DSB Quarterly Report

Quarterly Reports are presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind during their quarterly meetings. 

Previous Quarterly Reports

 

Quarterly Report, FFY2021, 3rd Quarter

April 2021 - June 2021

Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
September 10, 2021

 

CONTENTS

 

INDEPENDENT LIVING BLIND SKILLS SERVICES 

CLIENT SERVICE SNAPSHOT –YOUNGER BLIND (YB) AND OLDER BLIND (OB) CLIENTS OCTOBER 2020 - JUNE 2021

Trend Younger Blind Older Blind Total Clients
All clients 66 Clients (10%) 592 clients (90%) 658
Clients under age 24 1% Not applicable 1
Clients over age 100 Not applicable 1% 8
Clients who identify as a minority 41% 13% 105
Most common annual income $ 0K - $ 15K $ 15K - $ 30K  
Homeless Clients Less than 8% Less than 1% 10
       
Clients who have disabilities in 
addition to vision loss
33% 33% 219
Cost per case average $ 585 $ 575 $ 575
Clients who feel more independent
and more confident to maintain
their current living situation
60% of all closed
Younger Blind clients
70% of all closed
Older Blind clients
450 clients

Counties without clients served: Ferry, Garfield, Island, Kittitas, San Juan, and Wahkiakum

Three most popular Assistive Technology categories of devices provided:

  1. Handheld magnifiers
  2. Address books
  3. Writing guides

SUCCESS STORY VIGNETTES

Maryanne, a 76-year-old woman living near Spokane, described O&M training as "a new lease on life". She took a plane and car trip recently and found the cane to be very empowering. Learning techniques decreased dependence on a very involved friend and guiding and protective techniques led to her not being "handled" by others.

Gina is a 70-year-old woman who lives alone in Yakima. She has been a client of the Edith Bishel Center stretching back at least 10 years. In that time, her vision and her health have declined, and yet she still wants to live on her own as long as possible. Despite now having access to a regular care giver, Gina recently called Sheila Turner at Edith Bishel. It was Gina’s idea to call because she remembered Sheila helping her before. With the skills and devices Sheila provides her, Gina says she is able to stay more independent! With an alarm clock she can see, she can monitor her sleeping. With her talking scale, she gets to manage her weight herself without having to wait till someone else comes around. She said she feels safer and more confident with her cane and her magnifier is helping her read her own mail again. The fact that she called for more help as her situation changed is proof the program is beneficial and does a lot of good for a lot of people.

Karen is a 65-year-old woman who lives with her husband in their home near Vancouver. She was really concerned about being able to continue living with her vision loss if something were to happen to her spouse. Through the issuing of various devices, including a talking alarm clock, an iBill Reader, and a PenFriend, Karen felt more in control of her life and was able to go back to doing many of the things around her home she desired. In addition, Karen was really excited the day she went shopping with Corey Grandstaff, her IL Provider, and the store’s courtesy clerk because she was able to pick out a birthday card for her husband for the first time since she lost her vision 3 years ago!

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BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP) 

FACILITIES UPDATE

As reported at previous meetings, BEP continues to manage the program at a minimal pace due to Stay at Home orders with no major changes to report. We continue to keep the six operations open with reduced services and had high hopes for more by now.

The impact to BEP goes without saying; it has been huge. The financial losses for the owners continue to mount with no real end in sight for them. The revenue from our vending program has fallen to a bare minimum and we are tracking it very closely and forecasting impact in days ahead. All expenses are monitored very carefully with most projects on hold unless deemed needed. We are continuing to speak with facilities throughout the state on how to add or modify services to build revenue. The uncertainty for all makes this difficult. There is no clear-cut answer and resolution seems to fall into the Safe Return to Work plans offered by OFM which are changing regularly.

The BEP team continues support remotely and in the field for those who are open. Our time is spent on holding business coaching sessions and assisting vendors with Grants. Most recently, we processed the payments of the RSA funds DSB received. Last report we noted that we were to receive $192,000.

Also, we are still maintaining bi-weekly Zoom calls with vendors to create a place for them to ask questions, share concerns and uplift one another as a group. The platform has been a huge asset and our vendors appreciate the opportunity to discuss issues and share thoughts. The positive takeaway is we have built a stronger BEP group during this time by using the tool. For that, I am grateful for success.

At the end of April, the L & I remodel project was completed and turned over to us for final preparations of the space. We look forward to opening soon under the new model and so does our owner Shannon Warnke. The facility looks great. 

