Quarterly Report, FFY2021, 2nd Quarter
January 2021 - March 2021
Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
June 11, 2021
- 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
CLIENT SERVICE SNAPSHOT –YOUNGER BLIND (YB) AND OLDER BLIND (OB) CLIENTS
OCT 2019- MARCH 2020
|Trend||Younger Blind||Older Blind||Total Clients|
|All clients||34 (9%)||363 (91%)||397|
|Clients under age 24||0%||Not applicable||0|
|Clients over age 100||Not applicable||2%||6|
|Clients who identify as a minority||30%||12%||55|
|Most common annual income||$0K - $15K||$15K - $30K|
all clients 60 years old or younger
|Less than 1%||Less than 1%||5|
|Clients who live alone||33%||52%||185|
|Clients who have disabilities in
addition to vision loss
|Cost per case average||$600||$650||$650|
|Clients who feel more independent
and more confident to maintain
their current living situation
Counties without clients served: Ferry, Garfield, Island, Kittitas, San Juan, and Wahkiakum
Three most popular Assistive Technology categories of devices provided:
- Handheld magnifiers
- Address books
- Writing guides
OLDER BLIND SUCCESS STORY
Janine is a 97-year-old woman with vision loss due to glaucoma, combined with age-related hearing loss. Janine began services during the pandemic before services were being provided in-person. Based on feedback from a low vision assessment conducted remotely, her provider determined that she could benefit from a set of four lighted handheld magnifiers, each at a different strength. She received the set and began using them prior to meeting with her provider in-person. This allowed her ample time to try out the different strengths to see what would really work best for her. She eventually determined that a 2.5X was close, but not quite right. So, when services began in-person a month later, Janine tried out and was provided with a 3X lighted, handheld magnifier which she said was just right. Janine said she was so very happy with the new magnifier and found she was able to read whatever she wanted!
The Willows is an independent living apartment community. One of the residents who has received ILOB services in the past and has attended the Bellingham Low Vision Support Group decided to start a group at The Willows. She found that there were many people in the complex who had low vision. Mimi Freshly of Tri County Services in Bellingham was invited to attend their second meeting to share about the ILOB program. Some of the attendees had already received services but most had not. Mimi discussed what services are provided and areas of daily living that individuals often struggle with. The attendees particularly wanted information about WTBBL so a demonstration with one of the machines was provided. Mimi also brought additional aids and appliances to demonstrate. The attendees were very engaged and asked many questions. About nine people attended and four of them requested services. Brochures and cards were left for residents who were not able to attend.
“I needed a magnifying lens due to macular degeneration and glaucoma. Louise [at the Lilac Services for the Blind] provided several items helping me to make the best choices so I could read printed material. She was very helpful. She provided colored measuring cups which are very helpful to me. Louise is knowledgeable, patient, and very encouraging, She gave me alternative choices to find the best fit. I would absolutely recommend this program."
“The Speaking Clock is great because I can't see my clock at night. I needed a stronger magnifier than last time and the new one keeps me reading large print books. I have recommended this program to others already!”
“Lynne [at the Lighthouse] was the mobility person I worked with. We did three walks from my home to various places I frequent. She was very helpful in pointing out ways I can use my cane more effectively. She suggested alternatives to avoid dangerous situations. Her kind and helpful personality were much appreciated!”
“The services Rafael provided were very good and he was easy to work with. He knew the material and comprehended very quickly what my needs were. He was able to clearly explain to me the features on my phone. He took time to demo and let me repeat the task as many times as I needed to practice. He was a joy to work with and very, very good! I would be glad to work with him again. I can only say good things: it was very positive!”
BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP)
As reported at previous meetings, BEP continues to manage the program at a minimal pace due to Stay at Home orders and changes to Phases that impact our communities. We have been able to keep six operations open with reduced services while still planning to open more as Phases allow.
The impact to BEP goes without saying, it has been huge. The financial losses for the owners are at a level unimaginable. The revenue from the vending program has decreased by over 50% which causes great concern for how BEP will be able to fund needed equipment repairs and other expenses in the days ahead. We also continue to be very concerned about what the future may hold, what business will be like in near vacant buildings and whether the program can withstand the lost revenues as well.
The BEP team has carried on providing support remotely and in the field for those who are open. Our time is spent on holding business coaching sessions and assisting vendors with grants. Half of our vendors have qualified for either a PPP grant or the recent State Dept. of Commerce grants.
To keep spirits up, BEP is maintaining bi-weekly Zoom calls with vendors to create a place for them to ask questions, share concerns, and uplift one another as a group. We also use the platform to discuss what our future program might be or could be. Additionally, BEP has used it to develop a plan for RSA in regard to a small level of funding approved by Congress for the program. Our state qualified for $192,000.
