Current Research Highlights: Exploration of Secondary Data to Increase our Knowledge about Subpopulations of Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired and WIOA Impacts
Limited employment-related research has been conducted on youth and adults who are deaf-blind and people with combined traumatic brain injury (TBI) and blindness/visual impairment (B/VI). Research is needed to provide a better understanding of employment issues for these small subpopulations, including outcomes associated with vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency services. We will utilize secondary data and VR agency administrator surveys to investigate factors that are associated with employment for three groups: (1) youth who are deaf-blind, (2) adults who are deaf-blind, and (3) persons with combined TBI and B/VI.
Two secondary data sources, the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2) and multiple years of the Rehabilitation Services Administration Case Service Report (RSA-911), are currently being utilized for this study. Descriptive analyses, logistic and multiple regression, and multilevel modeling techniques will be used for the study. In addition to investigating employment issues for the three subpopulations mentioned, we will evaluate the impact of the legislative changes associated with the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) on consumers with B/VI.
RSA-911 data will be supplemented with data collected from VR agency administrators. As part of a national survey of VR agencies from another current NRTC study (Job Retention and Advancement), administrators are answering questions about how services are provided to individuals with deaf-blindness and those with combined TBI and B/VI, as well as how their agencies are handling the pre-employment transition services requirements and the elimination of the homemaker closure. If particularly effective agency practices or strategies for either subpopulation are identified through the analyses, we will conduct follow-up VR agency interviews and develop a policy brief describing the results.
Project findings will be disseminated through a descriptive report, peer-reviewed publications, an online course, and conference presentations. If results warrant, a practice guide focused on effective strategies for providing services to consumers with TBI or deaf-blindness may also be developed for VR agencies. The first product of this project has been posted on the NRTC website: Characteristics and Experiences of Youth who are Deaf-Blind, which is a report that describes the characteristics, secondary school experiences, academic achievements, postsecondary school attendance, and employment experiences of this population (from 2001 to 2009) from the perspectives of parents/guardians, youth, and teachers. This report is the first comprehensive account of deaf-blind youth based on the nationally representative sample obtained from the NLTS2.
Training and Technical Assistance
New Online Courses (CRC/CEU credits available)
A new course, An Introduction to Assistive Technology, provides a basic overview of types of assistive technology (AT), professionals who use various types of AT, and available certification and training. This new course, among many others, is available on the Continuing Education tab of the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI) website.
OIB-TAC Website Launch
The OIB-TAC: Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center Community of Practice (CoP) website is now available. The website is an interactive learning community that provides subject matter expertise; up-to-date information on best practices, creative solutions, and models of service delivery; a toolbox of useful assessments and curricula; continuing education courses; and opportunities to mentor or be mentored by leaders in the field.
Funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) under the U.S. Department of Education, OIB-TAC training and technical assistance activities involve working with state OIB programs to improve administration, operation, and performance of OIB programs. Questions regarding the OIB-TAC website may be directed to Community of Practice Manager Doug Bedsaul, and questions regarding the OIB-TAC grant may be directed to Project Director BJ LeJeune.
Vision Specialist Applications Accepted
The Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate Program provides an opportunity for practicing Rehabilitation Counselors to develop professional skills to more effectively assist consumers with vision loss in adjusting to vision impairment and preparing for and obtaining employment. The NRTC offers this intensive graduate certificate program through funding from the RSA.
Applications are accepted from June 1st through October 1st, and a limited number of RSA stipends are available. Find more information on the NRTC website or by contacting BJ LeJeune at 662-325-2694.
Other NRTC News
New Products Available on Website
Two new products were recently added to our website: an evidence-based practice guide entitled SSDI Beneficiaries who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Working to Improve Employment Outcomes and a research report entitled Characteristics and Experiences of Youth who are Deaf-Blind. The SSDI practice guide is based on the results of three studies about VR consumers who are SSDI beneficiaries at application, and was created for VR administrators and counselors. The research report provides a picture of a nationally representative sample of deaf-blind youth, describing their characteristics, school experiences, and employment experiences. Check out these new resources for the blindness rehabilitation community!
The Data Corner tab on the NRTC website offers customizable data tables from both the Current Population Survey (CPS) and American Community Survey (ACS). These surveys provide comprehensive labor force statistics for the U.S. population, and include labor force data and national prevalence estimates for persons with self-reported visual difficulty. Visit the Data Corner to review the most recent statistics available.
Join the NRTC
Consider joining our team to help us accomplish our mission! Employment opportunities are available at the NRTC. For more information about available positions on our research and training team, please visit our Employment Opportunities webpage:
- Rehabilitation Counselor/Training Specialist – Assist with the development and implementation of research and training activities under the direction of experienced staff members and provide technical assistance to individuals who are blind, their families, and service providers.
- Older Blind Specialist – Assist in the development and implementation of a comprehensive training and technical assistance program for agencies and individuals who provide services to persons who are aging with blindness and low vision.
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
McDonnall, M.C. (2017). The relationship between employer contact with vocational rehabilitation and hiring decisions about individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Journal of Rehabilitation, 83(1), 50-58.
O’Mally, J., & Steverson, A. (2017). Reflections on developing an employment mentoring program for college students who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 111(3), 271-276.
McDonnall, M. C. (2017). Working with business: Counselor expectations, actions, and challenges. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 31(2), 135-145. DOI: 10.1891/2168-6622.214.171.124.
Crudden, A., Cmar, J. L., & McDonnall, M. C. (2017). Stress associated with transportation: A survey of persons with visual impairment. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 111(3), 219-230.
Antonelli, K., Steverson, A., & O’Mally, J. (in press). College graduates with visual impairment: A report on seeking and finding employment. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
Crudden, A., Steverson, A., & Cmar, J. L. (in press). Drivers with low vision: Characteristics and transportation issues. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
Crudden, A., LeJeune, B. J., & Farrow, K. (2017, July). Aging with vision loss: Services, collaborations, and life changes. 12th Annual Envision Conference. Glendale, AZ.
Renee Brannon, NRTC Business Manager, received the MSU 2017 Research Support Award for Centers and Institutes. Congratulations Renee!