Lastly, a year of COVID climate is and has taken a toll on all of BEP. We remain optimistic that a return will happen, and the program can thrive again. Our operators are special and need to be lifted up for weathering the storm so well under the times.

TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE

Our student successfully finished Hadley and is awaiting his training site to open. He is excited to begin when we can do so. Also, our other candidate is in fast forward planning to open a facility in Seattle under a management contract. The target is now end of June.

BEP STAFF UPDATE

Austin Diaz-Munoz, our Contracts Specialist is constantly shining in his role and adding value to the team all the time. The vendors have gotten to know him through the Zoom calls and individual interactions.

Elvis Pruett continues to assist current operators remain open and navigate plans for COVID safety. He also is deeply involved in discussions with operators who wish to re-open by strategizing with them to create realistic business plans. 

Jim Hemmen continues to think outside of the box for ways to navigate the unknown and create some level of normalcy if possible. His main motivation is preserving the legacy of BEP and the opportunity to help write the future chapter of what the program can be for others.

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CUSTOMER SERVICES

SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q3 FFY21 VS Q3 FFY20]

  • New VR Applications [218 vs 191]
  • VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [889 vs 896]
  • VR Customers Added to Wait List [0 vs 72] 
  • VR Customers Released from Wait List [0 vs 134] (All categories opened 5/5/20)
  • Students with a Disability served [363 vs 332]
  • Competitive Employment Outcomes [15 vs 15] Year to Date: [40 vs 47]
  • Average Hourly Wage FFY21 Q3 [$22.39 vs $27.09] Year to Date: [$22.91 vs $32.95]

EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES 

Successful placements made this quarter:

Job Title Employer County / Region
Education Teachers, Postsecondary West Valley School District 363 East / Spokane
Teachers and Instructors, All Other Central Washington Disability Resources East / Kittitas
Dental Hygienists Ziemek Dental Lab South / Thurs
Registered Nurses West Valley School District 363 East / Spokane
Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks American Family Insurance South / Clark
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators Self-employed North / Snohomish
Physical Therapists Majerus & Company Physical Therapy South / Clark
Tellers Salal Credit Union North / King
Real Estate Sales Agents Keller-Williams Realty North / Snohomish
Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and 
Processing Machine Operators
United States Postal Service (USPS) South / Clark
Sales Representatives, Services, All Other Social Security Administration (SSA) East / Spokane
Social Workers, All Other Peaks and Valleys Healing East / Chelan
Community and Social Service Specialists, All Other Washington State Department of Social &
Health Services
North / Skagit
Physical Therapist Assistants and Laboratory Animal
Caretakers
Des Moines Veterinary Hospital North / King

Wages

Average hourly wage all FY21 employment outcomes at Q3: $22.91

Age ranges 

  • Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 16%
  • Eldest with employment outcome:
    Age 67 – Registered Nurse
    Age 67 – Community & Social Services Specialist (Job Retention)
  • Youngest with employment outcome:
    Age 22 – Real Estate Sales Agent

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YOUTH SERVICES 

SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES SET ASIDE EXPENDITURES THROUGH JUNE 30, 2021

Federal Grant Grant Amount Pre-ETS Set Aside Pre- ETS Spent Dollars Unspent Balance
FFY 2020
(ends 09/30/2021
$ 9,388,988 $ 1,408,348 $ 756,189 $ 652,179
FFY 2021
(ended 09/30/2022)
$ 9,626,129 $ 1,443,919 $ 0 $ 1,443,919

DSB/WSSB PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES AND YOUTH SERVICES ACTIVITIES

Good Vibe Fridays

Students had their last three Good Vibe Friday monthly sessions of this school year. In all sessions students have been practicing stating their name, pronouns, and access needs. Discussion topics in the spring sessions included overcoming misconceptions people who are blind have about themselves and strategies to overcome those misconceptions. Students also had a rich discussion about tokenism and what that feels and looks like for people with disabilities.

Sessions of Good Vibe Fridays have been attended by at least 10 students every session. About five of the students attended every monthly session. These sessions have proven that there is great opportunity in utilizing virtual platforms to allow our students to connect with one another while learning skills of self-advocacy, communication, and other work readiness skills. Monthly Good Vibe Friday sessions will continue next school year with more student involvement in leading and facilitating the workshops. 

I-Fly Workshops

At the i-FLY site in Tukwila, DSB has previously held in-person workshops at this indoor sky diving venue. i-FLY teaches youth how to hone their confidence and experience the thrill of flight in a fun and safe group setting while building personal skills such as discipline and leadership.

