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BIT Academy Announces Digital Accessibility Analyst Prep Course Open House Dates

BIT will be holding virtual open house sessions for our upcoming Digital Accessibility Analyst prep course. All times listed are in US Mountain Time.

Wednesday, July 19, 3:00 pm MST

Wednesday, July 26, 3:00 pm MST

For more information and to find the call-in link, check out our Academy Open House page. An orientation for the summer cohort of this course will take place on August 14, with the course itself having a start date of August 21.

BIT Academy Announces Digital Accessibility Analyst Course Summer Cohort

Digital accessibility is a field that is quickly growing. Organizations worldwide are working to increase their reach, and this work is with the end goal of becoming more inclusive of all populations, especially those with disabilities. Digital accessibility is a field dedicated to ensuring websites, digital media, software, and more are accessible, according to standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C. These standards are referred to as WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. In 2021 alone, the amount of job postings on LinkedIn that mention accessibility, grew 78% over the previous year. BIT Academy is announcing a summer cohort for our Digital Accessibility Analyst course, which will begin in August of 2023. There will be an orientation on August 14, and the course itself will start August 21. Spaces are limited, so don’t wait to apply once the interest form is live!

The instructor will work with each student throughout the program, providing feedback, answering questions, providing guidance, and ensuring everyone is best equipped for success. But what makes a BIT Academy course different from studying independently?

  • This course is fully remote, with sessions held via Google Meet
  • Like all of our candidate services, the Digital Accessibility Analyst course is offered at no cost to students
  • This course is taught by an instructor who possesses real-world experience and multiple certifications in the digital accessibility field, and the course is designed specifically by and for people with disabilities
  • We focus on inclusion; true accessibility isn’t just accommodation of needs, but includes students in a way that they feel comfortable in their own learning environment
    •   If an accommodation is needed, it’s likely available or can be made so with advanced notice
  • We go beyond the materials available through other training courses, and students will experience the following:
    • Perform a complete audit of a real website
    • Example resources for creating accessible documents in multiple formats, and a library of resources gathered from across the internet will be provided
    • Gain a solid understanding of accessibility laws and regulations
    • Gain experience with automated accessibility tools, and using assistive technologies
    • Learn strategies for effectively communicating accessibility issues, and methodologies and action plans to remove accessibility barriers

Candidates who are best suited for this course will possess the following attributes:

  • Beginner or above knowledge of Assistive Technology, including at least one screen reader on Windows or Mac; at least one mobile screen reader (Android or IOS); system or browser-level magnification
  • Basic understanding of how websites and documents work (past use of website builders or HTML, CSS, JAVA, and similar are helpful)
  • Familiarity with common tools such as Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Adobe Reader, and mainstream web browsers
  • Advanced problem-solving skills
  • Ingenuity, creativity, and driven to learn and explore new ideas
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Collaborative mindset and the ability to work well on a team

At the end of this course, each participant should be more than ready to take and successfully pass the International Association of Accessibility Professionals CPACC and WAS certification exams. 

This course is the first of its kind. During the student selection process, an assessment to determine familiarity with disability etiquette, website and document knowledge, Assistive Technology knowledge, and other technology skills necessary for this course will be provided, and a brief interview to discuss students’ background, interest, and goals in the program will be scheduled.Please email us for questions about this course or for general Academy info.

BIT Academy Announces Third Quarter 2023 Professional Development Workshops

Stack of books in primary colors with an apple on top. A chalkboard behind has the words "Professional Development"

We offer two professional development workshops to all of our candidates: Tell Me About Yourself and Let’s Get in Touch. Both workshops are two-parters and designed to help our candidates level up their game when it comes to professional communication and making them stand out from the competition. All BIT Academy students are required to attend each of the two workshops, and we encourage all of our BIT candidates to attend regardless of their level of experience. All times listed are in US Mountain Time.

