Quarterly Report, FFY2021, 4th Quarter
July 2021 - September 2021
Presented to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
December 10, 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
SERVICE SNAPSHOT –YOUNGER BLIND (YB) AND OLDER BLIND (OB) CLIENTS OCTOBER 2020- SEPTEMBER 2021
In previous IL reports, client data from open and closed clients was included. Note that the following information is only for closed clients.
|Trend||Younger Blind||Older Blind||Total Clients|
|All clients||64 Clients (9%)||630 clients (91%)||694|
|Clients under age 24||2%||Not applicable||1|
|Clients over age 100||Not applicable||1%||7|
|Clients who identify as a minority||42%||13%||109|
|Most common annual income||$ 0K - $ 15K||$ 15K - $ 30K|
|Homeless Clients||6%||Less than 1%||8|
|Clients who have disabilities in
addition to vision loss
|Cost per case average||$ 630||$ 675||$ 670|
|Clients who feel more independent
and more confident to maintain
their current living situation
Counties without clients served: Ferry, Garfield, Kittitas, and Wahkiakum
Three most popular Assistive Technology categories of devices provided:
- Handheld magnifiers
- Address books
- Writing guides
SUCCESS STORY VIGNETTES
Lisa is in her late 60’s and is legally blind. She also experiences the highs and lows of bipolar depression. A couple of years ago, Lisa moved to a senior living community where she made some good friends. When Lisa first met Vivian, her IL Specialist, she stated that she was depressed and anxious about her vision loss and the uncertainty of what that would be like. She said she tries to keep a positive and cheerful outlook, but that it has become difficult to maintain. During her first visit, Lisa and Vivian came up with a plan to approach the daily living activities Lisa was struggling with in different ways.
Lisa enjoys participating in social activities offered by her community, like card or dice games, but she often feels limited in her ability to join in due to her declining vision. Since maintaining social interaction is important to Lisa’s mental health, Vivian gave Lisa tactile dice, dominoes, and the low vision playing cards to try out with her friends. Lisa loved them and looked forward to getting her friends at the senior living community together to play.
Lisa said it was challenging to clean tables and counters since she cannot see the crumbs or smudges. Vivian demonstrated cleaning counters with overlapping horizontal strokes as well as overlapping small to big circles. Vivian also explained that Lisa could divide surfaces into quadrants and then using the same strokes. Lisa practiced these techniques especially liked the small to big circles. She said it feels like it’s something she was already doing and just didn’t really realize it.
Lisa was concerned about her ability to manage her afternoon medications. Without a clock she could read, she was struggling to time her medications right. Vivian demonstrated and taught Lisa how to use a Talking Cube Clock and an Atomic Talking Watch. Lisa also said that writing tasks had become challenging. When she writes her shopping list, she can’t read what she has written because her writing is all over the place. Vivian brought out a Bold Line Tablet and Bold Writer pen for Lisa to try. She loved the Bold Writer pen, especially since it did not bleed through the paper or smear. She wrote a few items and was able to read her list. The clock, watch, and writing supplies were all provided by Vivian.
Towards the end of Lisa’s time working with Vivian, which was just a couple of months, Lisa received a portable electronic magnifier. Through the IL’s Special Initiative Assistive Devices Program, Lisa had the opportunity to try out several portable electronic magnifiers. Lisa could not believe these little devices could do so much. She settled quickly on the Pebble, given how lightweight and easy to use it is. The day her Pebble was given to Lisa had been rough for her. She had been feeling depressed at the beginning of the session. Her sprits lifted as she began using the Pebble to read her newspaper and mail. She said she was even looking forward to taking the Pebble out into the community to try shopping independently.
On the last day that Vivian and Lisa met, Vivian asked her how she was feeling about her vision loss and the future. Lisa said she did not know how life was going to be with losing her vision, but that the items the program provided would certainly help her to do so many things she thought she would not be able to do anymore. She recently went to the store and was so glad to have the magnifier. She was able to read labels and prices without having to rely on someone else. She loved her talking clock and her talking watch. Lisa said she felt as though she had met her goals and that what the program was doing was so wonderful. She said that knowing the services existed was a wonderful thing.
BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP)
BEP continues to manage the program at a minimal pace with no major changes to report. We are now at seven operations which is up from previous six. We were able to re-open a facility in Seattle for minimal take out options.
