Quarterly Reports are presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind during their quarterly meetings.
Quarterly Report, FFY 2022, 4th Quarter
July - September 2022
Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
December 9, 2022
- 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
CLIENTS SERVED (FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR (FFY) 2022, QUARTER 4)
|Program||FFY 2022 Total Closed|
|Younger Blind (Adults under 55)||68 closed clients|
|Older Blind (Aged 55+)||625 closed clients|
|Total Clients||693 closed clients|
CLIENT AND CASE TRENDS
|Trend||FFY 2021 Closed||FFY 2022 Closed|
|All closed clients||718
(142 remain open)
(133 remain open)
|Clients under age 24||1 client||2 client|
|Clients over age 100||6 clients||2 clients|
|Clients who identify as a minority||16% of all clients||14% of all clients|
|Homeless Clients||13 clients||2 clients|
|Clients who have multiple disabilities||32% of all clients||35% of all clients|
|Clients with household incomes $30,000 or less||67% of all clients||66% of all clients|
|Cost per case average||$690||$670|
FFY 2022 PRELIMINARY OUTCOMES
Most popular Assistive Technology categories of devices provided:
- Handheld magnifiers
- Writing guides and/or pens
- Address books, calendars, notepads, and other paper products
- Talking clocks and watches
- Stand magnifiers
In addition, 101 clients 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 693 clients closed in FFY 2022, 594 (86%) reported being more confident in their current living situation and with their independent living skills.
Counties without clients served:
Garfield, Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Wahkiakum.
SUCCESS STORY VIGNETTES
Jenny, an optimistic young woman living in southern Washington, became totally blind due to unforeseen circumstances. A survivor of domestic violence, her support system coming out of the hospital was small. As her change in vision loss was so sudden, Jenny required many hours of training with an Independent Living (IL) Provider to adjust and regain her independence.
Jenny’s main goals during training with her IL Provider were to develop Orientation & Mobility skills to navigate around her residence, learn to use a smartphone, and access once-loved hobbies like reading. During her time with the IL Program, Jenny moved from the hospital to an assisted living facility, and then to her own apartment. Though this transition was scary at first, Jenny was determined to accomplish her goals and gain the skills necessary to remain in her new apartment.
When her IL Provider connected Jenny with the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, she discovered that she could easily use their talking book player to enjoy audiobooks. At the same time, Jenny’s progress with using a smartphone and smart speaker provided by the IL Program’s Assistive Technology Lending Program allowed her to regularly contact family and access information she had felt was unattainable. Through learning how to use a white cane, self-protective techniques, and Human Guide skills, Jenny realized she could navigate her apartment complex and beyond. Now, she is able to arrange and use para-transit services to visit familiar places around her community and travel the route to pick-up spots on her own.
Through developing these skills, Jenny became a more confident woman. Her experience with the Independent Living Program motivated her to learn new skills that will help her navigate the world with vision loss and to connect with the blind community in her area. Furthermore, Jenny’s experience with the Independent Living Program led her to feeling confident in her ability to work in the future. Because of this, Jenny was referred to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program with the Department of Services for the Blind. There, she will continue her training and preparation for future employment. On her progress, Jenny’s IL Provider said, “Jenny knows she still has a long way to go but has not let her blindness stop her. She is only 32 years old and has a bright future ahead of her.”
When Cynthia, a 48-year-old woman in Pierce County, began experiencing vision loss and was declared legally blind, she felt disconnected from the education of her eleven-year-old son. Cynthia was unable to read the materials sent home from her son's school, or access newsletters and emails from teachers online. While her husband, Phuong, assisted Cynthia with tasks when he was home, she wanted to be able to read and accomplish tasks on her own while Phuong was away at work. She expressed to her Independent Living (IL) Provider that being fully and independently present with her son’s schooling was a top priority.
After considering Cynthia's goals, her IL Provider connected her with Independent Living’s Desktop Video Magnifier (CCTV) Lending Program ran in partnership with the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL). With the CCTV, Cynthia has been able to read her mail and papers from her son’s school unassisted. In addition to the CCTV, Cynthia expressed a desire to access a computer and the internet again, as she had been unable to use one for several years. With some time and care, her IL Provider obtained a laptop of the appropriate size, and with magnification, Cynthia was able to use the laptop with her remaining vision. With the laptop, Cynthia has access to more information and avenues of communication with the world around her. She has been able to be involved in her son’s education, and meaningfully engage with her hobbies in her private time. When asked about her experience with the Independent Living Program, Cynthia said this:
“All the wonderful things I got from Independent Living Services for the Blind have changed my life for the better. I can do more independently, like help cook for my family, read my own mail or important papers... It’s been wonderful to do my own stuff rather than relying on other people to do it for me. Thank you so much. I am so glad that there are Programs like this that help people like me who are Legally Blind become more Independent."
BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP)
BEP continues to manage the program with limited sites open for business. Our businesses continue to ebb and flow with hybrid work culture and no real plan for employees to return to the workplace. We have sought 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.
As shared in the past, the pandemic and slow recovery continues to impact BEP operators. We are still grappling with major employee shortages, supply chain disruptions, skyrocketing food prices and inflation at historic levels. These factors have cut into the very narrow profit margin in the hospitality business. Industry experts predict lasting side effects for quite some time.
On the positive side, the funding we received is allowing us to move ahead with rebuilds and designs to shift our model to adapt into the future. Our project management firm Integrated Solutions Group has been integral in helping us move three projects to the 60% design phase. Also, they are leading the conversations with the steering committee to help us balance the work and provide critical feedback along the way to keep everything in alignment with our mission.
The BEP team is engaging more in the field as we ready ourselves for the rebuilds coming soon. There is a lot of work on the side to be done and coordination of many tasks we are not accustomed to yet critical for the project. From design to equipment specs to cleaning closed kitchens and writing new food safety plans, we are busy.
TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE
John Chang became a licensee in May and successfully bid on the US Courthouse and was awarded the location on July 1st. He is doing great things in downtown Seattle.
BEP is actively looking at all opportunities that come our way for a small café, coffee bar or dry stand. Most inquiries are vending related, and we have captured a handful of new sites which will help our revenues down the road.
We did have an opportunity in August to exercise our priority with the Navy as they are expanding operations in Everett. If the projects get funded by Congress, we potentially could build out two small dry stands and micro markets operations.
The BEP team continues to explore new opportunities for training on new trends and has begun plans for partnerships with other entities to fill the gap where we may not have expertise. Our project is very complex and ambitious. We appreciate the E-team helping us navigate this new aspect to our work. Our team lost a member on September 1st which has created more challenges to navigate. With the help of HR a search is on, and we hope a great person can be recruited soon.
SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q4 FFY21 VS Q4 FFY22]
- New VR Applications [288 vs 314]
- VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [947 vs 1,068]
- Students with a Disability served [367 vs 368]
- Competitive Employment Outcomes [15 vs 28] Year to date [55 vs 87]
- Average Hourly Wage FFY22 Q4 [$22.31 vs $29.17] [Year-to-date $23.39 vs $27.04]
Successful placements made this quarter:
|Job Title||Employer||Region / County|
|Mental Health Counselors||Therapeutic Health Services||North / King|
|Managers, All Other||T-Mobile||North / King|
|Production Workers, All Other||Spokane Transit Authority||East / Spokane|
|Sales Representatives, Services, All Other||Walmart||East / Spokane|
|Helpers - Production Workers||PeaceHealth||South / Clark|
|Accountants and Auditors||DeafStone Services||North / King|
|Sound Engineering Technicians||Self-Employed||North / King|
|Medical Records Specialists||PeaceHealth||South / Whatcom|
|Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other||Cedar River Clinics||East / Yakima|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||Columbia Pediatric Therapy||South / Clark|
|Stock Clerks and Order Fillers||PeaceHealth||South / Cowlitz|
|Legal Support Workers, All Other||Attorney General||North / Whatcom|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||Microsoft||North / Snohomish|
|Lawyers||University of Washington||North / King|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||Olympia School District||South / Thurston|
|Public Relations Specialists||Prokarma||North / King|
|Teaching Assistants, All Other||Washington State School for the Blind||South / Clark|
|Medical Records Specialists||Health First||North / Skagit|
|Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors and Processing Machine Operators||United States Postal Service||South / Clark|
|Personal Care Aides||Washington Department of Social and Health Services||North / Snohomish|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||Washington State University||South / Clark|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||Self-Employed||East / Spokane|
|Etchers and Engravers||Self-Employed||South / Jefferson|
|Customer Service Representatives||Internal Revenue Service||North / King|
|Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners||Self-Employed||South / Clark|
Average hourly wage all employment outcomes at Q4: $27.04
- Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 39%
- Eldest with employment outcome:
Age 67 – Medical Records Specialist
- Youngest with employment outcome:
Age 21 – Helpers, Production Workers
DSB/WSSB PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES AND YOUTH SERVICES ACTIVITIES
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, NATIONAL CONVENTION: NEW ORLEANS, LA
The Youth Services team was excited to take our first group of youth and parents to a national consumer convention. From July 4th through July 11th, 2022, our YSS team plus nine youth and five parents joined together to travel to the National Federation of the Blind convention in New Orleans, LA. This was a great opportunity for our youth and families to gain insight to what our consumer groups can offer youth and families at the various points of the life continuum. Our youth were able to participate in valuable workshops focused on employment, post-secondary education and training, advocacy and self-reliance, health and wellness and many other vital sessions that improved knowledge and skills for our youth. The parents also benefited from an agenda that supported parents in accessing resources, learning about important topics that affect families and making connections with other families to strengthen foundations of support. It was great for our youth and families to also attend the youth employment workshops and employment panels to gain more understanding of the opportunities available to our youth to join the job market. Our youth and their families took much away from attending a conference dedicated entirely to the advancement of the Blind, ran by people who are Blind.
We look forward to our next consumer convention, hosted by the ACB, in Illinois in the summer of 2023. It is our intent to alternate attending consumer conventions every other year to help youth and families get an opportunity to see what both organizations have to offer.
Seven students participated in this summer’s virtual LEAP program. LEAP is a program that focuses career exploration and career readiness skills for transition age youth who are not quite ready for residential programs such as YES 1 and YES 2. For this year’s LEAP program, students were mailed job kits that we put together in class. They were able to organize and put together items for first responders and hygiene kits for the homeless and were tasked with bringing these kits to appropriate organizations in their own communities. Students also worked on their resumes and learned the components of the resume.
TACOMA CLIMBING EVENT WITH OUTDOORS FOR ALL
12 students participated in the climbing event at Edgeworks Climbing Gym. This event was put together in partnership with Outdoors for All. Students learned the basics of climbing including how to climb safely, and the correct terminology in working with your climbing partners before getting to climb on the rock walls. Many students were new climbers, and the event was a huge success. Students participated in a recreational activity, asked for assistance if they needed, and practiced working together with their peers and the instructors.
WHITE CANE DAY: CANE QUEST, RICHLAND, WA
Cane Quest was held at Leona Libby Middle School on October 15th. This was the first annual event directed by one of the school’s teachers.
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
Youth Services had two participants: one in the Explorers and one in the Trail Blazers. 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 and mobility skills and proper sighted guide techniques, within the boundaries of a school or agency.
GOOD VIBES FRIDAYS (VIRTUAL)
Good Vibe Fridays monthly sessions continued this quarter. Good Vibe Fridays are a virtual group that all students are invited to participate in. The group topics center around self-advocacy themes and are led by DSB mentors, who are students that have participated in DSB programming and are typically students whose vocational goal is to be a teacher or work in human services. The topics include things like mental health and disability awareness. Typically, we have about ten students participate.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY
Nisha Rohila’s Persistent Success
Most people would say that in order to get ahead in life, one needs to achieve a level of success. One might even say that true success is when one is satisfied with how things are going in life and strives to keep that comfortable way of living. Success doesn’t come easy, and one has to truly work to achieve it. Nisha Rohila knows first-hand that nothing in life is easy, and her current success comes with trials and tribulations; yet, she is a go-getter, of the mindset that persistence and the desire to overcome will always overpower any negative obstacles.
Born in India, Nisha came to the US with her family at age seven. The family made their home in Olympia, where Nisha has lived ever since. She and her brother prepared to make the move to America by going to private schools in India where English was spoken. Nisha and her brother had no problems assimilating to the United States, becoming Americanized while continuing to keep some of their Indian culture alive.
After finishing high school, Nisha began her college career by attending Community College and ultimately obtaining an Urban Planning degree from the University of Washington in 2004. Nisha’s degree opened doors for her to get jobs in the Development Field. When asked about what an Urban Developer does, Nisha said the following.
“An Urban Developer reviews projects to make sure that they fall within rules and regulations regarding buildings and structures and where they can actually be built. There are other aspects to development, including examining infrastructures, taking care of permits, or looking at the actual ground before building anything.”
When asked what drew her to this field, Nisha said she thought it would be interesting to be a part of the development process. She also figured it was a stable career because there would always be a need for developers. Nisha enjoys this kind of work, loving the challenge. She considered herself successful. Aside from some life trials, she had the life she wanted.
A little over three years ago, Nisha was involved in a car accident where her car was totaled. She had not been aware of any vision problems yet but now wonders if they might have had something to do with that accident. Shortly after her car wreck, Nisha had an already scheduled eye doctor’s appointment where she was told that there were changes since the last time she was there. More tests were done, and she was ultimately sent to a specialist in Seattle, where she was told that everything was fine. Even though Nisha was not sure what was going on, she continued with her normal life until two years later when she went back to her eye doctor, who sent her back to the Seattle Specialist, where several visits led to detailed tests, determining that she had some optical nerve damage. Nisha was shocked, because she could still see and hadn’t really noticed much change until things began being pointed out to her.
“Nothing changed until I realized there was something wrong with my eyes and realized I wasn’t going to be driving anymore,” recalled Nisha. For some of that time, she hadn’t been working, and she really had no need to drive or read anything detailed, the way she would for work. “Once I was told something was up, I began testing my eyes on things and in different ways. Reality hit me when I tried reading something, just regular papers, and I couldn’t do it as easily as before.”
Her vision was still useable, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized it was changing and getting worse.
Once reality hit, Nisha was scared and not sure what to do. She had to deal with a few things that were somewhat depressing. Not being able to drive hit her hard! It is probably what she still misses the most today.
Another thing she wondered about was how she’d be able to get dressed up and fix herself up to look nice for events. Nisha loves to look her best. How would this change with vision loss?
She tried being proactive. She did research and learned about how beneficial blueberries were to the eyes. She began eating them every morning, pretty much without fail. She did something similar with organic carrot juice, becoming a big expense after a while.
Another big factor Nisha had to deal with was employment. What would she do if she couldn’t really see the computer screen well? How would she work and read everything she needed for any development job? These questions led Nisha and her family to do more research, leading her to DSB and the OTC. Nisha was excited about new opportunities.
Nisha’s time at the OTC was eye-opening, both wonderful and quite challenging. She finally began getting questions answered through taking the computer class with Miranda McPherson. She loved learning to use ZoomText, which allowed her to regain some self-confidence. She also enjoyed learning strategies for how to both learn alternative skills of blindness while still using her remaining vision when possible. Classes like Braille and Home Ec were interesting, while Orientation and Mobility was more challenging. Nisha always put forth her best effort for everything she did.
Aside from the Computer class, Nisha’s favorite class was Careers. There, she was able to apply her newly learned skills, along with everything else she knew, in a great way. She applied for several different jobs and had several interviews. As she continued applying for jobs, she modified her resume and worked on several cover letters.
“Donna and Kim were wonderful about working with me and helping me polish my skills,” she recalled.
There were times Nisha was uncertain when it came to the interviews. She recalled always wondering about when to disclose the fact that she had vision loss. She continued forging ahead. Her persistence paid off! She applied for a particular job that sounded very interesting to her, went to what she thought was a great interview, and was offered the job!
Nisha had to deal with disclosing her visual impairment. She practiced what she’d say in advance. She explained to her new boss that DSB could help with anything related to Assistive Technology. Nisha’s boss seemed to be receptive to working with her, so plans continued. It was a dream come true for her. Nisha finished her classes at the OTC so she could take the job. She shared her triumph with the OTC staff who worked with her tirelessly in order for her to succeed!
Nisha had no idea that once she left the OTC, she would face her biggest challenge while at her new job. Now, more than ever, Nisha had to learn to incorporate her newly learned skills in her job. She quickly learned that her job wouldn’t be smooth sailing for her. She learned that people wouldn’t understand her visual impairment. She began wondering if she was doing her work at a slower pace than others, and if so, why? She began asking if there were quicker ways of using the software and learning more skills to be as efficient as everyone else. How could she explain things better to her boss, and what could DSB do to help her? There was an even bigger question on Nisha’s mind. “Will I be able to stay at this job, or will I be let go?”
Throughout these tough times, Nisha is thrilled to count with the support of her family, especially her mother. Her mom has walked with Nisha since the beginning of her vision loss journey, encouraging and helping in whatever way possible. “I can’t say enough great things about my mother, and I don’t know how I would have made it this far without her.”
When talking about success with Nisha, she honestly said she wasn’t sure if she would consider her current situation successful. She is working beyond hard to overcome her current obstacles, mainly dealing with how her vision loss affects her at work. Nonetheless, Nisha remains persistent, since she is not the type of person to give up on something she wants. She knows it is important to fight for what one wants, and if circumstances are bad, fight and work hard until something better comes along. The following quote demonstrates her winning and persistent mindset.
“I am going to continue to work as hard as I can, giving my job over 110%. It will be my boss who will ultimately decide whether I stay or go!”
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
The OTC is functioning better than ever. OTC staff are attending different training events (virtual or in person) to help students with the Careers Class. Kim Massey continues to learn about using LinkedIn and is preparing to teach a class on it in 2023. Recently, he taught a Dependable Strengths class to some students during the recent Intensive Workshop week.
Alice Klein recently returned from a training in North Carolina sponsored by the Association Of Vision Therapists.
Ron Jasmer continues with his leadership meetings and training events, as he always wants to be the best possible manager for the OTC.
On September 15th, OTC students prepared for and attended the “Hire Our Heroes” job fair at JBLM. They were encouraged to network and ask questions of potential employers. Many came back with business cards and possible contacts for when they finish their training.
In October, a few OTC students attended a series of two webinars entitled “Fearless Interviewing”, sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind’s Employment Committee. Students were able to brush up on their interviewing skills and learn new strategies.
On the last weekend of October and the first weekend in November, OTC students attended both conventions of the Blind Consumer groups. One of the conventions specifically had a four hour seminar for blind job seekers, which the students were asked to attend.
The OTC is bringing back the Student Internship program, which will most likely have a name change. 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. Alice and Jim have begun talking with people who seem eager to have our students do some things in their establishments. In fact, one of our students has started getting some work experience at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. We are all very excited about what this work experience program can bring.
REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS
- A success story from Reginald George (AT Specialist) and Karla Jessen (VRC) in the Yakima office:
Participant TB has held an unwavering focus on improving her job readiness skills. She created her own job, from a grant with the Do It program by University of Washington, that promoted the hiring of people with disabilities in the Yakima area. She created her own presentation, and carried out three of them, bringing people along from the DSB staff to add credibility. These presentations were very well received.
- Steffi Coleman ROMER for the Yakima office received the following from a participant:
“Thank you for being a really awesome O and M instructor! I’ve informed my counselor to officially close my case. All these years I remember when you and my previous counselor would visit my home and talk about moving forward with life. At that time, all I had was fear and anxiety towards the idea of being independent and moving away from my dad. Without your O and M guidance, Central Washington University would have been more challenging. You taught me the skills to go to my favorite gym when I lived in the Tri-Cities, which really gave me a confidence boost to this day. Incredibly grateful for your patience and supporting my independence in O and M. Although not fully an independent cane traveler due to my hearing loss, I still have enough to work and enjoy the gym when I have time.”
- DG has degenerative myopathy and has several blind spots in both eyes, and she also has tinnitus and vertigo. Within one of the blind spots in her right eye, she sees a silver, strobing light which is particularly disorienting. If she reads for more than a few minutes, she has to rest for several hours or she will experience a visual migraine that will be incapacitating. Due to the limited time she can read before a migraine begins a screen magnifier is not an option for DG.
Next option to try was a screen reader. Unfortunately, DG gets auditory migraines too. She can’t talk on the phone or be in a busy conversation area for very long before an auditory migraine begins to develop. How did we help DG? We put a braille device in her hand and let her feel how she could access the computer using touch. Tears came to her eyes. Unbeknownst to us, DG had been learning to read braille on her own. She had completed uncontracted braille and was starting on contracted braille. “I had no idea there were devices out there like this. This gives me hope I can actually work again”.
DG has held many positions in administrative roles in a wide variety of areas, including higher education and insurance to name a few. DG is continuing to further her braille education and is now reading Harry Potter in braille to her kids at night before bed.
- Jonathan Whitby, VRC in Tacoma, shared a successful participant employment story. AD was a return participant to DSB who is now employed at DeafStone Services in Pittsburgh, PA (a non-profit organization) as Director of DeafBlind Services. He joined DeafStone initially as their SSP Coordinator but received a promotion and a raise. He reports that he is really happy with the job and with living in Pittsburgh, which he describes as “the Seattle of the East, but much more affordable.” He is enjoying the local DeafBlind community, as well as being closer to his family in New York.
