Quarterly Connections: News from the MSU-RRTC
Linking Blindness and Low Vision Research to Practice
RRTC Advisory Council Meets at Mississippi State
MSU-RRTC hosted its first advisory council meeting for the new 2010-2015 Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired on March 30-31. Center researchers and AFB TECH director Mark Uslan (who is our subcontractor), presented overviews of six research projects and associated training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities to the 11-member council, which consists of professionals representing government and private organizations, blind consumer groups, and other stakeholders in the field of blindness and low vision. Advisory council members include Ron Brown (National Federation of the Blind), Mike Gandy (Ex Officio), Angela Hartley (National Industries for the Blind), Ray Hopkins (National Council of State Agencies for the Blind), Donna Smith (Easter Seals), Roxann Mayros (Private Agencies for the Blind), H.S. (Butch) McMillan (Ex Officio), Joe McNulty (Helen Keller National Institute), Mitch Pomerantz (American Council of the Blind), Jennipher Wiebold (Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired), and Tom Zampieri (Blinded Veterans Association). External evaluator Richard Long (Western Michigan University), and project consultant Terry Smith (Director, Tennessee Services for the Blind) also attended.
The meeting included Q & A and group discussion to familiarize the council with all projects and related activities, election of officers, and a planning session focused on meaningful continuing involvement of the council during design and initiation of RRTC projects. Finally, council members identified projects with the greatest relevancy to their expertise, interests, and constituencies for more specific involvement as projects progress. Research staff, advisory council members, and other attendees agreed that the research undertaken by this RRTC should and does have a “research-to-practice” focus which will guide dissemination of ongoing activities and eventual results.
This advisory council will meet as a whole again twice during the five-year term of the RRTC, which is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), grant #H133B10022.
Current RRTC Research Highlights: Recruitment of Participants Underway for Mentoring Project
MSU-RRTC researchers are entering the recruitment phase for “An Employment Mentoring Intervention,” one of our six research projects under the current NIDRR RRTC on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired. This randomized, controlled trial will study the effectiveness of pairing college students who are legally blind with mentors who are employed in similar professions and who are also blind or visually impaired.
We know that young adults who are blind often have difficulty finding employment, and this project will test whether pairing students who are blind with successful mentors (who are also blind) in their career fields will help. This project contributes to the field by providing data to support evidence-based practices. It also is expected to benefit the participants by (a) providing mentees with assistance in career goal development, training related to skills development for job seeking, and opportunities to job shadow with a career mentors who are also blind or visually impaired; (b) giving mentors the opportunity to share knowledge and experience to assist young professionals in their field or discipline; and (c) enabling participants to play an important role in research that seeks to benefit the blindness community.
Nationwide recruitment is underway now and will continue through July 2012. We will recruit college and graduate students who are legally blind and are planning to seek employment after graduation. Mentees will be paired with mentors who live nearby to allow face-to-face meetings in the mentor’s workplace. For more information about this project and/or to volunteer for participation as a mentor or mentee, please contact Jamie O’Mally by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 662-325-2001.
In the Works: Training and TA
Training coordinator B. J. LeJeune will conduct a number of training and technical assistance activities both in-state and around the country over the summer months. Ms. LeJeune is scheduled to speak at a workshop celebrating Helen Keller Awareness Day at the Reach Center in Tupelo, MS on June 23, and she will conduct a workshop on "Adjustment to Vision Loss and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)" for Mississippi Rehabilitation for the Blind staff members on June 28 and 29. In September, she will collaborate with Billy Brookshire to teach an in-service for Kentucky Services for the Blind, and will also travel with our new training associate, Ali Orr, to provide training for Massachusetts Commission Service Providers.
MSU-RRTC will begin accepting applications for our Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate program July 1 (deadline October 1).
MSU-RRTC welcomes two new research staff members!
Dr. Jamie O'Mally, who has just completed her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at University of Alabama, joins the center as an assistant research professor. Jamie’s strong statistical skills and extensive experience with database management and file archiving will be assets to the center, as will her ability to use her Social Psychology background and apply it to the population of individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Alberta L. Orr (Ali), our new research/training associate, brings expertise in the areas of policy and services to older adults who are blind or visually impaired and a national perspective developed during a career spanning over 30 years, which included 20 years at the American Foundation for the Blind's National Aging Program. Ali has taught courses on aging and vision loss in the classroom and online in master's-level vision rehabilitation programs at three universities. She has authored and co-authored five books and numerous articles and book chapters on issues related to aging and age-related vision loss. She is on the Board of Directors of AERBVI and has a federal appointment to the National Eye Institute's National Advisory Eye Council. Ali is also on the Elderly Committee of the World Blind Union.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Publications Recently Archived for Download from Our Website:
Crudden, A., Williams, W., McBroom, L. W., & Moore, J. E. (2002). Consumer and employer strategies for overcoming employment barriers. Technical report. Mississippi State: Mississippi State University, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Cavenaugh, B. S. (1999). Relationship of agency structure and client characteristics to rehabilitation services and outcomes for consumers who are blind. Mississippi State: Mississippi State University, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
McBroom, L. W., Crudden, A., Skinner, A. L., & Moore, J. E. (1998). Barriers to employment among persons who are blind or visually impaired. Executive Summary. Mississippi State: Mississippi State University, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Tedder, N. E., McBroom, L. W., & Ji, K. (1990). Youth with visual disabilities: Transition from school to work. Technical report. Mississippi State: Mississippi State University, Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
McDonnall, M. C. (in press). Predictors of employment for youth with visual impairments: Findings from the
NLTS2. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
LeJeune, B. J. (2011, August). Reading devices and telecommunications. AER Regional Conference. Boston, MA.
MSU-RRTC interim director, Dr. Michele McDonnall, received the MSU Office of Research and Economic Development's 2011 Faculty Research Award for the College of Education.
For Additional MSU-RRTC News and Activities:
Visit our website at http://www.blind.msstate.edu/.
This newsletter was supported in part by grant #H133B10022 from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Newsletter contents do not represent policies of NIDRR or the Department of Education and viewers should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to interested parties.
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