Abilities, Inc. and Verizon Collaborate To Provide Computer-based Training For People With Disabilities

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. -- Verizon and Abilities Inc., part of the National Center for Disability Services, are collaborating on a training program

designed to help people with disabilities improve their skills and find employment. The program, titled Training 2001, will kick off April 27 at the

Verizon Multi-Media Training Center, 501 North Ocean Ave., Patchogue, N.Y.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with Verizon to provide training that will offer people with disabilities the opportunity to improve their skills to

better market themselves to employers," said Edmund L. Cortez, president and CEO of Abilities, Inc. and the National Center for Disability Services.

Training 2001 is an extension of the successful collaboration begun in 1999 between Verizon (formerly Bell Atlantic) and Northeast Career Planning, an

Abilities, Inc. partner in Albany, N.Y. Last year, Verizon and Abilities, Inc. provided a similar training program in Nassau County. Almost 100 job seekers with

disabilities received training on a wide variety of computer software.

"Verizon is extremely pleased to help expand this enormously successful program," said Judi Schillaci, Verizon Long Island director for Community

Affairs. "This is a natural extension of a program that provides the necessary computer, technical and business skills for people with disabilities on Long

Island. This program benefits not only the individuals, but also Long Island businesses who can more easily draw from a previously untapped employment source

-- people with disabilities."

As part of the Training 2001 program, the staff of Abilities, Inc. will identify candidates for the training, and assess their needs. Abilities will coordinate

scheduling and attendance at the Verizon center. At Verizon's multi-media training center, candidates will take advantage of self-guided computer training and

receive associated training materials and guidance from the center's training professional.

Nine disability organizations across Long Island will refer candidates to Abilities, Inc. for placement in the program. To accommodate the growth, the training

now will be based at Verizon's Suffolk County facility.

The training program offers several hundred computer-based training courses focusing on technical to managerial skills. Program length ranges from several

hours to two days and benefits individuals seeking employment for the first time, those seeking to re-enter the workforce or those who are currently working and

are seeking to upgrade their skills. The program is self-paced and is available during business hours alongside Verizon employees taking the same training.

For their collaborative efforts, Verizon and Abilities, Inc. received the 1999 regional and statewide national Disability Employment Awareness Month awards

presented by the New York State Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities; and the 2000 New York State Rehabilitation

Association Business/Industry Recognition Award. Their collaboration also was acknowledged last year as one of the best practices by then U.S. Department of

Labor Secretary Alexis Herman at the National Skills Summit.

People with disabilities who are seeking training to gain employment may call Abilities, Inc. at 631-952-6756 for more information about eligibility for

participation in Training 2001.

Abilities, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that has been helping people with disabilities transition into the workforce for over fifty years. It is the parent

corporation of the Edwin W. Martin, Jr. Career and Employment Institute, which provides employment evaluation, training and placement services to more than

1500 adults with disabilities each year, and the National Business & Disability Council, which is the leading national resource for the successful integration of

people with disabilities into the workforce and consumer marketplace.

The National Center for Disability Services is a national non-profit facility that empowers children and adults with disabilities to fulfill their academic and

professional potential through education, vocational training, research, and rehabilitation services. The Center operates the Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal

Learning Center, the Nathaniel H. Kornreich Technology Center, and the Research and Training Institute. The Center supports and works in partnership with

Abilities, Inc., which includes the Edwin W. Martin, Jr. Career and Employment Institute and the National Business & Disability Council. The Center also

supports and works in partnership with the Henry Viscardi School.

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of

wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon

is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately $65 billion in 2000 revenues and more than 260,000 employees,

Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit