Blindness Experience Training
The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision is excited to offer a new training program! The Blindness Experience Training was created as an opportunity to explore how proper training and tools can help support people who are blind or have low vision (B/LV) for success.
The Blindness Experience Training aims to help participants understand how people who are B/LV can remove barriers and work to achieve their goals, recognizing and overcoming negative perceptions about people who are B/LV, the importance of training and advocacy, and the importance of supporting success through providing individualized services.
This training was designed to help new or experienced rehabilitation professionals who have not had a hands-on B/LV learning experience. The Blindness Experience Training is an 8-hour program provided over two days or tailored to meet a program’s needs. The training provides information on the impact of vision loss, an overview of vision problems, an introduction to blindness, hands-on activities, and how to put everything from the training into perspective of what was learned.
For more information or to schedule a training, please email Cantrice Moffitt, Rehabilitation Training and Outreach Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Research Highlight: Access Technology in the Workplace
Our Access Technology in the Workplace project is an exploratory study of B/LV workers and those seeking employment to better understand how assistive technology and accessible technology (AT) is used in the workplace. Because AT constantly changes, we are conducting a longitudinal survey study of B/LV workers and those seeking employment.
Progress to date on the study includes two completed surveys with our employed study group and one survey with our unemployed study group. These surveys assessed AT use, AT skill and self-efficacy, AT training methods, where AT was obtained, satisfaction with AT for specific tasks, and challenges experienced with AT, among other topics.
We provided a report to our technology company partners in the spring and held a meeting with these partners to present and discuss the results. Eight technology companies were presented at the meeting. We discussed gaps in AT identified by the study and potential future innovations suggested by participants. Members from the NRTC also presented on this project at the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) Biennial International Conference in July.
We have prepared three additional publications based on our results so far. One publication describing some results from our first employed survey is currently available:
Steverson, A., McDonnall, M., & Sergi, K. (2022, May). What assistive technologies are used in the workplace? Initial research findings by NRTC on Blindness and Low Vision. AccessWorld. https://www.afb.org/aw/23/5/17939
As we enter the third year of this project, we have three surveys planned to engage with both our employed and unemployed study groups. Additional publications and resources for professionals will be developed. This project will advance knowledge about workplace AT, allowing us to make recommendations for AT users, technology companies, vocational rehabilitation professionals, AT specialists, and employers.
For more information about this research project, visit our research project webpage.
Training and Technical Assistance
We have three new courses available:
Strategies for Mentoring Interns: Developing Qualified Professionals for the Future: This course was created to assist those tasked with overseeing the important final training step for a new vision impairment rehabilitation specialist. This course guides you through an assessment for yourself and your organization to prepare for hosting interns. (1-hour ACVREP and NBPCB)
Gearing Up for Transit: Options and Advocacy Skills for People who are Blind or have Low Vision: The goal of this course is to provide information that blindness professionals and advocates can use to help people who are B/LV increase their confidence as transportation consumers as well as their ability to advocate on behalf of themselves. (1-hour CRC, ACVREP, and NBPCB)
Teaching iPhone for Low Vision: Where Do I Start?: This course will introduce important instructional considerations for helping an older person with low vision use their iPhone. Learn what features are most likely to help your client see content on their phone and how to customize the view. (1-hour ACVREP and NBPCB)
Other NRTC News
Jenn Cmar Receives Distinguished Honor
A major highlight from the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) 2022 International Conference in July was Jenn Cmar, NRTC Associate Research Professor, receiving the Louis Vieceli Award. This award is given in recognition of excellence in promoting the education and independence of people who are blind, primarily through advocating for the value and benefits of work in a continuum of the vocational rehabilitation process and employment settings. Jenn has over 15 years of experience in the vision rehabilitation field. She has devoted her career to improving employment for individuals who are B/LV and improving post-school outcomes for transition-age youth through direct service and exceptional research. Congratulations to Jenn on receiving this award!
