Blind World Magazine

"Magic Comb" Helps the Disabled Get Back Into the Workforce.

November 07, 2005.
NBC4, Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES -- A non-profit organization in Los Angeles has been working for 25 years to get people with disabilities back into the workforce. It is a lot of work, but a labor of love if only potential employers would open their eyes to the possibilities. Kelly Mack reports.

KELLY MACK: "The Magic Comb" on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles may appear at first to be like any other beauty salon. But look closer and you see most of the customers are in wheelchairs. And all the styling, spritzing and shaping going on here is about jobs, not about vanity. It is all part of Operation Confidence, a program started 25 years ago by Consuella Mackey, who has made it her life's work to help people with disabilities re-enter the workforce.

CONSUELLA MACKEY, OPERATION CONFIDENCE: "Regardless of how well you are educated how much knowledge and skills you have, you will not get the job if you come in there scrubby and unprofessional looking."

MACK: It starts at the office of Operation Confidence in Tarzana. Consuella Mackey counsels people with disabilities from blindness to paralysis on the ins and outs of job preparation from putting together a resume to arranging transportation to the job site.

MACKEY: "They'll come in. we'll interview them. We'll see what their skills are. We'll test them. We evaluate and we try to research and find companies or organizations that have openings for them."

GINA ARNOLD, JOB SEEKER: "I was looking for a job on my own and I've been having bad luck."

MACK: Gina Arnold uses a wheelchair. She is getting help from Operation Confidence.

ARNOLD: "Since everything's computer now i need more computer skills especially doing clerical work."

MACK: Chris James was in a similar situation. He is visually impaired.

CHRIS JAMES: "You need self confidence because people will look at you and they won't trust you. You gotta look people straight in the eye and say i can do it and i feel i can do it and thanks to Operation Confidence I shall do it."

MACK: Before going out on a job interview, Consuella Mackey brings her "clients" to the Magic Comb, not only to get hair styled by senior students from Universal College of Beauty, cosmetics applied by professional makeup artists, nails cut, buffed and polished, or beards trimmed. Here they can get clothes that have been donated and altered to the unique specifications of, for example, a person confined to a wheelchair.

MACKEY: "For example a man's suit: The jacket comes down past the buttocks. well, when you're in a wheelchair its cut off at the waist.

"Pants. You don't want the pockets in the back bunching up."

MACK: And they customize grooming aids for people with limited range of motion.

MACKEY: "We'll take an actual comb and bend it to fit the grasp of a person so that they can hold that comb and be able to comb their hair."

AUTI ANGEL, WHEELCHAIR DANCER: "We're like anybody else. We are a part of the community. We just need some adaptive equipment to get around."

MACK: The ultimate hope at Operation Confidence is that employers will see these people not as disabled but as uniquely qualified for many, many jobs. Employers like Matt Plaskoff of Plaskoff Construction.

MATT PLASKOFF, PLASKOFF CONSTRUCTION: "To make people self-sufficient allows them to have pride of work and contribute to society and I think its a valiant role that Connie plays."

If you would like to contact Operation Confidence, visit

on the internet.

Source URL:

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