NRTC to Share Expertise during General Sessions at Summer Conferences
Members of the NRTC staff will be sharing their expert knowledge on employment during a general session on Tuesday, July 5 at the American Council of the Blind (ACB) Convention in Minneapolis, MN and on Friday, July 22, at the AER International Conference 2016 in Jacksonville, FL. Through years of research, training, and educational activities, the NRTC has led the mission to enhance employment and independent living outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Participating in these sessions helps the center in advancing this mission by disseminating knowledge to a wide range of professionals and consumers. Both sessions will allow NRTC staff to discuss their NIDILRR employment-related research. The ACB session will include a discussion of “hot topics” associated with Vocational Rehabilitation services, including expected impacts of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act. The AER session will focus on employment issues and the role that all blindness professionals play in helping consumers achieve employment.
Current RRTC Research Highlights: Summer Work Experience Plus
Many studies have found that high school work experience is predictive of obtaining employment later in life for youth with disabilities, including youth with blindness or visual impairments (B/VI). Unfortunately, youth with B/VI are less likely to obtain work experience while in high school and are less likely to be employed after leaving high school compared to the general youth population and youth with other types of disabilities. Perhaps because numerous youth are not obtaining early work experiences, many vocational rehabilitation (VR) and private agencies currently facilitate short work experiences for these youth. However, NRTC research indicates that sponsored work experiences are not associated with later employment for this population and that it is more beneficial for youth to find jobs on their own. This intervention efficacy project will expand an existing summer work experience (SWE) program being administered by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) by adding an innovative, research-based, guided job search component.
The five-day guided job search intervention includes four hours of group sessions and two hours of individual activities per day. The curriculum is based on two existing job search programs (School to Work and JOBS) that have extensive evidence supporting their effectiveness. NRTC researchers will expand those programs to include additional content for youth with B/VI in areas such as non-verbal communication, disclosing a visual impairment to an employer, and identifying accommodations for jobs. The curriculum incorporates the six components of effective job search interventions: teaching job search skills, improving self-presentation, boosting self-efficacy, encouraging proactivity, promoting goal setting, and enlisting social support. The intervention will be implemented by ADRS with youth ages 16 to 22 who sign up for the SWE during the summers of 2016 and 2017. The NRTC will provide the curriculum, materials, one day of in-person training for the trainers, and support.
A quasi-experimental repeated measures design will be used to evaluate the job search intervention. Participants will be assigned to either the comparison or intervention condition based on their geographical location within the state of Alabama. The comparison group will participate in the existing 6-week summer work experience (SWE) program. The intervention group, including individuals in the Birmingham and Mobile areas, will receive the guided job search intervention prior to participating in the SWE program, creating the summer work experience plus (SWEP). Participants in both groups will complete a pre-test before beginning the program and will also complete three post-tests over the course of a year. The pre-test and post-tests will measure job search knowledge, job search behaviors, job search self-efficacy, perceived control over job search outcomes, and job attainment.
The program is currently underway for the summer 2016 group. NRTC researchers updated the existing job search curriculum, which includes trainer’s manuals, PowerPoint slides to guide trainers through implementation of the program, and a student workbook in large print, braille, and fillable PDF formats. The trainers who are implementing the intervention completed an in-person training session with NRTC researchers in May 2016. This year, 37 youth are participating in the research project, with 13 youth in the intervention group and the remaining 24 youth in the comparison group. Participants in both groups have completed their pre-tests. The intervention group completed the guided job search program in early June, and both groups will participate in the SWE program throughout the summer. At the end of the summer (after completion of the SWE program), participants will complete the first post-test.