This time around, we offered virtual learning with a voucher for a live experience when in-person reopens. Ten students attended this 2-part series. Students learned about careers in the STEM field and about the science behind the indoor sky diving wind tunnels at i-FLY. Using their own mass and surface area calculations based on their weight and height, they were able to do their calculations to determine how fast the wind would need to be for them to fly when they go to visit i-FLY. Students that attended both virtual sessions received flight vouchers to use at any i-FLY in the nation.

Newsletter Internship

DSB youth services hired two of our transition students to edit and write a newsletter for BVI transition age students in Washington State. The focus of the newsletter is transition and vocational-related topics such as college, career exploration, and self-advocacy. We also want the newsletter to highlight our programs and our students around the state and build a sense of community. 

Our interns decided to focus on TikTok and social media as their theme for the spring edition. They interviewed and featured a TikTokker who is blind and a guide dog user and uses TikTok to educate others about the guide dog lifestyle. The Interns also wrote an article about TikTok in general and how many disability advocates have found ways to use their platforms to share their experiences and education the public on disability related topics. This newsletter has been shared on the EVE listserv, all DSB staff, and to all youth and families registered with DSB youth services. We have received great feedback from everyone. We are planning another edition featuring our summer programs and internships in late August.

Video Internships with Jack Straw Cultural Center (JSCC)

DSB Youth Services hired two students to complete a video media project, supervised by contractor Jack Straw Cultural Center. The students began to compile media footage from both the past and the present to create a five-minute video showcasing DSB’s Youth Services programs and all the great things we are doing to serve our students. The intention is that the finished video will be posted on our website and shared with all students eligible for our programs. It will be another form of media for us to showcase our programs, but this time through the lens of the students we serve. They have been trained on creating a video from start to finish to include creating the story line of the video, interviewing DSB Youth Services staff and students, gathering current media footage, and compiling footage from past DSB youth programs. The video should be completed this fall. 

Interstate Network Collaborative (INC)

INC aka 4SHOWI was a huge success. Four youth from Washington State met with other youth from three states: Vermont, New Jersey and Idaho, for a monthly youth-led meeting. Each month was assigned to one state to plan and facilitate that month’s meeting. Transition specialists were on hand to provide support to the youth as needed. The last meeting was in June and at this meeting the youth asked to continue these meetings. The plan is to start them back up in the fall. 

Topics for the meetings included:

  • Self-advocacy
  • Disability awareness (a discussion on how you talk about your disability)
  • Social skills
  • Active listening

VIP – Job Class

VIP Job Class was part one of a three-part VIP program. Contractor Washington Vocational Services facilitated job class sessions. Seventeen participants registered for Job Class; three dropped out for various reasons and the fourteen remaining participants discussed topics such as:

  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Dress for Success
  • Conflict resolution on the job
  • Self-advocacy
  • Resumes and cover letters.

The last two sessions focused on interviews and the interview process. As part of the class participants took part in mock interviews. WVS staff asked participants to suggest jobs they would be interested in applying for, and using this information, tailored the mock interviews to these jobs. Each student was provided feedback after their interview.

Bridge

Having cancelled the traditional Bridge program in 2020, we restructured Bridge into a virtual format. Other changes included contracted instruction services from Disability Support Services at EWU campus. Their staff have partnered with DSB on Bridge for several years, and with guidance and collaboration from DSB, the Bridge lessons were successful in the virtual format. However, the important skills of living independently on a college campus left a huge crater in mastering the intent of Bridge. On the positive side, however, we learned that the Bridge curriculum can be offered virtually any time of year as a workshop series.

Blind and Socially Savvy

Blind and Socially Savvy (BSS) series carried over from last quarter, and concluded June 23.  The sessions, facilitated by contractor International School of Protocol and Blind Savvy USA, focused on job readiness skills and self-advocacy with employers. The youth, ages 16-21, who completed the program will have the opportunity to apply for paid internships. 

April’s topic was professional networking and communication. The participants had the opportunity to network with a variety of business professionals from around the country who worked in fields like IT, teaching, music, engineering, sales, and banking.

May’s topic was interviewing. The participants discussed disclosing a disability in a job search or interview by discussing the skills they have gained to accommodate their disability.  They practiced answering typical interview questions with the goal that they would increase depth and breadth in their answers. The participants had the opportunity to participate in informational interviews with a variety of business professionals from around the country who work in the fields of aerospace, emergency room medicine, program development, media/technology, IT security, research, massage therapy and songwriting.  

