Summer Work Experience Program in partnership with Oregon Commission for the Blind

Summer Work Experience Program in partnership with Oregon Commission for the Blind



Dirkse Counseling & Consulting and Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB) have partnered for over 20 years to help Oregonians with vision impairments explore and access opportunities for employment. Every summer, 16 to 20-year-old Oregonians who experience blindness come together in Portland, Salem, or in their local communities and participate in the Summer Work Experience Program, or SWEP. Participants practice independent living skills by staying in a dorm and engage in paid work experiences with real employers. OCB support provides these students with valuable life skills such as mobility and orientation in a new environment, cooking, and cleaning, and work readiness skills such as career exploration and interviewing.

SWEP relies on partnerships with local employers to support these students each summer. While Covid has limited the independent living portion of the program, the employment option continues this summer with several local employers including New Seasons Market, MOD Pizza, the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, and OMSI among others. Jennifer Powers, a Science Educator at OMSI states “Hosting a SWEP student is such a wonderful experience. As an institution, we learn and evolve because of these students. And watching each student grow in ways they never imagined is the best gift of all!”

If your business would like to participate in next summer’s SWEP program, or learn more about general employment opportunities, please contact Morgan Rincon at Oregon Commissions for the Blind, at


For more information about Dirkse’s mission and programs, please call (503)-265-9256.