Outcomes from 2010-2015 RRTC Grant
The NRTC is excited to share project outcomes following completion of the 2010-2015 Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired grant. Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILLR), the six RRTC research projects investigated the most common barriers and facilitators to employment for this population and included training, technical assistance, and dissemination components. Click on each project title to view a summary, project outputs, and publications:
- A Customized Transportation Intervention
- An Employment Mentoring Intervention Project for College Students who are Legally Blind
- Effectiveness of VR Agency-Employer Interaction Practices
- Best Practices in the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program
- Employment Outcomes of SSDI Beneficiaries
- Accessibility in the Modern Workplace
The six research projects involved developing and evaluating new and existing employment interventions and practices, with the ultimate goal of improving competitive employment outcomes for individuals who are legally blind. One major output of this grant was the development of our technical assistance website, the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI), which was launched in late 2012.
We developed a substantial number of products, publications, and resources through this grant, all of which are available for free download from our websites, including:
- 18 Online Courses were developed, including one multi-module courses that contains 14 individual modules that can be completed separately.
- 29 Peer-Reviewed Publications were developed, with 15 published, 10 in press, and 4 in review or revision status.
- 15 Products and Resources were developed as a result of these research projects.
Current Research Highlights: Job Retention and Advancement
State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies have varying policies and procedures in place concerning job retention and advancement for consumers who are blind or visually impaired (B/VI). The recent amendments to the Rehabilitation Act have renewed interest in generating knowledge about job retention and advancement for this population. Due to the lack of existing research on this topic, this project seeks to further explore and investigate how employment outcomes are impacted by those polices, or lack thereof, at the individual and state VR program levels. An emphasis on the impact of technology, both acquisition and its associated training, is an additional component of the investigation.
The exploratory study will obtain research data via a national survey of state agencies and a consumer survey to gain insight about issues and policies that impact job retention and advancement of persons who are B/VI. In addition, case service records from consumers of VR agencies (Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA-911) data) will be used to investigate characteristics of consumers who come into VR with employment. The VR agency survey data will be combined with RSA-911 data to investigate the impact of policies and procedures related to job retention and advancement on outcomes of consumers. Collection of agency administrator survey data and analyses of RSA-911 consumer outcome data are currently underway. Consumer survey data collection will begin in 2018.
A final component of the project will be case studies with consumers, which will provide in-depth, synergized information about how services and policies impact consumers from the consumers’ perspective. Project findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications, online courses, and conference presentations. Knowledge gained from this project will be particularly valuable to individuals who begin to experience vision loss and want to retain their jobs. As such, an informational brochure will be developed and distributed in digital and print formats for individuals who begin losing their vision and want to retain employment.
Training and Technical Assistance
New Online Courses (CRC/CEU credits available)
These new courses, and many others, are available on the Continuing Education tab of the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI) website:
- Basics of Brain Injury – Gain an overview of the basics of acquired brain injury including causes, types, impact, and general treatment.
- Accessing Textbooks and Reading Materials – For persons with vision loss, kindergarten through college and beyond, learn ways to access printed materials by accessing and utilizing services, devices, and products available.
- Employment Mentoring for College Students with Visual Impairment – A summary of significant findings and positive outcomes, including highlights from participant feedback, from a five-year study matching college students who are blind with mentors in their chosen career field who are also blind.
New Listservs Available
- Training Listserv – A new, interactive email discussion group (listserv) is available to individuals who are responsible for developing continuing education for agency professionals serving individuals who are blind and visually impaired. We encourage participants to share training resources and events, VR or OIB, with the group. Email B.J. LeJeune at firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Listserv – A forum is available for communication between Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professionals working with consumers who are blind or visually impaired and NRTC staff. The VR listserv is free and available to VR professionals with interest in assisting people with blindness and low vision to achieve independence through employment. If you would like to subscribe to the VR listserv, please email Angela Shelton at email@example.com.
Other NRTC News
Cmar Attends National Advisory Council Event
Jennifer Cmar, NRTC researcher, attended the annual Cane Quest Advisory Committee meeting in Los Angeles, CA, on March 24-25. Cane Quest is a national orientation and mobility (O&M) program of Braille Institute of America, Inc. that aims to promote independent travel for youth with visual impairments. Jennifer’s role on the committee includes advising in areas such as Cane Quest data collection, scoring rubrics, and national program guidelines.
Employee Spotlight - People to feature needed!
One highlight of our National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI) website is a selection of employment success stories that demonstrates how employment of all types is equally attainable to persons who are blind or visually impaired. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for our website, please contact Sophie Kershaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-325-6695.
Employment opportunities are available on the NRTC’s research and training team for a Rehabilitation Counselor/Training Specialist and an Older Blind Specialist. For more information about these available positions, please visit our Employment Opportunities webpage.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
McDonnall, M. C. (2017). Additional evidence for the validity of the Employer Attitudes toward Blind Employees Scale. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 60 (3), 155-162.
McDonnall, M.C., Crudden, A., LeJeune, B.J., & Steverson, A. (2017). Availability of mental health services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind in the U.S. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 16(1), 1-13.
Cmar, J., McDonnall, M.C., & Crudden, A. (in press). Transportation self-efficacy and employment among individuals with visual impairments. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Crudden, A., Antonelli, K., O’Mally, J. (in press). A customized transportation intervention for persons with visual impairments. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.
McDonnall, M.C., & Crudden, A. (in press). Predictors of employer attitudes toward blind employees, revisited. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.
LeJeune, B. J. (2017, April). OIB-TAC: OIB best practices program task force. National Council of State Agencies for the Blind conference. Bethesda, MD.