DSB Quarterly Report

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

Previous Quarterly Reports

 

Quarterly Report, FFY 2022, 3rd Quarter

April - June 2022

Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
September 9, 2022

 

CONTENTS

 

INDEPENDENT LIVING BLIND SKILLS SERVICES 

CLIENT SERVICES

CLIENTS SERVED (FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR (FFY) 2021, QUARTER 3)

Program FFY 2022, Q3
Younger Blind 14 Clients
Older Blind 112 clients
Total Clients Served during FFY 2022, Q3 126 clients

CLIENT AND CASE TRENDS

Trend FFY 2022, Q3 FFY 2021, Q3
All clients 126 224
Clients under age 24 0 clients 1 client
Clients over age 100 0 2
Clients who identify as a minority 11% 19%
Homeless Clients 0 clients 6 clients
Clients who have multiple disabilities 29% of all clients 35% of all clients
Clients with household incomes $30,000 or less 64% of all clients 67% of all clients
Cost per case average $630 $800

FFY 2022 PRELIMINARY OUTCOMES

Most popular Assistive Technology categories of devices provided:

  1. Handheld magnifiers
  2. Writing guides
  3. Address books
  4. Talking clocks
  5. Stand magnifiers

Clients who feel more independent and more confident in maintaining their current living situation:

Out of 622 clients closed in FFY 2022 to date, 534 reported being more confident in their current living situation and with the independent living skills.

Counties without clients served:

Garfield; Kittitas; Klickitat; Skamania; and Wahkiakum.

SUCCESS STORY VIGNETTE

Dotty is a 95-year-old woman who lives in a Southwest Washington assisted living facility where her meals, laundry, and housekeeping needs are taken care of by staff. Dotty has macular degeneration and a severe hearing loss helped only somewhat by hearing aids, making it extremely difficult for her to stay in touch with her family using the phone.

Her son, Trent, was beginning to worry about Dotty not being able to speak on the phone with him and the rest of their family. He noticed she was often frustrated on the phone, sometimes on the verge of tears, and quick to disconnect most of the time. When he asked Dotty about her ability to use her phone, she said she couldn't hear anything and was often calling the wrong number because she couldn't see the buttons. So, Trent called the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind and asked for Dotty to be seen by an IL Specialist. The DSB connected Dotty with Doug Trimble, who jumped into problem solving mode.

Doug met with Dotty and Trent together to assess her ability to use her current phone. He asked them about the solutions she'd already tried, and Trent said, "We've tried almost everything including lots of different cell phones." Doug realized she needed a phone that would address both her inability to see the small buttons of a standard phone and her inability to hear what was being said at the other end of the line. He knew just the thing that would help her: he ordered an amplified, large button phone.

When the adapted phone arrived, he brought it to her house, set it up, and showed her how to use it. Right away, Dotty noticed she could see the large print on the big buttons. It made calling the right number so much easier for her. And, when she practiced calling her son with it, she realized that she could actually hear what was being said. Dotty was thrilled that she could make and receive calls again.

A few weeks after bringing the amplified, large button phone to Dotty, Doug called her to check in. Dotty answered on the very phone Doug had provided her with, saying that staying in touch with her family and longtime friends has made a big difference for her. She loves being able to make calls accurately and actually hear what is being said!

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BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP) 

FACILITIES UPDATE

BEP continues to manage the program with limited sites open for business. As the business ebbed and flowed through this last quarter, we are down to seven sites in operation now. One site had to close due to low occupancy which has put undue stress on the program and another owner. 

Our transition at Criminal Justice Training Center has had a few challenges which are normal, yet we have made quite a bit of headway in building a great rapport. There has been new menu items and systems put into place which is building momentum towards success.  

As shared in the past, the pandemic and slow recovery continues to impact BEP operators in many ways. They are grappling with major employee shortages, supply chain disruptions, skyrocketing food price increases weekly, high fuel costs, limited logistics support, and inflation at a level not seen for many years. These impacts across the system have made it almost unbearable for the operators. They can only pass on a small margin of markup to limited customers or absorb the cost. Both of which have lasting side effects for them and creates more stress of the unknown. 

On a positive note, we were successful in getting our funding package through the legislative process and that is a huge win for the agency and the BEP program. Work began right away with DSB leadership identifying a need for project consultation to take on this endeavor. We are fortunate to be able to use a DES Master contract and have engaged Integrated Solutions Group based in Olympia to help us navigate this complex work that lies ahead. Also, we created an Executive Steering Committee within the agency to help us balance the work and provide critical feedback along the way to keep everything in alignment with our mission.

The BEP team continues support remotely and, in the field, fairly often now for those who are open. Our time is still spent holding business coaching sessions and assisting vendors anyway possible. Regular Zoom calls with vendors continue every other week and are still received well by a majority.

TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE

Our trainee John Chang completed all his training requirements as expected. He was formally certified as a Licensee in May. He continues to run the US courthouse with great success, and we are encouraged by his efforts and impact at this visible BEP site.

