCarol Director of Business Development, Polly McDaniel, and Solutions Expert Veronica Ross, will be in Philadelphia for the National Sexual Assault Conference.

This is our 3rd year at this particular conference, though organizations that address sexual violence prevention and help those who have experienced a sexual assault or other crimes have long been a part of the iCarol family. In the past few years though, iCarol has seen tremendous growth in the number of new organizations joining us that serve in this space. Over the course of many years serving this industry we have learned much about the unique challenges these organizations face, the nature of the work they do and the people they serve, and the tools they need to expand services in a cost effective but meaningful way.

One undeniable trend is the need to aid survivors through live chat or SMS/Texting, in addition to phone hotlines. While we’ve seen a monumental shift in public awareness of just how pervasive sexual violence is, and more willingness to listen to and believe survivors, there are still barriers in place that prevent people from sharing their stories. The means to ask for help in a way that makes people feel less vulnerable, or more anonymous, can make all the difference in helping someone break their silence and begin their next steps toward healing and recovery. We’ve spent the last several years actively working organizations to help them add on such services.

We’re also so excited to have seen how organizations that help survivors of sexual violence are expanding their services, and using innovative tools to do so. For instance, expanding their talent pools by allowing remote work, dispatching volunteer advocates to Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) procedure, providing follow-up activities, and more services to support survivors.

If your organization supports those who have been affected by sexual violence, we invite you to review some of the resources we’ve pulled together to help you:

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We’re looking forward to the opportunity to answer your questions and hear more about the amazing work you’re doing for sexual violence survivors in your community and beyond. If you are going to be at the conference, please stop by the iCarol booth! If you have questions or want to set up a meeting to speak with one of our Solutions Experts, please contact us.

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iCarol attending the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging conference

On Sunday, July 28 and Monday, July 29, iCarol Solution Expert Team Lead, Eliisa Laitila, will be at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

n4a is a is a 501(c)(3) membership association representing America’s national network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and provides a voice for the Title VI Native American aging programs. iCarol serves many organizations who are Area Agencies on Aging and therefore members of n4a, as well as other agencies in the aging and disability space. Aging and Disability Resource Centers, helplines that curb senior isolation and loneliness, and senior-focused information and referral services choose our solution because we empower them to:

  • Invite and document contacts from clients and their caregivers over a variety of communication channels: phone, in-person, web forms, and our integrated Live Chat and Texting.
  • Encourage No Wrong Door initiatives by enabling them to securely send information to partners, make warm transfers, and dispatch additional services.
  • Create and curate simple to complex community service inventories to share with clients and caregivers by phone, email, Text/SMS, and during Live Chat sessions.
  • Share searchable resource information on their own public websites, or the websites of partners such as senior centers, local libraries, and hospitals.
  • Engage in ongoing client contact to track client history and progress, ensure needs are being met, and to document customer satisfaction and outcomes.

In some cases, Area Agencies on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers are using statewide software systems, and local centers may not be empowered to use iCarol as their sole solution for service delivery. However, even in these instances iCarol can still help! Some centers use iCarol to provide important capabilities not included in a statewide solution, such as live chat or SMS/texting capabilities that expand services to a wider audience, public intake or eligibility screening forms, or web searches of available community resources.

For more information on how iCarol helps senior serving agencies, click here. If you’ll be at the n4a conference, please stop by and see the team at booth 203 so that we can discuss how iCarol can help you. If you’re not in New Orleans for the conference, we welcome those interested in learning more about the iCarol solution to contact us to ask your questions or have a quick meeting to talk about your challenges so we can see how iCarol might help.

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National Council on Problem Gambling holds annual conference in Denver

This week, the National Conference on Problem Gambling holds its 33rd National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling. This is the largest and oldest conference of its kind bringing together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery.

Problem gambling helplines do wonderful work to strengthen families and improve health and wellness by reducing the economic, social, and personal costs caused by problem gambling. With the growing popularity and reduced legal barriers to sports betting, focus on awareness, education, and prevention are more important than ever.

NCPG has also focused its efforts on supporting members of the military after their research found that 56,000 servicemembers meet the criteria for a gambling disorder and that military personnel and their families are exposed to more than 3,000 slot machines on military bases located Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) where over $100 million is gambled away every year. Research showed that military personnel are up to 2-3 times more likely to experience problem gambling. Yet, due to the stigmas associated with the disorder, less than ten percent of those with gambling problems seek help. The lack of protections against gambling addiction extend beyond active duty members: a 2019 study of veterans with gambling disorder discovered that they are twice as likely to attempt suicide as compared to veterans who do not have a gambling addiction, and 40% of veterans seeking problem gambling treatment report suicide attempts.

