SOS Posters

4to24: Development of an App to Help Families and Youth Focus on Employment

Read more about 4to24: Development of an App to Help Families and Youth Focus on Employment by Karla Antonelli, PhD, Jennifer Cmar, PhD, Anne Steverson, & Kasey Markoski, COMS

The poster depicts a winding road, beginning at a small plant pot for age 4 and ending at a large tree for age 24. A bird in the tree says, “Interactive design brings tips right to you!” A tortoise and hare are on the road, with the hare hopping ahead saying, “Move at your own pace!” Road signs highlight milestones along the road from 4 to 24:

  • Start early to lay the foundation for success. Build concepts through real-life experiences.
  • Learn about careers! Practice communication skills while asking people about their jobs.
  • Stay up-to-date on technology! Ask peers and mentors what they use. Check out consumer group meetings and assistive technology conferences.
  • Practice writing skills! Write a letter to a family member or start a journal.
  • Visit a college campus and explore housing and transportation options.
  • Dress for success for that job interview. Here are some tips!
  • Choose where to live. Explore community supports! Check out social activities.

Effectiveness of Putting Your Best Foot Forward, a Job Search Intervention for Youth with Visual Impairments

Read more about Effectiveness of Putting Your Best Foot Forward, a Job Search Intervention for Youth with Visual Impairments by Jennifer L. Cmar, PhD, COMS and Michele C. McDonnall, PhD.

Research Hypotheses: Compared with non-participants, intervention participants will have increases in job search behavior, job search knowledge, job search behavior self-efficacy, and job search outcomes self-efficacy.

Method: Sample 92 youth with visual impairments ages 15 to 22 years from 3 US states. Research design was quasi-experimental. Comparison group (n = 48). Intervention group (n = 44).

Data collection and analyses: Pre-test & 2-month post-test. Repeated-measures ANOVAs.

Intervention: Putting Your Best Foot Forward is a 5-day intensive job search skills training program for youth with visual impairments. The program uses a train-the-trainer model and includes group sessions and individual activities. NRTC researchers developed the materials based on the School-to-Work program. The method is based on the principles of active learning and the group activity model developed for the JOBS program by the Michigan Prevention Research Center.

Program Principles: active learning, building social support, referent power, overcoming barriers to success, and enhancing self-efficacy.

Program Topics: strengths and skills, finding jobs, thinking like an employer, cover letters and resumes, disability disclosure, job interviews, and starting a new job.

Results: Chart depict the following information. Job search behavior and knowledge increased for the participants (intervention group) but not for the comparison group. Job search behavior self-efficacy and outcomes self-efficacy increased more for the intervention group than the comparison group.

Trainer Feedback: “I was able to see so much growth and change in each student that participated.”

Youth Feedback: “If it weren't for this program, I never would have been confident enough to fill out a job application, and my resume would still be really bad.” “We learned so much that will help us in the future.”

Conclusions & Implications: The intervention was effective in increasing job search knowledge and job search behavior; short-term training can be effective in improving these outcomes. The intervention was effective in increasing self-efficacy, but comparison group youth also had a modest increase in job search behavior self-efficacy. Additional research is needed to examine this phenomenon.

Future Research: Follow-up data collection (6-month and 12-month post-test) is ongoing and will be used to evaluate effects of the intervention over time.

An Experiment to Evaluate Approaches to a First Meeting Between a VR Professional and an Employer

Read more about An Experiment to Evaluate Approaches to a First Meeting Between a VR Professional and an Employer by Michele C. McDonnall, PhD, CRC and Karla Antonelli, PhD.

Research Hypothesis & Questions: Participation in a meeting with a VR professional will change employer attitudes toward, knowledge about, and intent to hire people who are B/VI. Does approach used to interact with the employer result in different effects on these outcomes? Does vision status of the VR professional result in different effects on these outcomes? Does approach used and VR professional vision status interact to influence these outcomes?

Method: Sample of 59 hiring managers employed by a large company located in the South. Data collection & analyses includes pre-test, post-test, & 4-month follow-up. Repeated-measures ANOVAs.

Results: The results are depicted in four line graphs.