June’s topic was dining skills in business events and other public places. Table manners and problem solving “sticky situations”, such as inappropriate behavior by dinner companions and dividing a bill, were reviewed. Requesting ADA accommodations, “the savvy way”, when dining out was practiced.  

Leadership and being a role model for others was also a topic for this last session of Blind and Socially Savvy. All participants were given the opportunity to describe how they had changed during the program.

Partners in Career

Contractor Partners in Careers’ staff continued to provide weekly work readiness soft skills training for selected WSSB students. Face to face services at the WSSB campus resumed this quarter. Topics covered this quarter included:

  • Feedback from the previous quarter’s mock interviews
  • Cover letters
  • 3-part financial literacy lessons covered the differences between banks and credit unions, the importance of financial literacy, budgeting, financial goal setting, how credit works and the difference between good and bad credit.
  • Budgeting exercise using a monthly salary for a job that requires only a high school diploma.  
  • Tracking a budget over time.  Students created a budget for themselves using the scenario of working as a part-time student.  
  • First jobs information – what to bring on your first day of work, I-9’s, W-4’s, taxes; what to do if you get sick; how to request time off; and labor laws.
  • Using networking to achieve career goals.  Students created goals they hope to achieve this summer and broke them into achievable objectives.

Melissa Small and Associates

Contractor Melissa Small resumed in person services on the WSSB campus this quarter, working with 12 WSSB students who have additional disabilities with complex support needs. Students in the group worked on soft skills, work readiness skills and career exploration.  

Melissa coordinated a Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and DSB informational parent night that was held virtually on May 11, 2021.

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ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS 

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY

OTC Spotlight on Tom Fisher

Life presents us with all types of lessons, trials, and wonderful experiences. Tom Fisher has learned to see the good in everything thrown at him, no matter how difficult things may get. His biggest test came when he had to learn to deal with blindness and move forward with his life.

Tom started out having an average life. He grew up enjoying himself, having plenty of fun adventures, and as he went along, he learned the value of hard work. In fact, he will admit that he probably focused too much on work, having way too busy of a life at times and wondering if he needed to place his focus elsewhere. Perhaps the only thing about life that was not good for Tom was that he developed diabetes at age five. Tom admits that it wasn’t always something he paid attention to or took care of well. He accepts his errors and knows that some of what caused his blindness was a consequence of the diabetes not being dealt with in a correct way.

In 2016, Tom was at work, having a mostly normal day, when he noticed a dark spot in his left eye. This was worrisome, especially since he worked as a truck driver! He drove himself to the doctor and found out he had a retinal detachment. The doctors took care of that eye, but then they noticed extraordinarily high pressure in his right eye, which ultimately couldn’t be saved. Tom’s blindness journey began, and he quickly found out that there would be many struggles and things to deal with before things began getting better for him. 

Tom had two young children, and he needed to continue raising and providing for them. He was also in a new relationship and about to be married. How would his fiancé deal with Tom’s blindness? She hadn’t signed up for anything like that. How would his children deal with their dad being blind? Finally, what would Tom do to get back to his standard of life? He needed to function and continue being there for his family. He was also personally dealing with anger and sadness, and he admits that he fought his blindness for a long time. Fortunately, Tom quickly learned about and began receiving services from DSB. He learned about the OTC and knew that’s what he needed to do in order to regain the life he cherished.

Tom had several personal obligations he needed to take care of before he could become an OTC student. He wanted to deal with them quickly, because he thought that if he didn’t get into the program soon, it probably wouldn’t end up happening. One of the things Tom needed to do was to gain basic keyboarding skills and pass a typing test. Even when he was sighted, he was not much of a computer user. Keyboarding and general computer use didn’t come easy for him, and that ultimately caused Tom to put extra pressure on himself which was counterproductive. He couldn’t see the screen well, and his speed was increasing very slowly. He also thought that now that he was blind, he would probably need to take a job where he would be in front of a computer all day, which was never his cup of tea. He wasn’t opposed to learning computers, but if they were going to become his life, then he felt he was off to a bad start! Almost a year, and three tests later, he finally passed. After that, he took care of everything else necessary so that he could put his entire time and energy into receiving training in the skills of blindness.

“When I first started the OTC, I was apprehensive about what was going to happen. Even though I was given some information about the training I would receive, I still didn’t know how it would go or if I would be successful. Up until I went blind, I was living to work and working to live, and I didn’t really know anything else.”