In January, our long awaited service area remodel at L & I began and is keeping us active weekly by onsite construction management. It’s been quite some time since BEP has had one of these so it’s very exciting.
Lastly, this is still a very challenging time for BEP and stressful for all of us. Yet we remain optimistic that a return will happen, and the program can thrive again. The resilience of our operators is amazing, and they are bonding together for the long haul. As we have said before, the BEP legacy depends on us re-inventing ourselves a day at a time and strengthening our desire to succeed.
TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE
We still are unable to host training onsite, but our one student stayed engaged with Hadley courses online and completed them as planned in mid-March. We are very proud of this accomplishment and look forward to getting him into a site to train ASAP. BEP’s other candidate is waiting to begin classes, however they are making plans to help us open a facility in Seattle in late May under a management contract. We also continue to use the local SBA offices for assistance as part of our development processes. They have proved to be a great partner for existing vendors and new ones.
Austin Diaz-Munoz, our Contracts Specialist, is stepping into his role very nicely and helping assess some of our compliance documentation as well as streamline paperwork. He is also engaging with each vendor on how to develop simple and usable fiscal tracking for themselves.
Elvis is back from family leave and has hit the ground running with projects all around and catching up on field work at facilities. His expertise and assistance is very welcomed.
Jim continues to wear many hats day to day while striving to find creative ways to keep everything moving forward.
SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q2 FFY21 VS Q2 FFY20]
- New VR Applications [144 vs 152]
- VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [816 vs 659]
- VR Customers Added to Wait List [0 vs 67]
- VR Customers Released from Wait List [0 vs 23] (All categories opened 5/5/20)
- Students with a Disability served [338 vs 343]
- Competitive Employment Outcomes [17 vs 19]
- Average Hourly Wage FFY20 Q1 [$26.82 vs $30.89]
Successful placements made this quarter:
|Job Title||Employer||County / Region|
|Computer Networks Support Specialists||Knowbility||Thurston / South|
|Engineers, All Others||Amazon||King / North|
|Operations Research Analysts||University of Washington||Snohomish / North|
|Software Developers||JP Chase & Associates||Yakima / East|
|Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration
Mechanics and Installers
|AAA Heating and Air||Pierce / South|
|Packaging and Filling Machine Operators
|Lamb-Weston||Franklin / East|
|Education Administrators, All Other||Sound Generations||King / North|
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and
|Yakima School District||Yakima / East|
|Adult Basic and Secondary Education and
Literacy Teachers and Instructors
|English One Teaching Services, Inc.||Whatcom / North|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Except Legal, Medical, and Executive
|Petra Heating & Air Conditioning||Cowlitz / South|
|Customer Service Representatives||Social Security Administration (SSA)||Spokane / East|
|Audio and Video Equipment Technicians||Charisma Christian Center||Snohomish / North|
|Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material
|Avamere at Englewood Heights||Yakima / East|
|Customer Service Representatives||AM / PM Markets||Clark / South|
|History Teachers, Postsecondary||Old Sturbridge Village||Spokane / East|
Average hourly wage all employment outcomes at Q2: $26.82
- Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 21%
- Eldest with employment outcome: Age 67 – Computer Networks Support Specialists
- Youngest with employment outcome: Age 22 – Engineer
SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES SET ASIDE
|Federal Grant||Grant Amount||Pre-ETS Set Aside||Pre- ETS Spent Dollars||Unspent Balance|
|$ 9,388,988||$ 1,408,348||$ 335,875||$ 1,072,473|
|$ 9,626,129||$ 1,443,919||$ 0||$ 1,443,919|
DSB/WSSB PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES AND YOUTH SERVICES ACTIVITIES
BLIND AND SOCIALLY SAVVY
Blind and Socially Savvy (BSS) is a 12-week seminar that runs January through June 2021. Sessions are held twice a month where participants focus on work readiness skills and self-advocacy with employers and sighted peers. Sessions are facilitated by staff from the International School of Protocol and Blind Savvy USA. The youth invited to participate are 16 to 21 years old, and students who complete the program will have the opportunity to apply for paid internships. This quarter, there have been nine students consistently attending out of fifteen who registered.
January’s topic was Communication, and students covered a number of important areas that included making a good first impression, how to remember someone’s name, and active listening skills. At the end of each session participants were asked to share one thing they learned from that day’s session and one thing they plan to work on over the next month.
February’s topic addressed Manners and Communication while in public places, which prepared the students for a docent-led, highly-descriptive virtual tour of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Some of the areas that students discussed in their sessions included making conversation with strangers, appropriate attire for the activity, and requesting accessibility assistance prior to a meeting or event. Students were encouraged to ask questions and use their active listening skills during the virtual museum tour, and at small group discussions afterwards.