His employer reports being really pleased with his work and appreciative of DSB’s assistance. She noted that the computer DSB provided to AD, with the specifications to run ZoomText, has more robust specifications than the computers they usually purchase for their staff, and that their technology budget is limited as a newly formed nonprofit agency, so without DSB’s assistance it would have been a challenge for them to properly accommodate AD. She also said she will be contacting us to let us know of future job openings and hopes we will have more job seekers like AD to send their way.
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
- Beth Sutton, PS3/Romer in Tacoma, met with the City of Tacoma’s Public Works manager, Leigh Starr for the traffic signals team and Gail Himes, the ADA coordinator. They invited Beth to the meeting to learn more about how people who are blind or visually impaired cross signalized streets; and what kind of signalized timings are helpful or add risk to pedestrians with visual impairment. They are creating a policy on how traffic and pedestrian signals are timed, how to prioritize talking (audible) pedestrian signal installations, and other signal accessibility issues. Beth was happy provide this input to the City of Tacoma to help increase accessibility in the crossing designs. She also recommended they reach out to the local advocacy group and to the Lighthouse O&M instructors (who have much more deaf-blind experience).
- Kirsti Akers, VRC in Vancouver, met with new program specialist for adults at Northwest Association of Blind Athletes (NWABA) to discuss partnerships and programs they provide as well as DSB services. They brainstormed ideas about how to provide warm hand offs, support DSB participants and get them into services they need. Future NWABA events were shared as well!
- Ardell Burns, VRC in Vancouver, assisted the Disability Navigator for Vancouver WorkSource with outreach to WSSB and the School for the Deaf.
The following reported activities are all from Ardell Burns, VRC in Vancouver.
- Met with WorkSource Local Business Services managers to partner and introduce DSB services. Requested their assistance for employer needs for inclusive hiring training for IDEA training events.
- Reached out and met twice with members of the HR department at IQ Credit Union in Vancouver to discuss IQ Credit Union hosting DSB paid internships for participants. Provided DSB’s paid internship summary and internship forms to review with IQ executive team.
- Met with WorkSource Vancouver Disability Navigator and Veterans Rep to discuss Community Partners Workgroup Vision & Purpose. How to continue the previous Southwest Washington WDC Barriers Access Solutions Committee and move forward.
- Ongoing work with Interstate Disability Employment Alliance (IDEA) which is a collaboration of Washington and Oregon workforce partners committed to supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace.
- IDEA employer event planning: Finalizing Planning for employer virtual inclusive hiring event for October 19, 2022. Theme: “Resources for Inclusive Hiring.” Finalized flyer and event registration sent to employers.
- IDEA planning meeting for virtual employer event on October 19th. Planned agenda for event and each VR agency reps role in event. Finalized handouts for event.
- IDEA Employer Outreach Event. Theme: “Resources for Inclusionary Hiring”. 70 employers signed up to attend including the Workforce Board of SW Washington, WSI Marketing, CWP, WorkSource OR and WorkSource SW WA; a representative from NW ADA presented. VR agencies also attended (General, Blind, VA and Tribal). The whole event ended with a Q&A, where employers could ask questions..
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.
Publication on break while Youth Services selects new reporters.
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.
- Online and social media promotion of 5 events.
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.
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 calendar development for months’ postings.
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
Promotion of 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.
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.