Explicit Attitudes line graph with five lines, depicting overall mean scores and each condition mean score for the study at Pre, Post, and Follow Up tests. Study conditions are combinations of Dual Customer Approach (DCA) or Education Approach (Education), and Blind VR professional (Blind) or Sighted VR professional (Sighted). Scale range is 0 to 66, with higher scores indicating better attitudes.

The overall mean scores rise from 34.31 at pre to 39.42 at post, and remain mostly level at 39.17 at follow-up. Lines for the four conditions generally trend parallel and move in the same direction as the overall score. Mean scores for the conditions are as follows:

  • DCA and Blind: Pre 30.69, Post 34.88, Follow Up 37.69
  • DCA and Sighted: Pre 32.40, Post 39.40, Follow Up 36.60
  • Education and Blind: Pre 36.08, Post 41.08, Follow Up 39.54
  • Education and Sighted: Pre 38.53, Post 42.87, Follow Up 43.00

Knowledge results line graph with five lines, depicting overall mean scores and each condition mean score for the study at Pre, Post, and Follow Up tests. Study conditions are combinations of Dual Customer Approach (DCA) or Education Approach (Education), and Blind VR professional (Blind) or Sighted VR professional (Sighted). Scale range is 0 to 8, with higher scores indicating more knowledge.

The overall mean scores rise from 0.81 at pre to 1.73 at post, and drop slightly to 1.39 at follow up. Lines for the four conditions generally trend parallel and move in the same direction as the overall score. Mean scores for the conditions are as follows:

  • DCA and Blind: Pre 0.75, Post 1.25, Follow Up 0.88
  • DCA and Sighted: Pre 0.67, Post 1.47, Follow Up 1.20
  • Education and Blind: Pre 1.31, Post 2.46, Follow Up 2.00
  • Education and Sighted: Pre 0.60, Post 1.87, Follow Up 1.60

Implicit Attitudes results line graph with five lines, depicting overall mean scores and each condition mean score for the study at Pre, Post, and Follow Up tests. Study conditions are combinations of Dual Customer Approach (DCA) or Education Approach (Education), and Blind VR professional (Blind) or Sighted VR professional (Sighted). Scale range is -2 to 2, with lower scores indicating better implicit attitudes.

The overall mean scores drop from 0.80 at pre to 0.69 at post, and remain mostly level at 0.68 at follow up. Lines for the four conditions are grouped closely together in scale but appear to vary more widely, with three conditions moving in the same general direction as the overall score, but one condition (Education and Sighted) showing less of a downward trend. Mean scores for the conditions are as follows:

  • DCA and Blind: Pre 0.89, Post 0.62, Follow Up 0.77
  • DCA and Sighted: Pre 0.90, Post 0.76, Follow Up 0.76
  • Education and Blind: Pre 0.71, Post 0.61, Follow Up 0.51
  • Education and Sighted: Pre 0.69, Post 0.78, Follow Up 0.66

Intent to Hire results line graph with five lines, depicting overall mean scores and each condition mean score for the study at Pre, Post, and Follow Up tests. Study conditions are combinations of Dual Customer Approach (DCA) or Education Approach (Education), and Blind VR professional (Blind) or Sighted VR professional (Sighted). Scale range is 0 to 21, with higher scores indicating more intent to hire.

The overall mean scores rise from 9.29 at pre to 10.90 at post, and drop back to 9.71 at follow up. Lines for the four conditions generally trend parallel and move in the same direction as the overall score. Mean scores for the conditions are as follows:

  • DCA and Blind: Pre 8.56, Post 11.00, Follow Up 9.81
  • DCA and Sighted: Pre 8.80, Post 10.20, Follow Up 8.73
  • Education and Blind: Pre 10.23, Post 11.31, Follow Up 11.15
  • Education and Sighted: Pre 9.73, Post 11.13, Follow Up 9.33

Conclusions & Implications:

  • Participating in a meeting with a VR professional resulted in improvement for all outcomes of interest: VR professionals should interact with employers as often as possible to improve employment opportunities for consumers who are B/VI.
  • Intent to hire someone who is B/VI increased at post, but went back to pre-levels at follow-up: A one-time meeting with an employer is not sufficient to increase intent to hire, VR professionals should follow-up with employers and establish an ongoing relationship.
  • Both approaches were effective at changing outcomes: The approach used for the meeting is not as important as getting out and interacting with employers.