STAFF UPDATE

The BEP team continues to explore new opportunities for revenue, training on new trends, and has begun plans for the remodel project. This project will not be easy by any stretch; it is very ambitious. We appreciate the E-team helping us make this a priority.

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CUSTOMER SERVICES

SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q3 FFY22 VS Q3 FFY22]

  • New VR Applications [218 vs 262]
  • VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [889 vs 1,040]
  • Students with a Disability served [363 vs 352]
  • Competitive Employment Outcomes [40 vs 59]
  • Average Hourly Wage FFY22 Q3 [$22.39 vs $25.50] [Year-to-date $22.91 vs $26.33] 

EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES

Successful placements made this quarter:

Job Title Employer County / Region
Postsecondary Teachers, All Others University of Washington  North / King
Massage Therapists Massage MDB North / King
School Psychologists Sumner Bonney Lake School District North / King
Software Developers, Systems Software Liberty Mutual North / King
Insurance Sales Agents Liberty Mutual East / Franklin
Massage Therapists Serenity Day Spa East / Yakima
Managers, All Other Swanson Bark & Wood Products South / Cowlitz
Teachers and Instructors, All Other University of Washington North / King
Social Workers, All Other Governor's Committee on Disability and Employment North / King
Counselors, All Other Comprehensive Health East / Yakima
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education Spokane Public Schools East / Spokane
Retail Salespersons Apple North / Snohomish
Customer Service Representatives Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs South / Cowlitz
Financial Specialists, All Other South Seattle College North / King
Community and Social Service Specialists, All Other Washington State Health Care Authority East / Yakima
Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other Skookum Aerospace Manufacturing North / King
Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other John L Scott Real Estate South / Pierce
Customer Service Representatives  Climate Pledge Arena North / King
Customer Service Representatives State of Oregon Employment Department South / Clark
Community and Social Service Specialists, All Other Friends of Youth North / King
Healthcare Support Workers, All Other Madigan Hospital South / Pierce
Teaching Assistants, Special Education Tacoma Public Schools South / Pierce
Production Workers, All Other HCL Technologies North / Snohomish
Medical Secretaries Avamere South / Pierce
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand Williams Inland Distributors East / Yakima
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners Fairfield Inn at Marriot South / Lewis
Construction and Related Workers, All Other Shinn Son, Inc. East / Yakima
Agricultural Equipment Operators Golden Gate Hop Ranches, Inc. East / Yakima
Media and Communication Workers, All Other Melodic Caring Project North / Snohomish
Customer Service Representatives Camano Lutheran Preschool North / Island
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce East / Kittitas
Production Workers, All Other Walmart East / Spokane
Childcare Workers Self-employed East / Douglas
Customer Service Representative Papa John's Pizza East / Benton

Wages

Average hourly wage all employment outcomes at Q3: $26.33

Age ranges 

  • Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 29%
  • Eldest with employment outcome:
    Age 69 – School Psychologist
  • Youngest with employment outcome:
    Age 19 – Construction and Related Workers

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YOUTH SERVICES 

SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES SET ASIDE EXPENDITURES THROUGH June 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)

Federal Grant Grant Amount Pre-ETS Set Aside Pre- ETS
Spent Dollars
Unspent
Balance
FFY 2021
(ends 09/30/22)
$ 12,026 $ 1,804 $ 907 $ 897
FFY 2022
(ended 09/30/23)
$ 9,547 $ 1,432 $ 0 $ 1,432

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

I-STEM (Virtual)

 

I-STEM Technical Training program is a computer science training program for blind or visually impaired students. The program attempts to prepare candidates for the tech industry and includes various tracks based on experience and intended tech area (such as software engineering, machine learning, web development etc.). The tracks are determined keeping mind the evolving trends in the industry. The objective of the program is to arm students with an in-depth understanding of core computer science concepts so that they can compete for technical positions or are prepared to take other more advanced classes that may be of interest to them, while also allowing them an opportunity to develop accessibility solutions for challenges faced in accessing web and mobile apps.

During the four-week seminar sessions, a Microsoft engineer was able to provide participants information about the various roles in the tech industry, skillset and preparation required for each, as well as an understanding of the roles and responsibilities. This helped the participants better understand the industry and evaluate if it was a good fit for them

The four-week I-STEM sessions for our youth participants also included training led by a blind software engineer, introduced participants to programming fundamentals (branching, loops, data types and data structures) in Python programming language, accessibility considerations and critical skills such as problem solving, problem decomposition and critical thinking.

Participants had access to office hours to enhance their learning.  Office hours helped participants ask questions outside of the class and further solidify their understanding of various concepts taught. To apply their knowledge, participants worked on hands-on assignments throughout the program.

