LOGAN, Utah — A collaboration between the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation and Utah State University's special education department is working to get Logan area residents with disabilities into the work force.

The partnership's EmployAbility Clinic is a vocational rehabilitation center that helps match the skills and abilities of disabled adults with suitable employers.

"We're bringing special education and rehabilitative services together, which has a high need nationally. You don't see it very often," said Jared Schultz, assistant professor in special education and rehabilitation and the director of the rehabilitation counseling program. "It really is a clinical situation to serve the community, help (USU) graduates and do research."

Initiated through a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, the clinic relies on graduate students to work with clients to assess their skills and work interests. That includes a situation assessment — putting clients to work initially on a volunteer basis at a business so that their ability to learn and workplace behaviors can be observed.

"It has to make business sense" to hire a person with disabilities, Schultz said. "It's not charity."

Clinic staff also help clients transition into their jobs, supervising them at the job site until employers can take over the responsibility.

Aaron Klomp, 19, is the program's first success story. He's working for Great Basin Graphics cleaning screen printing screens.

Business manager Kurt Norgard said the program matches the company's business philosophy. It also helps keeps production moving. Before Klomp came to work, a staffer had to be diverted from production to clean screens.

"It's a positive relationship between Great Basin Graphics and Utah State University," said Norgard. "(Aaron) does exactly what we need him to do and that's why he works here."

Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com