Effectiveness of a Business Development Training for Rehabilitation Counselors for the Blind

Read more about Effectiveness of a Business Development Training for Rehabilitation Counselors for the Blind by Michele C. McDonnall, PhD, CRC, Anne Steverson, and Sophie Kershaw-Patilla

Goal of Training: Help counselors realize they have the skills to engage with business and increase their comfort level and confidence.

3-Day In-Person Training:

  • Lecture, Discussion, & Hands-on Activities: Provides a model to follow when conducting business development activities; specific guidance on each step of the process.
  • Five Broad Topic Areas: Importance of business development & recommended approach; what you need to know before connecting with employers; how to connect with employers; being prepared for a first meeting; after the first meeting & other issues.

Research Design: Quasi-experimental switching replications design. Group A (counselors from two VR agencies) received training after Time 1, and Group B (counselors from two VR agencies) received training after Time 2. Diagram depicting timeline shows Time 1 = Pre-Test, then Group A training followed by a 9-month gap; Time 2 = Pre/Post-Test, then Group B training followed by a 9-month gap; Time 3 = Final Post-Test.

Results (N-57): Self-rated knowledge, skills and comfort significantly increased after the training, although increases in comfort were not retained for Group A. Three line charts depict responses to the following statements.

  • I have the knowledge needed to conduct business development activities. Group A increased from Time 1 to Time 2, then maintained knowledge from Time 2 to Time 3. Group B maintained from Time 1 to Time 2, then increased from Time 2 to Time 3.
  • I have the skills needed to conduct business development activities. Group A increased skills from Time 1 to Time 2, then maintained from Time 2 to Time 3. Group B decreased from Time 1 to Time 2, then increased from Time 2 to Time 3.
  • Rate your comfort level with conducting business development activities. Group A increased comfort level slightly from Time 1 to Time 2, then maintained from Time 2 to Time 3. Group B maintained from Time 1 to Time 2, then increased from Time 2 to Time 3.

Job Retention and Career Advancement among Individuals with Blindness and Visual Impairments

Read more about Job Retention and Career Advancement among Individuals with Blindness and Visual Impairments by Adele Crudden, PhD, CRC, Michele C. McDonnall, PhD, CRC, Anne Steverson, & Zhen Sui, PhD.

Differences in Services by Employment Status at Application: A bubble chart shows breakdown of two groups with services utilized. For both studies, satellite bubbles indicate significant explanatory factors in the logistic regression models. The bigger the bubble, the larger the impact of the factor (these items listed in order from largest to smallest).

  • 32.2% Employed: on-the-job supports (short-term); rehab technology; on-the-job supports (supported employment); counseling & guidance; technical assistance; diagnosis & treatment.
  • 67.8% Unemployed: community college training; job placement assistance; academic remedial or literacy training; job search training, job readiness training; miscellaneous training.

Competitively employed applicants with visual impairments have different characteristics and service patterns from unemployed applicants. Employed applicants tended to receive on-the-job supports, rehabilitation technology, counseling and guidance, technical assistance, and diagnosis and treatment. VR counselors can anticipate applicants’ service delivery needs based on their employment status while considering individual goals and circumstances. Logistic regression contrasts characteristics and VR services for consumers at application based on employment status. Numbers represent odds ratios for employed and unemployed applicants. N = 14,229.

Significant Predictors of Employment Status at Closure: A bubble chart shows breakdown of two groups.

  • 84.2% Retained Employment: BEP; on-the-job supports (short-term); diagnosis & treatment; bachelor’s or above; previous employment closure; rehab technology; weekly work hours at application.
  • 15.6% Lost Employment: previous unemployment closure; secondary disability; female; age times case length.

Characteristics that put employed applicants at increased risk of losing their jobs included being female, having a secondary disability, working fewer hours, having less education, or having a previous unsuccessful VR employment outcome. There was a significant interaction between VR case length and age: those served for longer periods were more likely to lose employment, particularly older consumers. Logistic regression identifies characteristics and services associated with employment status at VR closure. Numbers represent odds ratios for persons who lost and retained employment. N = 4,499.

Service Factors Associated with Employment for VR Consumers who are Deaf-Blind

Read more about Service Factors Associated with Employment for VR Consumers with TBI and Visual Impairment by Michele C. McDonnall, PhD, CRC and Jennifer L. Cmar, PhD, COMS.