MENTAL HEALTH MAY (VIRTUAL)

In May, DSB and Janella Landgraf of Peaks and Valleys Mental Health, put on a series of mental health workshops for blind and visually impaired youth, their family and friends, and blindness educators. The “Transformation of Self” workshop, a series of four virtual weekly one-hour wellness workshops for DSB Youth, focused on topics such as:

  • Focusing on inner strengths and abilities as an empowering step towards coping with daily challenges.
  • Identifying the areas where support is needed as an essential step towards self-advocacy and empowerment.
  • Transformation of self, or working from the inside out, to provide ease, bring awareness to inner dialogue, normalize difficult thoughts and emotions, and decrease overwhelming feelings.
  • Engaging in meaningful evidence-based social-emotional learning activities is the most effective way to learn mental health skills; the weekly workshops are interactive and experiential incorporating breathing techniques, mindful movement, journaling prompts, and sharing time to promote connection with peers.

DSB Youth engaged in a wide range of discussion at these virtual events, all related to mental health and how it directly relates to blindness and success in life.

In addition, we held a one-hour virtual workshop for DSB Youth Services Staff and educators of the blind and low vision, focusing on trauma-informed approaches to working with youth. Participants were able to learn the following:

  • Understanding the definition and different types of traumas, 
  • Gain a general understanding of ACEs and protective factors,
  • How to utilize trauma-informed language and practical approaches to working with youth, and
  • Recognizing warning signs to look for with our youth and how to support them during times of crisis.

DSB had close to a dozen professionals attend the workshop. Many participated fully in the workshop by asking lots of questions and sharing their experiences with working with blind and visually impaired youth.

DSB also hosted a workshop for youth’s family and friends focused on mental health. This was a one-hour virtual workshop focusing on providing resources and support to parents and caregivers of DSB youth. The families in attendance learned how to: 

  • Understand the most common mental health concerns facing blind and low vision youth, 
  • Recognize signs and symptoms that their youth may need a higher level of support, and 
  • Access affordable mental health resources and support services including individual/family counseling services, crisis intervention, and online resources.

DSB wants to continue our focus on mental health not just on the month of May, but all year round as it is an important part of getting our youth ready for college and employment. 

CLIMBING WITH OUTDOORS FOR ALL

In June we partnered with Outdoors for All and Edgeworks climbing gym to host a climbing event for our Pierce County area students. This was well-attended with 12 students coming to participate. Many of the students had not climbed before. The volunteers taught them about safety and good climbing practices. As students worked with their climbing partners to climb the wall, they worked on skills such as spatial awareness, self-determination, self-advocacy, and building their confidence!

BRIDGE PROGRAM, EASTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, CHENEY, WA

Overview

Washington State Department Services for the Blind (DSB) offered the Bridge Program to DSB youth in a current VR plan for ages 16-24 who are blind or visually impaired. Bridge was conducted in person, for the first time since 2019, with a total of five participants enrolled in a five-credit course from June 22nd to July 24th, 2022. This program is a five-week on campus residential summer program located at Eastern Washington University/EWU in Cheney, Washington.   

Goal

The goal of the Bridge Program is to offer students a college preparation program through a curriculum that focuses on academics, independence, self-advocacy, and social situations traditionally encountered in the college setting. 

Training in Self-Advocacy 

Learning to Advocate for oneself is a big part of Bridge. Students need to be aware that they must initiate all services. The students have to decide whom they would go to for help in dealing with them (DSS, VR/DSB, academic counselor, R.A., professor, etc.).

Counseling on Opportunities for Enrollment in Transition or Postsecondary Educational Programs

Each Bridge student is enrolled in one five-credit course. It is recommended that the student enroll in an introductory class such as a 100 or 101 section. This provides an awareness of different career pathways, realities, and projections. 

Work Based Learning Experience 

Bridge focuses on work readiness skills. This includes coaching students to be on time to class, teamwork such as creating study groups, learning how to take notes, learning how understand the importance of college writing (i.e. formatting and citation guidelines including font size, type, and layout of papers, and proper acknowledgement of source materials.)

Bridge students also learn independent learning skills, such as transportation from EWU’s campus to Spokane, learning how to cook at the college dorm kitchen and coaching on issues found on the college campus: life stressors, sexuality, new-found freedom, suicide, and alcohol/drug use, mental health, etc.

Overcoming Challenges and Bridge Experience 

There is an exit interview provided at the end of Bridge. The participants were asked about their greatest challenge and how they dealt with it. Overwhelmingly all the students answered that being away from home for the first time was their biggest challenge. To overcome this challenge, they found that having the support of each other (the five Bridge participants) provided a strong sense of community. 

One student’s experience: For AB, her first time attending college and being away from home was a large step and leap of faith to attend college on her own. AB mentioned “it’s a great experience.” AB aced her class and is on track for a college career in the VR program out of the Yakima office.

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SOLUTIONS (YES 1), VANCOUVER, WA

The Youth Employment Solutions 1 (YES 1) program was held through July 10 - July 21, 2022, at the Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver, WA. This year, we had 20 participants register for this summer session and 16 participants completed the program in its entirety. This year, the YES 1 program took steps forward towards hosting an in-person program again, and it was great to see the number of youths who were interested in connecting again with many of our community partners who thoroughly enjoy working with our youth.