NCPG leadership influenced the introduction of a bipartisan, bicameral bill, the Gambling Addiction Prevention (GAP) Act of 2019. The proposed law would require the US Department of Defense to develop policies and programs to prevent and treat gambling problems, in coordination with the Department’s other behavioral health efforts. On military sites where gambling activities take place, such policies and programs would include providing educational materials and promoting responsible gambling behavior. It also requires the Department to update its regulations, instructions, and guidance to explicitly include gambling disorder within 180 days of the passage of the Act.

iCarol is the chosen provider for a national chat and text collaboration platform for the National Council on Problem Gambling. Several centers and organizations from around the U.S. participate to provide help in states where they provide services. Help seekers from around the U.S. can contact the NCPG National Helpline through phone, SMS/text, or live chat, and are routed to centers serving their local community whenever possible possible. If there is not a designated center available, a trained back-up center helps the person in need. Contact us if you are interested in a model like this at your organization or network.

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“Shredding” Personally Identifiable Information from Contact Records

shredder shredding paper

Paper-based files of all sorts—bank statements, tax records, pay stubs, receipts—can typically be destroyed after a period of time when they will no longer be needed. Depending upon an organization’s internal policies and the laws and regulations by which they must abide, not-for-profit organizations may choose to shred some or all client files after a period of time as well.

With paper files now being digitized, and new data usually collected electronically, the concept of “shredding” takes on new meaning. Instead of literally shredding paper through a machine, electronic files are permanently deleted and erased from storage, whether they be on a hard drive or in the cloud.

One of the best practices seen highlighted within regulations such as GDPR is that an organization should only collect the data that is absolutely necessary for service delivery, especially if that data could be used to identify someone. So, unless it is essential for your organization to collect data such as a person’s name, phone number, social security number, etc. in order to carry our your work, it’s best to never collect it at all.

When you’re speaking over the phone with a person in need, you have control over whether or not to record information shared during the conversation inside your contact management system. However, if you’re communicating by Live Chat or SMS/Text Message, the person in need may share personal information with you that’d you’d prefer not be permanently documented, and if transcripts are automatically generated and stored, that private and personally identifying information may be stored whether you like it or not.

In iCarol, you have the choice whether or not your Live Chat and SMS/Texting transcripts are brought into your contact management system, or if they disappear immediately after the conversation ends, protecting personally identifiable data and allowing your organization to align such data collection and storage with your own internal policies. Further, organizations who wish to keep this information long enough for supervision purposes, but do not wish to retain it long term, have many options within the system to decide when to destroy the information. The capability to electronically “shred” potentially identifying information from your iCarol Contact Records is applied to any documentation recorded in your forms, whether it be data from calls, walk-in visits, chats, SMS/text conversations, public website intake forms, or any other interactions you document.

What gets “shredded?”

We understand that most organizations will wish to keep the data that isn’t classified as personally identifiable information, for instance demographics, issues or needs, and other non-identifying data that is important for reporting purposes. If you choose to utilize the automatic shredding function within iCarol, only certain areas of your Contact Records are effected. Text-entry fields where you might enter names, addresses, phone numbers, contact notes, etc. are deleted. Drop-down, check box, and other pick list type data is retained. For a full explanation of how to set these preferences, as well as more detailed information about what is deleted or retained, customers can sign in to iCarol, navigate to the “Help” section, and search for “Shred” within our help articles. If you’re not yet a customer and interested in learning more, please contact us!

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National Crisis Centers Conference seeks presentation proposals

crisis conference salt lake city

The 2019 National Crisis Centers Conference, presented by NASCOD and CUSA, will be held October 16 to 18 at the Radisson Salt Lake City Downtown in Salt Lake City, UT.

Conference organizers are currently seeking proposals for presentations. Proposals must fit the conference theme (below) and be received by the July 15, 2019 deadline to be considered:

    CrisisCon 19—Reaching the Summit: Innovate to Elevate

    During times of division and uncertainty, crisis organizations are needing to use their collective creative energies to remain relevant and sustainable. But challenging times can bring out the best in crisis organizations. We are excited to hear what innovative and creative programs and approaches are being implemented by our crisis organization colleagues.

Click here to learn more and submit your proposal.

For more information about the conference, and to register, visit the conference website.

crisiscon 2019

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