As discussed for the past five quarters, the impact to BEP is beyond comprehension at times. We have never seen a period like this or most likely never will in my lifetime. The losses to the program and owners cannot be described other than a sheer disaster of seismic proportions. It feels that the external sources of aid don’t provide long-term relief, and the funding sources available provide a temporary band aid to the vendors.
The supply chain and logistic challenges along with record prices, no customers or limited customers, rising wages, taxes and more are the new chatter of the day amongst our staff and owners. President Biden even stated recently Americans don’t really understand the supply chain; BEP does fully understand and explains it this way: We cannot get what we need, when we need it and at an affordable price to sell to the highly desirable consumer. The consumer is at home working remote and not returning to the workplace again or only part time. The economy has been shuttered so long that food suppliers and farms are only producing at a minimal level due to employee shortages everywhere.
BEP spent the quarter doing a feasibility study with a noted authority in food service design to determine what it might take to rebuild and overhaul the program as we know it. A sizeable report was sent to us with recommendations for a $9.8 million ask to the State budget. The staff is very proud of the work and new model for the future; we hope others feel the same.
The BEP team continues to support vendors remotely and in the field for those who are open. Our time is still spent holding business coaching sessions and assisting vendors anyway possible. Our regular Zoom calls with vendors continue and really are the best thing we have that shows positive gains and progress. We have held roughly 60 sessions to date with 20+ different business topics covered along with some therapy sessions too.
TRAINING AND POTENTIAL NEW VENDOR UPDATE
Our latest candidate opened a facility in Seattle under a management contract while starting Hadley. We are on fast track to licensure in December. This plan is very unconventional and require enormous adaption yet was critical to saving a location during COVID that is a premier site.
Lastly, a year and a half of COVID has taken a toll on the BEP team. We are actively taking time weekly to recharge and regroup as individuals and as a team. It is not easy by any stretch. The E-team has been very supportive of our needs around workplace flexibility. We are here for the long-haul and are doing everything at hand to not burnout. By the way, the Hospitality industry is already beyond burnout, you cannot find enough workers anywhere.
SNAPSHOT OF PERFORMANCE COMPARISON: [Q3 FFY21 VS Q3 FFY20]
- New VR Applications [288 vs 237]
- VR Customers Receiving Planned Services [974 vs 997]
- VR Customers Added to Wait List [0 vs 0]
- VR Customers Released from Wait List [0 vs 0] (All categories opened 5/5/20)
- Students with a Disability served [367 vs 344]
- Competitive Employment Outcomes [15 vs 14] Year to Date: [55 vs 59]
- Average Hourly Wage FFY21 Q3 [$22.31 vs $20.70] Year to Date: [$23.39 vs $29.14]
Successful placements made this quarter:
|Job Title||Employer||County / Region|
|Sound Engineering Technicians||Self-employed||South / Thurston|
|Radiologic Technologists||Providence Hospital||North / Skagit|
|Community and Social Service Specialists||Washington Department of Social and
Health Services (DSHS)
|North / King|
|Social and Community Service Managers||Seattle Deaf-Blind Service Center||North / King|
|Waiters and Waitresses||The Roza Grill||East / Benton|
|Nursing Assistants||Coastal Community Action Program||South / Grays Harbor|
|Web Developers||HCL Technologies||North / King|
|Office and Administrative Support Workers||Axis Pharmacy||North / Snohomish|
|Customer Service Representatives||Harbor Wholesale Foods||South /Thurston|
|Nursing Assistants||Valley Residential Services||East / Walla Walla|
|Assemblers and Fabricators||Composite Solutions||North / King|
|Computer Occupations||Techability NW LLC||South / Clark|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||VA Health Care System||South / Clark|
|Surveyors||ASPI Land Surveying and Planning||North / Snohomish|
|Customer Service Representatives||Cloud One||South / Clark|
Average hourly wage all FY21 employment outcomes at Q3: $23.39
- Percentage of participants age 55 and older who exited with employment outcome: 19%
- Eldest with employment outcome:
Age 67 – Computer Network Support Specialist
- Youngest with employment outcome:
Age 22 – Real Estate Sales Agent
SPENDING TARGETS FOR PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES SET ASIDE EXPENDITURES THROUGH JUNE 30, 2021
|Federal Grant||Grant Amount||Pre-ETS Set Aside||Pre- ETS
|$ 9,389||$ 1,408||$ 1,208||$ 128|
|$ 12,026||$ 1,804||$ 0||$ 1,804|
DSB/WSSB PRE-EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION SERVICES AND YOUTH SERVICES ACTIVITIES
The Leap Program is specifically designed for youth with complex support needs. This summer the Virtual Leap program served four youth in a series of five weekly workshops, July 8th through August 5, 2021.