In this year’s program, participants attended several job site visits and had the opportunity to interview several professionals from the surrounding community in various fields. Participants engaged in a rocket lab which culminated in a very exciting rocket launch to showcase those new technology skills and to explore this profession. There was training for youth interested in the professions of screen-printing and serving beverages as a barista. The group visited a family farm to learn about the dairy business, a bakery to learn about operating and owning a  bakery, and to Clark College to learn about post-secondary training and the professions available through students with Disabilities services. There were opportunities to attend the Portland Art Museum to learn about ensuring accessibility in various fields. The group met up with an artist expressing themselves through woodwork. The group connected with an architect as well as an audio engineer to learn more about those professions and gaining success in these competitive fields, even with a disability.

Participants received instruction in the fundamental areas of job readiness including strategies for searching for jobs, preparing a resume and cover letter, gaining experience through filling out employment applications, participating in mock interviews, and taking inventory of various professions through small discussion and 1-on-1 interviews with professionals, just to name a few. In addition to youth formulating their first resume and cover letter, each person had the opportunity to obtain their food handler’s card.

Youth were observed and supported by staff in the foundational areas of self-management and independent living skills. Individual data for each participant was collected in the areas of orientation & mobility, Assistive Technology, time management, cooking, hygiene & self-management, self-advocacy, and social skills. This information will be shared with youth, families, TVIs & DSB counselors to support future learning interventions as necessary, and to support successful VR outcomes.

The YES 1 group of participants also had some amazing recreational opportunities while attending the program. Youth were able to attend a variety of recreational outings throughout the program which included tandem bicycling, bowling, outdoor movie night, ghost story telling, self-defense, NWABA paddle boarding and kayaking, Capoeira Angola (African-based Brazilian Martial Arts), dance class, Synergy Team Building activities, swimming, and a concert in the park.

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SOLUTIONS 2 (YES 2), SEATTLE, WA

It was thrilling to be in-person again for YES 2 this summer. We began the program with a total of 17 on-site participants and one virtual participant. Participants took part in Pre-ETS activities such as:

Workplace Readiness Training

Daily living skills such as: creating menus, shopping, cooking, household chores, laundry, and personal budgeting. They practiced orientation and mobility to and from their worksites and a variety of other locations around the Seattle area. 

Social skills are an integral part of YES 2. Living in a community with other participants and staff, participants had to practice active listening, conflict resolution, and interpersonal skills.


Training In Self-Advocacy

Learning to advocate for oneself is a big part of YES 2, not only in the YES house but also on their jobsites. We frequently discussed and practiced letting your needs be known and how to ask in a manner so you would be heard. This is an ongoing skill to be learned as many of our participants feel uncomfortable asking for what they need or what would help them to do a better job. Sometimes they are unaware of what would help them be successful, and part of training in self-advocacy is helping them to determine the need and to put that need/request into words. 

Career Exploration

Before the YES 2 program begins and after we have received participants’ applications, each youth receives a phone interview from our Job Developer. During this interview, participants were asked what their career interests were. Though we could not guarantee a participant would get an internship in their career field of interest, the YES 2 Job Developer worked hard to find job placements that would have something which aligned to the participant’s interests.  This gave participants an opportunity to learn more about the career they were interested in and provided with opportunity to decide if that is what they truly wanted to pursue in the future. 

For those who were uncertain what they wanted to do, we provided opportunities to explore while working on the job.

Work Based Learning Experiences 

Each participant attending YES 2 is assigned a job. Each participant works for 24 hours at their jobsite and on Fridays are engaged in soft skills trainings, for example: how to manage stress on the job, financial/budgeting, and team building activities

Youth were expected to be on time for work, follow directions given by their employers, and complete tasks their employer gave them. For those who need extra support, that was provided to help them learn job expectations and how to do tasks assigned them. 
 

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ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS 

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY

OTC Spotlight on Kenneth Sanchez

Sometimes, a series of tough experiences and hard lessons tend to be the best teachers, revealing the paths one should take to reach success in life. Kenneth Sanchez has lived this firsthand and is thankful for such opportunities and experiences.

Kenneth was born with low vision. At an incredibly early age, he already wore very thick coke-bottle type glasses, and even then, it was still hard for him to really see well. He learned to manage, doing what he could with what he had. He actually enjoyed what little vision he had, but his vision problems would get worse as he grew older.

Kenneth’s childhood was difficult. His home life was rough. His dad and family were very overprotective. “My dad’s main interest or expectation for me was to go to school, come home, and stay home. I don’t know if it was because I had bad eyesight, but he did what he thought was best at the time.” 

Kenneth wasn’t really encouraged to run and play with other kids his age. Even though he loved sports, he didn’t experience playing them much. Aside from that, he was teased a lot by other kids, and Kenneth became very self-conscious at an early age. It is hard to have many friends when one feels so awkward and like he didn’t fit in. The friends he had were few.
Although he couldn’t play it, Kenneth found refuge in baseball. He loved watching the Seattle Mariners, especially Ken Griffey, Jr. on TV. Watching baseball on TV was perhaps one of the more “normal” things about Kenneth’s childhood.

