VersAbility Resources is the recipient of a Bank of America grant that will improve communication for people with disabilities who participate in the nonprofit’s employment program with regional employers.

The $20,000 grant for VersAbility’s Supported Employment Program will fund the purchase of MARTTI (My Accessible Real-Time Trusted Interpreter). The two-way video and audio wireless connection relies on a certified medical interpreter to facilitate conversation between employees who are deaf or hearing impaired, on-site managers and a VersAbility Employment Specialist.

The Supported Employment Program pairs those with mild to severe disabilities with jobs in community settings. VersAbility Employment Specialists provide on-site support and individual assessments to ensure the employee remains successful. The addition of MARTTI will eliminate less effective means of communication, such as texts messaging, notepads and gestures.

“Employees throughout VersAbility will now have a tool that will allow them to communicate in a manner that is focused on what is being said instead of how it is being communicated,” said Renee’ Rose, Chief Operating Officer of VersAbility Resources. “The elimination of the frustration associated with the other methods of communication will encourage more communication between our employees.”

Melinda Gallagher, VersAbility’s Supported Employment Specialist for the Deaf/Team Leader, said breaking down the barriers that interfere with communication will be an asset to both employees and their managers onsite.

“I will benefit from having MARTTI on site because I can have conversations with the manager and include the individual I am working with in that conversation,” Gallagher said. “That will really empower the individual receiving services to share any feedback. It will become more of a team collaboration with all of us being able to communicate together.”

VersAbility Resources supports more than 1,300 people with disabilities and their families from Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York County and the 10 counties on the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck.

For information about VersAbility’s Supported Employment Program, contact Vickie Greatwood at 757-896-8446.

To learn more about VersAbility, visit versability.org.