Each fall, we look back at the year and celebrate the successes of all of our customers who completed their Vocational Rehabilitation programs and went to work in, or kept, good jobs. This is not just about numbers, but about each person who is able to take charge of their life, support their family, pay taxes, and give back to their community.
Everyone is encouraged to view the details of each years’ success stories and the list of jobs and employers to enjoy this year’s specific successes. The list is always exciting because it illustrates in what an unlimited range of professions individuals who are blind or visually impaired succeed. It also shows the wide variety of employers who benefit from qualified employees who are blind or visually impaired.
Fiscal Year 2020 was especially challenging. While DSB was able to open the Order of Selection waitlist implemented in FY 2019, the COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted the national economy and agency services. Though we were able to pivot to provide all services remotely, the deep economic downturn, community and business shutdowns, and high unemployment rate continues to hinder efforts to gain employment nationwide.
- Fifty-nine (59) customers gained or retained competitive jobs
- The average wage of $29.14 per hour.
- Our Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program served 321 customers in FFY 2020.
- Eighty-seven (87) students with disabilities received VR services.
Orientation and Training Center
To ensure the health and welfare of the students during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was determined to postpone the onsite classes at the Orientation and Training Center (OTC). The OTC staff and instructors developed creative ways to engage the students remotely on a regular/weekly basis, to help retain the skills they had gained in previous terms and to move forward with new skills.
- The Orientation and Training Center (OTC) served 27 customers, which included:
- Fifteen (15) full-time residential students.
- Twelve (12) full-time or part-time commuting students.
- Six (6) students attending Intensive Workshops
- Five (5) students enrolled in Long Distance Braille courses
- One (1) student studying English as a Second Language (ESL)
- Three (3) students gained English Literacy
Business Enterprise Program
Our Business Enterprise Program (BEP) provides opportunities for our customers to operate successful food service businesses in government buildings that benefit the state and our economy as a whole.
The State of Washington response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in state and local employees primarily working from home. Due to this change, the BEP vendors have no customer base in the government buildings, and vending machines are not being utilized. Most BEP facilities have been closed since March, with three operations operating at a much-reduced capacity.
- Twenty-two (22) facilities combined had total gross sales of $3,125,848.
- $191,929 was collected as sales tax from all facilities.
- $98,667 was collected as payroll tax from all facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created serious challenges for the Independent Living Program. Most of the services provided by the Program are hands-on, in-person, in-home training services. As many of the Program’s clients are high-risk individuals and to protect the health of community providers, the decision was made in mid-March to stop in-person services. Determining what services could be provided remotely and how to provide them proved extremely challenging. As a result, very few clients were served between March and July. In mid-August, the number of COVID-19 cases were declining, the program had procured enough PPE to relaunch, and policies had been developed to protect both the health of clients and staff. The program began providing in-person services again, albeit slowly and in drastically reduced numbers. In this limited capacity, services continued through the end of FFY 2020. Services and the number of clients served will likely stay reduced through much of FFY 2021.
- DSB provides services to adults who are blind or have low vision, aged 21 - 55, and do not choose employment. Some of these individuals choose an employment track after receiving our services. In FFY 2018, we served 286 individuals in this category.
- 1,617 individuals over the age of 55, and not seeking to return to work, received independent living services.
- Ten (10) individuals who were 100 years old or older received independent living services.
School-to-Work Transition (Age 14 to 21)
- The DSB Youth Employment Solutions 1 (YES 1) is a two-week program for 14-15 year-old students giving them the opportunity to explore their career interests and aptitudes.
- Sixteen (16) students participated in YES 1 in FFY 2019.
- The YES 2 program is a six-week program designed to provide valuable work and independent living experiences to high school students.
- Thirty-three (33) students participated in the YES 2 program
- The Bridge program enrolled six (6) high school students in summer courses at Eastern Washington University (EWU). Bridge is a five-week on-campus experience, where they learned to advocate for and secure accommodations in higher education programs, experienced life in the dorm, and developed systems for navigating a college campus.
- Seven (7) college students ages 18 – 21 participated in the Student Work and Academic Growth (SWAG) program. In addition to taking classes at EWU, these students expanded their responsibilities and independence by working part-time jobs and living in off-campus housing.
- 2019 was the second year for the Life-skills Extended Assistance Program (LEAP) for students who are interested in attending YES 1, YES 2, or Bridge, but would like more practice with personal independence and life skills.
- Twenty (20) young people took part in the weeklong experiences held in Tacoma, Monroe, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Mount Vernon, and Puyallup.
In 2020, COVID-19 challenged the way DSB conducted work, and the situation adversely affected planning for summer youth programs.
DSB made the decision to cancel the array of in-person Summer 2020 youth programs that typically provided intensive career exploration, job readiness, peer interactions, and paid work experiences to students who have visual disabilities throughout Washington State. This was not an easy decision. We were, however, able to implement alternative remote activities to engage students in meaningful aspects of these traditional DSB youth programs.
While we are frustrated that the in-person youth summer work programs took a gap year during summer 2020, we were able to take the opportunity to find new ways to provide our services that may improve future summer programs. Combined with the Workshops and events held before the pandemic, we were able to have hundreds of interactions with Washington’s young people and their families.