Tom brought the pressure he had put upon himself with him to the OTC, which he realized was not a good thing. “It took a few of the instructors (mainly Jim, Donna and Julie), to really help me and help save me from myself.” 

Tom learned as much as he could from the classes. Some were more of a challenge, while others were more of a relief and quite enjoyable. He loved learning the blindness skills he needed so as to resume cooking with confidence, which is something he has always enjoyed. He found cooking to be a creative outlet. And, he loved being able to share his knowledge and newly learned skills with his peers. Mobility was somewhat liberating, because he loved being outside, and being someone who drove a truck, he had the skills he needed to be a good traveler, such as a good sense of direction and familiarity with streets and traffic patterns. He enjoyed the challenges David gave him. Braille and Computers were his two toughest and most challenging classes, but he “stuck it out” and did the best he could, learning that learning came much easier if he put aside his perfectionistic tendencies and trusted the processes that the instructors were giving him. 

Tom’s turning point, not only for OTC classes but also for dealing with his blindness, came during the seminar discussions. Not only did he enjoy listening to and participating in the conversations, but he also enjoyed leading some of them. He realized that he wasn’t alone in his feelings and questions about blindness. And, after he facilitated a particular seminar where he told his life story, he learned that there were several people who could relate to him and gain hope from his honesty and words of encouragement. Not only was Tom being helped, but he ended up helping others learn to deal with their blindness. Tom also found hope in what he was doing and how he was dealing with things.

A particular workshop that Tom found very instrumental to building his confidence was Dependable Strengths with Kim Massey. He was able to learn about himself as a person and why he is the way he is, especially when it comes to being at a job. Tom proudly said that his dependable strengths are on his resume, which he continues to tweak and improve. He finds that focusing on his dependable strengths definitely helps with job interviews.

As Tom was ending his time at the OTC, he attended one of the seminar discussions, where a particular guest speaker caught his attention. It was Lance Mathena, a former student, who spoke about a new non-profit organization he was forming called the North American Association of Blind Sportsmen. The ultimate goal of this organization was to encourage and help blind people get out of their comfort zone and go on outdoor adventures around the country, such as various hunting opportunities, fishing trips, and more. Tom was very interested and began networking with Lance.

A weekend camping and fishing trip was organized for OTC students, and Tom fully participated. He loved seeing how some of his other peers, who had never had such outdoor experiences, lit up and enjoyed themselves as they caught their first fish or learned about basic camping. With Tom being a great outdoors enthusiast, he knew he wanted to not only participate in the activities of this new organization, but also be an integral member so as to help it grow and move forward. 

“After that trip, my world changed, and the spark was lit. It was something I’ve never experienced! I felt as if I found a sense of purpose and decided to join after completing the OTC.” 

In October of 2019, Tom felt a great sense of accomplishment while on his first deer hunt. He was successful in taking his first deer at 184 yards. “I was able to feed my family off of that deer for a year.” For Tom, there’s nothing better than being able to provide for and feed his family.

Tom decided that if he obtained the training to go back to living a full life, he was going to do it. Through NAABS, he was able to test both his leadership and travel skills by going on different trips around the country, including other deer hunts, turkey hunts, and helping with organizing and leading other camping trips and gatherings. He has done speaking engagements and participated in panels where he can let others know about this non-profit. Tom is a respected leader in NAABS, helping it thrive.

Part of Tom’s life is also being supportive of his family and their goals. He and his wife will be moving closer to the Lynnwood area so that his wife can take a new job. His daughter just graduated from high school and is working. When he’s not doing things for NAABS, Tom has gotten back to woodworking and will probably reestablish his business, hopefully making some more money on the side.

As Tom continued to think about his life, he said the following. “I think I went blind so that I could live the life that I’m supposed to live. I slowed down and now see the world differently and for what it is and not what my eyes tell me it should be.” He hopes that by sharing that with others, it will encourage them.

Tom had some words of advice for other people dealing with blindness. “Don’t feel like you need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Also, lean on your friends and family, because if they’re truly there for you, they will understand and will want to help in the best way possible. Ultimately, blindness is really just a hurdle one can overcome.”

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE

  • The OTC has been teaching virtually for over a year, and we continue improving how and what we do what is necessary to give students the blindness skills they need to live successful lives.
  • Staff continued attending workshops to grow in their knowledge and expertise. Three staff attended both of the blindness consumer organizations’ conventions. 
  • We had two events celebrating students’ capstone presentations and graduations. In the past four months, four students graduated and one completed his goals at the OTC.
  • We’ve also had very successful “Family and Friends” workshops, where the friends and families of our students got to ask questions and discuss various issues related to blindness. The planning committee continues meeting regularly to find new ways of improving these workshops.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LAYER 

While our students still aren’t able to do internships due to being virtual, the OTC Careers classes are doing other interesting things. These past couple of terms have had students focus on creating basic resumes. They also worked on learning to go online and find jobs that might be of interest to them. Finally, they participated in mock interviews. Everything went very well!

