Quarterly Reports are presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind during their quarterly meetings.
Quarterly Report, FFY 2023, 1st Quarter
October - December 2022
Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
March 10, 2023
- Independent Living Blind Skills Services
- Business Enterprise Program (BEP)
- Customer Services
- Youth Services
- Orientation and Training Center Highlights
- Regional VR Highlights
- Agency Communications Report
- Financial Report
- Human Resources Update
INDEPENDENT LIVING BLIND SKILLS SERVICES
CUSTOMERSSERVED (FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR (FFY) 2023, QUARTER 1)
|Program||FFY 2023, Q1|
|Adults under 55||19|
|Adults age 55+||173|
CUSTOMER AND CASE TRENDS
|Trend||FFY 2022, Q1
|FFY 2023, Q1
|All closed clients||167||192
|Customers under age 24||0||0|
|Customers over age 100||1||1|
|Customers who identify as a minority||11%||14%|
|Customers who have multiple disabilities||34%||33%|
|Customers with household incomes $30,000 or less||75%||58%|
|Cost per case average||$720||$650|
FFY 2022 PRELIMINARY OUTCOMES
Most popular Assistive Technology categories of devices provided:
- Handheld magnifiers
- Writing guides
- Address books
- UV filters and sunshades
- Stand magnifiers
**In addition, 29 customers received cell phone and tablet apps demonstrations to see if a cell phone or tablet and apps for people with vision loss or blindness would be beneficial.
Clients who feel more independent and more confident in maintaining their current living situation:
Out of 192 customers closed in FFY 2023 to date, 165 reported being more confident in their current living situation and that their independent living skills have improved.
Counties without customers served
Columbia; Garfield; Island; Pend Oreille; Skamania; Wahkiakum; and Walla Walla.
SUCCESS STORY VIGNETTES
Sister Sandra’s Success Story
Sister Sandra is an 89-year-old legally blind woman in Eastern Washington with a positive outlook toward life. Bright and vivacious, she enjoys dancing, long walks, and playing pinochle and bingo with the other residents in her assisted living facility. Recent health complications spurred Sister Sandra to apply to the Independent Living Program, including a recent hip replacement. Her movement was limited, and she wanted to learn strategies to better connect with others and engage with hobbies in her residence.
With that, Sister Sandra’s Independent Living (IL) provider worked to obtain assistive technology devices and training to improve Sandra’s quality of life. The IL provider started by helping Sister Sandra navigate her iPad through Siri, compose emails, and make Facetime calls. This possibility excited Sister Sandra as she wanted the opportunity to widen her community while she was unable to travel long distances. At the same time, Sister Sandra’s IL Provider requested a CCTV from the Independent Living Desktop Video Magnifier (CCTV) Lending Program ran in partnership with the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. Previously, Sandra had often walked to her local library to use their publicly available CCTV. Since she began using her wheelchair, the journey to the library was too difficult. Sister Sandra was excited to have a CCTV to use at home, on her terms. With it, she could read her mail and newsletters, and even use her iPad by placing it in the CCTV’s field of view.
By the end of services, Sister Sandra could successfully handle her own communication needs. She was so pleased that her world had widened. When asked about her experience with the Independent Living Program, Sister Sandra expressed that she was so grateful for the CCTV lent to her and that she uses it every day. More than that, Sister Sandra was thrilled that she could do so many new things independently and on her terms.
Emma’s Success Story
Emma, a 48-year-old woman from Spokane, became severely visually impaired after she suffered a stroke. While Emma tried to keep a positive outlook, her visual impairment and other health concerns including type 2 diabetes, arthritis, seizures, and asthma made her feel discouraged and limited in what she could do independently. While Emma’s wife and friends were there to assist her with household tasks and transportation, Emma felt a lack of autonomy over her ability to decide what to do and when to do it.
Once Emma was referred to the Independent Living (IL) provider in her area, she expressed her desire to become more independent and to fully engage in her love of cooking. Emma’s IL provider started by showing her strategies to manage her medication through the use of a baking sheet and colored towel. This allowed her to spot and differentiate her pills. The IL provider also brought Emma a large print calendar and bold writer so that she could manage her appointments and track the date. Emma also learned how to use voice controls to add events and reminders to the calendar on her phone. Having better control over her health and schedule led to Emma feeling more capable of taking on other tasks, one of which was cooking.
Emma had a passion for cooking and was trained in the culinary arts. However, since her stroke, she felt unsteady using tools like knives in the kitchen due to her fluctuating vision. Emma’s IL provider obtained a set of black and white cutting boards for her; the cutting boards better contrast with food for identification and chopping. Combined with a finger guard for safety, and a tutorial on the Be My Eyes app for identifying foods, instructions, or cans around the house, Emma felt better prepared to engage with her hobby again.
When Emma’s IL provider reached out to her at the end of November, Emma let them know she prepared Thanksgiving dinner by herself for her family and friends – something she wasn’t sure she would be able to do again. Emma said she was thankful for the help and that the simple devices had made a big impact on her life.
BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP)
BEP continues to manage the program with limited sites open for business. There has been very little movement with the drop in pandemic restrictions. We had high hopes that the return to work might increase, however what business we have continues to ebb and flow. The hybrid work culture is impacting forward momentum. We seek updates from a variety of sources like OFM Human Resources, OFM Facilities, DES Facilities, and Agency partners. There is no clear-cut answers available at this time.
Previously we have mentioned economic impact from the pandemic and supply chain challenges. These are still very relevant and have not changed locally or nationally. Industry experts predict lasting side effects for quite some time.
More focus as of late is the rebuild project where we are at 90% on the drawings for two sites and one site at 60% and on hold due to funding. BEP’s project management firm Integrated Solutions Group has been integral in helping us move them along and guiding DSB’s new budget ask and refinements.
The BEP team is very active preparing for rebuilds and the next legislative session. With half of the facilities closed still, we need to evaluate all equipment and be ready to swap out when needed. We simply do not have funds to replace anything right now. Additionally, we are working on design, equipment specs, and writing new food safety plans for everyone. Never a dull moment in BEP.
TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE
We are re-evaluating the training program to match some of the goals of the rebuild and better prepare all of the vendors and future students. In November, Jim was asked to be an advisor to Hadley Institute and the Forsythe Business Entrepreneurial program sponsored by Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind; these groups oversee the national BEP curriculum.
The BEP team continues to change and rebuild itself. At the last report we had lost our contract specialist, and the position was reworked to a Program Specialist 3 to better divides duties. We successfully hired Julia Longacre in November who brings a great deal of experience to the team. Subsequently we lost Elvis Pruett, BEP’s long-time Program Specialist 3, in mid-December and this position was posted for recruitment. His knowledge will be missed, and the current team is very stretched to support operators. The position has since been filled.
To manage the shortfall and maintain, we are leaning heavily on BEP’support vendors to fill gaps and keep critical work moving. We appreciate the E-team helping us navigate this new environment.
SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q1 FFY22 VS Q1 FFY23]
- New VR Applications [83 vs 86]
- VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [762 vs 843]
- Students with a Disability served [343 vs 246]
- Competitive Employment Outcomes [6 vs 24]
- Average Hourly Wage FFY23 Q1 [$24.89 vs $24.82]
Successful placements made this quarter:
|Job Title||Employer||Region / County|
|Software Developers||Lucid Software, Inc.||East / Salt Lake|
|Lawyers||Larson and Fowels, PLLC||East / Grant|
|Teachers and Instructors, All Other||Seattle Public Schools||North / King|
|Social Science Research Assistants||VertiSystem||North / King|
|Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Teachers, Post Secondary||Whitman College||East / Walla Walla|
|Postsecondary Teachers, All Other||TechVision||East / Walla Walla|
|Administrative Services Managers||Skookum||North / Island|
|Speech-Language Pathologists||Wendell Elementary School||East / Walla Walla|
|Social Workers, All Other||WA State Department of Services for the Blind (DSB)||North / King|
|General and Operations Managers||Engie Insight Services, Inc.||East / Spokane|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive||WA State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)||South / Pierce|
|Teaching Assistants, Special Education||Dimmitt Middle School||North / King|
|Education Administrators, All Other||Salvation Christian Academy||South / Pierce|
|Food Service Managers||CHD Restaurants||South / Grays Harbor|
|Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary||Washington State University||East / Benton|
|Customer Service Representatives||Social Security Administration||North / Monterey|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||Evergreen Academy Montessori||North / King|
|Sales Representatives, Services, All Other||3Degrees Group, Inc.||South / Clark|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive||Shimmick Construction||North / King|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||City of Kalispell||East / Flathead|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Workers, All Other||Mod Pizza||North / King|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Workers, All Other||Washington State Parks||South / Jefferson|
|Production Workers, All Other||Quarry Tile Company||East / Spokane|
Average hourly wage all employment outcomes at Q1: $24.82
- Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 17%
- Eldest with employment outcome:
Age 67 – Retain employment as an Administrative Assistant
- Youngest with employment outcome:
Age 21 – Probation Officer
PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES
DSB PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES
Altogether 22, Vancouver, WA
In 2022, we were proud to launch Altogether 22, to celebrate White Cane day at the Washington State School for the Blind on October 15th. This event was the first of its kind in the south region and what we hope to be first in many annual events that bring DSB youth and families together to connect with the amazing community resources that support the Blind, Deafblind, and Low-Vision community. It was incredibly exciting to have students sharing this day with us this year as we came together on White Cane Day, a day for celebrating the success and the capacity of the blind community.
For this year’s Altogether 22 events, we hosted five students for a full-day of workshops and presentations from community resources. Students connected with both of the state’s consumer groups in the area by attending presentations from both local chapters. Washington Talking Book & Braille Library joined the celebration to share their services, events, and tools available to students and families. Jake Koch from Guide Dogs who is a guide dog user himself, joined the students to discuss about the advantages of receiving guide dog training and shared valuable services from Guide Dogs for the Blind, available to the students.
Lastly, Activate Inclusion supported students working in teams to navigate the campus quest mobility activity, designed to get students moving, engaging their skills, and collaborating to solve puzzles and trivia to win the quest prize. This activity was a great way to wrap up DSB’s celebration of White Cane Day while connecting students to foundational resources and allies in their own community. We look forward to seeing everyone at Altogether 23!
Cane Quest, Richland, WA
Cane Quest was held at Leona Libby Middle School on October 15th. This was the first annual event directed by Linda McFall in this region. Cane Quest is a challenging orientation and mobility contest for students in grades 3-12 and the contestants are divided into three categories: Scouts: grades 3 to 6, Explorers: grades 7 to 9 and Trailblazers: grades 10 to 12.
DSB’s Pre-ETS program had two participants taking part in this community activity. These students included one in the Explorers tier and one in the Trailblazers tier. Explorer and Trailblazer contestants are given auditory instructions and challenged to safely complete secret routes in their community using proper travel techniques and appropriate cane skills. Scout contestants team up with a sighted adult and earn coins as they navigate a route that demonstrates mastery of basic orientation, mobility skills, and proper sighted guide techniques, within the boundaries of a school or agency.
iOS Academy, Virtual
DSB partnered with ACE academy to offer a virtual workshop for students focused on using iOS devices to increase workflow, manage tasks, and communicate professionally with classmates, colleagues, and employers. 10 students participated in this 6-session program led by Matt Vollbrecht, a certified iOS trainer who is blind. Training topics included using voiceover, using reminders on your device, sending professional emails, adding and managing contacts, using iMessage and so much more. Students that did not have a Bluetooth keyboard or iOS device were able to borrow one from DSB’s loaner library. Blind and low vision college students and adults were also invited to each session as guest speakers to discuss how they utilize iOS devices in their day-to-day activities of work, school, and daily living.
Good Vibes Fridays, Virtual
Good Vibe Fridays are back with new peer mentors to lead this space for transition age blind, Deafblind, and low vision students across Washington state. As a reminder, these groups are virtual and led by DSB peer mentors who are paid by DSB via a work-based learning experience. They are once a month and scheduled on the second Friday of each month during the school year. This is a space to build community, meet new and old friends and discuss topics such as self-awareness, disability justice, self-advocacy, and shared and personal challenges. Students engage in thoughtful conversations and offer support and encouragement to one another. On average 6-10 students have attended each session this past fall and the numbers are steadily increasing.
WCB State Convention Youth Track, Seattle, WA
This annual convention took place in Seattle, WA this past October, Approximately 17 students and two youth mentors participated in the WCB state convention youth track from October 28-30 at the Double Tree Hotel, presented by DSB’s Pre-ETS team. The theme for this year’s youth track was etiquette in formal situations. Students attended general convention activities, as well as a mixture of PRE-ETS and social activities, for opportunities to engage with a spectrum of people who are blind and low vision while practicing etiquette skills in a group setting.
Students participated in the following workshops.
- Sightless Self-Defense
- Candy Bling Crafting
- The Etiquette Obstacle Course (a hotel mobility activity)
- WCB Scholarships Breakfast
- Journey to the Job Workshop
- Presentations from WSSB, WTBBL and DSB
- Etiquette No No’s Comedy Hour
- Formal Lunch with formal etiquette instruction from TVIs
- Etiquette Trivia Contest
In addition to the student track, the Pre-ETS team offered various concurrent parent workshops focusing in on the needs of families supporting students working through transition. The students and families came away from the convention smiling, connected, and eager to engage with DSB and the WCB affiliate going forward.
NFBW State Convention Youth Track, Bellevue, WA
The NFBW state convention was held this past November 4-6, at the Bellevue Hilton. Thirteen youth, two mentors and eleven parents attended the conference.
The focus of this year’s convention agenda and themes included Empowering Your Student’s Success in the Classroom with JAWS; Job Seeker Seminar; Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Evaluating a job offer); Technology Sessions; and the Magic of Networking. Furthermore, the Pre-ETS team incorporated a work based learning experience with a panel of four blind and low vision professionals. The youth also attended the Washington Association of Blind Students Seminar.
Overall, the NFBW state convention gave students the opportunity to learn from adults who are blind and low vision, and to interact with other blind youth. Students who may not often get the chance to speak to blind adults, and ask them about their life and career journeys, benefited from this event as it gave inspiration for youth to continue their journeys to a career.
We Give, Federal Way, WA
We Give – DSB Gives Back – took place on December 10th in Commons in Federal way. This event was designed to support students learning financial management while learning to support their community by giving back to their community by purchasing items for families in need. These were delivered to the school representative from the Federal way school district to be distributed to these targeted families.
The group of 6 students engaged in skill building through:
- Money identification
- Budgeting money
- Working together in a team
- Orientation and mobility
- Comparison shopping
DSB Gives Back, Tacoma, WA
In another one of the DSB Gives Back workshops, five students participated in the DSB Gives Back Tacoma series of events. In the first activity, the students learned about the efforts of Lori Jones, who conducts homeless outreach and support for the Tacoma houseless community. She spoke with the students about her work and the mission of the nonprofit she runs. From there, we took public transit to the dollar store where students worked together in teams to find items for hygiene kits for Lori’s homeless outreach program, and to donate to the Tacoma donations center. Students had varying levels of experience riding the bus and were tasked with using apps on their phones to find the best route to get to the dollar store for their shopping. Once we got to the dollar store the students worked in teams to find different items for the kits and were given a budget to work within. We then finished the day back at the community center where the students worked together to put the kits together. In total, we made 50 kits for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The next weekend the students returned, and we worked together to do a volunteer shift at the Tacoma donations center. Students folded and organized donated jackets and hygiene supplies. They learned about the work of the Tacoma mission and got a tour of the women’s and men’s shelters and learned about the programs they offer to the community and the important work they do. This was a wonderful experience for the students, and they gained much from giving back to their community and earning great experience they can now put on their resumes. We look forward to more DSB Gives Back events in the future.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY
Always Living Her Best Life
When a person is young and living life to its fullest, they don’t worry or think about too many setbacks, even if some of those setbacks could ultimately be long-term. They sometimes take things for granted. Stephanie Koetje was such a person. Life was great, and there were very few things she worried about. Her youthful optimism, and positive and outgoing outlook helped her deal with anything that came her way. Nothing was going to stand in her way of living. But, what about something big, like blindness?
For the first twenty-five years of her life, Stephanie felt she had it pretty good. Having grown up in Washington State, she had plenty of friends and truly enjoyed everything that came her way. She loved learning about and finding herself as she matured. However, there was one big, or not so positive, obstacle in her life. Stephanie knew she had weak eyesight, but she simply dealt with it and any issues as they came. Most people would consider weak eyesight a problem, and Stephanie knew she had to be careful with it, and she was. Nonetheless, life was meant to be enjoyed!
After High School, Stephanie attended Community College for a while but then decided to work full-time. She explored several jobs, until she found one that was very enjoyable, offering her wonderful growth opportunities. Working for Seattle’s Revere Group, Stephanie began as a receptionist, and after a while, she received the opportunity to learn about and go into Human Resources. She loved the challenge and new responsibilities the job brought.
Around that time, Stephanie also met Josh (a person who quickly became very important to her). Life kept getting better and better for her! Stephanie was enjoying the challenge of a new job, plenty of fun with family and friends, and a relationship which grew more solid over time. What could possibly go wrong?
When things seemed to be the best or most stable for her, Stephanie needed to see an eye doctor, because something was happening to her vision. After several exams and tests, she was given the news that she had tumors growing on her optic nerves. The good news was that they weren’t cancerous, but they needed to be removed with radiation. When that happened, Stephanie’s optic nerves were damaged, ultimately leading to total blindness.
Stephanie knew there were risks in removing the tumors. There was always the risk that they could affect her brain and possibly lead to death. Being the kind of person who finds positivity in everything, she thought about it and came to a conclusion. “I had two choices. I could either go blind or eventually die! Somehow, being blind didn’t sound so bad after all”, said Stephanie laughing.
“It took a little over a year for my sight to completely go, so I never had the experience of seeing fine one day and waking up the next being totally blind.”
Stephanie had time to get used to living with fading vision. Actually, for most of that time, she was in denial, thinking that if anything, she would be low-vision. She hoped to keep even a tiny bit of her sight. Her denial lasted almost till her sight was completely gone.
“I knew what was going on, but I still had hope.”
She remembered the twinkling lights on her Christmas tree as the last thing she saw, and even that was very minimal.
“Although I was in denial during that time, I also knew what was happening. I don’t know when it happened, but I began to mentally prepare. Because of that, it wasn’t as devastating when I couldn’t see anything anymore”, recounted Stephanie. There was still definitely a difficult transition period, but there wasn’t much anger or depression. She mentioned that she was sad about some things, but she knew life was still good.
During her low-vision year, things weren’t going well at work, and she really wasn’t able to do her HR job anymore. She was demoted back to working in the reception area, which she could still do. Her employer purchased JAWS for her, and Stephanie taught herself how to use it. She could still work. However, she realized that she didn’t want to work as a receptionist for the rest of her life, and although it was challenging, she went back to school and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She enjoyed the experience! The only negative aspect was that she no longer had a job. Ultimately, it was time for a complete change!
Using a cane was something big with which Stephanie needed to come to terms. She said the following:
“Somehow, I still didn’t quite have it in my head that I really needed it. I was twenty-six, and I loved to drive with the windows down and music turned up! It was so different going from that to using a cane and walking somewhere. It was hard to accept.”
Time passed, and Stephanie thought she was more comfortable with herself as a blind person. She learned a few things that helped her get by, and she could take care of her basic needs. However, she still relied on others for many things and much help. Stephanie knew she wasn’t as independent as she should be. Her relationship with her boyfriend temporarily ended, and that was a big reason. At first, it hit her hard, but it also motivated her to take the necessary steps and do the research to truly gain her independence. She called the breakup a “blessing in disguise.” In 2009, Stephanie became a DSB participant and attended the OTC, where she learned the blindness skills to move forward.
Stephanie loved the OTC, because it was the first time she was around other blind people. Although everyone was different and had varying degrees of blindness and experiences, they had blindness in common and could relate in many ways. It was comforting to her.
Stephanie said that what helped her succeed at the OTC was that she was determined and ready to learn. Her attitude demonstrated it. She appreciated that the OTC staff didn’t do much hand holding. They taught, guided, and helped when appropriate, but they expected the students to learn and help themselves.
Like with every student, some things came easier for Stephanie than others. For example, since she had already taught herself a lot of JAWS, she kept building on her firm foundation. While she found it invaluable, Stephanie remembers being somewhat scared when Mary Lorenz wanted her to cross certain streets during O&M. She conquered those fears and learned to be a better traveler. Braille with Joy was challenging but fun. And, Home Ec was probably her most challenging and favorite class at the same time. She had never cooked much when she was sighted, so the challenge was greater now.
During her time at the OTC, Stephanie quickly became a leader amongst the students, mentoring a few and encouraging others not to let blindness be an excuse for not doing things for oneself. And, as challenging as some of her classes were, she finished rather quickly. Stephanie emphasized the importance and value of the training that people receive at the OTC. It helped her become more of the person she knew she could be.
Side note: After finishing the OTC, Stephanie and Josh eventually reconciled and after a few years, they married!
Stephanie found life very different after the OTC. She felt more freedom to do much more on her own. She liked having the ability to make her own choices, because she had the skills and confidence to support those decisions. She went back to school and obtained a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management. She then looked for employment, and in 2014, she found a job with Social Security, working at their call center. While it is not her dream job, it allows her to have decent money so that she can live, have fun and do what she wants in life, just as she always wanted. She would still love to go back to working in the HR field.
When Covid hit, everyone worked from home, and there was so much change everywhere. Stephanie wondered what else she could do, either as a new career or for fun. She remembered her love of acting when she was younger. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that she still loved it. However, she thought that the chances of obtaining an on-camera role would be slim. She then thought about voice acting and began researching how it worked and what it would take to get into that business. She joined a Facebook group for voice actors and after inquiring, she was given several names of people to contact. Many responded negatively, telling her that a blind person wouldn’t be able to do that kind of work. She was not satisfied with those answers.
The initial feedback was discouraging, but Stephanie was persistent. She looked up voice actors who were blind and came across several. One was Pete Gustin, who is widely known and highly respected in his field, having done many movies, published books, and won prestigious awards. He is also legally blind. She communicated with him, and he encouraged her to go for her dream! He gave her tips and tricks and connected her with reputable coaches and talent agencies. He was Stephanie’s first mentor.
After receiving the reassurance, Stephanie continued researching the other aspects of what she would need to be a voice actor. She has since invested money into creating a small studio for herself, taking lessons and workshops from coaches, and creating a website. She hired a coach to teach her to do character voices, which fits her because she is also a very animated person by nature. She spent a year working with coaches and recording demos. She continues spending time learning the actual business. Now, when she’s not working at her full-time day job, she auditions for various voice acting gigs. She even decided to audition for an on-camera role. “I know I probably won’t get it, but at least I went for it, and that’s what counts!”, she said in her usual upbeat tone.
When Stephanie isn’t working or involved with voice acting, she enjoys relaxing and spending time with her husband and friends. If they’re not out watching a standup comedian, they’re doing Karaoke somewhere or having people over at their house. One way she keeps her Braille skills in tact is by participating in a monthly Poker tournament, which she greatly enjoys.
Stephanie is a wonderful example of someone who has not let her blindness get in the way of living.
“To me, blindness is more of a nuisance than anything else. For me, there’s just one thing I can’t do, and that is see. If I ever get bummed, I remember that things can always be worse, and for me, they’re not bad. I embrace even the tiniest things and don’t take anything for granted the way I used to. I’m still doing what I want, and I’m grateful for everything I have.”
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
The OTC is experiencing a lot of new and progressive changes in how staff train students, and in how classes and outside activities are being run. We are now including more “Life In Action” days, where students get to go out into the community and apply the blindness skills they are learning in various settings and situations. These activities range from going out to eat at a nearby restaurant, to taking a tour of a museum or library, to attending a job fair or another activity that will prepare them for the future. We continue to do the challenge activities (Tandem biking, rock climbing, snow shoeing, etc.) and have included them into the Life In Action events. Rehab Teachers Alice Klein and Joy Iverson have been in charge of such events.
The OTC has also taken a very active role in helping to train DSB’s new employees. The new DSB employees have found their time at the OTC informational and worthwhile.
Ron Jasmer continues with his leadership meetings and training events, as he always wants to be the best possible manager for the OTC.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LAYER
Rehab Teachers Jim Portillo and Alice Klein are working on refining the Student Internship program. It will still deal with getting students some work experience around the community where they can apply the skills they have learned while in training. One of the OTC students recently had an internship at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. There is another student doing theirs at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. Finally, we are talking with people at the nearby Pagliacci’s Restaurant and the nearby food bank, hoping they can act as new resources for DSB. The OTC is on the move when it comes to teaching students about employment.
REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS
- S., a participant in Spokane, made the Presidents Honor Roll with a 3.89 cumulative GPA at Spokane Community College. He has transferred to EWU to study social work. He is interested in becoming an employee with Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families. He also received a scholarship from the Washington Council of the Blind.
- Former participant B. is currently working for the Social Security Administration in Salinas, California. B. started DSB services in 2016 and received a variety of rehabilitation assistance and support from the OTC, O&M instruction, and Assistive Technology services. B. is a great example of an active communicator and participant with his employment goal. Prior to transitioning to California for employment, B. worked at ESD as a temporary hire, where he excelled in learning and conducting the essential duties of the job. B. moved to California in March 2022 for his new job with Social Security. He has completed his probationary period and is now a permanent employee with SSA. DSB has successfully closed his case. His VRC partnered with the participant, DVR, and a CRP to ensure his transition from a temporary position to a permanent position has been successful.
- DSB Seattle had a previous participant come back to DSB to open a case. He has had two previous low vision evaluations. O&M Instructor Maureen Reggie asked him to bring in the equipment he had in the past so that she could evaluate them with his new glasses that he just got this week. After trying many things, she replaced one bulky item for near vision acuity with a much more streamlined one. As he started to read, he began to cry. He said things have not been that clear in such a larger field in years. He was so grateful. It's always nice to have more current evaluations to make sure vision hasn't changed or if their tools are outdated. Maureen said that making him cry tears of joy is why she loves her job!
- Through team collaboration DSB Yakima was able to find accommodations for a customer to continue working as a 911 dispatcher. Thanks to Assistive Technology work site assessment, Rehab Teacher’s technical knowledge, and connection with the Vision for Independence Center to obtain needed glasses to help customer with work task. Amazing teamwork in supporting customer success.
- Maureen, O&M Instructor, Seattle worked with a young man who had never had formal mobility training in his life. He grew up on the East Coast in an island environment and was pretty much guided everywhere. There were no formal services in his area and even though his parents meant well and tried to get him whatever they could, he missed out on getting any of the conceptual development early on. When he came to DSB, he needed to start in a very advanced setting, getting himself from a very busy downtown area to the Microsoft campus. It was daunting to say the least, but he tried really hard, even though he only processed about 30% of what I was trying to teach him.
Once he settled into his office, they started to go backwards and tried to relearn a little more basic stuff in a much quieter environment. Last week, after using mobility terms like “parallel traffic” and “following the surge” for weeks, he finally understood what she was talking about when they were in a quiet residential neighborhood, and he was able to cross the street without veering because he was listening to his parallel traffic. It was a huge “aha!” moment and everything fell into place. He was so grateful and felt like the anxiety that he'd been carrying around had been somewhat lifted.
He was also able to finally understand some of the concepts Maureen had been teaching him for months about how streets were laid out in relation to veering, where the center of intersections were in relation to his parallel traffic, the sidewalk being parallel to his traffic but on another level from the cars in the street, and where cars stopped in an intersection during a red light. These concepts blew by him in the beginning since he needed to know immediately how to cross a busy street without knowing any of this conceptually, so the “aha!” moment was a true gift in his empowerment and confidence.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
- In October, Taurus Richardson, Michael Skog, and Ryan Scott from the DSB Spokane office attended a Work Source job fair. DSB had a vendor booth at the event and the team met with employers currently hiring as well as resource providers within the community.
- On October 15th, DSB Spokane saw a successful turnout of over 25 people to celebrate White Cane Day in Spokane. Everyone met at Riverfront Park and walked to City Hall as a unified group. Outside of City Hall, white cane users spoke to their experiences. The day ended after a walk to the Wonder Building where many hung out for tacos, burgers, drinks, and social hour.