Kenneth’s eyesight definitely changed when he was in the fifth or sixth grade. One day, while horsing around on the bus with another kid, he got punched in the right eye, causing Kenneth’s retina to detach, and causing him to lose his sight in only a couple days. Nothing could be done for that eye, as he had already had a few surgeries prior to the incident. Once again, Kenneth learned to deal with what he had, including dealing with more bullying.

As he grew older, Kenneth grew more and more apathetic about things. Still feeling awkward and socially isolated in high school, there was no real motivation to study or do well. He wasn’t sure why, but after almost five years, they graduated Kenneth with a 1.6 GPA. Either way, he knew it was time for some kind of change. He simply wasn’t sure what that would entail.
Kenneth tried attending Walla Walla Community College for a brief while, but things didn’t go well for him there either. “I was nineteen, and I still cared about what people thought. I didn’t want most of the accommodations offered to me, even though they were necessary.” The few accommodations he did have were used sparingly. Kenneth battled with anxiety, and the anxiety would get the best of him when he felt watched or when he wondered what others were thinking of the blind guy using all of these extra accommodations. Ultimately, Kenneth failed his classes. 

Social awkwardness and anxiety were not a good combination. He was ashamed because of how he did in school, and that added to everything else. The good news in Kenneth’s first college experience was that he was told that if he wanted to return, he could have a second chance at school. While he didn’t return right away, he remembered what he was told and would act on it a few years later.

After a few temporary moves, Kenneth ended up in Hermiston, Oregon where he got his first job. Things began looking up for him. He loved the satisfaction he received getting paid for a hard day’s work. Three months passed, and Kenneth had another incident where he was hit in the left eye, detaching his retina, and causing him to lose his vision in a short period of time. He had been misinformed, being told by his doctor that his eye was OK, but Kenneth knew better. Nonetheless, he tried continuing with life and work, but after some close calls, including almost getting hit by a car, he knew he was no longer able to successfully do the job he loved doing. He temporarily lived with various relatives, but nothing seemed to work out well, putting him into a state of depression. Things certainly looked grim and uncertain.

Throughout some of that time, Kenneth had been in touch with his then DSB counselor, Daphne Martin, who did her best to convince Kenneth that the OTC would be the best option for him, especially since losing his vision. Unfortunately, Kenneth was not ready to take such a step. When asked about it, he said that society’s views about blindness and blind people were very discouraging to him. He was already discouraged and couldn’t really deal with more. “I already didn’t fit in, and after so much teasing and not being accepted when I had bad eyesight, I really didn’t want to be clumped in with Blind and Visually Impaired people. What I wanted most was to fit into society, and I felt that society didn’t have a high opinion about blind people, so I didn’t want to be one of them.”

It was 2010, Kenneth was twenty-two years old, and he finally reached his lowest point. He wasn’t sure exactly what happened, or how he came to decide to do it, but he finally called Daphne and told her he was ready to attend the OTC. She did what was necessary to get Kenneth in as soon as possible. Kenneth remembers his father taking him to the airport, and by himself, Kenneth flew to Seattle to begin this new stage of his life. Kenneth literally started from the ground up, as he didn’t even have a cane when he arrived in Seattle. He remembers Bronson Goo picking him up from the airport, helping him get settled in his new apartment, and immediately giving him his first cane.

For Kenneth, the OTC was a challenge in itself. He was out of his comfort zone, not only learning new skills, but dealing with his blindness head on! Some classes, like Bronson’s Shop class, scared him and made him very uncomfortable. “The idea of being around machinery that could cut my fingers off, and the loud noises those machines made definitely scared me.” He survived it, but it wasn’t his cup of tea. Orientation and Mobility was challenging as well because Kenneth had a hearing loss, and dealing with traffic made him nervous. In spite of the great patience showed by Mary Lorenz, Kenneth felt anxiety when it came to some of his first street crossings. Over time, Kenneth began to improve, feeling somewhat better about being out; although, to this day, he still works at improving his overall travel skills.

Kenneth did have classes that made him feel good about himself and built some of his confidence. He enjoyed Home Ec, especially his graduation meal. Throughout that meal, he appreciated the positive affirmation given to him by the home ec instructor. Home Maintenance with Bronson was also a great class. He really wanted to learn about how to do some of what Bronson taught, and he felt good about taking those skills with him once he left the OTC.

Kenneth especially enjoyed his Technology class. Not only did he have fun and learn a lot about using a computer with Screen Reading Software, but he began building his confidence along the way. He always loved technology, so some of what he learned was how to problem-solve through things regarding the software or equipment when they went awry. He also loved learning about new technology equipment and toys. “I remember getting the Victor Stream and thinking it was the coolest thing!” After learning to put books onto it, Kenneth began feeling great about what he was learning. That tool would help him greatly in school. Things began changing in a positive way.

Kenneth decided to attend the OTC for three months (a summer) to learn enough blindness skills to be able to go back to school and get through life. He knew he still had much to learn, but he also knew he’d be learning things as they came. He felt that he had given himself an appropriate amount of time at the OTC. Before attending, he had already decided to enroll in and attend college a second time, going back to Walla Walla Community College. He felt ready enough to give school a try, knowing he would either sink or swim.

Kenneth was not the same person when he returned to school. He actually reinvented himself, becoming a more confident person who spoke up for himself, communicating with his professors and others about his needs. He realized the importance of good communication. He felt he could succeed. “In the back of my mind, I knew I couldn’t fail. I had already done this once, and I wouldn’t fail a second time in spite of the challenges I would face.” Sure enough, that first semester, Kenneth received a B in Psychology. He was thrilled, and that was even more incentive  to move forward. It was also a sign that he should study Psychology. 

Kenneth described his Community College experience as “Amazing.” It built a firm foundation for him to be successful in getting his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Nothing was ever easy, and there were a few times he felt like giving up, wondering if he’d make it or if all of that work was worthwhile. However, Kenneth learned what worked for him to succeed and used it. He took on challenges in a more confident way. He worked hard and never used his blindness as an excuse or way of getting out of doing things. Things took longer for him, but it didn’t matter. “For me, the key to being successful was not being smart. It was telling my professors what I needed so that we could work together.”

What also got Kenneth through was a wonderful support system of people, both at home and in school.

In 2014, Kenneth graduated with his BA in Psychology from Central Washington University. “I had no doubt I wanted to study Psychology. I just wasn’t sure what I would do with my degree.”

Things didn’t go very smoothly for Kenneth after graduation. It was challenging finding a job, no matter how hard he worked at applying and interviewing. Time passed, and after receiving some encouragement, Kenneth once again enrolled in school in 2019, in order to obtain his master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University, and he moved to Everett.

“My experience in Everett was different, exciting, and everything I wanted it to be!”, said Kenneth with excitement in his voice as he remembers that time. Not only did he enjoy school and graduated with a 4.0, but he had also moved to a new city and enjoyed exploring and learning about it. There is something to be said for something new, whether it’s a place or an experience.

Kenneth knew he had found what he wanted to do in life. He wanted to help others with disabilities. He realized it both while receiving his degree and while interning under Sheila Burkett-Luckey at DSB in 2021. Not only did Kenneth learn a lot during his internship, but he did so well that both Sheila and he thought it would be a good idea to apply for a counselor vacancy. Sheila had full faith in him, and Kenneth had enough confidence to try. Recently, Kenneth became one of DSB’s new Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors!

In spite of everything Kenneth’s been through in the past, he feels good about himself and where he is now with his career and life. He hopes to help his clients who are blind, relating to them and encouraging them to aim high and strive for all they can. Life still isn’t always easy or comfortable for Kenneth, but he knows that the more he overcomes, the stronger he will be.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE

The OTC staff has been working hard to keep up to date with updating curriculum and subject matters. Staff has been attending various workshops and conventions while still continuing to train our clients in the skills of blindness.

In June, thanks to Ron Jasmer, Nohemy Solorzano-Thompson, and Alice Klein, the OTC staff and students received education from a guest speaker on the significance of Juneteenth. It increased everyone’s knowledge of the origin and meaning of the holiday. Everyone is learning about diversity and inclusion through these educational opportunities.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LAYER 

Thanks to Ron Jasmer, Alice Klein, and Carl Peterson, the OTC Career Guidance program and classes continue to improve. Not only are the students hearing from guest speakers, but the classes are now divided into groups where they work with individual instructors on such things as informational interviews, resumes and cover letters, and research for jobs.

One of our current students has applied and interviewed for several jobs and is waiting to hear from one of them. If all goes as planned, she will complete the OTC and start a new job.

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REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS

PARTICIPANT STORIES

  • In June, DSB Spokane staff Eric Wharton, Michael Skog, and Damiana Harper provided instruction to the students of the Bridge YS summer program in note taking, VR services, and balancing school with other responsibilities. 
  • Gil, VRC Seattle, shared news of a participant of his who is working at a new job as a pre-school teacher assistant in Camano Island. She’s received several VR services from DSB including job placement, retention, adaptive skills training, job site evaluation, and tools/equipment. She will reach her 90th day of employment this week and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is already on board to ensure the waiver funding is in place for this customer’s long term job.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY

  • Kristi Akers, VRC Vancouver and Jen Scheel, YSS, presented to the Evergreen School District in March. In attendance were teachers of the visually impaired (TVI), Braillists, special education teachers and transition teachers. The different programming that Youth Services offers was discussed and shared. A video that DSB youth produced with Jack Straw was also shown. The Vocational Rehab process, ages served, and benefits were overviewed. As a group we had time to discuss school staff challenges, how to connect youth and families to DSB services, and answer questions.
  • Kristi Akers, VRC Vancouver, presented at an information session for Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) students. There were about 15 students in total. Kristi shared information about DSB youth programs and the VR program. Services offered and how students can apply for services was discussed. There were some great conversations about transitioning from high school to adulthood and how DSB can help. The students were engaged and asked great questions. Kristi provided brochures, business cards, and handouts about Youth Services and the VR process.