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REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS

PARTICIPANT STORIES AND FEEDBACK

Yakima Success Story

One of our participants became employed at a resource center in Ellensburg where she works with youth and adults to provide community resources and other services. The Yakima office negotiated with the employer to provide her a computer, we assisted her with a Braille note and other upgrades to her technology in order for her to perform the expected duties of her job. This is a small, non-profit organization did not have the funds for the Braille note. The Yakima office also provided orientation and mobility lessons when she started the new position to familiarize herself to the work environment. She continues working in this position and was very satisfied with our services.

Job Retention Eases Frustrations

Kristi Akers, VRC and Mario Eiland, AT Specialist (Vancouver office) teamed up with VA-Vancouver to keep participant A from losing their job. Participant A and his father were very frustrated at the beginning as the employer didn't have Reasonable Accommodations in place as they should have. Once all the pieces came together, with focus on the job retention needs, things began to fall into place. DVR was also brought in for support. All parties working together with the participant removed the participant’s and his father’s frustration. Also resulted in the participant maintaining his employment.

OTC Training is Empowering to Participant

Selena Cunningham, VRC (Lacey office) had participant WB share this feedback with her, "When I first looked into the OTC, I was scared, insecure, afraid, and not sure where I was in my life both mentally or physically. But with the help of the instructors, counselors, and the other students I have met that has all changed. I am now more confident that I can conquer any challenge that comes my way. I know I can go anywhere; do anything I want to do. I can do this because of the knowledge and empowerment DSB has shown me that I had inside of me."

Participant gets Hired on the Spot

Carolyn Hoppe-Denend, VRC (Tacoma office) had participant JT find a job while she and her family were shopping in Safeway (Federal Way). JT overheard staff say they were looking for cashiers. She went and talked to the manager, and she was hired “on the spot.” She has 16 years of cashiering experience in fast food. JT ended up quitting during the pandemic because they weren’t scheduling her at times she could work.  After almost one year of trying to find a vendor who had availability for job placement services involving DSB and DDA, JT found this job all on her own. The store manager has an ADA plan on file for herself, and she is very understanding of the need to accommodate her employees with disabilities. She said, “I am trying to hire people who are skilled and who represent ‘all the types of people’ in our community.” DSB staff, DDA staff, and VADIS are co-partnering on JT’s employment to establish long-term stability.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – DSB STORY

  • Lena Norton, Rehab Teacher/OM (Spokane office) provided an in-service during May to Eastern and Western State Hospitals. The in-person service was to provide information on working with their blind and visually impaired patients. Topics such as human guide and adaptive aids were discussed. Resources were given for services upon discharge. It was very well received.
  • Beth Sutton, Rehab Teacher/OM (Tacoma office) has an opportunity to speak with an HR Representative at eFinancial's Bellevue office when she was there to assist a participant. Beth briefly explained DSB services and added that DSB can be a pipeline for qualified candidates for a business. The HR rep shared they intended to hire substantially more people in the future. Beth shared to contact DSB’s Program and Partnership Development person; or to pass it along to the person who does the onboarding/hiring.
  • Sheila Burkett-Luckey, VRC (Seattle office) presented at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) to their Faculty Development Fridays Planning Committee and received the following feedback:
    • Words matter. Also, just because someone has a disability, doesn't mean they "need" our help. Assume they can tackle whatever they set their mind to unless they specifically request help.
    • Making sure zoom chats are transcribed or read aloud so people using accessibility aids get access to them, always thought zoom chat was screen reader accessible so good to know that it is not.
    • Reviewing the ARC resources and becoming more familiar with universal design.
    • Working toward universal design in all aspects of my teaching and activities/interactions in life in general.
    • Remember to provide a visual description of photos that I show in class.
    • It was very informational and I had not heard the term Dog Guide.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE

  • In May, the Spokane office AT Specialist attended training to expand her skills and knowledge of the Dolphin SuperNova program.
  • In May, Kara Thompson attended the virtual Microsoft Ability Summit. She reported that is was fantastic. A lot of excellent presentations on accessibility in light of COVID-19, how we have become more dependent on technology but at the same time it has pushed us to be more innovative with technology as we move toward remote work. Learned some more things about mental health tools that can be accessed electronically (mood trackers, etc.). There were many wonderful presentations from various speakers and their own direct experience with people with disabilities and how it has shaped their worldviews and helped them become better leaders within the corporations they run and how inclusion is important and a part of our evolving workforce.
  • In May, the North Region staff hosted their first virtual Preferred Provider training for various Community Rehabilitation Partners. VRC Monirul Hawke provided the training on the VRC process while Abbie Reesor provided training on LV items, and Zachary Abernathy provided training on AT devices..