The topic addressed at BSS for March was Networking. Students spent their first session learning things such as different strategies they could use as blind and low vision people to converse with others at a social event, and how to move in and out of breakout rooms at will. Participants then had the opportunity to network with other students invited to the second session. These visitors were in their first or second year of college, and most were Blind and Socially Savvy graduates from other states.
ZOOMING IN ON ART
This program is a four-part workshop focused on self-expression through art, and career exposure to the creative arts with activities that promote self-advocacy and confidence in presentation skills. This workshop meets once a month January through April, and participants are youth aged 9 to 13 years old.
During the January session of Zooming in on Art, youth were asked to bring a piece of art, either written or audio, that had special meaning for them to share with the group. They described their art piece and told the group why they chose that art piece.
At February’s seminar, students recorded a soundscape consisting of three sounds, which they associated with their life at home since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Skills were developed in active listening, self-advocacy and reflection, and technology. Students shared the audio files of their sounds with the Youth Services staff, and after playing each student’s soundscape, the students in the class had to identify the sounds.
March’s assignment focused on Writing a Haiku poem, with instructions and examples of Haiku poems given to the students. Students also had the opportunity to get creative by rewriting the lines of a Haiku poem that had a few too many syllables in each line. Problem solving was encouraged to self-advocate for accessibility regarding font size and/or to problem solve another preferred method.
PARTNERS IN CAREERS
Partners in Careers staff continued to provide weekly work readiness soft skills training for selected WSSB students. Topics covered this quarter included:
- Networking Bingo
- Preparing for an interview by researching the company and using the STAR method (Situation-Task-Action-Response) to answer interview questions, creating a list of top strengths, skills and experiences related to a job description example
- Problem solving for unexpected issues during a virtual interview such as technology problems, pets, interruptions from family members, etc.
- Practicing for and participating in mock interviews
- Practice applications
- Workplace communication
- First job information – understanding your paycheck, breaks and taxes
- A presentation by a Clark Community College Admissions Recruiter
A special after school virtual session was held to review resumes that participants had created during the winter break. A job shadow virtual session was also held with an emergency room social worker with experience working in psychiatric hospitals.
Two students participated in virtual internships this quarter. One student worked with Vancouver’s local public transportation system C-Tran and the other with Gravitate Web Design.
MELISSA SMALL AND ASSOCIATES
Melissa has been working virtually during the 2020-21 school year with 12 WSSB students who have additional disabilities. Students in the group work on soft skills including self-advocacy, workplace communication, work habits, problems solving, resume development, completing interest and aptitude inventories, work assessments and career exploration.
Melissa has developed several task kits that have been utilized to teach transferrable job skills, assess interests, and to explore corresponding associated careers. Discussion is held around potential careers where these tasks could be utilized and brainstorming as a group about jobs/tasks that can be done virtually. Several of the students created toiletry kits that were then donated to the Community and Family Services Agency that serves foster children. The Community and Family Services Agency was extremely appreciative of the donated kits and promoted the experience on social media.
DSB Youth Services hired two students to work with our team on coordinating and editing a quarterly E-newsletter for transition age students with visual impairments. The hiring process was competitive and in total eight students applied by sending their resume and cover letter to Youth services staff. All eight applicants had the opportunity to interview for the position and ultimately, after two rounds of interviews, two students were hired. Students that were not offered the job were offered constructive feedback on how to Improve their interview skills and how to put together stronger application materials.
Student interns and YSS staff had to put a brief pause on the project but are resuming in May. The youth-led Newsletter will feature interviews with BVI professionals, advertising for upcoming youth services workshops and programs. The newsletter will showcase the great accomplishments of students in our programs. Stay tuned for the first Newsletter to be posted in June or early July.
STEP UP TO THE PLATE
Sixteen DSB Youth Services students worked with a dietician to coordinate a four-part virtual workshop series focused on nutritional wellness and career occupations in the wide field of health and wellness. Topics like sugar, salt, and fat taught students how to make healthy and more balanced food choices in their daily lives. Students learned about nutrition labels including how to read them and what tools they can use to access them.
Youth Services compiled and mailed workshop supply kits in between sessions. Using their kits, students were encouraged to complete interactive activities between sessions such as making healthy energy oat balls, making their own no-salt taco seasoning from scratch, or playing wellness bingo. Students that completed the activities were entered into a prize drawing and prizes included adaptive kitchen tools, personal blenders, etc.
WASHINGTON YOUTH SOCIAL CLUB (WYSC)
WYSC is a new collaboration with community partners to provide a space for youth ages 12-21 to gather virtually. WYSC is a youth led club. On the third Sunday of each month, youth get together to practice on active listening, taking turns, social skills appropriate to the work place, diversity respect, networking, and mentoring. Usually there are between eight and ten youth participating.
