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, 1st Quarter

October 2020 – December 2020

Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
March 12, 2021

 

CONTENTS

 

INDEPENDENT LIVING BLIND SKILLS SERVICES 

CLIENT SERVICES

Younger Blind Success Story 

Eric is a 51-year-old man who lives in Spokane. As a result of a work-place accident, Eric is totally blind and has a severe hearing impairment (for which he wears hearing aids). Eric also reports some short-term memory issues, making learning new tasks difficult. Eric came to the Younger Blind Program at Lilac Services for the Blind to learn how to use some advanced features of his iPhone without vision.

Eric and his IL Specialist began by refreshing his skills on his iPhone’s accessibility features, specifically slowing down his gestures a little to make navigating with voice over easier. After a session working with his iPhone’s accessibility features, Eric was ready to move on to some daily uses for his phone. Specifically, Eric wanted to be able to set appointments in his calendar, create and access shopping lists, and add new contacts from people who send him text messages.

His IL Specialist and Eric worked on these skills extensively over two sessions. Eric uses a recording device to take notes, to accommodate his short-term memory loss, and to keep track of his appointments. He records notes and often has to revisit items a couple of times before he learns a new task. At the end of the first iPhone session, the IL Specialist dictated step by step instructions into Eric’s electronic note taker. In between sessions, Eric was able to use these notes to refresh his memory and practice the skills. By the end of the second iPhone session, not only was Eric adding new contacts, but he was editing the contacts as well. His practice really paid off.

During the final session (conducted remotely due to COVID restrictions in the spring of 2020), the IL Specialist asked if there was anything else he wanted to work on. Eric said he was good for now and that he had a lot to continue practicing. The IL Specialist was happy to hear that he was using all of his new and improving skills and that he had made so much progress. They agreed he was ready to go off on his own for now, but could always come back to the Younger Blind Program for new IL services.

Outreach Report

On Wednesday, November 11th, 2020, provider Rafael Ramirez presented outreach to the Bainbridge Island Senior Center / Island Volunteer Caregivers over Zoom. He described the services of the IL program and spoke about a variety of low vision skills and aids. Rafael also shared his personal history and experiences growing up, living, and working in the blindness community. He answered questions from various individuals in the group. There were about 15 people in attendance, with several of the attendees being people he had met and/or provided services for previously.

Satisfaction Survey Comments

“Vivian's training with my husband has been superb! She is so patient with him and I don't think he would be able to use his iPhone at all without her help. I could not speak more highly of Vivian.”

“Don't know what I could have done without services, thank you! I have recommended this program to many!”

“Doug Trimble helped me walk to the park, he worked with me crossing the busy street between my house and it. I felt a sense of freedom and such happiness!”

 

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BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP) 

FACILITIES UPDATE

As reported at last meeting, the world of BEP is at a screeching halt as the Stay at Home orders and ongoing changes to the reopening Phases impacts our communities. We shut down two more of our business, assisted owners with layoff procedures, and continue to answer questions for the future. 
The impact to BEP is unprecedented and the financial losses keep piling up for the owners. They are very concerned about what the future may hold, what business will be like in near vacant buildings, and whether the program can withstand the lost revenues as well.

The BEP team continues to provide support remotely. Our time is spent on reviewing safety plans, business coaching sessions and assisting vendors with grants. I wish we could say more vendors have found funds. We also continued negotiating with all facilities in hopes of rent relief.

To keep spirits up, we are 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. We also used the platform to begin discussion of what our future program might be or could be. 

Zoom allowed us to host our first virtual All State meeting for October where 12 out of 15 active vendors participated for a daylong event! Feedback from vendors has been terrific!

Lastly, this still is a very challenging time for BEP and stressful for all of us. The uncertainty to the program across the U.S. is a bigger concern. No one has ever faced this kind of business adversity before so it’s hard to know which is the right approach. We do know that doing nothing is not the answer; we must find a way. The BEP legacy depends on us re-inventing ourselves a day at a time.

TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE

We still are unable to host training onsite. Yet, our student is actively engaged with Hadley courses online and is on track to finish by March 1st. Our other candidate is on the fence whether to proceed due to current unknown environments.

Hadley still has not replaced pre-requisites classes so we have engaged local SBA offices for assistance as part of our evaluation process. This is a great resource. 

STAFF UPDATE

We hired Austin Diaz-Munoz as our Contracts Specialist in August. He has caught on very quickly and jumped right in to make strides to help us improve process. 

Elvis took family leave for this quarter to become a Dad again. He is grateful that DSB allowed this time to be with his newborn son Cason.

Jim has put on many hats over the quarter and continues to find creative ways to keep everything moving. ‘The Force is all around us so he has become one with it’ hence, the Obi-Wan long gray hair he is sporting these days. In reality, humor has been a good release and a saving grace as of late.
 

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CUSTOMER SERVICES

SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q3 FFY20 VS Q3 FFY19]

  • New VR Applications [61 vs 76]
  • VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [751 vs 661]
  • VR Customers Added to Wait List [0 vs 51] 
  • VR Customers Released from Wait List [0 vs 57] (All categories opened 5/5/20)
  • Students with a Disability served [331 vs 339]
  • Competitive Employment Outcomes [vs 13]
  • Average Hourly Wage FFY20 Q1 [$19.49  vs $40.88] 

EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES 

Successful placements made this quarter:

Job Title Employer Region/County
Cooks, All Other Harry's on Lake Tye North/Snohomish
Laborers & Freight, Stock, & Material Movers, Hand Goodwill of the Columbia East / Benton
Substance Abuse & Behavioral Disorder Counselors Kimberly Lunning & Associates P.S. East /Yakima
Substance Abuse & Behavioral Disorder Counselors Therapeutic Health Services North / King
Massage Therapists Self-Employed East / Grant
Managers, All Other Sumisho Global Logistics Corporation North / King
Laborers & Freight, Stock, & Material Movers, Hand Columbia Industries East / Benton
Nursing Assistants WA State Department of Social &
Health Services (DSHS)
South / Grays Harbor
Registered Nurses MultiCare Neuroscience Center South / Pierce

Wages

Average hourly wage all employment outcomes at Q1: $19.49

Age ranges 

  • Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 21%
  • Eldest with employment outcome: Age 60 – Manager
  • Youngest with employment outcome: Age 22 – Cook

 

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YOUTH SERVICES 

SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES SET ASIDE

Federal Grant Grant Amount Pre-ETS Set Aside Pre- ETS Spent Dollars Unspent Balance
FFY 2016
(ended 09/30/2017)
$ 8,730,218 $ 1,309,532 $ 1,291,505 $ 18,027
FFY 2017
(ended 09/30/2018)
$ 8,792,634 $ 1,318,895 $ 1,250,702 $ 68,193
FFY 2018
(ended 09/30/2019)
$ 11,454,960 $ 1,718,244 $ 1,718,224 $ 0
FFY 2019
(ended 09/30/2020)
$ 14,866,200 $ 2,229,930 $ 1,847,214 $ 382,716
FFY 2020
(ended 09/30/2021)
$ 9,388,988 $ 1,408,348 $ 105,379 $ 1,302,969

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

Youth Services Continues to Provide Services Remotely

During the first quarter, Youth Services continued to provide remote programs and workshops as detailed below. In addition, we processed our Virtual Summer successes/challenges as pre-planning for service delivery should the pandemic continue.  Near late December, we made the again-painful decision to scratch in-person events and residential programs through at least August 2021.

Planning included developing contracts to provide curriculums we learned about from other blind agencies in several states. We continued our collaboration with those states to form an interstate youth ‘hang out’ time over Zoom. In preparation for future technology workshops for youth, and online job search, YS and DSB Assistive Technology staff tested learning modules with a Tech-Shop Pilot Program during November and December. YS began planning for a Social Hour in January in collaboration with a consumer group, community service club, and DSB. Stay tuned to next quarter’s report on all of this planning! Now for the highlights of youth workshops and opportunities.

APRIL Conference

The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference with youth track, was presented virtually over 5 half-days. Youth Services Specialists (YSS) attended the mainstream conference along with nearly 300 youth and adults from around the U.S. The youth sessions focused on leadership, self-advocacy, disability, and intersectionality. Forty-nine DSB youth, in the age group of 16 to 21, were invited. Seven youth registered and participated. A full day and two evenings were exclusive to youth (no adults allowed!) and led by the Leadership Committee of APRIL.

Youth Track at the WCB Convention 

YSS collaborated with Washington Council for the Blind’s (WCB’s) family committee to create a virtual youth track on Zoom in addition to the full convention. The six tracks offered to youth and their parents are summarized below:

  1. Vibe Session—Youth organized a social hour on Friday evening. This was a great kick off for the weekend with youth chatting, reconnecting from previous conventions, and beginning a conversation about mentoring other youth.
  2. North West Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) Session—NWABA staff facilitated a wellness exercise routine to use at home, while staying safe and healthy.
  3. Parent Talk—Facilitated by Janet George, YSS. This was a safe space for parents of blind children/youth to meet and talk about parenting, reconnecting with old friends and welcome new friends. Virtual schooling was a major topic, led by a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI).
  4. Art Expression—Creativity is always a popular element of youth workshops. Ahead of time, YSS mailed kits and instructions to youth registered for this expression activity.  Via Zoom, students followed instructions and used the supplies to create a mountain.  The mountain was symbolic of what obstacles COVID-19 had created in their lives; and how they overcame challenges and ‘conquered the mountain’. Each student described their mountain to the rest of the group and what it meant to them.
  5. Orientation & Mobility—Three panelists led a conversation about different types of O&M tools, cane styles and dog guides. Time was given for questions and answers from the students and/or their parents.
  6. Ask a Visually Impaired College Student—A panel consisting of three DSB participants who are college students and a representative from Western Washington University’s Disability Support Center shared their experiences in college. Students were asked to “be down to earth” and honest about college life as a blind student to include discussing accommodations, social activities, and self-advocacy.

Financial Reality Fair

YSS assisted the non-profit Financial Beginnings Washington to facilitate this evening workshop. Ten youth, in the 14 to 21 year-old age range, used Zoom and break out rooms to fully participate. Youth were given a “salary” to spend based on their career choice, and on their family dynamic of a two-income household with one child under age five. An app titled “Bite of Reality” was used to track spending and budget decisions. Using Zoom polling features, youth made a series of decisions about how to budget monthly incomes on necessities such as rent, household items, food, childcare; and the importance of savings. Once these obligations were met, youth proceeded with optional spending on cable TV, cell phone plans, home furnishings, clothing, and entertainment. 

The facilitators intentionally tried to upsell the youth into choosing higher cost items so they would have the experience of revising their spending if they ran out of money. Facilitators explained afterward their motive of practicing financial decisions as an adult, while staying within their budget. Topics also covered were credit scores, credit cards, lower interest rates as a reward for good credit; and the important concept of ‘wants’ versus ‘needs’.

Pilot for Technology Shop

YSS, two blind youth, and an Assistive Technology Specialist (ATS), facilitated and produced a six-week training course in how to use JAWS. In the weekly sessions, the ATS instructed students on topics of JAWS preferences, navigating the desktop, trouble-shooting, and using the Internet for job search. They utilized YS loaner laptops for consistencies of equipment and software. One student had been reluctant to use JAWS prior to the pilot. By the end of the six weeks, he was excited to continue learning more about JAWS. With the pilot completed; YS plans to offer this remote training in the spring of 2021.

Youth E-Newsletter

DSB’s Youth Services began developing a youth internship in early fall. Though the students will be supervised by YSS staff, the intention of the e-newsletter is for it to be written for students, by students. By December, the concept of a youth-led e-newsletter had formed and a job announcement was posted for two positions. The students selected would receive stipends for a Pre-ETS Work Based Learning Experience (WBLE). Eight DSB youth applied for the two positions by submitting a cover letter and resume, all applicants received interviews. Those scoring the highest were then offered a second interview that focused on desired skills in writing, journalism, working independently along with submitted a writing sample. Two interns were selected from the second round of interviews. All eight applicants received constructive feedback about their interviews.

 

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ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS 

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY

OTC Spotlight on Don Angulo

Sometimes, a person can go through significant experiences which end up making him need to either change or improve himself as a person, in order to live a better and more fulfilled life. After experiencing vision loss, Don Angulo’s life changed permanently. He decided to turn the experiences into positive opportunities which would help him to create a new and improved version of himself.

Born and raised in California, Don lived a great life. He had it all! He was a well-known local musician, highly respected and listened-to radio personality, community leader and organizer, and an expert in the career field of IT, where he was self-taught and received several accreditations. With so much going for him, what could possibly go wrong?

On May 18, 2012, everything was going as usual for Don. He was working as the director for IT for a company and was on his way to manage some equipment at a job site. That particular day, Don wasn’t feeling well, but given the fact that he was devoted to his work and had a strong work ethic, he had no choice but to continue doing what he needed to do. He was overworked, stressed, had a fever, had very high blood pressure, and was unaware that he suffered from diabetic retinopathy. Don faced a perfect storm of conditions that would permanently change his life. While driving, Don’s right eye went black, and the blood vessels in his left eye burst. “It was like watching balloon animals”, Don said. “Balloon animals that were thin and red, and I watched them all burst in my left eye.”

Immediately, Don’s survival instincts kicked in. He managed to pull off the freeway, set his car on Park, take some deep breaths, and started thinking about his next steps, which included letting his employer know what was going on and contacting someone to come drive him to a hospital. He had just enough vision in one of his eyes to see his phone and hit numbers on his speed dial, hoping one of his friends would come to his aid.

Don knew things were bad. He learned that his retinas were detached, and the blood vessels in both eyes had burst causing major damage. He had several surgeries to try and fix his retinas. The surgeries were unsuccessful. There were times he felt that life was over. At the same time, Don knew that he wasn’t the type of person to give up and live with defeat. He knew that there were blind people who were living full and successful lives. He wondered how he could do that. Don knew he needed to figure out what he was going to do so as to live life as a successful blind person.

At first, things were tough. Don had a difficult time finding good resources and information for dealing with vision loss. He was unaware of advocacy groups and rehabilitation programs. A training center he learned about had a program that would last close to three years with classes one day a week. That was not good enough for him. Eventually, he met a couple of blind people who made suggestions and gave Don information which would ultimately change his life.

Don moved with family from San Diego to the Seattle area. There, he learned about DSB and asked for information. One of the first people with whom he had a lengthy conversation was former VR counselor, Jonathan Utrera, who immediately told Don about the OTC and how he could obtain the necessary blindness skills he needed in order to get back to work and regain full control of his life. Don was very interested and knew that the OTC was exactly what he was looking for. Things happened rather quickly after that first meeting. He began fulfilling all of the necessary requirements in order to become a DSB client, including taking the OTC tour and filling out the necessary paperwork.

In addition to interacting with Jonathan and some of the OTC staff, Don met former AT specialist Sue Porter, who helped him acquire a computer so that he could work on his keyboarding skills and eventually become an OTC student. Don said that Keyboarding became his “First Job.” At least, that’s how he treated it. He worked on the program for eight hours a day, five days a week, until he felt comfortable calling Sue for a typing test. He excelled, going beyond the basic OTC standards.

For the next several months, the OTC became Don’s highest priority. “My life was at stake, and I felt as if I was fighting to get it back. I took my training very seriously. There might have been times when I needed to lighten up, but this was very important to me.”

He challenged himself to do his very best in all of his classes. Home Economics was perhaps his easiest class, because he was used to cooking and had taught himself to cook as a blind person before being at the OTC. He used and developed his own alternative techniques and welcomed anything else shown to him during class, from the instructor or other students. Orientation and Mobility was fun, especially when it came to doing his monster route. Don wasn’t going to let a torrential downpour stop him from doing the route he’d worked so hard at researching and planning. Braille was his toughest class, mainly due to his Diabetic Neuropathy, which sometimes compromised his ability to feel the dots. He loved his computer class. Not only was he already familiar with technology, but he took to learning JAWS, keyboard commands, and other adaptive ways of using the computer. He also was a highly sought after peer tutor and enjoyed sharing his skills and knowledge with other students. Don realized there would be no reason why he couldn’t obtain a career that had something to do with computers, just as he had before he went blind.

Don’s OTC Capstone project was one of his biggest challenges and greatest rewards. He had big ideas and worked through at least three iterations before finally deciding on his final project. He wanted to go back to a skill he had that he hadn’t used since before he went blind. Don had gone through some rigorous weapons training from former careers, and he found a person in Tacoma who owned a fire arms center. Don worked it out with him to come in and try shooting targets. “Muscle memory is a wonderful thing, especially when you are blind”, remarked Don with a smile. He continued, “I was able to shoot just as well as the average sighted person at a target that was twenty-five yards away!” Don was very proud of his accomplishment, which added to his already growing confidence.

While Don was at the OTC, he was still going through a lot internally. He never really had the chance to process some of the trauma he experienced regarding losing his vision. He later realized that having the opportunity to actually deal with blindness was essential during training, in order to become well adjusted. Aside from counseling, Don found it beneficial to talk with other blind people, including staff and fellow students. He found the seminar discussions to be extremely valuable, because they helped shape some of his ideas or perspectives regarding blindness. He found those discussions and thought-provoking experiences to be just as important as the classes teaching the blindness skills.

As Don was preparing to graduate from the OTC, he also was hard at work planning his next steps. In thinking about what kind of career he’d like to pursue, a familiar phrase came to mind. “Do what you know.” Don knew computers and technology and knew he still had great skills in several aspects of that area. Don heard about the Desktop Support program at the World Services for the Blind Training Center in Littlerock. After talking with the people in charge, Don was interested. He researched other computer schools closer to home and found that WSB still had a more comprehensive and thorough program. Don enrolled and began his course work.

While he was taking classes in his chosen program, Don came to the realization that he enjoyed teaching and thought he would be a better instructor than desktop support person. He had experience teaching at his former job in California and peer tutoring at the OTC, along with other opportunities with other jobs. Don switched gears and moved to the Adaptive Technology Instructor program, which he found was much to his liking. While at WSB, Don went through an extensive period of student teaching, and he challenged himself by asking to take some of the students that instructors felt were more difficult to teach. Working with students continued building his confidence. Don is creative and enjoys solving problems that don’t have easy solutions. He demonstrated it several times while student teaching. He added these traits to his resume, which helped him obtain his current job.

As Don was nearing program completion, an acquaintance gave him a lead to a job back in his home town of San Diego. The San Diego Futures Foundation was looking for an instructor. Don was interested, did the research, modified his resume and cover letter to match the job, and applied for the position. After two phone interviews, Don was flown to San Diego for an in-person interview where he not only answered questions but also demonstrated his skills and self-confidence. Don’s ideas and the subjects he taught fit very well with what the program was seeking. Two days later, Don was offered a job. He would begin a new life in the city that was his original home.

Don has been with the San Diego Futures Foundation for almost four years. He is the co-manager of the Assistive Technology program and has been instrumental in helping to give it structure, along with writing a detailed curriculum. Don still enjoys his job very much. What keeps him enthusiastic is watching his students succeed, either using learned skills to find employment, or independently composing basic emails and communicating with the world via a computer. Success is success. 

Of course, all work and no play makes Don a dull boy, and Don has several outside hobbies. Don enjoys writing and is working on some upcoming blogs and other pieces of work which he hopes will eventually get published. Music is also still his big passion. Not only does he enjoy playing, but he loves collecting and restoring high quality instruments. Also, over the past several years, Don has learned that he enjoys teaching others about the capabilities of blind people and being a positive role model. Don’s companions are his fantastic sense of humor and incredible and dry wit, which help him make friends everywhere he goes.

Don’s advice to any students currently attending the OTC, or those considering attending, follows. “Take full advantage of everything the OTC has to offer. Also find out and understand who you are as a blind person. If you don’t, you won’t get anywhere, and you’ll only be going through the motions. There is strength in numbers with the other students, and you won’t be going through it alone.” And for those who are preparing to find employment, Don advises that they find out their strengths and qualities, and how and where they can apply them when thinking about careers. For people starting over, Don advises to try to keep as much of what they knew in their former life and apply it to their new one. 

Don Angulo is a new and improved version of himself. He is Don 2.0!

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE

The OTC continues teaching virtually. All staff regularly attend workshops in their subject area via Zoom. We all continue to sharpen our skills to be better teachers. 
We have also begun attending training to learn how to better use Microsoft Teams. 

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LAYER 

The OTC continues to look for internships for students who are nearing graduation. It is tough at this point due to the Pandemic and everything being virtual. We continue to research and get our students networking. One of the people who provided an internship to a former student recently contacted us, letting us know of her interest in continuing to partner with us in the near future.

 

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REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS

PARTICIPANT STORIES AND FEEDBACK

MANY THANKS FOR REMOTE ASSISTANCE

Participant Completes Master’s Degree

Yakima VRC Karla Jessen’s participant was able to complete her Master’s Degree with DSB’s assistance for technology, and costs associated with higher education. Due to COVID-19, she had to get creative finding employment in the small rural area where she lives with her family. During her degree program, she completed an internship and practicum with the local mental health facility, and through her networking was able to meet with a doctor in that field. Working under this doctor’s supervision, she is able to provide telehealth therapy to clientele with mental health issues. She is able to work from home, earn wages, and have the needed supervision by the doctor to provide such therapy. These supervised hours will lead to the permanent licensure she requires to work independently in the field in the future. She is extremely happy working with this doctor and having the flexibility to work at home while her children are also home due to COVID-19.

Participant Ready for Remote Work

Karla Jessen is also working with a young man who DSB has supported through the School for the Blind, a Bachelor’s Degree in college, and a six-month training program for software engineering. He has been in an active job search during the COVID pandemic. While working with him he stated that he felt the pandemic had leveled the playing field a bit for him in the sense of equal interviews, working remotely, and the use of technology. While employers have been reconfiguring their businesses to become more remote, and their employees are in process to learn new skills to be up to speed, this participant feels that he already has learned most of these skills and he is ready to get going. He said that this is where he might have an edge and could shine. Well, he did just that and was hired on to start with Chase as a software engineer where he will start out working remotely and eventually relocate to Texas as work returns to normal.

Successful Remote Assistive Tech Assessment and Training

A Spokane participant is working as a special education teacher from both the classroom and her own home online. With COVID-19 restrictions, she could not come to the AT lab in order to evaluate new computer options, assess software, and CCTV models she needed to help her. Phone evaluations were done to help identify needed functions and then AT was able to work with the vendor who provided a specialized Surface Pro based system that included robust software, which had magnification, color, light, and speech features along with a unique camera that can do self, tabletop and distance live viewing plus print capture. The vendor even provided 1:1 introduction and training!

