By net nanchristy charter Nancy Christy, founder of Meaningful People, Places & Food, Madison
Sept. 7, 2011 – It’s unlikely there’s a lawyer today who hasn’t seen the explosion of technology as both blessing and curse. And while digital technology can certainly be a remarkable resource in the hands of a good attorney or firm, it can place new demands on an already daunting daily schedule.
Currently, many in the legal profession – like so many other professions today – are facing the prospect of transferring written files and documents to digital storage. It’s a very real challenge pitting the value of increased efficiency and ease of operation against the resources required to get the job done. The job of digital imaging and transfer is not always a good fit for existing staff and many firms are reluctant to add staff for this task.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Pathways to Independence program have launched a project to recruit, train, and support individuals with disabilities in the field of document transfer and storage preparation. Based on a Minnesota model, that has led to business opportunities and job creation for hundreds of individuals with significant disabilities throughout that state, the Wisconsin Digital Imaging Project aims to meet the digital transfer needs of private businesses, health-care providers, schools, local governments, and other partners in need of such services.
Studies and demonstration projects show that people with disabilities are especially skilled at two phases of this work – the actual scanning of the documents and the post-production aspects of the transfer process. These tasks are frequently off-shored by some businesses but are now seen as opportunities for keeping jobs in the United States. In other words, the Wisconsin Digital Imaging Project is taking advantage of the strengths of people who are eager to contribute and pursue their independence. It is the perfect combination of smart business practices and good jobs for an available and motivated workforce that together provide real change.
One of the potential concerns of employers to a commitment such as this might be the need for additional up-front training. The Wisconsin Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is also a partner in this project and will provide support in the form of an On-The-Job Training Hiring Initiative where an employer could receive up to 50 percent of the salary and fringe expenses of a DVR referral for up to 90 days should that person require extra training and support.
Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still, speaking about the industry he serves, sees the value in this innovative approach to need-based, directed hiring. “With the continued explosion in the use of medical records technologies, there are many opportunities for skilled workers, including those with disabilities, to work in this field,” says Still. “Health care quality, efficiency, and delivery will increasingly be driven by greater use of digital records over time, which means the industry will need a skilled and diverse workforce.”
The same is true in the legal services field. Digital records transfer is an important business need. A ready and willing workforce is available. The Wisconsin Digital Imaging Project stands ready to help.
About the Author
Nancy Christy is the founder of Meaningful People, Places & Food, a consulting firm specializing in the areas of food and inclusive hiring. She is currently working with Pathways to Independence on the Wisconsin Digital Imaging Project. For more information on the project email net nanchristy charter Christy or call her at (608) 277-0692.