The hour-long workshops explored careers in the assembly, clerical, laundry, hardware, and plumbing fields. Assembly kits were delivered to each student as part of their participation. Each activity encouraged the students to communicate some of the information about their career interests and task preferences that are typically addressed in a video resume. The group discussed the career field being explored, covering the types of jobs available, skills and strengths needed, typical responsibilities, employer expectations, work environment and requirements for entry level positions.
The Leap contractor provided verbal instruction to complete each activity during the workshop, encouraged self-advocacy for any challenges during the process, and provided individual support to group members as needed. The five projects completed included assembling homeless care kits, addressing envelopes, folding towels, assembling “hardware people”, and creating two different shapes from PVC pipe.
After participants had completed their projects, the contractor asked for their feedback about the task. This included asking if they liked the activity, if it was it easy or hard, if any accommodation would have helped to make it easier and if they were interested in any related jobs.
The students were given an option to take their homeless care kits to a location that could distribute them to those who could benefit (veteran’s centers, community centers, etc.) and to take a picture of themselves outside the donation facility holding one of the kits. Participants enthusiastically participated in this activity and most declared assembling the homeless care kits their favorite activity of the workshop series because they greatly enjoyed knowing they were helping others.
Program Development Internships
In July, the DSB youth services team continued where Blind and Socially Savvy (B&SS) left off in June. This phase became the Program Development Internships. Youth who completed the B&SS program became eligible to apply for paid internships. They were asked to submit a resume and cover letter and participate in an interview with YSS staff. Interviews were held with all who applied, and two interns were selected.
The interns’ job tasks include developing youth services program ideas for participants in the age range of 9-13. This included finding resources, developing a budget, presenting a proposal to YSS staff and then planning and implementing the approved workshop(s) with support of YSS staff. Since these older youth had utilized youth services programming and knew what they liked and what they would have like to have had the opportunity to do at that age, it was thought that they could bring a valuable perspective to program development while gaining some transferrable job skills. The interns will present their proposals to YSS staff in October. Stay tuned for those results!
Virtual Internship Program (VIP)
The Work Experience portion (phase two) of VIP began with twelve paid, remote work experiences; and one in-person work experience.
The in-person work experience was a result of a collaboration between Youth Services and the Arlington school district. The intern worked at the district’s school bus/transportation hub.
The twelve students who worked remotely were all graduates of Blind & Socially Savvy (B&SS). Most of the employers for this remote experience were new to Youth Services, but we did have a couple of returning employers who took the plunge from in-person to remote work experiences.
Both student and employer feedback has been positive. A number of the employers felt the work they had for participants would have been best accomplished in-person, though they were happy they’d given remote a try.
Job club, the third phase of the VIP also began in July This was a safe place for work experience interns to discuss their work experience and brain storm solutions. Also an opportunity to network/socialize about their individual jobs. Of the 13 VIP interns, five consistently attended Job Club.
Telling Your Story – Jack Straw Cultural Center
In partnership with the non-profit Jack Straw Cultural Center, five youth actively participated in this work readiness program, offered over six weeks. Topics focused on careers in the fields of music and drama. All sessions were held remotely. Here’s the link for this year’s Jackstraw Tell Your Story virtual program.
Career Exploration Program
Eight students participated in a 6-week Virtual Career Exploration Program with DSB and contractor Partners in Careers. Students learned about networking, resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and mock interviews. Students were encouraged to dress the part, for an actual interview with community employers.
Students also learned about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and gained a better understanding of their rights in the workplace. They learned how to discuss their accommodations needed to ensure success in the workplace.
Year-Round Internship: DSB Video Project
Two students held internships that began in June and continued over the summer. Staff with the Jack Straw Cultural Center provided training, expertise and equipment. The internship goal is to create a five minute, fully accessible, video advertisement for DSB youth programs utilizing old and new footage. Student interns attended virtual summer programs to record footage, with written consent of those being recorded.
They also conducted interviews of youth services staff and students. They learned how to use the different features of the video program to cut and overlay video and audio footage. One of the interns has reported loving this project so much that he has been saving his paychecks to purchase his own MacBook to continue video production even after the internship ends.
Year-Round Internships: Newsletter
DSB’s two interns published their summer issue of the quarterly newsletter for youth. They highlighted all of our summer programs, and our virtual internship program in particular. They interviewed both students and employers. They utilized information to write articles and articulate the benefits of internships for both employers and students alike.