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE

  • Roberto and Zach, AT Specialists Seattle, attended the California AT conference, CSUN. Zach was impressed by the Dot Pad, and enjoyed the cognition exhibit. Zach also found the Sony exhibit interesting as Sony is striving to make their devices more accessible. Another session showed tactile graphics available for Chrome using a plug-in called IMAGE. It is similar to sound scape using special auditory. Roberto spoke about the Outdoor Orientation and Mobility GPS assistant.
  • Sandra Rodriguez, along with Carl Peterson, met with CVS to discuss a potential partnership developing future training and career development of pharmacy technicians who are blind/visually impaired. Zach provided a tour of the AT Lab to the CVS Executives. 

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LEVEL 

  • Karla Jessen, VRC Yakima, had a client who remained in the position he held while in high school, as a janitor for Chamber of Commerce and is working up to 15 hours per week. He has successfully transitioned to DDA long term follow along services. He is doing very well in his position, and was posted in the local newspaper recently and they are all proud of him. His mother also claimed to be satisfied with the number of hours and the position he has at this time. He had been on Karla’s caseload and attended many of the youth programs while in high school and she attended his IEP meetings while in school. His vision loss was caused an accident which also resulted in a brain injury. He was involved with DDA services, DVR, and our agency as we worked together to support him in his position.
  • Karla Jessen, VRC Yakima, had a client who went to work for the local mental health agency as a youth counselor. She came to our agency during her master‘s degree program for counseling, and we assisted with accommodations in order for her to be successful in her classes. She has an eye condition which requires her to enlarge font and change contrast in order to see the computer screen. She completed her program and secured employment. DSB was also able to evaluate accommodations on the new job and talk with her supervisor about her need for these accommodations. She continues working and is happy in her job.

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AGENCY COMMUNICATIONS REPORT

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.1 – GATHERING THE DSB STORY

Youth Services Quarterly Newsletter

Student interns gather stories for and by young people for the website and promotion through agency social media. 

PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.2 – TARGETING THE DSB MESSAGE

Youth Services Strategic Communications Plan

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

  • Association of Washington School Principals / Washington Association of School Administrators Summer Conference 
    June 26-28, Spokane Convention Center
    Exhibited expertise and shared information with principals, vice-principals, and superintendents by at annual conference. 
    • Approximately 1,200 conference attendees exposed to DSB Youth Services  
    • Discussed possible partnering opportunities with many of the 80+ Exhibitors
    • YS Staff excited about expanding participation next year.

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. 

Leadership Team 

DSB 101 Presentation development

  • Worked with RAMs to develop standard presentation template for future DSB presentations. Template distributed to staff statewide.
  • Training in development.
     

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.  

ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS (01/01/2022 – 03/31/22) 

Website Analytics

Website usage overview:

Metric Definition Current Change
Users Number of unique individuals who visited the site 5,195 -495
New Users Individuals visiting the site for the first time 5,439
(84.59%)
-537
Sessions Number of times a user is active engaged with the website. 7,173 -673
Page Views Number of pages looked at 17,220 -1,947

Channels

How people found the website:

Type Definition Users Percent Change
Organic Search Used Google, Bing, or another search engine to find the site. 3,170 59.74% -86
Direct Typed in the URL. 1,767 33.30% -376
Referral Clicked a link on a different website. 291 5.48% -17
Social Clicked on a link from a social media platform. 78 1.47% -71
Email Clicked on a link embedded in an email message. 0 0 -1

Technology 

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

Technology Used Users Percent Change
Desktop 3,382 65.10% -252
Mobile Phone 1,721 33.13% -192
Tablet 92 1.77% -51

Online Referral Forms

Type Users Change
Self-referrals 94 -35
Physician referrals 24 -9

Facebook

Analytics

Metric Definition Current Change
Total Likes Number of people that "liked" any post 162 +84
Total Followers The number of people/pages that follow the page 486 +5
Total Reach The number of people who had any content from  or
about the page enter their screen through unpaid
distribution
2,534 -124

Top Five Facebook Posts

Topic Date Reach
Skills: Do you know a blind or visually impaired student age 9 - 13
who would enjoy a week of learning and fun?
May 10 782
Skills: Do you know a blind or visually impaired student age 9 - 13
who would enjoy a week of learning and fun?
May 17 223
Skills: Do you know a blind or visually impaired student age 9 - 13
who would enjoy a week of learning and fun?
April 15 183
There's still time to apply for the 2022 Washington Council
of the Blind Scholarship!
June 10 121
Bridge College Prep Program 2022 April 7 106

LinkedIn

Analytics

Metric Definition Current Change
Total Followers Number of people that follows the account 265 +29
Unique Impressions The number of people/pages that follow the page 747 +212

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

  Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
Rate 6.44% 9.14% 13.03% 11.81% 9.38% 7.32%