- VRTAC-QM assigned reading – The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner
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||6,177||+982|
|New Users||Individuals visiting the site for the first time||5,952
|Sessions||Number of times a user is active engaged with the website.||8,047||+874|
|Page Views||Number of pages looked at||18,580||+1,360|
How people found the website:
|Organic Search||Used Google, Bing, or another search engine to find the site.||3,396||53.74%||+223|
|Direct||Typed in the URL.||2,487||39.39%||+720|
|Referral||Clicked a link on a different website.||236||3.74%||-55|
|Social||Clicked on a link from a social media platform.||197||3.12%||+119|
|Clicked on a link embedded in an email message.||1||.02%||+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||486||+10|
|Total Reach||The number of people who had any content from or
about the page enter their screen through unpaid
Top Five Facebook Posts
|GCDE Governor’s Awards – Nominate an inclusive employer today.||July 19||229|
|We’re Hiring! – Fiscal Analyst 2||July 21||181|
|We’re Hiring –BEP Program Analyst||August 17||158|
|Governor’s Award 30th Anniversary –Nominate leaders in inclusive hiring||August 25||89|
|Digital Equity Survey||July 25||79|
|Total Followers||Number of people that follows the account||265||+29|
|Unique Impressions||The number of people/pages that follow the page||747||+212|
Calculated as: (Clicks + Likes + Comments + Shares + Follows) / Impressions
Top Five LinkedIn Posts - Organic
|Agency Awards||September 22||138|
|Contract Specialist 2||August 15||88|
|Governor Employer Award||August 19||85|
|Fiscal Analyst 2||July 19||69|
|Working Families Tax Credit||August 8||66|
Sponsored LinkedIn Posts
|CFO Position Announcement||September 19||30,290|
- Communications Directors Meetings – ongoing, bi-weekly
- State Agency Social Media Collaborative – ongoing, monthly
- July 5-August 4 – YES 2 Intern
- July 25-26 – IPMA Accessibility Matters Conference
- July 27 – PRSA Boost Your Newswriting
Federal Fiscal Year Q4 2022, through September 30, 2022
2022 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|General Fund - State||$ 4,318||$ -124||$ 4,442|
|General Fund - Federal||$ 12,958||$ 5,238||$ 7,720|
|Donations||$ 60||$ 42||$ 18|
|BEP Remodel||$ 1,652||$ 110||$ 1,542|
|BEP Operations||$ 1,260||$ 149||$ 1,111|
|Statewide Tech Pool||$ 246||$ 6||$ 240|
|Total||$ 20,494||$ 5,421||$ 15,073|
2023 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|SFY 20 & SFY 21
|2021 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.8 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 12,026||$ 101||$ 8,202||$ 3,501||$ 222|
|2022 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 10,472||$ 0||$ 3||$ 1,648||$ 8,821|
|2021 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 4||$ 8||$ 0||$ 34|
|2022 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 0||$ 4||$ 0||$ 42|
|2021 IL Older Blind||$ 677||$ 0||$ 677||$ 0||$ 0|
|2022 IL Older Blind||$ 677||$ 0||$ 0||$ 59||$ 618|
|Total||$ 23,944||$ 105||$ 8,894||$ 5,208||$ 9,737|
2022 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|Voc. Rehab Services Adults||$ 3,558||$ -213||$ 0||$ 3,345|
|Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS||$ 1,591||$ 0||$ 0||$ 1,591|
|Supported Employment||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0|
|Independent Living Part B||$ 0||$ 19||$ 0||$ 19|
|IL Older Blind||$ 59||$ 75||$ 0||$ 134|
|Birth through 13
(Not Grant Funded)
|$ 0||$ 0||$ 9||$ 9|
|Social Security||$ 0||$ 0||$ 31||$ 31|
|Business Enterprise Program||$ 0||$ 109||$ 150||$ 259|
|Total||$ 5,208||$ -10||$ 190||$ 5,388|
SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVCIES SET ASIDE
EXPENDITURES THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 (IN THOUSANDS)
|$ 12,026||$ 1,804||$ 1,591||$ 213|
|$ 10,147||$ 1,571||$ 0||$ 1,571|
- DSB requested and received an additional $925,000 in Federal re-allotment funds for FFY 2022.
- DSB submitted and was approved for a Maintenance of Effort (MOE) waiver request for FFY 2020 in the amount of $782,000. DSB will submit another MOE waiver request for FFY 2021 in the amount of $133,000.
- DSB’s spend strategies in FFY 2022 allowed the agency to carry over approximately $8.8 million of the FFY 2022 VR Grant into FFY 2023.
HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Don Davis||Reader / Driver||VR||Yakima||10/10/22|
|Status||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Recruiting||Program Specialist 3 (previously was Contract Specialist 2)||BEP||Lacey||Open until filled|
|Recruiting||Senior Financial Officer (SFO)||Fiscal||Lacey||Open until filled|
|Recruiting||Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4||VR||Seattle||Open until filled|
RETIREMENTS/END OF SERVICE
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Sharon Koch||AT Specialist||VR||Spokane||09/30/22|
End of Service
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Gary Lease||Reader / Driver||VR||Yakima||09/20/22|
|Monirul Hawke||VRC 4||VR||Seattle||10/20/22|