The Outlook's Good for People with Disabilities

Organization Name
Positive Solutions Benefits & Resource Center
Mission Statement

To empower people with disabilities with the tools to enable self-sufficiency

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: 1. We provide ongoing support to clients with disabilities who receive SSI and/or SSDI and want to work. Therefore benefit counselors spend a considerable amount of time answering important questions over the phone. However, many times a client would call back with the same question. The issue was that clients were dealing with disabilities that affected such things as memory, organization, and/or comprehension. So it seemed that verbal responses to questions were not always the best way to communicate. How could we enhance the support we were giving to our clients?

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: 3. While we did not want to discourage clients from telephoning, we did want to make our verbal answers more accessible to our clients. We started asking if they would like to communicate through email. Well, it was a smash hit. Microsoft Outlook was quick and easy, and clients received answers in writing, which they could refer to time and again. Microsoft Outlook made it possible for counselors to quickly and efficiently craft answers so that clients could better understand the concepts. This simple, but effective solution had a great impact upon staff time, and in turn, enabled staff to help more people. A by-product of using Outlook is that staff could organize emails into separate client folders which made writing case notes so much more easy.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: 4. Outlook makes it easy to contact one, or many people. It comes in handy when we are sending out an announcement, when we want to confirm presentation dates, and when we need to send materials to a client or partner. It is an essential tool in our everyday operation. What we like about Outlook is its features. We use “Recurring Events” in the calendar to post our semi-monthly workshops; also the calendar makes it easy to keep track of client’s appointments with the ability to note if there are specific topics that should be covered. It’s easy to set up client folders, to plan meetings, and to categorize mail. It seems that Outlook had us in mine when it was developed: Staff doing the agency’s work, and not spending time learning a new software program.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: 5. I have a client who lives quite a distance away making it difficult for her to get into the office. Rita was going through a work review and needed considerable assistance. She used Outlook to send the completed work review as a Microsoft Word document, which I was able to proof read and edit. People take email programs for granted, but Outlook is so essential to my clients I do not know what we would do without it. It helps me in organizing my caseload using folders to arrange emails by client code; and it is perfect for help in doing case notes. Clients can do the same organization on their end by using folders to arrange specific topics. Outlook is the first thing I look when I get to work and the last thing I check before I leave work.

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