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Viability Introduces Innovative Program to Better Serve Participants

NORTHAMPTON — Viability Inc., a human-service provider, recently announced Project (VR)², a virtual-reality program dedicated to enhancing access to employment for all and inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

According to its creators, Project (VR)² is where vocational rehabilitation meets virtual reality (VR)². This first-of-its-kind project, deployed in the midst of COVID-19, will help people who are chronically underserved and marginalized build the vital skills required to advance their ability to gain and maintain employment.

(VR)² makes it possible for individuals to acquire essential interactive soft skills that make or break job success — communication, interviewing, adapting, and problem-solving — in a controlled, safe, and self-reflective virtual work environment. Partners of the virtual collaborative include Link To VR, Bodyswaps, Cleanbox Technology, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

The VR platform Bodyswaps offers a soft-skills simulator, much the same way companies like Boeing leverage flight simulators.

“Immersive VR learning provides access for individuals who are otherwise overlooked in the employment world,” said Kristin Rotas, Viability director. “Access to training and work experiences virtually builds confidence and readiness that will better equip participants to hold jobs that provide income along with a sense of purpose to individuals, a willing workforce for employers, and greater societal equity.”

The program also offers iPads for a 2D immersion into the virtual training and readiness environments.

Collaborating with Cleanbox and Link To VR allowed Viability to safely deploy the VR project in the midst of COVID-19. Cleanbox’s system utilizes UVC rays to eradicate 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, essentially decontaminating the headset for reuse.

Viability’s vision for Project (VR)² expanded significantly when the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provided assisted funding. Together, they are pioneering a new training initiative and encouraging states to bring about technological changes to their current rehabilitation efforts. To help manage the deployment, Viability called on Link To VR, a leading spatial computing company with offices in Boston.

“We were honored to take part in such a fantastic project which provides hands-on access to transformative technologies which help level a competitive employment playing field,” said Edward Zemba, CEO of Link To VR.

Viability is a community-based human-services agency providing employment services, vocational and life-skills training, and other supports to more than 4,000 individuals across five states. Viability partners with more than 600 employers and leverages community resources to overcome barriers with a mission of helping to build a world where individuals with disabilities and other disadvantages can realize their full potential.

To learn more about Project (VR)², e-mail Rotas at [email protected].

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