Spokane Participant Changes Careers

Spokane VRC Taurus Richardson recently worked with a participant to have his Self-Employment plan supported and financially funded. LT came to DSB a few years ago. He was working, but he did not feel he was able to follow his dream of film editing any longer. He had a new goal of being self-employed as a therapist covering a range of counseling for family, mental health, and marriages in the Spokane area. He knew what he needed to do, but he needed DSB’s help and accommodations. He is currently working to acquire supervisory hours from a licensed agency while still having his own business. LT is extremely grateful for DSB’s support through his graduate program and Self-Employment plan, frequently calling DSB staff his “angels”.

Successes for new DSB VRC Kristi Akers in Vancouver

DE came to DSB for job retention services. She works as a billing specialist with Peace Health. She needed some assistance with technology and O&M. Mario Eiland, Vancouver AT Specialist, did an AT Assessment and found that Zoom Text with Fusion and an iPad would be very helpful for her to continue to do the tasks of her job. DE is comfortable with these technologies. She has continued to work on O&M and is gaining confidence and independence.

AD came in as a job retention case. He was working for American Family Insurance as an insurance claim and policy processor. Due to his diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, his vision had gotten progressively worse, making it hard for him to keep up with the tasks of his job. DSB provided AT services that identified a Merlin Mini to magnify his screen and text. This equipment along with the VRC’s counseling and guidance, helped him to stabilize and continue in his job as an insurance claim agent.

Participant has Great Success Learning JAWS

Selena Cunningham, VRC in Lacey, shared feedback she received from a participant about Mario Eiland, AT Specialist (ATS):

DP was asked how his virtual JAWS training with Mario was going. DP had a difficult time learning JAWS in the past. DP reported that he was "very surprised at myself" because he was "really enjoying it!". When I explored this with him further he stated that something had changed inside of him. DP had previously revealed that he never enjoyed learning technology, and that he did not feel like he had the patience for it. Since working with Mario, he has been able to reduce his frustration and anxiety, thereby making room and space for learning. I asked him if he knew what was different this time, he responded that he felt as though his instructor Mario had made a huge difference. DP let Selena know that Mario is very patient and calm, and that he gets a sense that Mario understands his personal struggles better than his past instructors. Due to these factors, he has experienced something previously unobtainable.

Participant Successful in Job Search

JL was laid off from Boeing doing Aerospace Manufacturing. Carolyn Hoppe-Denend, VRC in Tacoma, used Silva Job Coaching Services to help him do a resume and look for job leads. Jeanette Silva mentioned to him that sometimes people get jobs just by contacting everyone they know in their industry and letting them know they are looking for a new job. He was able to get a new job position this way and is back to work with another company, doing a similar job. For the first time, he also has low vision aids now that are beneficial for him in living independently and useful on the job.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – DSB STORY & OUTREACH

  • Carolyn Hoppe-Denend, VRC, Tacoma
    • Provided educational resources and 1:1 meetings to a new CRP at Vadis. This CRP has been working with Youth Transition, and moved to this new position within Vadis. The new CRP had no knowledge of working with low vision/blind individuals in a Job Placement capacity. Carolyn provide some guidance on what to consider when doing job placement with DSB’s population. Along with some additional information/training the CRP could do at MSU NRTC National Technical Assistance Center.  
    • Completed two online trainings in Counseling Model, Solution-Focused Therapy Approaches, “How Do you Know When you Know?” by Dr. Ellen Quick; reviewed eBook and video; “Learn Solution Focused Therapy Online at Udemy.com”, by Dan Jones. Carolyn has offered to take time in one of her South Region Team meeting to provide information about what she learned; and how staff can use what she learned with participants.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE

  • Beth Sutton, Rehabilitation Teacher and O&M, Tacoma office, joined a work group put together by Maren Johnson, Associate Director, Educator Preparation and Credentialing Professional Educator Standards Board. The work group participate in multiple deep discussions in determining standards for O&M in WA state schools. Beth provided her years of expertise of Rehab Teaching and O&M instruction to contribute to the conversation that will make a difference for WA state students’ education. The work group’s recommendations will be presented to the Professional Standards Board in Jan 2021. The group’s recommendations may significantly expand the number of O&M professionals available to the school system in our state; subsequently improving mobility services to students and benefiting those youth DSB serves. In years to come we may see improved mobility skills for some participants in DSB’s youth programs (for example, for students who have not had enough O&M services in their area).
  • Ardell Burns, VRC Vancouver, Kara Thompson, VRC Seattle, and Karla Jessen, VRC Yakima were invited to the SRC meeting on Friday December 11, 2020. They were invited to present how their workflow has been impacted since the pandemic started. They presented on several topics: 
    • Participants experience and continually striving to keep participants engaged with services. 
    • How processes have been modified to keep their participants’ information secure, and how this pandemic has allowed VRCs to look at their workflow and continue to be innovative as a result.
    • What they have missed and gained since going virtual, and how they are providing support to one another during these times.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LAYER 

Karla Jessen, VRC Yakima, is a member of, and attends meetings for the following groups:

  • SCWDC Executive Team – WorkSource Yakima – this group consists of WorkSource leads and other partner agency leads and discuss funding, budgets, upcoming programs, and annual planning. The members of the executive board have voting authorization.
  • One Stop/Management Team Meeting – Consists of One Stop/WorkSource partners and discuss different activities, programs, and events taking place at the local one stop.

