Paid work experience is a key predictor of future employment for youth who are blind or have low vision (B/LV) - even more so when these youth find their jobs independently. Unfortunately, an identified barrier to obtaining employment is limited job interview experience. We hope to address this barrier through the customization and evaluation of a web-based virtual interview training system for transition-age youth.
This software, developed by SIMmersion and researchers from the University of Michigan, allows participants to practice interviewing for entry-level jobs in a low-pressure setting. In this virtual experience, participants receive feedback during the simulated interview and afterward. We have collected feedback from key stakeholders, who reviewed the product and made recommendations for making the content more relevant to the B/LV population. Next, we will work with SIMmersion to customize the content for youth and young adults with B/LV. This NIDILRR grant project will also involve evaluating the software for usability by screen reader and screen magnification users.
Our next step will be to conduct a randomized controlled trial to assess its effectiveness by randomly assigning B/LV youth and young adults to one of two groups. One group will use the virtual interview training system for about four weeks with support from trained agency staff. The other group will receive their usual school- and community-based services. All participants will complete a pretest, posttest, and 6-month follow-up to assess their interview skills, interview self-efficacy, interview anxiety, and job offer receipt and acceptance.
The results of this project will help vocational rehabilitation service providers best support transition-age youth in their journey towards employment. Along with peer-reviewed publications, we will create additional resources to address the common training needs identified in the project, including an online course for service providers.
For more information about this research project, visit our research project webpage.
We updated our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) fact sheets for youth with visual impairments who receive SSI benefits and their parents. The fact sheets provide general information about several SSI work incentives, examples of calculations, and links to more detailed information. You can find them on our website for free here.
The Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind Training and Technical Assistance Center (IL OIB-TAC) has updated its Lessons for Living Series, which provides an overview of adaptive strategies and techniques to help one adjust to vision loss. This tool for professionals and individuals experiencing vision loss is currently available as downloadable Word files and will be available as audio files later this year.
We have three new courses available:
- Mobility Impairments: Implications for Service Providers covers numerous health conditions that often cause mobility impairments and suggests safe, collaborative ways to provide blind/vision rehabilitation services (2 hours of CRC, ACVREP, and NBPCB credit).
- How Social Determinants of Health Relate to Vision and Aging explores the relationship between social determinants and prevalence of vision loss. Discussion focuses on how individuals with vision impairment or blindness are at greater risk for additional health impairments and considers strategies for how service providers can ease the effects of social determinants (1-hour CRC, ACVREP, and NBPCB).
- Fall Prevention: Interventions for Older Individuals who are Visually Impaired identifies individuals at risk for falls, reviews home safety checklists, and examines strategies to prevent falls (1-hour CRC, ACVREP, and NBPCB).
New Video Resources
We created an Inquiring Minds Video series covering many questions employers may have when considering hiring someone with blindness or low vision, from addressing common accommodations to explaining vocational rehabilitation. We also have a new two-part Blindness Basics for Employers video series on our website that provides foundational knowledge about blindness and low vision. During these short presentations, viewers will discover how vision is measured, how to interact with individuals with blindness or low vision, and some access technologies. Service providers can share these videos with employers as an introduction to hiring an individual with blindness or low vision.
Access Technology in the Workplace Survey
The NRTC is recruiting people with blindness or low vision (age 21+) who are working or are interested in working to be part of a multi-year study about technology in the workplace. Participants will complete multiple surveys over time so we can learn about changes in access technology use. We will share our findings with you and our technology company partners, including Microsoft, Google, OrCam, and Vispero. Participants will receive a small gift card after completing each survey.
Individuals interested in participating can complete our pre-screening survey or call 662-325-2001 to schedule an appointment for a telephone screening. We hope to have all participants identified before launching the first survey in the late spring or early summer of 2021.
Request for Videos
We are accepting submissions for our interactive video project to educate and change attitudes about employing people who are B/LV. If you have access to a video camera, are blind or have low vision, and would like to assist in this project, please contact Emily Damm at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are especially in need of job demonstration videos that illustrate how individuals with B/LV complete their job tasks through the use of assistive technology.
NTAC Website Update
Our technical assistance website, the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NTAC-BLV), has been redesigned for accessibility and to match the new look of our main website. This website serves as a resource for employers, service providers, and people who are blind or have low vision (and their family members). Read our news item for more information.
Antonelli, K. & Steverson, A. (2021, March). Navigating to successful transition: There’s an app for that! Future Reflections. 40(1).
Cmar, J. L., & McDonnall, M. C. (2021). Short-term effectiveness of job search skills training: Comparisons by summer work experience participation. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 64(2), 86-96.
McDonnall, M. & Antonelli, K. (In press). Changing employers’ implicit attitudes about the competence of people who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. (In press). A mixed-methods assessment of the impact of an agency-wide business development training for rehabilitation counselors. Journal of Rehabilitation.
Upcoming Presentations & Workshops
The IL OIB-TAC has three webinars that may be of interest to you. Please save the following dates:
- April 16 (2:00 CST) – Discover common adaptions for a variety of crafts
- May 19 (2:00 CST) – Learn about Hadley’s history and recent research
- June 18 (2:00 CST) – Find out about the new Confident Living Virtual World program
For more information and to register, visit the Community of Practice event page.