Cantrice Moffitt Receives National Award
The National Rehabilitation Association of Job Placement and Development presented Cantrice Moffitt, NRTC Rehabilitation Training and Outreach Specialist, with the 2022 Lou Ortale Distinguished Lecturer Award. This award is provided to a rehabilitation professional that embodies Ortale’s spirit and dedication to identifying job modification or placement opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Cantrice has been employed with the NRTC for 3 years and has contributed significantly to the NRTC’s training and technical assistance activities. Congratulations to Cantrice on receiving this award!
Welcome Jennifer Ottowitz
The NRTC would like to welcome Jennifer Ottowitz as the Older Blind Specialist for the Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC). Jennifer joins the team with an extensive history in the blindness field. She worked as a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist for over fifteen years and most recently as a senior learning expert for the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She will utilize her knowledge of blindness rehabilitation to support the OIB-TAC in developing and implementing training and technical assistance for agencies that provide older blind services.
The NRTC is hiring
The NRTC is currently seeking a Postdoctoral Associate or a Research Scientist to join our team! The mission of the NRTC is to enhance employment and independent living outcomes for individuals who are B/LV through research, training, education, and dissemination. We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a Ph.D. to help further our mission. To learn more about each position and directions on applying, visit our Employment Opportunities page.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. L. (2022) Structural relationships among predictors of employer attitudes toward blind employees. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 57(1), 73-84.
McDonnall, M., Antonelli, K. (2022). Changing employers’ implicit attitudes about the competence of people who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 116(3), 361-372.
McDonnall, M., Cmar, J., & McKnight, Z (2022). Beyond employment rates: Social security disability benefit receipt and work among people with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 116(3), 396-403.
Cmar, J. L., & McDonnall, M. C. (2022). Impact of a summer work experience program on employment outcomes for youth who are blind or have low vision. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 57(2), 165–175.
McDonnall, M. C., Cmar, J., & McKnight, Z. S. (2022). Beyond employment rates: Earnings of people with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 116(4), 526-532.
Crudden, A., & Steverson, A. (2022). Job retention: Perspectives of individuals with blindness and low vision. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 57(2), 127-140.
Moffitt, C. (2022). Creating a comprehensive blindness and low vision resource list. Journal of Visual Impairments and Blindness, 116(4), 563-566.
Farrow, K. (2022). Creating purpose and support through crocheting and knitting. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 116(4), 574-578.
Moffitt, C., & Antonelli, K. (2022, October 27). Career resources for people with vision loss. [Virtual conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2022 Conference.
Moffitt, C. (2022, October 27). A closer look: IEPs and transitioning to college. [Virtual conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2022 Conference.
Farrow, K. (2022, October 28). Independent living skills: A foundation for success. [Virtual conference session]. Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired 2022 Conference.
McDonnall, M., Rueda, R., Collett, T., & Ater, M. (2022, November 2-4). Tools for preparing, obtaining, and maintaining employment. [Panel Session]. National Council of State Agencies for the Blind Fall Conference. San Antonio, TX.
Farrow, K. (2022, November 2). Lessons learned from the FILA assessment pilot training. [Conference session]. Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists 2022 Conference. Cary, NC.
Abbott, P. (2022, November 3). It’s more than a CEU: Identifying the best options for continuing education. [Conference session]. Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists 2022 Conference. Cary, NC.
Ottowitz, J., Abbott, P., Norris, D., & Connors, E. (2022, November 4). The future of VRT. [Conference session]. Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists 2022 Conference. Cary, NC.
October 21 (2:00 CST) – Orienting Rehabilitation Professionals to Options for Orientation and Mobility (O&M): During this webinar a panel of O&M professionals will discuss the importance of certification for O&M professionals and how to talk with clients who are reluctant to use a white cane. For more information and to register, visit the OIB-TAC event page.
November 30 (1:00 CST) - Linking Up with LinkedIn to Increase Employment Opportunities: During this webinar, the NRTC will partner with NSITE to discuss how people with vision loss can increase employment opportunities by linking up with LinkedIn. For more information and to register, visit the NRTC Webinars and Podcasts page.