Both students have reported loving their internship with DSB and their editorial process and efficiency has improved since the start of the internship. They are learning a lot!
Youth Services Team Building and Strategic Planning
In addition to the youth programs, the YSS team found a few days to collaborate, strategize our plans for the coming year, and begin team building with new staff.
Collaboration with Idaho Commission for the Blind’s Youth Services: The DSB youth services team had the opportunity to participate in the North Idaho College 1st Annual Accessibility Camp. Two of our staff were presenters on the topic of Zoom accessibility and etiquette. There were several other sessions including: iOS accessibility, Preparing Multilingual events, Strength finder, Universal design, energizing your online presentations, and unlocking your team creative genius.
We were able to learn from an array of speakers from International Association of Accessibility Professionals, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Idaho Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired, North Idaho College, Idaho State University, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., and the Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
As part of this conference, we sampled, primarily for accessibility for our youth, the Clifton Strengths by Gallup only to discover it wasn’t very accessible.
Team building and strategic planning: Debbie Brown and Deja Powell facilitated our youth services strategic planning for the upcoming year during this time, and build on the knowledge gained and work-based strengths learned during the accessibility camp for the future program of youth services.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING CENTER HIGHLIGHTS
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – TELLING THE DSB STORY
OTC Spotlight on Jason Consolacion
We all have unexpected twists and turns that end up changing our lives forever. Some are good, and others are bad or sad. Recent OTC graduate, Jason Consolacion, experienced a life change firsthand which challenged his general outlook. He learned that when he became blind, he could either dwell on the bad or live his new adventure positively and with gusto. Although it took much time and effort, he chose to do the latter.
For many years, Jason had everything going for him in life. He was part of a close, tight-knit family. He had a good paying job at Apple. In 2006, Jason moved from Texas to New York in order to fulfill his dream of being a musician in a big city. Aside from his day job, he had a band with friends, along with a residency at a club on the lower East side, where he performed every month. Aside from enjoying the money and prestige life gave him, he was actually living life to the fullest. Of course, with the “good living” also came a few bad vices and situations that Jason would need to learn to deal with as life went on for him.
A couple of years after moving to New York, Jason was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At that time, Jason still had the opportunity to take care of himself and keep everything in check so as to continue to live a good life. Not feeling the effects of diabetes, and being too busy with everything else he was doing, Jason didn’t take care of himself. The consequences came later.
Around 2018, Jason began noticing issues with his vision. He noticed floaters, first in one eye and then in both. At times, his vision would be blurry, especially in one eye. At that time, he was still driving. And, although he noticed some of those issues, he didn’t really worry too much about it because the vision would be blurry on a temporary basis. Jason began getting used to some of what he was experiencing. Besides, he didn’t want to go to a doctor due to the several he had seen that didn’t seem to get along well with him. “I hate going to the doctor anyway” remarked Jason with a chuckle.
By the time Jason turned forty, he knew something was definitely wrong with his vision, and now it was in both eyes. It was affecting all aspects of his life. He had to turn down a promotion due to not being able to see well. In March of 2019, Jason could hardly see anything. He was definitely worried and knew he needed to see a doctor, and when he did, it was confirmed that he had Diabetic Retinopathy, high blood sugar and A1C levels, and that his life was about to undergo a big change! Although Jason began taking better care of himself and taking his necessary medication, it was too little, too late for his vision.
Jason did his best to function not only in his environment but also in his new reality. He went through several surgeries to help improve what vision he had left. The weekend of Memorial Day, 2019, was the surgery where his optic nerve failed, his eye pressure was off the charts, and the majority of his vision was gone. Not giving up just yet, Jason had several more surgeries before the final one around Christmas time, which unfortunately ended up taking the little vision that remained. What would happen now?
First and foremost, Jason learned that it was important to be in touch with his feelings about all he was going through and all that was hitting him almost at once. If he didn’t know what he was feeling, how could he possibly and effectively communicate it with his friends and family who were his support system?
Jason also learned about the importance of having a good support system in order to move forward. His close friends were there for him as he went through the loss of his vision. His band mates helped him out as much as possible to get through performances. Jason related that another band mate also had some vision problems and taught Jason a few techniques that worked for him. Jason’s wife, at the time, also showed great support by being with him at appointments and learning ways to help him around the house and in general. That would change after a divorce. Family would play more of a key role.
Like with everything in life, support systems change, and some come and go. Jason started to see that he would need to rely more on himself and less on those support systems. How? Where? What skills would be necessary? And, not only were support systems changing or going away, but so were Jason’s successful life and New York dreams.
With so much change and uncertainty, it was decided that Jason would move to Seattle and stay with his parents until he could learn the necessary skills of blindness to be on his own. The move was not an easy one, as he was grieving the loss of vision, the loss of his marriage, and needing to leave New York not on his terms. In addition, his well-meaning family had no idea how to help him, which was hard on everyone, including Jason. The move was made, and Jason did his best to accept a bad situation. However, there were still unanswered questions. The biggest thing Jason wondered was where he could obtain resources and training? Once he was settled in Seattle, he was told about two places where he could get his questions answered, which were the Lighthouse for the Blind, and DSB. Ultimately, Jason was encouraged to contact DSB, as they could provide everything he needed to move forward.
Jason contacted DSB and talked with Gil Cupat, who became his VR counselor. Gil’s positive attitude and words of encouragement gave Jason hope. Immediately, Jason was told about the training offered at the OTC. It was exactly what Jason was looking for. The only bad thing was that now that he was ready to move forward, the pandemic hit! There were new questions on the horizon. Would Tom Hanks survive this new virus called COVID-19? And, would Jason be able to receive training at the OTC?
Once Gil made the necessary OTC referral, Jason spoke with Jim and Deja. Thanks to the fact that OTC was training virtually, and thanks to the fact that he had everything he needed to start his training, Jason became an OTC student in the fall of 2020. He took Braille, Home Ec, and seminar. Around the same time, he also began receiving in-person training from Maureen Reggie in Orientation and Mobility. Even though it was sometimes odd to receive this training under such regimented conditions, the positives outweighed the negatives. He was happy he was learning to travel independently and found a new sense of freedom! He would use those skills for a big adventure later on. Finally, to complete the training he was receiving at DSB, Gil contracted with John Panarese to give him training on using the VoiceOver screen reader with the Mac computer. He’d need that training, because he was scheduled to resume his job once his training at DSB was finished. Jason definitely felt that his training could have gone faster had the Covid restrictions not been necessary. There were times he would have liked to receive some hands-on training so as to better grasp a concept. At the same time, he learned much via “trial by error”, and that helped keep his problem-solving skills sharp. Jason gave much credit to his instructors for persevering and not giving up on finding new ways to train or explain concepts.
Jason loved his training at the OTC. Donna’s Home Ec class was exactly what he needed in order to learn to live independently. Not only did he learn about cooking and cleaning, but he also learned about the importance of planning and being organized. The planning and organization methods would come in handy for an upcoming big adventure!
Jason also enjoyed learning to read and write Braille. He loved the way Joy Iverson taught and conveyed information. Now, after having graduated and gone back to work, Jason finds ways to use Braille in his every-day life.
The most important thing Jason received from his training at the OTC was the ability to talk to and relate with other blind people. This was done in the seminar discussions and the weekly virtual student gatherings. Jason learned that although his peers had different forms of blindness and had been blind for varying degrees of time, they all were going through similar things and experiences as they made the adjustment. Jason felt as if he found people with whom he could commiserate. He found people who understood things he was going through in a way that his other friends and family members were unable to do so. Talking with peers and instructors also gave Jason new perspectives and ways of dealing with family and friends who couldn’t understand blindness the way he was understanding it.
Two climactic events took place during Jason’s training which gave a huge boost to his confidence. One was a trip to New York to visit friends and family. The other was his capstone project, which he completed upon his return, and which involved getting back on stage and playing a concert at a local pub. No virtual classes could have compared to the experiences and adventures Jason lived. He used everything he learned in all of his classes to make his trip and to play his gig. Trials became challenges and opportunities to problem-solve. Learned skills became successes. Both events made Jason a much stronger and more confident person.
Now that Jason has graduated from the OTC, good things are in store for him. He has been virtually working for a while now, but he will begin working fulltime. In addition, he received a promotion, working as a “Sales Expert”. He has begun training for his new position and is very happy about his accomplishments. He hopes to continue striving for more as he climbs the career ladder.
Jason has regained his zest for living life to its fullest. He knows that blindness does not need to hinder him from doing what he wants. All he needs to do is remember the skills he learned and the strength he has gained. Jason knows he is always going to be learning new things and trying to figure things out along the way.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
On October 25th, OTC staff were given the green light to resume working at the DSB building so as to prepare to bring students back to the apartments. Everyone was thrilled to be back in person, working as a team. By November 3rd, five students had moved back into the OTC apartments and were receiving necessary orientation and assessments so as to begin classes the following week. On November 8th, a new term began, with staff and students involved in in-person training. So far, the term is going very well!