The dates for the 3rd quarter workshops are as follows:

Tell Me About Yourself focuses on resume crafting, and how to grab the attention of a hiring manager as quick as the blink of an eye. This workshop focuses on resume building and interview responses that will answer this all-important question, setting candidates on the path to a successful job search. This is not a typical resume and interviewing skills seminar, but rather we use methodology crafted from direct feedback from hiring managers, recruiters, and employment specialists. This course is required for those enrolled in BIT Academy. The first segment in this workshop focuses on the purpose of the question “Tell me about yourself” in resumes and interviews. The second segment will dive deeper into the interview, identify additional stress questions, discuss disability disclosure, and provide tips for interview preparations. This is a can’t miss workshop for professionals with disabilities who want to stand out in the stack of resumes.

Thursday, July 13 and 20, 9:00-10:30 AM, MDT

Wednesday, August 2 and 9, 9:00-10:30AM, MDT

Thursday, August 17 and 24, 9:00-10:30AM, MDT

Wednesday, September 6 and 13, 9:00-10:30AM, MDT

Thursday, September 21 and 28, 9:00-10:30AM, MDT

Let’s Get in Touch focuses on how to effectively communicate in professional spaces, with a concentration on email etiquette and familiarity with the accessibility of common remote meeting platforms. This workshop is led by an instructor with a background in professional communication and is required for those enrolled in BIT Academy. Part one of this session will focus on email etiquette while part two will focus on common meeting platforms used by corporate and other organizations. Accessibility handouts will be provided.

Wednesday, July 12 & 19, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

Thursday, August 3 & 10, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

Wednesday, August 16 & 23, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

Thursday, September 7 & 14, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

Wednesday, September 20 & 27, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

BIT Academy Announces Summer 2023 Salesforce Administrator Prep Course

BIT Academy will be holding its second Salesforce Administrator Prep Course of 2023 beginning mid-July. If you desire to begin a new career in IT, this course is for you! It’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to break into the vast ecosystem that a Salesforce Admin certification has to offer. Applications will be sent to BIT candidates in mid-May with a submittal deadline of June 16. Only BIT candidates will receive an application to the course; if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a BIT candidate, please fill out our intake form.

About This Course

The Salesforce Administrator Prep Course offered through BIT Academy is fully remote and designed to give students the tools and knowledge necessary to sit for the Salesforce Administrator certification exam. The goal of this course is for everyone to become a Salesforce Administrator, which is the first step into the vast world of Salesforce. BIT Academy offers this prep course twice per year, and spots fill up quickly. The course is primarily run as an independent study, with group learning sessions led by Certified Salesforce Admins, who possess real-world, on-the-job experience Most reading and hands-on exercises are done on students’ own schedules on their own time, however class times are used for introducing new concepts and reviewing those studied during the week.

We look forward to working with you in the Academy!

BIT Academy Announces Second Quarter 2023 Professional Development Workshops

Stack of books in primary colors with an apple on top. A chalkboard behind has the words "Professional Development"

We offer two professional development workshops to all of our candidates: Tell Me About Yourself and Let’s Get in Touch. Both workshops are two-parters and designed to help our candidates level up their game when it comes to professional communication and making them stand out from the competition. All BIT Academy students are required to attend each of the two workshops, and we encourage all of our BIT candidates to attend regardless of their level of experience. All times listed are in US Mountain Time.

The dates for the 2nd quarter workshops are as follows:

Tell Me About Yourself focuses on resume crafting, and how to grab the attention of a hiring manager as quick as the blink of an eye. This workshop focuses on resume building and interview responses that will answer this all-important question, setting candidates on the path to a successful job search. This is not a typical resume and interviewing skills seminar, but rather we use methodology crafted from direct feedback from hiring managers, recruiters, and employment specialists. This course is required for those enrolled in BIT Academy. The first segment in this workshop focuses on the purpose of the question “Tell me about yourself” in resumes and interviews. The second segment will dive deeper into the interview, identify additional stress questions, discuss disability disclosure, and provide tips for interview preparations. This is a can’t miss workshop for professionals with disabilities who want to stand out in the stack of resumes.

April 4 and 11, 10:00-11:30AM, MDT

April 19 and 26, 10:00-11:30AM, MDT

May 2 and 9, 10:00-11:30AM, MDT

May 17 and 24, 10:00-11:30AM, MDT

June 6 and 13, 10:00-11:30AM, MDT

Let’s Get in Touch focuses on how to effectively communicate in professional spaces, with a concentration on email etiquette and familiarity with the accessibility of common remote meeting platforms. This workshop is led by an instructor with a background in professional communication and is required for those enrolled in BIT Academy. Part one of this session will focus on email etiquette while part two will focus on common meeting platforms used by corporate and other organizations. Accessibility handouts will be provided.