Exploration Station STEM Online Program
- In lieu of the Skills programs for 9 - 13 year olds, Youth Services developed a multi-week virtual program.
- Each week, students received a STEM kit containing program materials and directions. Then participated in weekly live, interactive Zoom calls where they discussed the past weeks activity, learned about the current weeks activity, and met new friends from all over the State.
- Six (6) students participated in the event.
Virtual Summer Program
- Youth Services created the new Virtual Summer Program for older students (14 – 21 years old) who would have attended the YES 1, YES 2, Bridge, or SWAG programs.
- This program met Monday through Friday for five weeks and offered a different topic for each day of the week: Telling Your Story with Jack Straw Cultural Center; Financial Beginnings; Career Exploration; Oh! The Possibilities - Adult Career Panel; and Let’s Talk about It Social Hour.
- Thirty-three (33) students participated in this program that included conversations with NASA engineers with visual impairments.
- Seven (7) students took part in an additional track developed for those who would benefit from more support in gaining work readiness skills.
- From October 2019 through March 2020, DSB Youth Services hosted 17 workshops and events.
- These events provided educational and entertaining workshop, trainings, and learning experiences 129 students and their families.
In Federal Fiscal Year 2020, the Department of Services for the Blind helped 59 people who are blind or have low vision successfully find or retain employment. These individuals are working in a variety of occupations at the organizations listed below.
DSB was operating under Order of Selection during Federal Fiscal Year 2020. This reduced the number of clients the agency able to serve. In addition, the COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted the national economy and agency services. Due to these factors, employment outcomes were less robust than previous years, but the quality of results for these individuals was strong.
Job titles are from the categories described in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) list of Occupational Profiles. To learn the occupation's definition, national employment and wage estimates, and industry and geographic profiles, visit the BLS website.
Items marked with and asterisk (*) indicate self-employment.
|JOB TITLE||EMPLOYER NAME|
|Computer & Information Systems Manager||Amazon.com, Inc.|
|Community & Social Service Specialist||Amazon.com, Inc.|
|Computer & Information Research Scientist||Apple, Inc.|
|Teaching Assistant, Preschool, Elementary, Middle, & Secondary School||Auburn School District|
|Aerospace Engineer||Boeing Company|
|Production Worker||Bucher Aerospace Corporation|
|Elementary School Teacher||Central Valley School District|
|Judge, Magistrate Judge, & Magistrate||City of Cosmopolis|
|Teaching Assistant, Special Education||Clover Park School District|
|Network & Computer Systems Administrator||Colfax Fluid Handling|
|Mental Health Counselor||Comprehensive Healthcare|
|Office & Administration Support Worker||Congregations for the Homeless|
|Special Education Teachers||Edith Bishel Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired|
|Education, Training, & Library Worker||Educational Consulting|
|Teacher & Instructor||Federal Way School District|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting, & Auditing Clerk||Four Points by Sheraton Bellingham Hotel & Conference Center|
|Sales & Related Worker||Fred Meyer|
|Writer & Author||Freelance Writer *|
|Writer & Author||Freelance Writer *|
|Customer Service Representative||Frontier Rehabilitation & Extended Care Center|
|Administrative Services Manager||Gleam Law, PLLC|
|Teacher & Instructor||Gonzaga University|
|Laborer & Freight, Stock, & Material Mover||Huntwood Industries|
|Community & Social Service Specialist||I & R Senior Solutions, LLC|
|Office & Administrative Support Worker||Infinite Possibilities|
|Web Developer||Internet Media Associates, LLC|
|Customer Service Representative||IQ Credit Union|
|Network & Computer Systems Administrator||Lifeline Connections|
|Business Operations Specialist||Magnolia Village Pub - Newcastle Holdings, LLC|
|Computer Programmer||Microsoft Corporation|
|Social & Community Service Manager||Navos Mental Health Solutions|
|Musician & Singer||Our Lady of Lourdes|
|Computer Programmer||Puget Sound Energy|
|Janitor & Cleaner||Service Alternatives, Inc.|
|Environmental Scientist & Specialist||Seven Coffee Roasters|
|First-Line Supervisor of Office & Administrative Support Workers||Shawn Anderson|
|Dishwasher||Swinomish Casino & Lodge|
|Special Education Teacher||Tacoma Public Schools|
|Teacher & Instructor||Tacoma Public Schools|
|Office & Administrative Support Worker||U.S. Department of Transportation, Western Federal Lands Highway|
|Purchasing Agent||U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Puget Sound Health Care System|
|Education, Training, & Library Worker||University of Washington|
|Appraiser & Assessor of Real Estate||Valum Appraisal Services, Inc.|
|Advertising Sales Agent||Vizcaya Museum & Gardens|
|Elementary School Teacher||Washington Connections Academy|
|Office & Administrative Support Worker||Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife|
|Financial Analyst||Washington State Department of Licensing|
|Financial Specialist||Washington State Department of Social & Health Services|
|Detective & Criminal Investigator||Washington State Department of Social & Health Services|
|Office Clerk||Washington State Developmental Disabilities Administration|
|Customer Service Representative||Wave Broadband|
|Laborer & Freight, Stock, & Material Mover||Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)|