Top Five LinkedIn Posts

Topic Date Reach
Inslee names Michael MacKillop director of Services for the Blind April 21 588
Interested in State Rehabilitation Council - Blind's (SRC-B) work?
We invite you to join an upcoming public quarterly meeting.
April 15 70
Today, Thursday, May 19, 2022, marks the 11th
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).
May 19 54
Washington State Independent Living Council (WASILC)
needs to hear from you!
May 20 53
Disability Virtual Career Fair 
hosted by Disability:IN Inclusion Works 
April 12 53

OTHER COMMUNICATIONS EVENTS / MEETINGS / TRAININGS

  • Communications Directors Meetings – ongoing, bi-weekly
    Virtual
  • April 6 – Government-hosted video training 
    hosted by Governor’s Communications Directors
    Virtual
  • April 27 – State Mitigating Implicit Bias in Hiring Workshop
    Virtual
  • May 10 – Microsoft Ability Summit
    Virtual
  • May 14, 21, and 22 – Washington DEI Summit
    Virtual
  • June 26-28 – Association of Washington School Principals / Washington Association of School Administrators Summer Conference 
    Spokane, WA 

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FINANCIAL REPORT 

Federal Fiscal Year Q2 2022, through June 30, 2022

2022 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH JUNE 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)

Source Allotment
Authority
Expenditures Balance
General Fund - State $ 3,709 $ 3,709 $ 0
General Fund - Federal $ 12,824 $ 10,571 $ 2,253
Donations $ 60 $ 33 $ 27
M365 Training - State $ 70 $ 7 $ 63
BEP $ 1,898 $ 1,107 $ 791
Statewide Tech Pool $ 323 $ 65 $ 258
Total $ 18,884 $ 15,492 $ 3,392

2022 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH JUNE 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)

Grant Grant
Amount
SFY 20 & SFY 21
Federal
Expenditures
SFY 22
Federal
Expenditures
Balance
2021 Voc. Rehab Basic Services - 
$1.8 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
$ 12,026 $ 101 $ 8,869 $ 3,057
2022 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
$ 9,547 $ 0 $ 2 $ 9,545
2021 Supported Employment $ 46 $ 4 $ 8 $ 34
2022 Supported Employment $ 46 $ 0 $ 0 $ 46
2021 IL Older Blind $ 677 $ 0 $ 677 $ 0
2022 IL Older Blind $ 677 $ 0 $ 0 $ 667
Total $ 23,019 $ 105 $ 9,556 $ 13,359

2022 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF JUNE 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)

Program Grant Funds State Other  Total
Voc. Rehab Services Adults $ 8,299 $ 3,804 $ 0 $ 12,103
Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS $ 1,409 $ 0 $ 0 $ 1,409
Supported Employment  $ 12 $ 0 $ 0 $ 12
Independent Living Part B $ 0 $ 64 $ 0 $ 64
IL Older Blind $ 805 $ 0 $ 0 $ 805
Birth through 8
(Not Grant Funded)
$ 0 $ 0 $ 17 $ 17
Social Security  $ 0 $ 0 $ 46 $ 46
Business Enterprise Program $ 0 $ 157 $ 950 $ 11,07
Total $ 10,525 $ 4,025 $ 1,013 $ 15,563

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

  • Reallotment: DSB will request an additional $925,000 in Federal Reallotment Funds for FFY 2022. RSA will announce the results of this request in September.
  • DSB submitted a waiver request to the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement in the amount of $782,000 for FY 2020 and $133,000 for FY 2021 totaling $915,000. The MOE rule requires the same level of non-Federal expenditures as two years prior. DSB’s non-Federal share of expenditures were higher in FFY 2018 and FFY 2019 due to one-time funding for the Aware customer management system.
  • DSB’s State spend plan strategies in FFY 2022 will allow the agency to carryover approximately $9.5 million of the 2022 VR grant into FFY 2023.
    .

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HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE

NEW HIRES/PROMOTIONS/TRANSFERS

Personnel Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Christoferson, Lorie Interim Senior Financial Officer (SFO) Fiscal Lacey 7/16/22 until
permanent
CFO is hired
Bugliari, Melanie Fiscal Analyst 2 Fiscal Lacey 09/12/2022

CURRENT AND FUTURE OPENINGS 

Status Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Recruiting Contract Specialist 2 BEP Lacey Open until filled
Finalizing
recruitment
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Fiscal Lacey To be posted

RETIREMENTS/END OF SERVICE

Personnel Job Title Team Duty Station  Effective Date
Killman, Spenser Fiscal Analyst 2 Fiscal Lacey 07/04/2022
Brown, Jeannie Senior Financial Officer (SFO) Fiscal Lacey 07/15/2022
Diaz-Munoz, Austin Contracts Specialist 2 BEP Lacey 08/31/2022

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Previous Quarterly Reports 

Fiscal Year 2022

Fiscal Year 2021

Fiscal Year 2020

Fiscal Year 2019

Fiscal Year 2018

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