April 6 and 13, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

April 19 and 26, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

May 4 and 11, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

May 17 and 24, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

June 8 and 15, 12:00-1:30PM, MDT

Empowering BVI Professionals – A Look at the First 7 Years of Blind Institute of Technology

(Please note: This article was written in 2020 by our Director of Operations, Kristy Schenderlein.)

As a member of the Blind and Visually Impaired community (BVI), I had heard of Blind Institute of Technology ™ (BIT) for several years, it wasn’t until Spring of 2019 that I became more familiar with BIT and its mission. A BVI professional myself, having navigated employment in corporate America with both success and failure, I was intrigued with BIT’s methods and the path BIT has taken to get where it is today. Interested in BIT’s history, I sat down with Founder and Executive Director Mike Hess to learn more about BIT’s journey.

Simply put, BIT’s mission is to support people with disabilities and the employers who hire them, find success in the workplace. Speaking from experience, there is nothing simple about this mission. There are many government programs and placement agencies whose mission is to get people with disabilities employed, but none that take the approach BIT does. Strong in the belief that he was successful because of his blindness, not despite of his blindness, Mike knew that the BVI community was full of talented professionals whose lack of sight produced unique and valuable skills corporate America had yet to discover.

From his time in corporate America, Mike knew the focus needed to be on what people with disabilities could do for the business, not the other way around. Further, believing that the medium to employment opportunities for BVI is through accessible technology, Mike developed a unique business centric model focusing primarily on the technology sector.

Beginning in 2013, Mike hit the streets of Denver as a one-man band, knocking on the doors of local corporations peddling his Art of Blinders seminar. Originally sold as an unconscious bias seminar, the Art of Blinders presentation has evolved into an active listening and team building training that is sought after by corporations across the country today. In addition to getting the conversation started, this training is used to showcase some of the skills BVI have to offer. BIT’s first Art of Blinders seminar was at Denver Water, where Mike met former CIO Chris Dermody, who would later become one of BIT’s first Board Members.

Relying on Mike’s experience with organizational structure, BIT targeted Denver executives with the introduction of the Executive Breakfast in late 2013. With the first Breakfast attracting 30-40 of Denver’s top Executives, Mike took the BIT mission directly to the C Suite, presenting the case of how corporations will benefit from hiring BVI. The first Breakfast featured a presentation from Chris Dermody on the importance of adopting this hiring initiative.

The Art of Blinders and Executive Breakfast seminars began to draw attention to BIT’s focus on accessible technology. Local organizations started to inquire about BIT assessing the accessibility of their own internal systems. BIT’s first dip into the assessment pool was with I Triage (now Aetna).  This meant opportunities to employ BVI to conduct these assessments with the added benefit of exhibiting the productivity and value BVI bring to the workplace.

BIT celebrated its first placement in 2013 when one of BIT’s Board members, Julie Burrows, hired on a BIT candidate for an open data position she had within her own organization. With support from BIT, this talented BIT candidate pursued her certification as a Salesforce Administrator and excels in this role for a major corporation today. By leveraging their relationships built with corporations, BIT strives to get their qualified talent competitive employment opportunities. BIT has placed employees in roles from Salesforce Administrators to web developers, from project managers to accessibility architects and many other roles in between, earning a median salary of $70,000 a year.

These early years saw many ups and downs for BIT. When one door opened, it seemed 2 closed. Mike found himself in many instances emotionally overwhelmed and not sure of BIT’s viability. In addition to his wife Natalie’s assurances they did the right thing, encouragement to keep pushing came in many different and unexpected ways.  “Over the years it has amazed me where I got the gentle nudges to keep going. In my first business development meting (which at the time, I didn’t know that is what they were called) Cable Labs’ COO, Chris Lammers, stopped me and told me his siblings were both legally blind and he believed in our mission. I continue to encounter experiences like that, and it keeps me going,” says Mike.