GOOD VIBE CLUB
Similar to WYSC above, Good Vibe Friday is a virtual connection for teens. Youth and YSS meet on zoom the second Friday of the month. Topics include Disability pride, advocacy, isolation and pandemic issues, active listening and interpersonal skills. Attendance varies each month from 10-12 participants.
VIRTUAL INTERNSHIP PROGRAM JOB CLASS
During this reporting quarter, Youth Services have been planning for the new Virtual Internship Program (VIP). Initially the team developed this remote format to replace 2021’s YES 2 program, but it became apparent this was a valuable work option for many students. YS plans to keep VIP in addition to YES 2 in 2022.
VIP is a progressive three-part program. Part one focuses on workplace readiness skills such as mock interviewing, on the job communications, cover letter, resumes and applications etc. Part two is the Work Based Learning Experience (WBLE) portion where participants engage in on-the-job work experience. Part three is concurrent with the WBLE. While youth are working in paid internships, they also meet on Fridays to share their wins, challenges, overwhelms and brainstorm ways to help each other out. More on the VIP success next quarter!
4SHOWI AKA INC (4STATES HANG OUT WITH INTENTION, AKA INTERSTATE NETWORK COLLABORATIVE)
This interstate collaborative between New Jersey, Idaho, Vermont, and Washington takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month. Four to five youth for each of the four states, who are either in their first or second year of college or who plan to attend college, get together to talk about the social aspects of the workplace.
Three YSS staff collaborated with three Idaho Commission for the Blind staff to develop an accessibility presentation for virtual meetings, “Creating Reliable Universal Structure for Human Interaction and Technology”, or CRUSH-IT. Our initial intention was to educate the many facilitators of webinars who claimed to be accessible to all, including blind and deaf-blind. But in reality, the accessibility offered did not work. Little did we realize just how in demand this information would become. In March, CRUSH-IT panel presented to AER Washington. News spread and we have been invited to present at the next Community of Practice meeting and, later this summer, at North Idaho College’s disability awareness day.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY
OTC Spotlight on Chelsea Armstrong
Life definitely comes with its ups and downs, but having a positive perspective, complete with a smile, helps get through anything! Chelsea Armstrong is a firm believer in this and tries to live by it as best as she can.
Chelsea has dealt with blindness from an incredibly young age. By age two, her parents realized there was something wrong with her eyes, and after some tests, she was diagnosed with having a brain tumor. Her parents asked for a couple of opinions, and for two years, she went through vigorous chemotherapy, which was supposed to stop the growth of the tumor. The results were not what everyone hoped for, and there was even doubt regarding whether she would make it to her eighth birthday. Chelsea and her family had a strong faith in God and a general positive outlook, and things began to change, starting with the fact that her tumor shrunk 65%. “God had other plans for my life, and I went way beyond my eighth birthday!” Since then, she has been blind with only a small amount of vision, mainly used to see shadows, shapes and the location of objects.
Chelsea considers herself extremely fortunate to have grown up with a close, loving, and supportive family. Her father was in the navy, but the family did not move around as much as other military people. Eventually, they moved from San Diego to Bremerton, where they made their permanent home.
In many ways, Chelsea’s parents had high expectations for their blind daughter. She was expected to help with chores, do dishes, and do what other people her age did. However, the entire family still had questions and doubts about blindness. At times, she felt that her extended family treated her differently, and one thing Chelsea does not want is to stick out or be different. “I love to fit in”, she remarked. She disliked the several times where she was either denied or questioned about doing certain activities, simply because she was blind. Chelsea did not want to be a person who let her blindness defeat or stop her from doing whatever she wanted. If she could come up with a way to show that she was able to do something, she ran with it.
“I love proving people wrong,” she said with a chuckle. “I love proving that I can do things and educating others!”
Chelsea and her siblings were home schooled, learning a lot about the world around them. However, she and her family needed more education regarding blindness itself and the skills Chelsea would need to live a productive life. She was eager to learn as much as possible. In fact, she still remembers her first real mentor and Braille teacher named Cindy Hollis. Chelsea was impressed by Cindy’s confidence and knowledge. At least twice a week, Chelsea received Braille and cooking lessons and got to chat with and learn many other things about life and blindness from her. The spark was lit, and Chelsea knew there was much more to learn but did not know where to go for more. Through another teacher, Chelsea learned about the School for the Blind in Vancouver, and she asked her parents if she could go. She was ready to spread her wings, further her high school education, and meet kids her own age. She desired opportunities to make good lasting friendships, and she felt attending this school might provide her with them.
“I ended up getting to go, and that was the best thing that has ever happened to me! I did well in school, and I met good friends. I got to join the choir and band.” Chelsea furthered her musical endeavors with violin lessons, which she loved. Even though things were going well for her, Chelsea was at a point where she began to think about what she would do after graduation. She was not sure she wanted to attend college. She thought about maybe working with kids in some way. She knew she would have to learn new skills for whatever job she got. In addition, she still needed to learn personal lessons that went beyond the classroom and textbook.
