SOTA - Accomplishments


Major Accomplishments Since 2016


Employment outcomes

  • Since SFY 2016, the agency’s VR program achieved a total of 621 employment outcomes, where 621 agency participants got a new job, kept a job that was at risk due to their visual disability, established a small business, and/or promoted in their career.
  • During this period, average hourly wages for the 621 employment outcomes were at living wage levels, with an average of $23.47 an hour. The average hourly wages in SFY2020 showed a 35% increase over wages during SFY2016. Wages for employment outcomes during SFY2020 averaged at $29.04.
  • One of the core values of this agency is in providing individualized services that lead to an employment outcome that is a best fit for an individual’s aptitudes, interests and abilities. There is no one type of job an individual who is blind might do – there are no limits other than personal aptitude and skills in adaptive techniques and tools. This is evidenced by the wide-variety of jobs that agency participants achieve through DSB services. An example of the broad range of job types can be found on the agency website at DSB Annual Employment Outcomes List. In this 2018 list of 157 employment outcomes, you will see that an asterisk denotes that 19 of those outcomes were as self-employment/small business ownership.


Independent Living Services

  • Since SFY2016, over 6,000 Washingtonians, most over age 55, received independent living services that allowed them to re-engage with life and community activities and to maintain living independently in one’s own home, often avoiding a decision to move to assisted living when the visual disability was the only factor.


BEP tax revenue and employing people

  • Blind entrepreneurs generate annual sales of 7.4 million dollars with a sales tax contribution of $556,051 to the State
  • The BEP program supports 20 facilities across the State with blind entrepreneur owner’s median earnings of $68,000
  • BEP blind business owners employ 94 hospitality staff at or above minimum wage in the communities they serve


Responded to major changes in federal regulations 

  • Updated the agency’s VR Washington Administrative Code to reflect changes in 2016 federal regulations. The WAC 67-25 acts as the agency’s VR policy
  • Expanded Youth Services: 
    • The creation of the Pre-Employment Transition (Pre-ETS) career exploration services for students with disabilities was required with the implementation of WIOA and the resulting federal regulations in 2016. 
    • While the agency had provided services to youth before the WIOA changes, there was a major expansion of the type of career exploration services and job readiness newly required through Pre-ETS. In 2015, the agency provided these type of services to 35 students. By 2019, the agency was providing career exploration services to almost 400 students.
    • DSB is the only VR agency in the country that provides Pre-ETS services to students as young as necessary, which typically is as early as age 9. This flexibility is due to the unique wording of Washington State Administrative Code (WAC) 392-172A-03090. 
    • The agency has needed to be vigilant with federal partners since 2016 through to the latest 2020 state plan to maintain this ability to work with younger students. DSB recognizes that providing pre-employment transition services as early as possible for blind youth is critical for success in their later transition to the adult world of work.


Managed Adult VR through fiscal crisis

  • With the creation and expansion of the Pre-ETS program, the adult VR program in effect took a 15% cut in funding. Funding for the programs to work with students were set aside from the adult services. Providing services at 85% of the funding created a financial crisis in 2018.
  • The agency established a waitlist called “Order of Selection” prioritized by significance of disability, and delayed services for eligible individuals as a result of inadequate revenues.
  • Through funds management, the agency was able to serve all eligible individuals immediately by May 2020. About 350 individuals had delayed services, some for over a year.
  • With state funding for the IT project, the agency was able to leverage over $4 million extra federal dollars into the state, which relieved some of the fiscal crisis. 


Implemented new data management system on-time and under-budget

  • With the implementation of the WIOA and increased data collection requirements, our data management system vendor stopped supporting VR processes. DSB was informed we would need to locate funding and secure a new data management system before end of 2018, or risk compliance issues in reporting to federal partners.
  • DSB was one of four IT projects that received funding in 2017.
  • The project required much staff time and labor, with a tight 18-month implementation plan. To have implemented so successfully, managing adaptations, data migrations, staff trainings and change management in-house, the project was a success. We were proud to have succeeded in implementing on time and under budget.


Asian and Latinx representation among customer base: 

  • In the previous state plan, the both the Asian and Latinx communities were identified to be under-represented among the agency’s customer base in comparison to the state’s general demographics. 
    • The agency's efforts to seek consultation on culturally relevant outreach content and methods and service provision have increased customer representation to be consistently at or over par with the general population demographics. 
      • Targeted areas for outreach for increasing Asian participation in DSB services targeted counties in the Puget Sound region and included the following linguistic communities: Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Korean. 
      • Targeted areas of outreach for increasing Latinx participation have included King, Snohomish, Franklin, Grant, Skagit, Kitsap, Whatcom, and Walla Walla counties.