OTC students have been attending a few Career-related webinars. The OTC put together a panel of three speakers (two of them former students) talking about their interesting and diverse jobs. Also, on November 5th, students attended a seminar for job seekers sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Washington, where they heard from a published author, people working in the technology field, the American Printing House for the Blind’s new Career Connect website, and the National Federation of the Blind’s Employment committee. In addition, there was a panel which talked about the important things to put on one’s resume. It was informative, and students seemed to get a lot out of it.
The OTC Careers team continues to focus on improving the Career program so as to give students the necessary tools and training to graduate and begin looking for jobs.
REGIONAL VR HIGHLIGHTS
PARTICIPANT STORIES AND FEEDBACK
Participant Discovered New Career
Ardell Burns, VRC4, Vancouver Office, has a participant Miranda who is single parent of one son she had in her late teens. She began her work career at Home Depot where she advanced to allow level management position before her vision began to decline. Miranda reported initially her employer was supportive in providing accommodations on the job. However, her employer became more and more concerned about her visual decline and ability to continue to do her job. Miranda eventually left work on her long-term disability through her employer. Miranda’s eye provider referred her to Department of Services for the Blind for assistance. Miranda initially decided to enter a one-year program at the community college studying Medical Billing and Coding. Her VRC supported this choice.
Miranda completed her first term of the program. Miranda is very bright and did well her first term of the program, but she was struggling and unhappy. At this point her VRC suggested Miranda take time to continue to explore care options. Miranda’s insurance paid for counseling, so she utilized this service to adjust to her vision loss and explore career possibilities. During this process Miranda discussed and explored career options and conducted some informational interviews. Miranda and her VRC discussed goals important to her, e.g., to have a job she liked and could independently support her and her son. Miranda wished to have an income where she could build towards her future in terms of retirement and owning a home.
Through this exploration Miranda discovered she had a strong desire to help others with visual impairments. While meeting with a low vision specialist and discussing his work, Miranda discovered she had a strong interest this type of work and wished to explore it further. Miranda and her VRC continued this exploration including exploring types of training and specific positions for adaptive training work. DSB supported Miranda in AT Instructor training through World Services for the Blind with the goal of Miranda contracting with DSB to provide training adaptive technology training services to DSB participants. Her VRC helped to support Miranda in job search by meeting regularly and sharing job leads.
Miranda excelled in her training completing all her coursework and adaptive training certifications ahead of expected completion deadlines. She also worked independently with an attorney to establish her own LLC business and completed all the necessary vendor paperwork and assessments to become an AT Instructor contractor with DSB. Miranda has been contracting with DSB since March 2021 and was hired to be the AT Instructor for the DSB Orientation and Training Center. Her VRC recently closed her case successful with an average income of $5000 per month. Miranda has continually discussed how she loves what she is doing and is grateful for DSB support to help her reach her goals.
Participant Achieves Full-Time Permanent Employment
Ardell Burns, VRC4, Vancouver Office, participant Chris has been in services with DSB a couple of times. He has been employed by the college in part-time student services jobs that are not considered permanent employment consequently he has been laid off from work a couple of times. Chris’ most recent lay off was due to COVID. Chris’ goals in returning to DSB was assistance with updated technology and assistance with full-time permanent employment that would provide full medical benefits and other benefits along with retirement. It was also important to Chris’ to be in a position that would allow for advancement with the employer. Chris’ also had a wish to not be dependent on social security income.
Chris has a bachelor’s degree along with good people skills. He wanted to continue to work with people in a helping role. DSB services assisted Chris with updated reliable technology for job search as well as services to assist him with updating his resume and cover letter to emphasize his strengths. These services also included interview practice and skill development confidently interview for higher level competitive jobs. His VRC supported Chris in his job search by meeting with him regularly and sharing job leads. Chris recently interviewed and accepted a full-time job with the State of Oregon Employment Security. This position met all of Chris’ goals in that it is fulltime, offers full state benefits including retirement and room for advancement. Chris’s supervisor has told him he is doing well and will advance due to his valued skill set. Chris is extremely happy in his job and has expressed appreciation for his DSB support.
OTC Training is Empowering to Participant
Harry Whiting, VRC4, Lacey office, participant TH had been with DSB for more than 6 years. He worked with DSB faithfully in establishing his goal of entering full time gainful suitable employment. When Harry first met him, he and his family had just immigrated to the United States a few months beforehand. He knew little English and now understands English very well after taking many English courses and completing his AA degree in Human Resources Management.