How do VR agencies provide services to consumers with TBI and visual impairment? Semi-structured interviews with 51 administrators; Separate and combined VR agencies; Qualitative - Modified grounded theory approach.

Key Themes: A bar chart shows that agencies have the following: collaboration between counselors 45.1%; no special services for this population 35.3%; involve external organizations 21.6%; specialized TBI units or counselors 17.6%; provide staff training on TBI 11.8%; staff with dual expertise in TBI and VI 5.9%.

Are agency service factors associated with agency-level competitive employment rates? Interview data + RSA-911 data (FY 2013 - 2015); 914 consumers with TBI & VI (data collapsed by agency); Descriptive statistics & ANOVA.

Agency-Level Competitive Employment Rates: Having staff with dual expertise in TBI and visual impairment was the only agency service provision factor associated with agency-level competitive employment rates. A bar chart shows that agencies where staff have dual expertise have 66.2% competitive employment, and agencies where staff have no dual expertise have 41.7% competitive employment.

What service factors are associated with competitive employment? RSA-911 data (FY 2013 - 2015); 880 consumers with TBI & visual impairment; Hierarchical generalized linear modeling, controlling for consumer characteristics.

Odds Ratios for Competitive Employment: A forest plot shows the odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the following service factors:

  • Staff with dual expertise: 3.32, confidence interval 1.06 to 10.39
  • Staff with dual expertise by education: 0.74, confidence interval 0.59 to 0.93
  • Received degree/certificate: 3.16, confidence interval 1.70 to 5.85
  • Case length (in months): 0.99, confidence interval 0.98 to 1.00
  • Disability-related skills training: 0.58, confidence interval 0.38 to 0.90
  • Rehabilitation technology: 1.60, confidence interval 1.09 to 2.36
  • Job placement assistance: 2.30, confidence interval 1.51 to 3.52
  • Job search assistance: 1.81, confidence interval 1.16 to 2.85
  • On-the-job supports - supported employment: 2.38, confidence interval 1.01 to 5.59

Conclusions & Implications: It is valuable for professionals who serve individuals with TBI and visual impairment to have expertise in both conditions: We recommend that agencies have at least one staff member with this dual expertise. Important services VR agencies can provide consumers with TBI and visual impairment are rehabilitation technology, job placement, job search assistance, on-the-job-supports - supported employment, and education that results in a degree or certificate.

Publication: McDonnall, M. C., Cmar, J. L., & Lund, E. M. (in press). Comorbid traumatic brain injury and visual impairment: Vocational rehabilitation service provision and agency-level outcomes. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.

NRTC SOS Conference Save the Date info below

Poster & Research Description

Purpose: Determine how VR agencies provide services to consumers who are deaf-blind, evaluate service model effectiveness by agency type, & identify service factors that are associated with employment.

How do VR agencies provide services to consumers who are deaf-blind? Semi-structured interviews with 51 administrators; Separate and combined VR agencies; Qualitative - Content analysis.

VR Agency Service Models: A doughnut chart shows the percentage of agencies using each model: 35% Specialist – specialized personnel provide services or consultation; 33% Miscellaneous – other service providers, such as contractors, counselors for the blind, or counselors for the deaf; 24% Professional Collaboration – counselors for the blind and counselors for the deaf collaborate; 8% Specialist + Professional Collaboration – combination of specialized personnel & collaboration.

How effective are VR agency service models by agency type? Interview data + RSA-911 data (FY 2013 - 2015); 2,119 consumers who are deaf-blind or have hearing & vision loss; Descriptive statistics.

Competitive Employment: A bar chart shows the percentage of competitive employment per type of service model for separate and combined agencies.

  • Specialist: Separate 63.6% and Combined 47.0%
  • Professional Collaboration: Separate 57.7% and Combined 51.1%
  • Specialist + Collaboration: Separate 51.4% and Combined 50.4%
  • Miscellaneous: Separate 59.2% and Combined 39.6%
  • All Models: Separate 61.6% and Combined 45.0%

What service factors are associated with competitive employment? RSA-911 data (FY 2013 - 2015); 1,382 consumers who are deaf-blind; Logistic regression, controlling for consumer characteristics.