After graduation, Chelsea took the advice of a family member who suggested she learn to tune pianos. Other blind people were doing it, and it was said to be a good career, especially for someone who was somewhat musically inclined. Chelsea knew in her heart that it probably was not the right job for her, but not wanting to disappoint family members or herself, she figured it was worth a try. She took and passed the class, tuned pianos, and even taught for a short while. Unfortunately, the job did not last long. life happened, and personal mistakes got made, and hard lessons were learned.
Even if everything had gone well, Chelsea knew that a job like that was not going to make her happy in the grand scheme of things. It was hard to stand up for herself and say “no.” People can advise and encourage, but ultimately, people must take charge of their own lives and do what is best for them. Jobless and depressed, Chelsea was once again living with her family, and she felt as though she had lost her direction and confidence for a while. She needed to deal with reality and figure out what she would do next.
Time passed, and Chelsea heard about the Orientation and Training Center at the Department of Services for The Blind. The more she thought about it and discussed it with her family, the more she realized that attending the OTC could be a good way to gain confidence and improve her general blindness skills, specifically Home Economics and Mobility. She was ready to work hard again and learn new things!
OTC training was both exciting and difficult for Chelsea. She loved the interaction with the students and felt as if she was a part of a big family. She hated wearing the sleep shades; although they made her see just how much she relied on what vision she had and that she could improve her listening skills. She was happy to have had some classes that came easy to her and with which she was familiar, such as Computers and Braille. Home Economics was one of those classes that she found fun and interesting and knew she was learning something new all the time. Seminar discussions taught her to speak her mind and defend her ideas without being afraid. Mobility was the class that made her confront fears and test her patience as she worked to regain the confidence she had lost. No matter how tough things got, Chelsea continued to smile and remember that a positive outlook is always good for any situation. She graduated feeling better about facing the world and obtaining employment.
Two things in particular were Chelsea’s biggest accomplishments while at the OTC. The first was doing her capstone project. It proved to Chelsea that she had gained many new skills that she could use in any kind of setting, and proved that it could be fun doing something to educate others about blindness and the capabilities of blind people. The second happened immediately after her graduation, when she worked for DSB’s Youth Employment Services program. She loved working and interacting with the teenagers. Once that was over, her confidence was higher than ever.
Chelsea and her positivity faced new trials and tests. She had applied for and accepted a job that was not very enjoyable. She hoped that by starting with that particular job, she could work her way into a different one within the organization. She dealt with a work environment that was not pleasant. She dealt with family challenging her ideas, letting her know she should do something different. She endured long commutes getting to and from work. For a short time, she lived in an apartment that came with many problems and situations, ultimately causing her to move back home. The pandemic came and kept her and her coworkers from working. She also dealt with terrible migraines. Four and a half years is a long time to endure such unhappiness and stress, but in spite of so many trials, Chelsea felt she was where she needed to be at that time. “I was always taught to finish what I started, and I wasn’t going to quit until I had another job.”
Before going back to work, she had a long talk with her sister who encouraged her to quit her job and spend her time looking for something better and that would fit her. After much thought and prayer, she knew it was the right thing to do. She began wondering about her skills and asking herself, “What am I good at doing?”
A few months of rest and recuperation, a trip to Idaho, and a visit to a friend who had just taken a new job presented Chelsea with hope and a possible employment opportunity. Her friend told her about a company that was hiring people to test websites for accessibility issues. Although Chelsea was extremely interested, she also questioned her skills and abilities. Chelsea remembered to try and have a positive outlook regarding this opportunity, and she decided she would put everything she had into selling herself and getting that job. She had to deal with some obstacles, including a move from Bremerton, Washington to Boise, Idaho, and an almost immediate start date after her interview. Thanks to the help of supportive family members and friends in both Washington and Idaho, Chelsea was able to take the job offered to her!
Chelsea has started a brand-new chapter in her life, and she is thrilled! She loves her new job at Quality Logic as a Website Accessibility tester. She thinks she could make a career out of it. She is learning new technology, which is both fun and frustrating. She has moved out of the home where she was staying with family members and now has her own apartment. She is making friends and living life on her terms. Of course, there are new ups and downs for Chelsea to deal with, but she is ready and feels confident to take them on. With her normal, natural smile, and upbeat tone, she gave the following words of advice.
“Never use the word ‘Can’t’. When faced with tough situations, it is better to speak hope than to speak negativity, because you will feed off of that and shut down. No matter what happens, life is an adventure worth having!”