- On Saturday September 15th, DSB Yakima was invited to have an informational booth and present to families of students attending Cane Quest. Ryan Scott and Juan Ortiz presented on DSB services to families, student, and community agencies about DSB services. The event was held at Richland Middle School. In attendance were other community agencies, Richland police, fire department, Washington State School for the Blind, and Benton-Franklin transportation. It was a great event to connect with families, student, customers, and other community organizations.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LEVEL
- Laura Ozios-Townsend, AT Specialist, Tacoma office attended the NFB Washington convention; performed an accessibility review of 2 training modules for DVR; and edited and added screen reader elements to improve accessibility of the Rosenkrantz scholarship application.
AGENCY COMMUNICATIONS REPORT
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.1 – GATHERING THE DSB STORY
Pre-Employment Transition Services Quarterly Newsletter
Student interns gather stories for and by young people for the website and promotion through agency social media.
- Publication on break while Pre-ETS reviews program.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.2 – TARGETING THE DSB MESSAGE
Pre-Employment Transition Services Strategic Communications Plan
Working with Pre-ETS team to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that targets specific, defined audiences.
- Updating existing plan to match new Pre-ETS goals.
- Online and social media promotion of 16 events in English and Spanish, including:
- Flyer development
- Website posting
- Facebook event posting
- Online Registration Forms
Benton & Franklin County Workforce Development Council Communications Plan
Developed and implementing plan to promote DSB services to specified audiences and funded through the BFWDC grant.
- Developed script for radio advertisement to run in region in 2023.
- Researched data tracking options for monthly reporting to BFWDC.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Promotion of NDEAM which begins on October 1, including:
- Press release distribution to more than 90 media outlets statewide
- Calendar of Event postings to more than 50 outlets statewide.
- Email distribution to EVE and other stakeholders
- Social media postings
- 79 Facebook posts with a Combined Organic Reach of 2,623.
- 39 posts garnering 404 Organic Unique Impressions
Fall Community Forum
Promotion of October 19 event, including:
- Press release distribution to more than 90 media outlets statewide
- Calendar of Event postings to more than 50 outlets statewide.
- Email distribution to EVE and other stakeholders
White Cane Safety Day
Continued promotion of three October 15 events, including
- Online and social media promotion of co-hosted events in Richlands and Vancouver.
- Press release distribution and calendar of events postings to outlets in Spokane for DSB sponsored event.
Pacific Northwest AER Spring Conference
Planning activities for participating in the March 2023 conference, including
- Request for Presenters submission preparation for full and poster presentations.
- Draft presentation outlines discussed.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #2.1 ENHANCE AGENCY CAPACITY AND CORE COMPETENCIES
Data Governance Team
- Developing training and communications to inform staff on the improving the Agency’s Records Retention efforts.
- Ongoing VRTAC-QM based on The Leadership Challenge
DSB Agency All Staff Planning Team
- Working on two committees to plan and staff 2023 All-Staff Meeting in Vancouver.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #2.2 ENHANCE RECRUITMENT, RETENTION AND SUCCESSION
Communications Office Knowledge Transfer
- Ongoing updates to Communications “How-To” Desk Manual to share and preserve knowledge of office duties and activities.
Website Analytics Overview
Website usage overview:
|Users||Number of unique individuals who visited the site||5,928||-249|
|New Users||Individuals visiting the site for the first time||5,677
|Sessions||Number of times a user is active engaged with the website.||7,525||-522|
|Page Views||Number of pages looked at||16,905||-1,675|
How people found the website:
|Organic Search||Used Google, Bing, or another search engine to find the site.||3,316||55%||-77|
|Direct||Typed in the URL.||2,446||40.6%||-41|
|Referral||Clicked a link on a different website.||192||3.2%||-44|
|Social||Clicked on a link from a social media platform.||78||1.3%||-119|
|Clicked on a link embedded in an email message.||0||0||-1|
Type of device used to view the website (per session):
Online Referral Forms
|Total Followers||The number of people/pages that follow the page||508||+22|
|Total Reach||The number of people who had any content from or
about the page enter their screen through unpaid
Top Five Facebook Posts
General NDEAM themed announcement
|National Disability Employment Awareness Month Governor's Proclamation||October 4||184|
|YES 2 Information Sessions||December 21||148|
|Total Followers||Number of people that follows the account||287||+8|
|Unique Impressions||The number of people/pages that follow the page||829||+282|
Calculated as: (Clicks + Likes + Comments + Shares + Follows) / Impressions
Top Five LinkedIn Posts - Organic
Note: There was a 4-way tie for 5th place.