While attending college, he worked as a deli counter supervisor for Safeway part-time. The job was not what TH wanted to keep doing. TH wanted to prove he can do any job he sets his mind to do. He contacted potential employers on his own and sent out many resumes before obtaining the competitive, suitable job with Whole Foods. He is computer literate and is working as a Customer Service Representative via telework from his home for Whole Foods. It is noted he knows the Vietnamese language which is an asset on the present job he has now. He is managing very well being legally blind and will be entering the "work world" within the public and private sectors.
Appreciation from Participant
Carolyn Hoppe-Denend, VRC4, Tacoma office, participant JL shared his excitement about scoring a position in Aerospace manufacturing, as an Aerospace Manufacturing Technician. “Thanks again for all your help—it really picked me up when I was down".
Orientation and Mobility Prep for Guide Dog
In Spokane, participant RL, in preparation for a guide dog, learned three difficult routes. They all involved major street crossings. All routes contained several steps and required a lot of memorizations. Over the course of three months, we worked diligently. A positive outcome has been achieved after much hard work. It took hours of orientation and mobility lessons, but RL now currently has the cane skills to show her Guide Dogs representative. She is very excited and we're confident she will go train with a dog soon.
Job Placements in Spokane
Eric Wharton, VRC4, Spokane Office has had two participants gain employment. In August SM started working at an elementary school as a music teacher. In September JL started work as a music teacher at a K-12 school and works between campuses each week.
Assistive Tech Helps Owner Run Her Business
Karla Jessen, VRC4, and Reg George, AT Specialist in the Yakima office have provided BM with a Cloverbook computer with accessibility software. BM runs an Air BnB and has let them both know that the technology has helped her immensely in maintaining her business.
New Hire at Washington School for the Blind (WSSB)
Kristi Akers, VRC4, Vancouver office, had one participant hired at WSSB as an instructional aide. He was a previous WSSB student and has stayed connected with the school, coming back to speak on panels and advocate for students. In 2020 he completed his Bachelor of Arts Strategic Communications. While his current employment differs from his degree, he desired to work with an organization where he can champion and advocate for underserved populations. Even during his schooling, he worked on marketing and media campaigns against domestic violence and also a mentorship program empowering young girls in self-worth and advocacy activities. He is excited about his new job and the impact he will be able to make.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 1 – DSB STORY
- Ardell Burns, VRC 4 at Vancouver Office:
- Met with Dr. Mariska Cirera-Probst, Optometric physician for Kaiser Permanente Northwest. Ardell discussed DSB services and partnering how they can partner in getting DSB participants employed with this employer. VRC discussed DSB services and programs in detail including specific VR services and staff roles along with ways of supporting shared clients in the southwest Washington area. VRC and Mariska set up a secured email portal through the Kaiser Permanente site for DSB referrals.
- Met with Michael Hoel, Disability Services Director for Centralia College to discuss DSB services and partnering. VRC discussed the goal for VR services, specific services and staff roles in detail along with post-secondary requirements for supporting shared participants in post-secondary training. VRC and Michael discussed adaptive software and reasonable accommodations related to visual impairments in post-secondary education including his knowledge of adaptive accommodations. VRC encouraged Michael to reach out with any questions, issues, or concerns.
- With Mario Eiland, AT Specialist, worked with IQ Credit Union to provided information of how DSB VR assistance participants and looking at types of accommodations that would fit there business, as a DSB participant was just hired with them.
- Mario Eiland, AT Specialist Vancouver office - participated in doing a 15 minute video for Wise (www.gowise.org) to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Clark County. The theme of the video was Energizing America’s Recovery, Powered By Inclusion. The production included working with a range of community members to capture this message. Clark County Video on Inclusion
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE 2 – DSB EXPERTISE
- Throughout the year the East Region has been hosting job seeker seminars open to participants throughout the state. In September the East Region hosted a seminar on the Americans with Disabilities Act with guest speaker Mell Toy of the Northwest ADA Center. She presented on the basics of the ADA and what questions were and were not appropriate for an employer to ask at a job interview. This was our most attended seminar. In August Rehab Tech Michael Skog joined the Disability Inclusion Network, and has been collaborating with other members in creating a presentation on disabilities and employment.
