A scene of people with various disabilities gathered around a blue lake, enjoying their home, community, the out-of-doors, health, recreation, housing, transportation and education with an accessible path for them to a high mountain and large yellow sun on the horizon.  New Horizons Un-Limited Inc.

Press Releases: 2008

New Horizons Un-Limited and People with Disabilities: The Making of an IT Workforce


For more information, contact:
New Horizons Un-Limited
P.O. Box 510034
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Phone: (414) 299-0124

New Horizons Un-Limited and People with Disabilities: The Making of an IT Workforce

New Horizons Un-Limited has collaborated with Wisconsin companies to grant used, refurbished computers to bring Internet Technology to people with disabilities throughout the state, celebrating over 500 computers given to date! The real vision, however, for Art Miller, founder of New Horizons Un-Limited, a non-profit organization for our community members with disabilities, and chairman and president of Miller Engineering, a Milwaukee based, Information Technologies consulting firm, is to turn people with disabilities, empowered by high-speed broadband, to be a home-based (or in-office) manpower for Wisconsin companies. Miller envisions a near future, with Wisconsin companies in jeopardy of losing their baby boomer IT departments to pending retirement, in which we turn to the disabled members of our community as the group needed to help the state and the country keep its technological edge.

New Horizons Un-Limited has been working to prepare people with disabilities to take this role in the workforce, however, there are many obstacles facing people with disabilities and the non-profit organization; obstacles such as societal barriers and finding funding sources. Miller strives to motivate Wisconsin companies to become involved with the organization to invest in people with disabilities and the making of an IT workforce.

“At the present time, individuals with physical disabilities are often isolated, and because they are isolated, without much contact with the everyday world, we tend to think of them as “not being capable of learning or contributing,” Miller says. “If you take a child out of the mainstream of society, that child doesn’t have the opportunity to interact with the world; people falsely assume that physically disabled individuals are incapable of learning.”

“We at New Horizons Un-Limited are trying to correct that faulty assumption.”

New Horizons Un-Limited has been giving people with disabilities opportunities to break the isolation and to turn toward experiencing life. Since 1994, New Horizons Un-Limited has been granting refurbished, Internet-ready, computer workstations to both individuals with disabilities and to non-profit organizations for the creation of accessible computer literacy training programs for the disabled in our community. New Horizons Un-Limited has also provided information on daily living, employment, and advocacy issues through information, referral and their website on the Internet at http://www.new-horizons.org. In addition, through a partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,’ “Open the Outdoors” program, they have supported the building of five fully accessible cabins in the state parks and offered other access to recreation opportunities.

Today, through the donations of Microsoft, US Bank, Roundy’s, Robert W. Baird & Co. and other major corporations, New Horizons Un-Limited has provided access to technology for people with disabilities. Through their Access Technology Computer Redistribution program they have granted used, refurbished computers to bring Internet Technology to people with disabilities throughout the state. From their downtown Milwaukee offices and other area non-profit organizations that serve people with disabilities, they have provided curriculum, training, and technical support through their Computer Literacy program. People with disabilities have gained access to the Internet. They have been able to enter and participate in the mainstream of the consumer Internet markets; activities many of us take for granted such as shopping, entertainment and banking, (including those of the businesses that are involved with this program) as well as communicate through e-mail and Internet communities.

However, Miller’s vision for NHU goes beyond this important first step, and he is not content to settle for people with disabilities just having access to the Internet. While societal attitudes are changing and becoming more accepting of the physically disabled, he sees human potential wasted when they cannot overcome the barriers for employment.

From its inception, Miller has believed investment by corporations in New Horizons Un-Limited, and the people with disabilities that they serve, is an investment in the workforce of the future. Through collaborations with area technical colleges and Goodwill, disabled students and individuals have come to NHU to volunteer to accomplish the refurbishing of computers. These volunteers in turn gain skills and experience that they may be ready for opportunities for employment in the Milwaukee IT work force. As Miller and NHU appeal to businesses for collaboration and funding, their goal is to also appeal to the practical side of executives. Assistance to train a computer literate consumer and employee will in turn benefit the company.

Brian Brylow, chief technology officer for Robert W. Baird & Co., who serves on the New Horizons Un-Limited’s seven-person board of directors, also shares this vision, and encourages other companies to support NHU. “As business and technology leaders, we can help raise awareness of the need to support this important mission through donations of time, hardware and services,” he said. “It is a great way to be able to give back to the community.”

“The issue of relying on the physically disabled to fill the future IT workforce is going to be important as we move forward,” Miller said. “We need to motivate corporate IT to get involved, because there is a benefit to them down the road. “It is our vision that by working together, inclusion of individuals with disabilities in communities and workplaces will not be an exception, it will be an expectation.”

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[May 31, 2008]
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