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
At the end of March, the OTC staff brought back a very popular event that has been used to educate the friends and families of our students without the students being present. It is known as OTC Friends and Family Day. The staff had seminar style discussions with the friends and families of some of our students as a way to educate them about blindness. Many great questions were asked, and great conversations took place.
In early May, OTC staff provided new DSB employees with a three-morning orientation to the OTC. People got to talk with each instructor and take part in their classes. We received great feedback and positive reviews.
As with our current training model, both the Friends and Family time and the New Employee Orientation events were done virtually.
Little by little, there has begun to be some in-person training in the areas of Home Economics and Mobility. David and Robin, Rehab Teachers, and Donna, Home Ec Instructor, have begun meeting with a few commuting students.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 3 – EMPLOYMENT AT EVERY LAYER
There were no OTC internships this past quarter. However, hopefully things will get back to normal sooner than later, and the Internship program can resume in person. Meanwhile, the Careers Classes are going strong and preparing students for employment after graduation.
REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS
PARTICIPANT STORIES AND FEEDBACK
PARTICIPANT GOT DESIRED JOB WITH DSB SUPPORT
PG is a previous participant that was Closed – Rehabilitated in 2018. She has maintained her employment with Skookum as a Receptionist and Information Clerk. She was provided with O/M, AT devices and counseling & guidance that provided her the supports to obtain the office job she was looking for. PG wanted to share, “Please give a big thanks and a hello to Juanessa Scott [VRC] and Beth Sutton [Rehab Teacher]. They were so helpful. They provided me with all I needed. It made such a huge difference for me, it truly did!”
PARTICIPANT IS HAPPY AND GRATEFUL TO RETURN TO WORK
Carolyn Hoppe-Denend, VRC, has a participant JL who recently obtained employment in the Aerospace Industry during this Covid pandemic. He is very happy with position and shared:
“…things are going well at my new job. I would like to thank you for all your help.
I would like to thank Laura [AT Specialist] for helping me get set up on the computer. ZoomText has helped me take control of my finances. I have also been trying to learn to type. I find browsing the internet a lot more enjoyable. I think ZoomText has given me a glimpse of what I have been missing. Also thanks to John [AT Specialist] for helping me get it set up.
I would like to thank Beth [Rehab Teacher] for working with me. The glasses and magnifiers are helping a lot. I take a pocket magnifier wherever I go. After working with Beth I feel a lot safer crossing a busy intersection. I had a lot of good training. She convinced me to use white cane when crossing the street. I think it makes a big difference. I really enjoyed working with Beth, she is a great lady and loves what she does. We spent a few cold days teaching me to cross the street. She also helped me get the city to add a disabled walk signal near my house. None of this was easy due to covid.
I would like to thank my job coach Jeanette. She helped me get back to work. Her suggestion of networking was the key to my re-employment. She also helped me update my resume. She called me at least every other week to make sure I was on task and with new job suggestions. She also inspired me. I learned she is also visually impaired. It gave me some hope that people with disabilities can help themselves and others.
I have been told my whole life I was legally blind. When I got laid off from Boeing I was pretty scared. I did not know how I would meet the requirements to stay on unemployment while seeking a new job. I did not think that ESD would be sympathetic to my situation. This just added to the stress of a job hunt. I am thankful that there was DSB to help me. I think in some ways I have lacked confidence in job searching. I always feel like I must prove myself. This program gave me strength. Again, thanks for all the help. keep up the good work.”
DSB HELPS PARTICIPANT KEEP HIS BUSINESS OPEN
Harry Whiting, VRC, has a participant, DL, who has been able to maintain being self-employed as a Education Consultant. Working with AT Specialist John Sheahan, DL got the needed computer training (JAWS and Voiceover) to continue to run his business:
“I am doing quite well these days. I still have 3-4 clients that I am working with. I do want to let you know that I think of you and John often. I am getting pretty good at using voiceover and I am also using voice dream scanner and voice dream reader. All of these are great tools and help make my personal and semi-professional life much more accommodating and productive. I truly appreciate all the positive service I have gotten from DSB over the years. If you guys ever wonder if you are having an impact, believe me you are and you did with me. Thanks again!”
SUCCESSFUL REHABILITATION CASES
Gil Cupat, VRC in the Seattle office had the pleasure in closing two participants as rehabilitated:
- JR who now works full-time as a Pathways Community Support Specialist for Sound Generations. JR had the opportunity to be invited to DSB and present on his agency Sound Generations.
- AM as a full-time Sound Engineer for Charisma Christian Center church, making $17.31/hr.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
- In March, Spokane VRC Taurus Richardson participated in a community meeting sponsored by local law enforcement agencies. The meeting focused on efforts to help identify community solutions to mitigate gun/gang violence in Spokane with an emphasis on engaging community advocates, organizations, pastors, elected officials, social services, and citizens to come together to promote Community inclusion.
