Quarterly Connections: News from the MSU-RRTC
Linking Blindness and Low Vision Research to Practice
New! Participant Registry for Blindness and Low Vision Research
Are you or is someone you know interested in participating in blindness and low vision research conducted by the RRTC? In late October, Dr. Jamie O’Mally and colleagues at the RRTC launched an online research participant registry. Research evaluates, improves, and promotes practice in today’s evidence-based practice climate, and participation of individuals who are blind or visually impaired is essential to conducting successful research in this field. We anticipate that this registry will serve as a helpful mechanism for recruiting participants for current and future research projects. Our goal is to maintain a database of potential participants that will increase our research efficiency and productivity, allowing us to effectively investigate the challenges faced by individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Valuable knowledge gained from research on blindness and low vision allows for the development and exploration of solutions that can be translated into practice.
Individuals who join the registry will be asked to provide basic demographic information that will allow researchers at the RRTC to determine their eligibility for various research projects. When registry members are eligible to participate in a specific project, they will be provided with further details about the project that can be used to help them determine whether they would like to participate. For example, we are currently conducting research that examines the influence of a face-to-face mentoring relationship on employment outcomes for college and graduate students who are legally blind. For this study, we are seeking participants that fit very specific eligibility criteria (i.e., students must be legally blind, under age 35, and graduating college or grad school between January 2013 and December 2014; mentors must also be legally blind and must be currently employed or recently retired). We can use demographic information from the registry to contact individuals who may fit the criteria for this particular project. Not only does this make the recruitment process more economical, it also allows individuals to easily find out about research that is relevant to them.
Please consider supporting us in this effort. Signing up for the registry takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Please visit http://tiny.cc/participant-registry.
Current RRTC Research Highlight:
State-federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies have always interacted with businesses to assist their consumers in obtaining employment. These interactions have traditionally focused on job placement efforts, which generally involve placing one consumer in one job. Recently, interactions focusing on establishing long-term relationships with businesses have received more attention. Establishing relationships with businesses, referred to as the business relations model or the dual customer approach, is believed to be a more effective strategy for VR agencies. However, this approach has not been empirically evaluated. This NIDRR-funded research project is designed to add empirical data and consequent knowledge about the business relations model as a VR approach for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, by evaluating the effectiveness of existing business interaction practices used by VR agencies.
This project is being conducted in collaboration with Kathy West-Evans, Director of Business Relations for CSAVR (Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation). The current status is that Michele McDonnall, project PI, and Ms. West-Evans have developed two surveys: one designed for VR administrators, the other for VR staff who work with businesses. A number of VR personnel who are considered experts in the area of business relations provided an evaluation of the instruments before they were finalized, thus providing evidence for their content validity. The administrator surveys were administered in October and November, with completion by 47 out of 51 agencies. This is a high response rate, but our goal is 100% participation! Administration of staff surveys has begun and will continue through January, 2012.
The data from these surveys will be combined with RSA-911 data to determine whether a relationship exists between agency business interaction practices (as reported in the surveys) and employment outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The next phase of the project will be to conduct a survey of employers, which will assess their knowledge of how persons who are blind or visually impaired can function on the job and attitudes towards persons who are blind or visually impaired.
In the Works: Training and TA
New Website Item: Transition Calendar
Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation
Competition for the eight available Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)-funded stipends was keen this year. The number of deserving candidates who applied made selection difficult! The 2012 class will hail from AL, GA, CO, VA, and NC.
RSA stipends are made available through a long-term training grant. The specific amount provided varies each year; this year, stipends will run about $8,000-$9,000 per student and will cover all expenses for the (primarily distance education) program. In addition to on-line studies, students will attend a three-week residency of intensive and hands-on activities on the beautiful Mississippi State University campus in the spring.
The Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation is a graduate certificate program primarily for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors to gain specific knowledge of blindness and low vision to enhance their skills in providing effective services.
Recent RRTC Training around the U. S.
Kentucky Services for the Blind – Frankfurt, Kentucky: In September, RRTC Training Coordinator B. J. LeJeune and consultant Billy Brookshire, the Instant Trainer, provided training to around 30 Kentucky Services for the Blind administrators and staff members. The workshop included activities to identify communication styles based on personality and generational differences. Strategies to communicate effectively with persons who have different styles and who come from different generations were discussed. In addition, the workshop included small group brainstorming and “get-up-and-try-it out” strategies to enhance communication and to resolve conflict in the workplace.
Other RRTC News:
Mentee Eligibility Recruitment Criteria Expanded!
Mentors must be legally blind, currently employed or recently retired from a professional career, and must have basic computer literacy and ability to access online materials. To volunteer for participation in this project, please complete an online eligibility survey for students at http://tiny.cc/mentor-students or for professionals at http://tiny.cc/mentor-professionals. For more information, please contact Dr. Jamie O'Mally by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 662-325-2001.
Career Advantage: A Resource for Blind/Visually Impaired Job Seekers
Career Advantage was developed and tested with youth and young adults who are blind or visually impaired under our recent NIDRR-funded grant, DRRP on VR: Transition Services that Lead to Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments.
Visit http://www.blind.msstate.edu/advantage/ for more information and access instructions!
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Publications Recently Archived for Download from Our Website:
Kirchner, C., Schmeidler, E., & Todorov, A. (1999). Looking at employment through a lifespan telescope: Age, health, and employment status of people with serious visual impairment. New York: American Federation for the Blind, and Mississippi State, Mississippi: Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Publications in Press:
McDonnall, M. C., & Giesen, J. M. (in press). Project H.I.R.E.: An online employment preparation program for college students who are blind or visually impaired. Insight: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness.
McDonnall, M. C., & O'Mally, J. (in press). Characteristics of early work experiences and their association with future employment. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
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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