Carolyn Hoppe-Denend, VRC Tacoma

  • Negotiated an unpaid internship with a potential employer, The Center for Developmental Skills for her participant SF. SF’s job goal as a Training and Development Specialist has had him working on developing his presentation skills. This opportunity will give him the practice in presenting workshops with the Dependable Strengths content. He will be a presenter for the upcoming workshop for Job Seekers Seminar in 03/2021.

Gil Cupat, VRC Seattle

  • Attended the Snohomish County Business Consortium meeting on Jan 28th where all the WIOA partners, including DSB, shared updates and upcoming employment events and training opportunities. He also was invited by our recently (successfully) closed customer JR to present/introduce DSB to the agency, Sound Generations.

 

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AGENCY COMMUNICATIONS REPORT

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1 – DSB STORY

  • Youth Services Event Promotions 
    • Four events promoted/updated October through December.
    • Promotion included flyer/handout design (in English and Spanish), website updates (in English and Spanish), and posting to social media.
    • All events were virtual due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • White Cane Safety Day Promotions
    • Promotion included flyer/handout design, website updates, posting to social media, and press releases to local media promoting the virtual event
  • VR 100th Anniversary
    • Promoted the statewide event through social media and press releases.  
    • Posted information for DSB Employee Recognition winners to social media.

ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS (10/01/20 – 12/31/20) 

Website Analytics

  • Users – Number of unique individuals who visited the site: 3,918.
    • 3,752 (86.5%) were first time visitors
  • Sessions – Period of time a user is actively engaged with the website: 5,050
  • Page Views – Number of pages looked at: 13,221
  • Channels Used – How did people find the website?
    • Organic Search – 1,682 (42.2%)
      Used Google, Bing, or other search engine to find the site. 
    • Direct – 1,960 (49.2%)
      Typed in the URL.
    • Referral – 139 (3.5%) 
      Clicked a link on a different website. 
    • Social – 96 (2.4%)
      Clicked a link on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media outlet.
    • Email – 109 (2.7%)
      Clicked a link in an email.
  • Technology Used – what type of device used to view website (per session)
    • Desktop – 3,456 (68.4%)
    • Mobile – 1,389 (27.5%)
    • Tablet – 205 (4.1%)

Online Referral Forms

  • Self-referrals:  123
  • Physician referrals: 16

Social Media 

  • Facebook 
    • Total Likes 
      The number of people/pages that liked any post: 273 (+24)
    • Total Followers
      The number of people/pages that follow the page: 309 (+44)
    • Total Reach
      The number of people who had any content from or about the page enter their screen through unpaid distribution. This includes posts, stories, check-ins, and social information from people: 2,905 (-1,071)
    • Top Facebook Posts
      • WE'RE HIRING! DSB is hiring an Orientation & Mobility Specialist (Program Specialist 3) for the East Region (Yakima) area. December 23. Reach = 819
      • WE'RE HIRING! DSB is hiring an Orientation & Mobility Specialist (Program Specialist 3) for the East Region (Yakima) area. October 22. Reach = 233
      • DSB Unsung Hero - Liz Tunison. October 13. Reach 136
      • DSB Unsung Hero - Esther Walker. October 20. Reach = 126
      • DSB Unsung Hero - Beth Sutton. October 6. Reach = 124
  • LinkedIn 
    • Total Followers: 158 (+1)
    • Unique Impressions: 204 (-91)
    • Total Impressions: 3,656 (-935)
    • Top LinkedIn Posts
      • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! October 1.
        Impressions = 75.
      • The Great Lakes ADA Center and the ADA National Network is hosting the October ADA Audio Conference Series session: “Accommodations for Hiring and Work.” October 13.
        Impressions = 67
      • 2020 Youth & Young Adult Transition Survey: The Washington State Independent Living Council (WASILC) Youth & Young Adult Committee wants to hear the voices of youth and young adults with disabilities in every corner of Washington! October 23.
        Impressions = 64

OTHER COMMUNICATIONS EVENTS / MEETINGS / TRAININGS

All meetings held virtually.