- Yakima ATS Reginald George met with Jennifer Bean from CAP and assisted her to figure out how she would handle it next time she had a DSB consumer that requests the ability to fill out intake documentation independently.
- On March 22 and March 24, Seattle VRC Kara Thompson took a World of Work Inventory (WOWI) Level 2 training, and reported that it helped her attain a deeper understanding of how to use the WOWI as a vocational exploration tool with customers.
- Seattle VRC Gil Cupat attended the Snohomish County Business Consortium meeting on Jan 28th where all the WIOA partners including DSB shared updates and upcoming employment events and training opportunities.
- Seattle AT Specialist Yang-su Cho and Rehab Teacher Sandra Rodriguez were guest lecturers at a class for a graduate level occupational therapy students at UW Seattle. The class is about assistive technology.
Mario Eiland, AT Specialist in Vancouver office, has been working with VRC Ardell Burns in assisting PeaceHealth with accessibility of their website. Mario has been testing and providing valuable feedback on where website accessibly issues occur. He has provided information on how to make the website better for navigation for those using screen readers.
Ardell Burns, VRC, works with other community partners in the Vancouver area as part of the Interstate Disability Employment Alliance (IDEA) to build relationships with local employers. This has given a space for employers to better understand hiring a person with a disability. IDEA put on Business2 Business Roundtable that engage in open conversations with other business representatives about their companies’ activities regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion of those with disabilities. IDEA has also set up time for employers to come and discuss supporting education and awareness of diversity, equity, inclusion, and disability in the workplace. Topics discussed - Reasonable accommodations, Disability within policy development, Process for inclusion onboarding, Accessible technology in the workplace, internships and hiring initiatives.
Laura Ozios-Townsend, AT Specialist, assisted Marcie Ebarb (WSSB/DSB) and Gina Huntington of Junior Achievement or Oregon with doing accessibility testing of the online platform BizTown. BizTown provides real world experience for youth to experience working a job, receiving a paycheck, learning how to set up a bank account to deposit their paychecks and more.
The East Region has begun holding quarterly meetings with regional CRPs. These are opportunities to train CRPs about DSB policies and procedures and blindness awareness as well as a chance for CRP staff to ask questions and network with DSB staff. The first session was in January, and attendees were very engaged and excited about future meetings.
The East Region has developed a series of Job Seeker Seminars to teach skills to job-ready participants in a virtual environment. Seminars are being held monthly on several subjects including Resumes, Social Media Presence, the ADA, and working with CRPs. Starting in April, participants from across the state will be invited to attend.
AGENCY COMMUNICATIONS REPORT
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1 – DSB STORY
- Youth Services Event Promotions
Four events promoted/updated January through March. Promotion included flyer/handout design (in English and Spanish), website updates (in English and Spanish), and posting to social media. All events were virtual due to COVID-19 pandemic.
ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS (10/01/20 – 12/31/20)
- Users – Number of unique individuals who visited the site: 3,951.
- 3,789 (85.5%) were first time visitors
- Sessions – Period of time a user is actively engaged with the website: 5,055
- Page Views – Number of pages looked at: 13,221
- Channels Used – How did people find the website?
- Organic Search – 2,024 (40.0%)
Used Google, Bing, or other search engine to find the site.
- Direct – 2,725 (53.9%)
Typed in the URL.
- Referral – 254 (5.0%)
Clicked a link on a different website.
- Social – 44 (0.9%)
Clicked a link on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media outlet.
- Email – 8 (0.2%)
Clicked a link in an email.
- Organic Search – 2,024 (40.0%)
- Technology Used – what type of device used to view website (per session)
- Desktop – 2,533 (65.7%)
- Mobile – 1,310 (34.0%)
- Tablet – 109 (0.3%)
Online Referral Forms
- Self-referrals: 118
- Physician referrals: 24
- Total Likes
The number of people/pages that liked any post: 301(+28)
- Total Followers
The number of people/pages that follow the page: 317 (+8)
- Total Reach
The number of people who had any content from or about the page enter their screen through unpaid distribution. This includes posts, stories, check-ins, and social information from people: 2,067 (-838)
- Top Facebook Posts
- DSB Mentor Award – Ardell Burns. January 4. Reach = 326
- DSB Mentor Award – Tricia Eyerly. March 3. Reach = 253
- DSB Mentor Award – Meredith Hardin. February 1. Reach = 171
- WE'RE HIRING! DSB is hiring an Orientation & Mobility Specialist (Program Specialist 3) for the East Region (Yakima) area. February 10. Reach = 102
- Total Likes
- Total Followers: 166 (+8)
- Unique Impressions: 263 (+59)
- Total Impressions: 1,866 (-1,790)
- Top LinkedIn Posts
- Over the Moon Mentor – Tricia Eyerly. March 3. Impressions = 99
- We’re Hiring! DSB is hiring an Orientation & Mobility Specialist (Program Specialist 3) for the East Region (Yakima) area. January 20. Impressions = 42
- Attention: King County, WA! Join King County's Disabled community discussion on ableism, the intersection of racism and disability, and where there is still work to do. January 13. Impressions = 38
2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The 2021 Regular Legislative Session began on Monday, January 11, 2021 and lasted 105 days. Regular Session cutoff dates were established in SCR 8401, and adopted by the House & Senate. The 2021 Regular Session will adjourn sine die on April 25, 2021.