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AGENCY COMMUNICATIONS REPORT

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.1 – GATHERING THE DSB STORY

Youth Services Quarterly Newsletter 

Working with student interns to gather post stories for and by young people on the website and promote through agency social media.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.2 – TARGETING THE DSB MESSAGE

Youth Services Strategic Communications Plan

Working with Youth Services team to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that targets specific, defined audiences.

  • Determined Six specific audiences to target and specific, measurable goals and objectives to work towards for each audience.
  • Plan reviewed and approved by E-Team in July.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.3 – TELLING THE STORY FOR HIGHEST IMPACT

Youth Services Strategic Communications Plan

  • Working with Youth Services team to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that targets specific, defined audiences.
  • Activities to improve partnership with PAVE and other organizations.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #2.1 ENHANCE AGENCY CAPACITY AND CORE COMPETENCIES

Quick Bytes Training

  • Working with Yvonne Grimes to develop a series of trainings to educate staff on topics related to adoption of Microsoft Teams and other document creation other topics.

Data Governance Team 

  • Developing training and communications to inform staff on the improving the Agency’s Records Retention efforts.

Internal Agency Meetings

  • Increased attendance and presentation at Agency VRC and Regional meetings.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #2.2 ENHANCE RECRUITMENT, RETENTION AND SUCCESSION

Communications Office Knowledge Transfer

  • Regularly scheduled updates to Communications “How-To” documents to share and preserve knowledge of office duties and activities.

ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS (04/01/21 – 06/30/21) 

Website Analytics

Metric Definition Current Change
Users Number of unique individuals who visited the site 4,427 +476
New Users Individuals visiting the site for the first time 4,247
(95.9%)
+458
Sessions Number of times a user is active engaged with the website. 5,661 +606
Page Views Number of pages looked at 14,281 +918

Channels
How people found the website:

Type Definition Users Percent Change
Organic Search Used Google, Bing, or another search engine to find the site. 2,280 50.42% + 256
Direct Typed in the URL. 2,035 45.00% - 690
Referral Clicked a link on a different website. 166 3.67% - 88
Social Clicked on a link from a social media platform. 40 0.88% - 4
Email Clicked on a link embedded in an email message. 1 0.02% - 7

Technology 
Type of device used to view the website (per session):

Technology Used Users Percent Change
Desktop 2,828 63.84% + 295
Mobile Phone 1,485 33.52% + 175
Tablet 117 0.26% + 8

Online Referral Forms

Type Users Change
Self-referrals 89 - 29
Physician referrals 27 + 3

Facebook

Analytics

Metric Definition Current Change
Total Likes Number of people that "liked" any post 350 + 49
Total Followers The number of people/pages that follow the page 370 + 53
Total Reach The number of people who had any content from  or
about the page enter their screen through unpaid
distribution
2,293 + 226

Top Five Facebook Posts

Topic Date Reach
We're Hiring! Youth Services Specialist - Yakima April 8 344
Outstanding Customer Service Award - Yvonne Grimes June 1 220
Over the Moon Mentors Award - Mario Eiland April 5 170
Outstanding Customer Service Award - Brandon Shotwell May 3 158
We're Hiring! Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4 (VRC4) June 25 155

LinkedIn

Analytics

Metric Definition Current Change
Total Followers Number of people that follows the account 178 + 12
Unique Impressions The number of people/pages that follow the page 282 + 19

Engagement Rate
Calculated as: (Clicks + Likes + Comments + Shares + Follows) / Impressions

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Rate 0.92% 0.42% 5.95% 12.71% 42.45% 80.17%
Increase
over previous month
+ 1,277% - 55% + 1,333% + 113% + 234% + 89%

Top Five LinkedIn Posts

Topic Date Reach
Outstanding Customer Service Award - Yvonne Grimes June 1 110
Over the Moon Mentor Award - Mario Eiland April 5 109
Washington State COVID-19 Vaccination Disability Survey June 25 52
We're Hiring - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC4) June 25 51
It's Public Service Recognition Week! We are so proud to
celebrate the incredible public servants her at the 
Department of Services for the Blind. Thank you for all that
you do! Celebrate #PRSW with us!
May 3 46

2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The 2021 Regular Session adjourned sine die on April 25, 2021. The following tracked legislation was passed:

OTHER COMMUNICATIONS EVENTS / MEETINGS / TRAININGS

All meetings held virtually.