|Voters with Disabilities||November 1||116|
|Job Gains for people with disabilities outpacing other groups||December 10||93|
|SRCB member announcement||December 5||68|
|Jan Workplace Accommodation Toolkit||October 27||60|
|White House National Disability Employment Awareness Month Proclamation||October 3||49|
|DSB Community Forum Rescheduled Announcement||October 19||49|
|DSB Community Forum Rescheduled Announcement||November 9||49|
|DSB Community Forum Rescheduled Announcement||November 19|
Sponsored LinkedIn Posts
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (1-4)
Youth Services Manager
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4
Program Specialist 3
OTHER COMMUNICATIONS EVENTS / MEETINGS / TRAININGS
- State Agency Communications Directors Meetings
- State Agency Social Media Collaborative
- Working with Disabilities Resource Fair
October 4, Washington State University, Tri-Cities
- White Cane Safety Day
October 15, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, Seattle
- Washington Council of the Blind Annual Convention
October 28, Seattle
- National Federation of the Blind Annual Convention
November 4, Bellevue
- Washington State Equity Summit
November 30, Tacoma Convention Center, Tacoma
- NTACT/Youth Services Training
December 7, Seattle
- Equal Pay and Opportunities Act Training
December 22, Virtual
Federal Fiscal Year Q1 2023, through December 31, 2022
2023 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|General Fund - State||$ 4,318||$ 0||$ 4,318|
|General Fund - Federal||$ 12,958||$ 8,239||$ 4,719|
|Donations||$ 60||$ 48||$ 12|
|BEP Remodel||$ 1,652||$ 298||$ 1,354|
|BEP Operations *||$ 600||$ 314||$ 286|
|Statewide Technology Pool||$ 252||$ 40||$ 211|
|Total||$ 19,840||$ 8,938||$ 10,900|
* Allotment authority represents estimated revenue and GFS.
2023 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|SFY 20 & SFY 21
|2021 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.8 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 12,026||$ 101||$ 9,174||$ 2,751||$ 0|
|2022 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 10,472||$ 0||$ 3||$ 5,036||$ 5,433|
|2023 Voc. Rehab Basic Services||$ 2,145||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0||$ 2,145|
|2021 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 4||$ 8||$ -6||$ 40|
|2022 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 0||$ 4||$ 6||$ 36|
|2023 Supported Employment||$ 10||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0||$ 10|
|2021 IL Older Blind||$ 677||$ 0||$ 677||$ 0||$ 0|
|2022 IL Older Blind||$ 677||$ 0||$ 0||$ 346||$ 331|
|2023 IL Older Blind||$ 142||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0||$ 142|
|Total||$ 26,241||$ 105||$ 9,866||$ 8,133||$ 8,137|
2023 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|Voc. Rehab Services Adults||$ 6,673||$ 0||$ 0||$ 6,673|
|Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS||$ 1,114||$ 0||$ 0||$ 1,114|
|Supported Employment||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0|
|Independent Living Part B||$ 0||$ 35||$ 0||$ 35|
|IL Older Blind||$ 346||$ 75||$ 0||$ 421|
|Birth through 13
(Not Grant Funded)
|$ 0||$ 0||$ 15||$ 15|
|Social Security||$ 0||$ 0||$ 106||$ 106|
|Business Enterprise Program||$ 0||$ 298||$ 314||$ 612|
|Total||$ 8,133||$ 408||$ 435||$ 8,976|
SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVCIES SET ASIDE
EXPENDITURES THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|$ 12,026||$ 1,804||$ 1,804||$ 0|
|$ 10,472||$ 1,571||$ 282||$ 1,289|
|$ 2,145||$ 322||$ 0||$ 322|
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE WORLD OF DSB BUSINESS AND FINANCE?
- The VR Federal Fiscal Year 2021 grant dollars of $12,026 are completely spent including all Pre-ETS set aside.
- DSB will begin spending down state dollars in February to meet the maintenance of effort and match requirements for the VR Federal Fiscal Year 23 grant.
- DSB requested and received an additional $925,000 in federal reallotment funds for FFY 2022.
- DSB submitted a maintenance of effort waiver request for FFY 20 in the amount of $782,000 which was approved. DSB will submit another maintenance of effort waiver request for FFY 21 in the amount of $133,000.
- The allotment authority for the BEP is approximately $1.2 million however, it’s estimated BEP will only require about $600,000 of revenues to cover expenses. The allotment authority is shows as $600,000 and not $1.2 million.
HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Matt Hines||Pre-ETS Manager
|Joe Kasperski||Chief Financial and Operations Officer||Fiscal||Lacey HQ||11/28/2022|
|Peter Lewis||Reader / Driver||VR||Spokane||01/31/2023|
|Julia Longacre||Program Specialist 3||BEP||Lacey HQ||11/22/2022|
|Kephran Mason||Program Specialist 3||BEP||Lacey HQ||02/16/2023|
|Jen Scheel||Pre-ETS Program Specialist 3
(Transfer from Lacey VR)
|Christy Youssef||Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4
END OF SERVICE
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Deja Powell||Pre-ETS Manager||Pre-ETS||Seattle||11/18/2022|
|Elvis Pruett||Program Specialist 3||BEP||Lacey HQ||12/15/2022|
|Bonnie Burke||Reader / Driver||VR||Vancouver||01/11/2023|