As of April 1, 2021:
- Twenty (20) bills were active in the agency Bill Tracking Report
- Tracked bills Signed by Governor
- HB 1368 - Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions supported by federal funding.
Chapter 3, 2021 Laws. (View Session Law)
Effective date 2/19/2021.
- HB 1368 - Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions supported by federal funding.
- The agency submitted Fiscal Notes on six (6) bills
- HB 1078 – Restoring voter eligibility for all persons convicted of a felony offense who are not in total confinement under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections.
- No fiscal impact
- HB 1178 - Improving state budgeting through zero-based budget reviews.
- Fiscal impact > $50,000
- HB 1274 – Concerning cloud computing solutions.
- Fiscal impact < $50,000
- SB 5105 SSB - Implementing the recommendations of the office of equity task force.
- No fiscal impact
- SB 5116 – Establishing guidelines for government procurement and use of automated decision systems in order to protect consumers, improve transparency, and create more market predictability.
- No fiscal impact.
- SB 5395 – Concerning use of state resources during periods where state employees are required to work from home.
- Fiscal impact > $50,000
- HB 1078 – Restoring voter eligibility for all persons convicted of a felony offense who are not in total confinement under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections.
All meetings held virtually.
- Jan 26 – IPMA PD Training: Microsoft Teams: Ready or Not
- Jan 27 – LinkedIn Presentation to OTC Careers Class
- Feb 3 – Training: Break the Niceness Cycle: Assertive Communication Strategies for Women
- Mar 23 – IPMA PD Training: Data Governance-Do you really know where your data is?
Federal Fiscal Year Q2 2021, through March 31, 2021
2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH MARCH 31, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
|General Fund - State||$ 3,761||$ 202||$ 3,559|
|General Fund - Federal||$ 12,579||$ 9,540||$ 3,039|
|Donations||$ 30||$ 19||$ 11|
|Pension Funding Stabilization Act||$ 86||$ 0||$ 86|
|BEP||$ 993||$ 792||$ 201|
|$ 17,449||$ 10,553||$ 6,896|
2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH MARCH 31, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
|Grant||Grant Amount||SFY 20
|2020 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 9,389||$ 117||$ 8,455||$ 817|
|2021 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 9,626||$ 0||$ 0||$ 9,626|
|2020 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 24||$ 3||$ 19|
|2021 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 0||$ 0||$ 46|
|2020 Independent Living Part B||$ 66||$ 0||$ 43||$ 0|
|2021 Independent Living Part B||$ 66||$ 0||$ 38||$ 0|
|2020 IL Older Blind||$ 676||$ 123||$ 68||$ 485|
|2021 IL Older Blind||$ 677||$ 0||$ 0||$ 677|
|Total||$ 25,892||$ 5,904||$ 8,841||$ 5,130|
2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF MARCH 31, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
|Voc. Rehab Services Adults||$ 8,409||$ 8||$ 0||$ 8,417|
|Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS||$ 781||$ 0||$ 0||$ 781|
|Supported Employment||$ 3||$ 1||$ 0||$ 4|
|Independent Living Part B||$ 62||$ 7||$ 0||$ 69|
|IL Older Blind||$ 118||$ 186||$ 0||$ 304|
|Birth through 8
(Not Grant Funded)
|$ 0||$ 0||$ 19||$ 19|
|Social Security Revenue||$ 0||$ 0||$ 261||$ 261|
|Business Enterprise Program||$ 0||$ 0||$ 791||$ 791|
|Total||$ 9,373||$ 202||$ 1,071||$ 10,646|
Due to 2020 federal fiscal year carryover funds in VR, DSB continued to spend 2020 federal grant funds through March 2021. DSB will start to spend 2021 federal VR grant beginning in April 2021 with the exception of the 2020 Pre-ETS set aside, which DSB will be able to continue to spend down until 9/30/2021.
The agency was successful in securing $261,225 in Social Security reimbursements during this report period (July 2020-March 2021). $115,000 was applied to ILOB and the remaining $146,225 was applied to VR.
HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Steffi Coleman||Program Specialist 3||Field Services||Yakima||04/01/2021|
|Status||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Recruiting||Program Specialist 3||Youth Services||Yakima||03/23/2021|