Affirmations of the use of BIT’s business centric model in the tech sector came in 2015 and again in 2016 when BIT was featured in the Denver Post. The Post’s interest arose from BIT’s partnerships with both Uber and DaVita, Inc. Further confirmations came over the next few years in the form of various prestigious awards. The first honor came when Mike received an APEX award in 2016 by the Colorado Technology Association, recognizing Colorado’s innovators and tech leaders. The CTA Award was followed by both the Martin Luther King Jr. Business Award and Executive Director of the Year Award by Governor John Hickenlooper in 2017. Continued recognition of how BIT is accomplishing its mission came in 2018 with an appointment to the Colorado Work Force Council and in 2019 with invitations to be part of the Colorado Smart Cities Symposium, and Denver Startup week.

Although the mission of employment has stayed the same over the 7-year history of BIT, the path has taken many twists and turns. “I’ve learned there are many vehicles to get from policy to placement.” 

In 2017, BIT was introduced to the diversity, equity and inclusion corporate movement by Diana Ferguson, former BIT Board Member and executive at Oppenheimer Funds. Diana counseled Mike that in order to be part of the D and I conversation, BIT needed to bring a complete D and I solution to the corporate boardroom.

Over the next few years, BIT began to construct this total D and I solution, focusing on accessibility education, work force development and inclusive work environments. BIT’s one-man band grew to include a Chief Accessibility Officer, a Director of Professional Services and a Director of Candidate Services to see to its new D and I initiative.

From its first placement in 2013, BIT has strived to put its candidates in the best possible position for success. With workforce development in mind, BIT created the BIT Academy ™. For those candidates who have the technical aptitude but lack relevant certifications the BIT Academy offers opportunities to achieve the training and certifications that help them to be competitive. “From the beginning the BIT academy has never charged its candidates for training. Our end goal is always employment,” says Mike.  “Providing our candidates with these opportunities takes away that one more thing corporate America can fuss over and will hopefully open new doors.”

Expanding on BIT’s accessibility assessments and Art of Blinders seminars, BIT has begun offering several levels of accessibility training to organizations. In the summer of 2019, BIT introduced a new teach the teacher model of accessibility training with a first of its kind internship program with the St. Vrain Valley School District. The interns, all students with disabilities, attended an 8-week session teaching accessibility guidelines and how to transform their current internal digital space into accessible systems. This program’s success caused it to be turned into an educational training program BIT is now offering in a corporate environment.

BIT felt it needed to practice what it preached with regard to inclusive work environments and began to create accessibility in its own internal systems. By leveraging G Suite and Salesforce, both accessible platforms, BIT has created its own fully accessible candidate tracking system. This has allowed BIT to pull from the same community for its own internal hiring needs as they are placing. Attracting attention from both Google and Salesforce, BIT was invited to present this model at both the 2019 Google Cloud Next Conference and Dreamforce19.

Furthering its goal of full accessibility for BVI, BIT ended the decade with a bang with the introduction of EdgGuide. EdgGuide is a navigation system that allows BVI to independently navigate physical spaces, allowing BVI to experience the products, goods and services previously inaccessible. The roll out of EdgGuide at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science has garnered BIT and its mission attention from coast to coast. Having experienced EdgGuide myself, I believe he opportunities for employment, safety and generally the improved quality of life are endless with this innovative technology.

As the sun sets on the decade that saw BIT’s beginning, BIT is looking to its future in the diversity and inclusion movement. Due to BIT’s products and services, from its talented pool of BVI professionals, education and emphasis on accessible technology, large corporations are beginning to approach BIT to become their D and I provider for the disabled community. BIT’s goal for the next decade is a lofty one, becoming the D and I provider for 10% of the Fortune 1000 space and to have celebrated with 10,000 BVI on their employment success. “I am confident BIT will rise to the challenge,” says Mike “I believe we are getting closer to realizing our vision that one day corporate America will actively recruit and retain BVI independently, confident in the knowledge that BVI provide as much value to their organization as their sighted peers.” 