Odds Ratios for Competitive Employment: A forest plot shows the odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the following service factors:

  • Combined vs. blind agency: 0.53, confidence interval 0.39 to 0.73
  • General vs. blind agency: 1.14, confidence interval 0.74 to 1.75
  • Received degree/certificate: 2.52, confidence interval 1.43 to 4.42
  • VR counseling and guidance: 1.43, confidence interval 1.09 to 1.88
  • Job placement assistance: 1.79, confidence interval 1.31 to 2.44
  • Job search assistance: 1.61, confidence interval 1.15 to 2.26
  • On-the-job supports - short term: 2.25, confidence interval 1.45 to 3.48
  • On-the-job supports - supported employment: 2.62, confidence interval 1.54 to 4.44

Conclusions & Implications: Separate agencies for the blind have greater success assisting consumers with deaf-blindness obtain or retain competitive employment compared to combined agencies. Advancing education level and obtaining job-related services are associated with competitive employment for consumers who are deaf-blind. To improve competitive employment outcomes, VR agency administrators should explore options for specialized deaf-blind positions and promote collaboration within and beyond their agency.

Publications:

McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. L. (2018). Employment outcomes and job quality of vocational rehabilitation consumers with deaf-blindness. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0034355218769461

McDonnall, M. C., & Cmar, J. L. (in press). Services for consumers who are deaf-blind: Vocational rehabilitation agency service models utilized and their effectiveness. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.

Service Factors Associated with Employment for VR Consumers with TBI and Visual Impairment

Determine how VR agencies are providing services to consumers with TBI and visual impairment, and identify service factors that are associated with employment for this population.

Poster & Research Description

Purpose: Determine how VR agencies are providing services to consumers with TBI and visual impairment, and identify service factors that are associated with employment for this population.

How do VR agencies provide services to consumers with TBI and visual impairment? Semi-structured interviews with 51 administrators; Separate and combined VR agencies; Qualitative - Modified grounded theory approach.

Key Themes: A bar chart shows that agencies have the following: collaboration between counselors 45.1%; no special services for this population 35.3%; involve external organizations 21.6%; specialized TBI units or counselors 17.6%; provide staff training on TBI 11.8%; staff with dual expertise in TBI and VI 5.9%.

Are agency service factors associated with agency-level competitive employment rates? Interview data + RSA-911 data (FY 2013 - 2015); 914 consumers with TBI & VI (data collapsed by agency); Descriptive statistics & ANOVA.

Agency-Level Competitive Employment Rates: Having staff with dual expertise in TBI and visual impairment was the only agency service provision factor associated with agency-level competitive employment rates. A bar chart shows that agencies where staff have dual expertise have 66.2% competitive employment, and agencies where staff have no dual expertise have 41.7% competitive employment.

What service factors are associated with competitive employment? RSA-911 data (FY 2013 - 2015); 880 consumers with TBI & visual impairment; Hierarchical generalized linear modeling, controlling for consumer characteristics.

Odds Ratios for Competitive Employment: A forest plot shows the odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the following service factors:

  • Staff with dual expertise: 3.32, confidence interval 1.06 to 10.39
  • Staff with dual expertise by education: 0.74, confidence interval 0.59 to 0.93
  • Received degree/certificate: 3.16, confidence interval 1.70 to 5.85
  • Case length (in months): 0.99, confidence interval 0.98 to 1.00
  • Disability-related skills training: 0.58, confidence interval 0.38 to 0.90
  • Rehabilitation technology: 1.60, confidence interval 1.09 to 2.36
  • Job placement assistance: 2.30, confidence interval 1.51 to 3.52
  • Job search assistance: 1.81, confidence interval 1.16 to 2.85
  • On-the-job supports - supported employment: 2.38, confidence interval 1.01 to 5.59

Conclusions & Implications: It is valuable for professionals who serve individuals with TBI and visual impairment to have expertise in both conditions: We recommend that agencies have at least one staff member with this dual expertise. Important services VR agencies can provide consumers with TBI and visual impairment are rehabilitation technology, job placement, job search assistance, on-the-job-supports - supported employment, and education that results in a degree or certificate.

Publication: McDonnall, M. C., Cmar, J. L., & Lund, E. M. (in press). Comorbid traumatic brain injury and visual impairment: Vocational rehabilitation service provision and agency-level outcomes. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.