4to24 App Now Available for Apple and Android Devices
Our new 4to24 app is now available for both Apple and Android devices, as well as on the web! This free mobile app was created as a transition resource for youth who are blind, have low vision (B/LV), or are deaf-blind and their parents. It aims to prepare youth for future employment and independence by providing targeted resources and suggesting age-appropriate activities to build skills and confidence.
The 4ot24 app can be used by either parents of B/LV or deaf-blind children between the ages of 4 and 24 years or by older youth with B/LV. The app is customizable to individual users, provides helpful resources, and encourages engagement through push notifications. Within the app, users can work through modules on topics like building social skills, literacy, technology, and daily living skills. Modules are self-paced and can be completed at the user’s convenience.
Current Research Highlights: Job Search Skills Training via Videoconference
Job search skills training is effective for improving the likelihood of employment for people who are seeking work, and it also has positive effects on the well-being of people who face employment barriers. People with blindness or low vision (B/LV) have identified job search skills training as beneficial to gaining employment, but these programs have not yet been evaluated to see if they are effective in improving employment outcomes for adults with B/LV.
For this NIDILRR grant research project, we used two existing programs to create a job search skills training program specifically for B/LV adults in order to test its effectiveness. The program is based on JOBS, an evidence-based job search program for unemployed adults, and Putting Your Best Foot Forward, a job search program for B/LV youth that was created by NRTC researchers from a modified version of the JOBS program for youth.
Considering the opportunities afforded by remote learning to increase individuals' access to participate in training, we also modified the job search skills training to be provided through remote instruction via videoconferencing. We’re currently in the process of obtaining a review of our job search skills training curriculum by an advisory board of field experts and stakeholders. After incorporating their feedback, our next step is to conduct a pilot test to evaluate the training program as well as the feasibility of providing it in a distance format.
Following the pilot test, we will evaluate the program’s effectiveness using a randomized controlled trial study. We will randomly assign B/LV adults to one of two groups: one group will participate in the 1-week job search skills training program, and the other will receive general job search skills information. We will assess both groups for any positive changes in job search knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy, depressive symptoms, and employment outcomes. The ultimate goal of the project is to create and evaluate the effectiveness of a job search skills training program that can be provided via videoconferencing to improve employment outcomes for adults with B/LV.
For more information about this research project, visit our research project webpage.
Training and Technical Assistance
The Career Advancement Checklist and Job Retention Checklist were created to help service providers assess the need for career advancement and job retention services for B/LV individuals who are employed. Consumers can use the checklists to evaluate employment resources in the workplace.
For more information about our resources, visit our NTAC-BLV service providers resource page.
We have one new course available:
Exploring Self-Employment Beyond the Business Enterprise Program is designed for vocational rehabilitation professionals who, apart from the Business Enterprise Program, have limited knowledge about self-employment for vocational rehabilitation consumers with B/LV. Competitive integrated employment, customized employment, and the WIOA related to self-employment are just a few topics discussed in this course (1-hour CRC, ACVREP, and NBPCB).
Other NRTC News
NRTC Celebrates 40th Anniversary
The NRTC is celebrating 40 years! Housed within Mississippi State University’s College of Education since 1981, the NRTC has focused on research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities to enhance employment and independent living outcomes for individuals who are B/LV. Currently led by Dr. Michele McDonnall, the NRTC is excited to continue our efforts in the field following the award of two five-year grants that extend through 2025. McDonnall says “We’re proud to have provided assistance to people with B/LV and the professionals who work with them over the past 40 years. We look forward to continuing our research, training, and technical assistance efforts as we pursue our mission.”
OIB-TAC Hosts 2nd Virtual Conference
ImageThe Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) hosted its second annual online OIB Program Manager’s Technical Assistance Conference on September 13-16. The conference was hosted virtually, allowing us to reach program managers and service providers from 50 states and territories and one international country. The theme of this year’s conference series was Empower, Educate, and Engage. The conference provided great insight into the needs of the field of blindness and low vision, allowing presenters and participants to engage on a variety of topics! Empower and Educate sessions will be available to view for a limited time on the IL OIB-TAC Community of Practice. Read our news item for more information.
NRTC Films for Interactive Video Project
NRTC staff spent two days filming instructive content at the Mississippi State University Television Center for our interactive video for employers research project! Now that filming is complete, the next step is building the interactive video with our selected software. Once completed, this interactive video will provide information about employing people who are B/LV. Read our news item for more information.
NRTC Welcomes New Employees
The NRTC is excited to welcome Sarah Moody as our new Communications Coordinator. She will be responsible for managing all external communications for the center, including disseminating research results and interacting with stakeholders.
We are also pleased to announce that Katerina Sergi has joined our team as a Research Associate III. Katerina will work under the center’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment of People who are Blind or Have Low Vision grant.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Cmar, J. L., & McDonnall, M. C. (2021). Long-term effects of a job search intervention for transition-age youth with visual impairments. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 55(1), 91–105.
Crudden, A., & Steverson, A. C. (2021). Job retention and career advancement: A survey of persons who are blind or have low vision. Journal of Rehabilitation, 87(2), 28-35.
McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. L. (2021). A mixed-methods assessment of the impact of an agency-wide business development training for rehabilitation counselors. Journal of Rehabilitation, 87(2), 47-55.
McDonnall, M. C., & McKnight, Z. S. (2021). The association between presenting visual impairment, health, and employment status. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 115(3), 204–214.
McDonnall, M., Cmar, J., & McKnight, Z. (in press). What predicts job quality of vocational rehabilitation consumers who are blind or have low vision?
Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin.
Upcoming Presentations & Workshops
⦁ October 13 (1:00 CST) – Navigating the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) System: Services are Better When We Work Together. This webinar will share insight into receiving or considering VR services with a discussion on the consumer and rehabilitation counselor relationship. For more information and to register, visit the webinars and podcast page.
⦁ October 15 (2:00 CST) – Learn techniques B/LV people can use to successfully navigate the transit services in their communities, as well as tips and tricks to advocate for transportation access. For more information and to register, visit the Community of Practice event page.
⦁ November 19 (2:00 CST) – Discover more on Computers for the Blind and learn how this organization provides low-cost refurbished computers with access technology for B/LV already installed. For more information and to register, visit the Community of Practice event page.
Moffit, C. (2021, October 7). Setting the course: promoting the ethical treatment of persons with visual impairments. [Conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2021 Conference.
Farrow, K. (2021, October 8). Partnering with families of individuals who are blind or have low vision. [Conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2021 Conference.
Moffit, C., Farrow, K., Cmar, J., Antonelli, K., & Crudden, A. (2021, October 8). Put the NRTC on your map. [Conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2021 Conference.