BIT Academy Announces Early 2023 Professional Development Workshops

BIT Academy holds professional development workshops several times a year. These workshops are intended to help our candidates with important skills necessary from pre-employment onward. Whether it’s interviewing, creating a resume that will be noticed, answering the toughest of interview questions, effectively communicating in order to make an impression from the first interaction through employment, or gaining familiarity with remote meeting platforms and their accessibility features, BIT Academy offers skills needed for professionals to succeed.

Each workshop consists of two, 1.5-hour sessions, one week apart, that meet remotely. These workshops are scheduled on alternating days each month, in order to provide flexibility for those who wish to attend. To register for a workshop send us an email with your preferred attendance dates. Note that these workshops can fill up fast.

Our Let’s Get In Touch workshop focuses on how to effectively communicate in professional spaces, with a concentration on email etiquette and familiarity with the accessibility of common remote meeting platforms. This workshop is led by an instructor with a background in professional communication and is required for those enrolled in BIT Academy. Part one of this session will focus on email etiquette while part two will focus on common meeting platforms used by corporate and other organizations. Accessibility handouts will be provided.

The Let’s Get In Touch workshop will meet monthly via Google Meet. Dates and times provided are in US Mountain Time:

  • Thursday, January 5 & 12: 10am-11:30am
  • Friday, February 3 & 10: 12pm-1:30pm
  • Monday, March 6 & 13: 2pm-3:30pm

Our Tell Me About Yourself workshop focuses on resume crafting, and how to grab the attention of a hiring manager as quick as the blink of an eye. This workshop focuses on resume building and interview responses that will answer this all-important question, setting candidates on the path to a successful job search. This is not a typical resume and interviewing skills seminar, but rather we use methodology crafted from direct feedback from hiring managers, recruiters, and employment specialists. This course is required for those enrolled in BIT Academy. The first segment in this workshop focuses on the purpose of the question “Tell me about yourself” in resumes and interviews. The second segment will dive deeper into the interview, identify additional stress questions, discuss disability disclosure, and provide tips for interview preparations. This is a can’t miss workshop for professionals with disabilities who want to stand out in the stack of resumes.

The Tell Me About Yourself workshop will meet monthly via Google Meet. Dates and times provided are in US Mountain Time:

  • Tuesday, January 17 & 24: 9am-10:30am
  • Wednesday, February 15 & 22: 9am-10:30am
  • Thursday, March 23 & 30: 9am-10:30 am

BIT Academy Announces Digital Accessibility Analyst Course

Digital accessibility is a field that is quickly growing. Organizations worldwide are working to increase their reach, and this work is with the end goal of becoming more inclusive of all populations, especially those with disabilities. Digital accessibility is a field dedicated to ensuring websites, digital media, software, and more are accessible, according to standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C. These standards are referred to as WCAG, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. In 2021 alone, the amount of job postings on LinkedIn that mention accessibility, grew 78% over the previous year. BIT Academy is announcing a Digital Accessibility Analyst course, which will begin in February of 2023. Spaces are limited, so don’t wait to apply once the interest form is live!

The instructor will work with each student throughout the program, providing feedback, answering questions, providing guidance, and ensuring everyone is best equipped for success. But what makes a BIT Academy course different from studying independently?

  • This course is fully remote, with sessions held via Google Meet
  • Like all of our candidate services, the Digital Accessibility Analyst course is offered at no cost to students
  • This course is taught by an instructor who possesses real-world experience and multiple certifications in the digital accessibility field, and the course is designed specifically by and for people with disabilities
  • We focus on inclusion; true accessibility isn’t just accommodation of needs, but includes students in a way that they feel comfortable in their own learning environment
    •   If an accommodation is needed, it’s likely available or can be made so with advanced notice
  • We go beyond the materials available through other training courses, and students will experience the following:
    • Perform a complete audit of a real website
    • Example resources for creating accessible documents in multiple formats, and a library of resources gathered from across the internet will be provided
    • Gain a solid understanding of accessibility laws and regulations
    • Gain experience with automated accessibility tools, and using assistive technologies
    • Learn strategies for effectively communicating accessibility issues, and methodologies and action plans to remove accessibility barriers

Candidates who are best suited for this course will possess the following attributes:

  • Beginner or above knowledge of Assistive Technology, including at least one screen reader on Windows or Mac; at least one mobile screen reader (Android or IOS); system or browser-level magnification
  • Basic understanding of how websites and documents work (past use of website builders or HTML, CSS, JAVA, and similar are helpful)
  • Familiarity with common tools such as Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Adobe Reader, and mainstream web browsers
  • Advanced problem-solving skills
  • Ingenuity, creativity, and driven to learn and explore new ideas
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Collaborative mindset and the ability to work well on a team

At the end of this course, each participant should be more than ready to take and successfully pass the International Association of Accessibility Professionals CPACC and WAS certification exams. 

