Enable the Best Possible Employment Experience for People with Disabilities and Other Barriers through Modernized Communication
Halloween may have officially ended last month, but what you’re about to see is scary.
It’s a problem that has been brewing at Chinook for the last several years, and this year, we have felt a growing sense of dread throughout our office and beyond because of it.
What’s causing all this dread? The object in this photograph:
They use the term ‘dinosaur’ to describe ancient technology for a reason – because it needs to become extinct.
Our ability to effectively help people with disabilities and other barriers find a career or calling and sustain their development depends on timely and clear communication. That phone you see there is from 1992. The internet didn’t even exist. Many of our customers and staff weren’t even born yet. Toshiba ceased phone production in 2004, and their customer support ended in 2011.
That has left us hanging on for dear life, hoping our phone system doesn’t fail us. And it often has.
It’s kind of ironic, because our work is to help people with barriers and other disabilities obtain employment, and yet we face a barrier of our own – a 31-year-old phone system that has just about gone kaput.
Our phone system makes it hard for customers to get ahold of our Employment Specialists, because they’re out in the field 75% of the day. That forced us to give them all cell phones, which means we’re paying for two separate phone systems – remote and in-office.
How Ancient Phone Technology Affects Our Mission
Here’s an example of the problems this causes:
A customer called us to work out some details related to an interview we were trying to set up for him with a local employer. He couldn’t get through, and left a voicemail.
But the light on the phone that tells our staff we have a voicemail no longer lights up. So we have to remember to check our messages frequently. This time, that didn’t happen soon enough, and the customer got frustrated at our lack of response.
This led to delays in working with the employer, and a less than positive experience all around.
Eventually, it worked out, but this phone nightmare has to be dealt with, because that’s just one of many ways our phone system has been failing us.
You have to wiggle the cord just to hear sometimes. Not all the buttons work. We can’t update our voicemails, so you may hear the voices of employees who haven’t been on staff for a decade.
Sometimes it feels like we’re only one step removed from the Dark Ages.
No one wins in Phone Tag
As kids, playing tag is fun. But as adults, Phone Tag is a game no one wins, and no one even wants to play.
But with our antiquated phone system, you can’t avoid it.
One of our Employment Specialists was trying to reach a customer to move to the next step in their job shadowing process. But he couldn’t get ahold of the customer and left a voicemail. The customer called back, and missed him. Back and forth for days.
This caused needless delays and dragged out a process that should have taken far less time.
Plus, that particular customer prefers using video chat. But with our old phone system, it’s voice or bust. No video. No text.
No More Rabbit Ears
Remember those old TV antennas, sometimes called ‘rabbit ears’?
They were thin metal strips you extended out to catch the broadcast TV signal. Angle them just right, and you could get your channel clearly. There was an art to it. Tweak them, bend them, make one longer than the other, angle it just right, and you could watch your show! But then, if you changed the channel, that new one might not come in as well, and you had to start all over.
If you’re old enough to remember that, you’ll understand what Chinook’s staff and customers have been dealing with since at least 2011 when Toshiba ceased their support of the phone system we’re still using.
Giving Tuesday – Upgrading to Microsoft Teams
Recently, we made the decision to scrap the old system and switch to Microsoft Teams.
This switch will cost about $4000.
This year on Giving Tuesday, November 28th, we’re asking you to help Chinook update our technology to the digital age so we can communicate quickly and give the best possible service to the people with disabilities and other barriers who come to us for help obtaining employment and starting their careers.
On Nov 28th (or give today if you don’t want to wait!), you can join with others in our community who care about making sure everyone is included in the workforce and can start and advance in careers they enjoy.
With the upgrade to Teams made possible by your donation on Giving Tuesday, you can help modernize our phone system to the current level of technology.
Scrapping the old system and starting the new one will cost $3962.45.
This is a one-time cost, and it will save us money in the long run because we won’t need to pay to maintain our current system, and won’t need to pay for an in-office and a remote communication system at the same time. Microsoft Teams can do it all.
Will you plan to make a gift to Chinook on Giving Tuesday this year?
What is Giving Tuesday?
You’ve heard of Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when people rush out to get great deals for their holiday shopping. You’ve probably heard of Cyber Monday too, which continues the shopping frenzy.
Giving Tuesday comes right after that.
But instead of buying a bunch of stuff, Giving Tuesday is about taking some of what you would spend on stuff, and instead giving that money to help make your community a better place.
Why Microsoft Teams Is Better
Teams will make everything about our communications and service better. Here are just a few ways:
- We’ll save money – no more duplicate phones, more resources to devote to our mission
- Communicate from anywhere
- Communicate with voice, video, and text messaging
- Be more responsive and timely
- Callers will know if an Employment Specialist is on another call
- Voicemail will actually work
- No more cords or buttons to wear out
- Easy to add and remove users
You can see how this system will make everyone’s experience better when communicating with Chinook – our staff, our customers, employers, family members of customers, case workers, and everyone else we interact with to make a more inclusive community.
Delivering our service and helping customers find employment requires communication with multiple parties:
- Managers and employers
- Our customers
- Caregivers and family members in customers’ lives
- Transportation services
- Our Employment Specialists and staff
But the outdated phone system we’ve been battling for years is a relic.
It costs time to attempt to maintain it – time that would be better spent serving our customers.
It’s also not flexible or adaptable, like if we wanted to open a new location.
Give to Chinook on Giving Tuesday
On Giving Tuesday, you can help put the past behind us and modernize our communications.
Help raise $3962.45 to cover the one-time costs of switching from our old phone system to Microsoft Teams.
By giving, you will ensure that every job seeker – regardless of disability or barrier – will receive the best possible service and communication our team can give them.
That means they get the job and the career they want, plus the income, freedom, independence, and all the mental, emotional, and social benefits that come with stable employment.
Please give whatever you’d like to set aside for your community during this busy shopping season, and make Skagit a place where everyone gets to play an important part.
You can give:
- Any other amount
Together, help raise the full $3962.45 so we can focus more of our resources on serving our customers.
Will you set aside some of your holiday spending money, and give to Chinook this Giving Tuesday?
You can give on the big day, or if you don’t want to wait, you can give now by clicking here.