The National Research & Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) will implement new training and technical assistance projects focused on agencies serving older individuals who are blind (OIB). This grant is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) under the Department of Education. To accomplish the goals of the project, the project staff will be working in collaboration with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC), and VisionServe Alliance. All activities are designed to improve the operation and performance of OIB programs through improved community outreach, use of best practices in the provision of services, improved data reporting and analysis, and stronger financial and management practices. The six major projects under this grant are:
- Project 1: Intensive Training and Technical Assistance (TA) Three OIB programs per year will be selected to receive specialized consultation, in-depth training, technical assistance, and a follow-up plan in order to improve their operations and performance.
- Project 2: Electronic Trainings Each year, two new online training sessions for OIB service providers will be developed. In addition, approximately fifty existing training modules housed by AFB, HKNC, and the NRTC are being updated specifically for OIB use and made available collectively to the public.
- Project 3: OIB Collaborative The TA team will engage with DSAs to inform and involve administrators in T&TA opportunities and other project related activities via an electronic email list, web presence, coordinated national conference and personal outreach.
- Project 4: Community of Practice (CoP) A website (OIB-TAC.org) was launched in January 2017 as a CoP to facilitate training, technical assistance, interagency collaboration, and electronic discussion among OIB service providers, including subcontracting CRPs, and related agencies. All CoP activities will promote communication, quality service delivery, program administration, linking resources, and professional support.
- Project 5: Communication and Dissemination Network A network of service delivery systems will be created and shared to reduce redundancy and promote cross-agency training, TA, service delivery, and professional development.
- Project 6: Evaluation Ongoing evaluations will be formative, with the goal of improving training and TA throughout the project, as well as summative, to determine the effectiveness of the services provided and the impact on project management, program accountability, and effective service delivery.
This grant will allow the NRTC to partner with a broad variety of organizations in the field of blindness and low vision, and a national advisory council will guide the research, training, and TA efforts and help disseminate results for both projects. Outputs from all projects, including peer-reviewed publications, online short courses, and policy and practice guides, will be made available on the NRTC website.