  • May 5 & 6 - Microsoft Ability Summit
  • June 28 – 30 - Culture of Engagement Training Pilot

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FINANCIAL REPORT 

Federal Fiscal Year Q3 2021, through June 30, 2021

2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH JUNE 30, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)

Source Allotment
Authority
Expenditures Balance
General Fund - State $ 3,771 $ 3,642 $ 129
General Fund - Federal $ 12,579 $ 9,774 $ 2,805
Donations $ 30 $ 30 $ 0
Pension Funding Stabilization Act $ 86 $ 86 $ 0
BEP $ 1,176 $ 1,169 $ 7
Total $ 17,642 $ 14,701 $ 2,941

2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH JUNE 30, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)

Grant Grant Amount SFY 20
Federal
Expenditures
SFY 21
Federal
Expenditures
Balance
2020 Voc. Rehab Basic Services - 
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
$ 9,389 $ 117 $ 8,302 $ 970
2021 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
$ 9,626 $ 0 $ 0 $ 9,626
2020 Supported Employment $ 46 $ 24 $ 3 $ 19
2021 Supported Employment $ 46 $ 0 $ 4 $ 42
2020 Independent Living Part B $ 66 $ 43 $ 23 $ 0
2021 Independent Living Part B $ 66 $ 0 $ 51 $ 15
2020 IL Older Blind $ 676 $ 123 $ 352 $ 201
2021 IL Older Blind $ 677 $ 0 $ 0 $ 677
Total $ 20,592 $ 307 $ 8,735 $ 11,550

2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF JUNE 30, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)

Program Grant Funds State Other  Total
Voc. Rehab Services Adults $ 7,836 $ 3,507 $ 0 $ 11,343
Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS $ 1,222 $ 0 $ 0 $ 1,222
Supported Employment  $ 7 $ 1 $ 0 $ 8
Independent Living Part B $ 67 $ 18 $ 0 $ 85
IL Older Blind $ 403 $ 186 $ 0 $ 589
Birth through 8
(Not Grant Funded)
$ 0 $ 0 $ 24 $ 24
Social Security Revenue $ 0 $ 0 $ 376 $ 376
Business Enterprise Program $ 0 $ 0 $ 1,169 $ 1.169
Total $ 9,535 $ 3,712 $ 1,569 $ 14,816

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE WORLD OF DSB BUSINESS AND FINANCE?

Due to 2020 federal fiscal year carryover funds in VR, DSB continued to spend 2020 federal grant funds through June 2021. We have spent down 2020 VR funds and began spending 2021 funds beginning in July 2021, with the exception of the 2020 Pre-ETS set aside which we will be able to continue to spend down until September 30, 2021.

The agency was successful in securing $376,000 in Social Security reimbursements during the report period July 2020-June 2021; $115,000 was applied to IL-Older Blind and the remaining $261,000 was applied to VR.

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE

NEW HIRES/PROMOTIONS/TRANSFERS

Personnel Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Marcie Ebarb Program Specialist 3 Youth Services Vancouver 06/01/2021
Jazmin Rials Program Specialist 3 Youth Services Yakima 06/16/2021
Deja Powell Youth Services Program Manager Youth Services Statewide 08/16/2021
Juan Ortiz Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4 Field Services Yakima 08/16/2021
Michelle Perry Amos Administrative Assistant 3 CS / Admin Seattle 08/16/2021

CURRENT AND FUTURE OPENINGS 

Status Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Recruiting Reader Drivers CS / Admin Seattle, Spokane 07/09/2021
Recruiting OTC Program Administrator Customer Services Seattle 07/12/2021
Recruiting Business Engagement and Workforce
Program Manager
Customer Services Seattle 08/05/2021
Recruiting Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4
(In-Training)
Field Services Lacey, Seattle 08/12/2021
Recruiting Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4
(In-Training)
Field Services Tacoma 08/20/2021

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Previous Quarterly Reports 

Fiscal Year 2021

Fiscal Year 2020

Fiscal Year 2019

Fiscal Year 2018

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