Training and Technical Assistance
Vocational Rehabilitation Listserv
The NRTC has established a new listserv for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professionals. The purpose of the VR listserv is to provide a forum for communication between VR professionals working with consumers who are blind or visually impaired and NRTC staff. VR professionals will have the opportunity to communicate with each other, and researchers will share relevant research findings and evidence-based practice recommendations through the listserv. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate Applications
Participants in the Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate Program complete four graduate courses designed to expand their knowledge about working with consumers who are blind or visually impaired. The professional skills learned enable graduates to more effectively assist consumers with vision loss prepare for and obtain employment. The annual program begins in January, and applications are accepted from June 1st through October 1st. For more information about the Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate Program, visit our website at NRTC website or email BJ Lejeune at email@example.com.
Online Course Updates
The NRTC has recently added the following courses to the Continuing Education portion of the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI) website:
- The Low Down on Low Vision: This course provides an overview of low vision and provides evaluation, services, and adaptive strategies and tools available to assist low vision consumers.
- Working with Businesses to Improve Employment Outcomes: This course involves reading an evidence-based practice guide that presents key research findings from the VR Agency-Business Interactions study, including recommendations for agencies and counselors about working with businesses based on the findings.
- Understanding and Overcoming Transportation Barriers: This course describes transportation barriers impacting persons who are blind or visually impaired and reviews the complex issues and methods associated with identifying, evaluating, accessing, and utilizing available transportation options.
Find these new courses and many more continuing education courses on our website at http://ntac.blind.msstate.edu/courses/.
As the headquarters for resources, training, and technical assistance, the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI) website has the goal of improving the employment outcomes of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. To demonstrate that employment of all types is equally attainable to persons who are blind or visually impaired, the NTAC-BVI website highlights a selection of employment success stories. 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.
Other NRTC News
Register to Participate in Our Research
Are you interested in taking part in our research? The NRTC invites all who are interested to join a registry of individuals who are blind or visually impaired in participating in research projects. NRTC researchers recruit participants for current and future research projects, while also keeping individuals up-to-date about projects of interest. To learn more and sign up for the registry, visit the Participant Registry webpage.
The NRTC currently has employment opportunities available on our research and training team. For more information about these available positions, please visit our Employment Opportunities webpage.
Join the Conversation and Stay Connected
The NRTC wants you to join the conversation as we share the latest research, training, and technical assistance highlights, industry news, event information, and more. Like us on Facebook @MSU.NRTC and follow us on Twitter @MSU_NRTC to stay connected, and join our LinkedIn Group, Blindness and Low Vision, to share information, questions, publications, and highlights regarding the field.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Hierholzer, A., & Bybee, J. (in press). Working with Randolph-Sheppard Entrepreneurs who are Deaf-Blind: A Qualitative Analysis. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.
McDonnall, M. C., Crudden, A., LeJeune, B. J., & Steverson, A. (in press). Availability of mental health services for individuals who are deaf or deaf-blind. Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation.
McDonnall, M. C., Crudden, A., LeJeune, B. J., & Steverson, A. (in press). Seniors with dual sensory loss: Service provider training needs. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.
O'Mally, J., & Antonelli, K. (in press). The impact of career mentoring on employment outcomes for legally blind college students. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.
Antonelli, K., Steverson, A., & O’Mally, J. (2016, July). Student and mentor experiences in a nationwide employment mentoring study. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
Cmar, J. & Oliva, S. (2016, July). Utilizing data in a national orientation and mobility program for youth. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
Crudden, A., & Antonelli, K. (2016, July). Customized transportation: An intervention for persons with visual disabilities. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
Crudden, A., Cmar, J., & McDonnall, M. C. (2016, July). Transportation and stress: A national survey of adults with visual disabilities. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
Farrow, K. (2016, July). Services for seniors: Trends in cost, service delivery models, and best practice. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
LeJeune, B. J. (2016, July). Training and technical assistance for older blind programs. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
LeJeune, B. J., Steverson, A., McDonnall, M. C., & Crudden, A. (2016, July). Availability of mental health services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind in the U.S. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.
O’Mally, J. & Antonelli, K. (2016, July). Mentoring college students to improve job-seeking assertiveness and self-efficacy. 31st International Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference. Jacksonville, FL.