NRTC Awarded Major National Grant
The NRTC is proud to once again be awarded the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment of People who are Blind or Have Low Vision grant, sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). This grant will fund NRTC-related work over the next five years and encompasses seven major research projects related to the employment of people who are blind or have low vision (B/LV):
- Access Technology in the Workplace addresses technology use in the workplace, challenges associated with its use, and facilitates solutions by partnering with technology companies.
- Virtual Training to Improve Job Interview Skills addresses the need to prepare youth and young adults who are B/LV to perform well in job interviews, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining meaningful employment.
- Interactive Video for Employers addresses the problem of negative employer attitudes by creating an interactive educational video of a blind rehabilitation professional that will allow employers to receive answers to the questions they are most interested in.
- Job Search Skills Training via Videoconference addresses the need for adults who are B/LV to improve their job-seeking knowledge and skills, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining employment.
- Increasing Labor Force Participation will use a mixed-methods approach to investigate the employment barriers experienced by discouraged workers and explore strategies to overcome these barriers.
- Exploration of National Datasets will delve into five large, national datasets to investigate the status of employment for people who are B/LV, going beyond simple employment rates to include job quality, underemployment and continuity of employment, and explore barriers and facilitators to employment.
- Online Job Application Accessibility will promote the employment of people who are B/LV by investigating the accessibility and usability of online job applications for screen reader users and encouraging companies with problematic job application sites to make them accessible.
The NRTC will continue to utilize our research findings to create tools and resources for businesses, service providers, and individuals with B/LV.
The NRTC is in the final stages of the creation of our employment-focused app to promote independence and a successful transition process for youth (ages 4 to 24) with B/LV and deaf-blindness (DB). The app, 4to24, will provide suggested activities and a checklist to track progress on completion of these activities that are meant to help prepare youth for employment. There will be two versions of the app for three audiences:
- Youth with B/LV,
- Parents of children and youth with B/LV, and
- Parents of children and youth with DB, or other combined hearing and visual impairments, in addition to other significant disabilities.
The B/LV version has completed field-testing. We are still evaluating and addressing feedback and comments from the B/LV field test. Comments from the field test have been generally positive. Many participants found the information useful and incorporated the recommended activities into their daily life. We are eager for this resource to be available to the public and plan to release it by the end of this year.
We started field testing for the DB version this fall. If you are interested in participating in the field test of the DB app, you can register here. Field testing will be completed for the DB version in March 2021. For assistance or further information, contact Karla Antonelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Training and Technical Assistance
The NRTC now has a Spanish version of our popular trifold "You Can Work!" brochure. This brochure provides information for persons with newly acquired vision loss about the services available to support them in efforts to maintain or obtain a job. The brochure includes a link to an associated guide that provides more detailed information about services, resources, and tools related to vision loss. You can find it on our website here.
We have several new article summaries that cut through research jargon to explain our research findings in everyday language with practical takeaways:
- Factors Related to Employment Outcomes for Adults with Visual Impairments
- Short-Term Effects of Job Search Skills Training and a Summer Work Experience Program for Youth
- Factors That Influence Employer Hiring Behavior of People with Blindness or Low Vision
- Impact of Agency Context on Effectiveness of Business Development Training
- Factors and Characteristics Associated with Employment for Individuals with TBI and Visual Impairment
These article summaries are available for download on our website.
Other NRTC News
New Facebook page
In late June, Facebook wrongfully removed our NRTC page for "impersonation and pretending to be an individual or business." We went through the appeal process with no response from Facebook. So, we decided to create a new NRTC Facebook page. We are sad to lose ten years of content and connections from that page, but we are optimistic that we can rebuild. Please consider connecting with us on our new page and sharing this page with others who may appreciate daily updates, tips, and resources related to blindness and low vision: www.facebook.com/theNRTC/
NRTC Director Honored with 2020 John H. McAulay Award
Dr. Michele McDonnall, NRTC Director, was awarded the prestigious John H. McAulay Award. This award, from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, was established to "honor professionals who have contributed outstanding efforts and achievements leading to the placement of people with visual impairments in productive employment." Read the NRTC news item for more details.
OIB-TAC Hosted Virtual Conference
The Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center hosted their second annual OIB Program Manager's Technical Assistance Conference virtually August 31 – September 4. Program managers and professionals in the field from 48 states connected to learn about remote services, community outreach, and policies. Read the NRTC news item for more details on the conference.
Register to Participate in Our Research
Are you interested in taking part in our research? The NRTC invites all who are interested in joining a registry of individuals who are blind or have low vision in participating in research projects. By joining this registry, you simply agree to be contacted with information about opportunities to participate in research. You are not obligated to participate in any projects. You can request to be removed from the registry at any time. To learn more and sign up for the registry, visit the Participant Registry webpage.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
McDonnall, M. C., Cmar, J. L., & McKnight, Z. S. (2020) The effect of visual impairment on return to work for vocational rehabilitation consumers with traumatic brain injury. Journal of Rehabilitation, 86(2), 47-55.
McDonnall, M. C., Cmar, J. L., & Tatch, A. J. (2020). Importance of agency context for long-term effectiveness of a business development training for rehabilitation counselors. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 53(1) 1-16.
Steverson, A. (2020). The value of job search skills training for teens and young adults. Future Reflections, 39(3).
Cmar, J. L., & McDonnall, M. C. (In press) Long-term effects of a job search intervention for transition-age youth with visual impairments. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Crudden, A., & Steverson, A. (In press). Job retention and career advancement: A survey of persons who are blind or have low vision. Journal of Rehabilitation.
McKnight, Z. S., Crudden, A., & McDonnall, M. C. (In press). Personal characteristics associated with working after disability onset. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
Upcoming Presentations & Workshops (October 1 – December 31)
Moffitt, C., & Steverson, A. (2020, October 6-7). Putting Your Best Foot Forward Trainer Workshop [Virtual Training]. National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
McDonnall, M. C. (2020, October 8). Changing employer attitudes towards people who are blind or have low vision [Conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2020 Conference.
Antonelli, K. (2020, October 10). NRTC's 4to24 App [Conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2020 Conference.
Farrow, K. & Moffitt, C. (2020, October 10). Ethics Through Diverse Lenses [Conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2020 Conference.