This course is the first of its kind. During the student selection process, an assessment to determine familiarity with disability etiquette, website and document knowledge, Assistive Technology knowledge, and other technology skills necessary for this course will be provided, and a brief interview to discuss students’ background, interest, and goals in the program will be scheduled.Please email us for questions about this course or for general Academy info.

BIT Partners With Open Inclusion

BIT has launched a new partnership with Open Inclusion! 

Together we will combine our capabilities empowering individuals across the pan-disability community globally to develop in-demand skills and find meaningful work. Both BIT and Open recognize the current levels of employment exclusion and wish to positively influence opportunities for professionals with disabilities to gain valuable, and valued work. 

Having met through an introduction from our shared connection to the Valuable 500, we found that we each recognized and designed technology-enabled collaborative solutions to support people with a wide range of additional needs looking to develop skills and find work opportunities that are engaging, accessible and welcoming. 

A number of months on now and the Open and BIT partnership has been developed with practical approaches and complementary alignment to a common mission. Together we can more powerfully impact disability-inclusive training and work opportunities.   

“The BIT team is always looking to partner with organizations who have likeminded missions,” says Michael Hess, executive Director of Blind Institute of Technology. “We specifically look for those organizations who are willing to go beyond just using diversity as a buzzword at their company and who are actually willing to do the work. From the very beginning, it was clear that Open Inclusion genuinely cares about the lack of inclusivity within the workforce and is dedicated to creating job opportunities that will positively impact the lives of so many professionals with disabilities.”

Open Inclusion is a specialist inclusive research, insight and design agency based in the UK and operating globally. It is anchored around a vibrant pan-disability community that for many years has been providing insights to influence the design of more inclusive products and services. More recently Open has been working to develop opportunities in new forms of inclusive employment such as online freelance networks. “I am delighted we have established this partnership between BIT and Open Inclusion,” said Christine Hemphill, Managing Director add Open Inclusion. “Our organizations have very aligned values and awareness of the ongoing barriers that exist for disabled people in the workplace and beyond. We are both laser focused on addressing these barriers, and have developed different, highly complementary skills and services to do so. Together we can generate positive change more broadly and faster than we could possibly do alone.”

Our collaborative partnership is already creating new opportunities for professionals with disabilities through the Fiverr Empower Program. This program supports people with disabilities to onboard on the Fiverr platform and build their profiles successfully to maximize their ability to gain good freelance opportunities and then grow their profile through great delivery.

The program provides inclusive training and personalized support over 3 weeks provided by the Fiverr Empower Team, including:

1. 2-hour virtual group meetings each week with the program lead to learn practical skills and tips to maximize your success on the platform 

2. Personalized support developing your profile with tips and perks only offered to Fiverr Empower participants

3. Ongoing support from the Empower team after on-boarding for as long as you are a Fiverr seller

Please Click Here to Register for the Fiverr Empower Program

A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SPONSORS

The BIT team is getting excited for our 9 3/4 Birthday Bash at the Cable Center in Denver on October 8. We’re so excited to celebrate with everyone but none of this would be possible without our amazing sponsors! Thank you so much to Salesforce for being our Signature premier sponsor! Salesforce continues to be a crucial component of BIT as they are dedicated to providing opportunities for professionals with disabilities.

We are also very grateful for our gold sponsors: DevIQ/The Davison Foundation, and Cognizant.  We also have three bronze sponsors, Aetna/CVS, Google, and Peak Talent Search. On behalf of everyone at Blind Institute of technology, we can’t, thank you enough! Please know, that your continued support allows us to impact so many disabled professionals seeking meaningful employment.