  • VR 100th Anniversary Event Planning
    Working with DVR and WWU to create a celebration in recognition of the event in addition to the activities planned within the agency. 
    • State level event has grown to include WSRC, University of Washington, CAP, Colville Tribal VR, DDA
    • Event moved from June 2 to October 15 due to COVID-19. Event now coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
    • Proclamation issued by Governor for June 2nd anniversary date.
    • Planning meetings this quarter: October 5, October 13, October 26
    • YouTube premier on October 15.  VR100 Video on YouTube 
  • BUILD Employee Resource Group
    October 27, November 12, December 9
  • White Cane Safety Day 
    October 15. Virtual event made up of an online trivia game and a virtual, socially distanced walk.
  • Washington State Lean Transformation Conference 
    October 20, 21, 27. Annual State conference focused on process improvement. Held virtually over 2 weeks, instead of 2 days. 
  • Washington Council of the Blind Convention
    October 26. Exhibitor Interview in lieu of actual exhibitor space in the virtual event. 
  • PRWeek Racial Equity Virtual Summit 
    December 10. Discussion of how brands should respond in an authentic manner, the danger of opportunistic behavior, and the toll of continued injustice.

 

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FINANCIAL REPORT 

Federal Fiscal Year Q1 2021, through December 31, 2020

2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2020 (IN THOUSANDS)

Source Allotment Expenditures Balance
General Fund - State $ 3,761 $ 438 $ 3,323
General Fund - Federal $ 12,579 $ 6,283 $ 6,296
Donations $ 30 $ 12 $ 18
Pension Funding Stabilization Act $ 86 $ 0 $ 86
BEP $ 993 $ 217 $ 776
  $ 17,449 $ 6,950 $ 10,499

2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2020 (IN THOUSANDS)

Grant Grant Amount SFY 18
Federal
Expenditures
SFY 19
Federal
Expenditures
SFY 20
Federal
Expenditures
Balance
2019 Voc. Rehab. Basic Services -
$2.2 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
$ 14,866 $ 5,400 $ 8,349 $ 735 $ 383
(Pre-ETS)
2020 Voc. Rehab Basic Services - 
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
$ 9,389 $ 0 $ 117 $ 5,015 $ 4,257
2019 Supported Employment $ 45 $ 0 $ 1 $ 0 $ 44
2020 Supported Employment $ 46 $ 0 $ 24 $ 3 $ 19
2019 Independent Living Part B $ 65 $ 36 $ 29 $ 0 $ 0
2020 Independent Living Part B $ 66 $ 0 $ 43 $ 23 $ 0
2021 Independent Living Part B $ 66 $ 0 $ 0 $ 66 $ 0
2019 IL Older Blind $ 673 $ 468 $ 154 $ 51 $ 0
2020 IL Older Blind $ 676 $ 0 $ 124 $ 125 $ 427
Total $ 25,892 $ 5,904 $ 8,841 $ 6,018 $ 5,130

2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2020 (IN THOUSANDS)

Program Grant Funds State Other  Total
Voc. Rehab Services Adults $ 5,304 $ 414 $ 11 $ 5,729
Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS $ 551 $ 0 $ 0 $ 551
Supported Employment  $ 3 $ 1 $ 0 $ 4
Independent Living Part B $ 89 $ 7 $ 0 $ 96
IL Older Blind $ 176 $ 0 $ 0 $ 176
Birth through 8
(Not Grant Funded)
$ 0 $ 0 $ 12 $ 12
Social Security Revenue $ 216 $ 0 $ 0 $ 216
Business Enterprise Program $ 0 $ 0 $ 217 $ 217
COVID-19 Expenses $ 0 $ 16 $ 0 $ 16
Total $ 6,339 $ 438 $ 240 $ 7,017

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

With carryover funds in VR in both 2019 and 2020 federal fiscal years (FFY), DSB continued to spend on the 2020 federal grant in the first quarter of the 2021 federal fiscal year. We expect to spend down 2020 VR funds and begin to spend our 2021 federal VR grant in the second quarter of FFY 2021. With the exception of the 2020 Pre-ETS set aside which we will be able to continue to spend down until 9/30/2021. 

 

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE

NEW HIRES/PROMOTIONS/TRANSFERS

Personnel Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Kristi Akers Vocational Rehab
Counselor 4
Field Services  Vancouver 01/04/2021


CURRENT AND FUTURE OPENINGS 

Status Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Recruiting Program Specialist 3 Field Services Yakima 10/26/2020

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Previous Quarterly Reports 

Fiscal Year 2021

Fiscal Year 2020

Fiscal Year 2019

Fiscal Year 2018

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