- Kara Thompson, VRC4, Tacoma Office attended trainings:
- On July 28, attended a brief training called “Transitioning into the New Work Life: Strategies for Responding to Change”
- In August, attended a training “A Culture of Engagement: DEI in the Workplace.” Kara said she enjoyed and learned so much from this workshop and it was great to connect, network, and learn more from her cohorts in this training.
- Selena Cunningham, VRC4, Lacey office, worked to put together a paid internship program with Skookum. She worked to build a business relationship with Skookum Contract Services (SCS), to provide DSB participants internship opportunities to fulfill the job opportunities needed by SCS, like Research, Data Entry, or Communication, etc. The amazing part is that these jobs can be done remotely.
- Ardell Burns, with The Interstate Disability Employment Alliance (IDEA), hosted an Employer Event, “Untapped Talent: Access & Success” that 34 employers attended. Two regional businesses presented/discussed the following:
- Misconceptions of disability in the workplace
- Vocational Rehabilitation services used in recruitment
- Tapping into the DVR talent pool
- Strategies used to make an inclusive workplace
- Kristi Akers, VRC4, Vancouver office, participated in several outreach events. She met with the training manager at Work Source to discuss DSB services, Work Source’s trainings and how our participants can better and more easily access them. They also discussed the potential of creating a cohort, offering training specifically for DSB participants. Kristi also attended the Workforce Southwest Washington focus group where community partners provided feedback through a third party about how to partner for enhance economic growth, mobility, training for our communities and populations.
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.
- First issue published
- “Late Summer” Edition published
National Disability Employment Month Preparation
Interns working on series of articles focused on NDEAM for release through the month of October.
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.
- Scaled plan to focus on 5 specific projects based on the targeted audiences.
- YS staff assigned specific project team and each team is developing goals and timelines for each project.
Youth Services Survey
- Created survey for professionals working in the education of students with visual impairments.
- Data submitted to YS for further discussions about reaching out to that audience.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #1.3 – TELLING THE STORY FOR HIGHEST IMPACT
Youth Services Strategic Communications Plan
- Working with Youth Services team to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that targets specific, defined audiences.
- Plan updated to reflect available resources.
Event planning for webinar for employers. Title: Discovering Hidden Talent & Work-Ready Candidates
- Created comprehensive event communications plan.
- Created website and social media announcements and schedule regular updates and reminders.
- Developed and launched Eventbrite promotions and registration.
- Developed and distributed press releases to 85 media outlets statewide, 10 regional chambers of commerce, and 4 local business reporters.
- Posted the event to calendars of events across the state, including the Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprise.
- Event cancelled.
Developed plan to promote National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021. Theme: America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.
- Proclamation requested and received from Governor
- NDEAM Press releases distributed to media outlets statewide
- Development of social media calendar and collection of appropriate content for distribution
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #2.1 ENHANCE AGENCY CAPACITY AND CORE COMPETENCIES
Quick Bytes Training
- Performed trainings to educate staff on topics related to adoption of Microsoft Teams and other document creation, and accessibility. All trainings included instructions on shortcut keystrokes.
Data Governance Team
- Developing training and communications to inform staff on the improving the Agency’s Records Retention efforts.
Internal Agency Meetings
- Increased attendance and presentation at Agency VRC and Regional meetings.
- Summer Internship
- Managed the work of remote summer intern who completed research and data management projects to support the Youth Services Communications Plan.
PROGRESS TOWARDS STRATEGIC INITIATIVE #2.2 ENHANCE RECRUITMENT, RETENTION AND SUCCESSION
Communications Office Knowledge Transfer
- Regularly scheduled updates to Communications “How-To” documents to share and preserve knowledge of office duties and activities.
Wildfire Status Reports
- Daily reporting on fire status and air quality for agency staff through height of fire season.
ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS (07/01/21 – 09/30/21)
Website usage overview:
|Users||Number of unique individuals who visited the site||4,965||+538|
|New Users||Individuals visiting the site for the first time||4,756
|Sessions||Number of times a user is active engaged with the website.||6,378||+717|
|Page Views||Number of pages looked at||15,536||+1,255|
How people found the website:
|Organic Search||Used Google, Bing, or another search engine to find the site.||2,523||49.84%||+243|
|Direct||Typed in the URL.||2,236||44.17%||+201|
|Referral||Clicked a link on a different website.||186||3.67%||+20|
|Social||Clicked on a link from a social media platform.||116||2.29%||+76|
|Clicked on a link embedded in an email message.||1||0.02%||NA|
Type of device used to view the website (per session):
Online Referral Forms
|Total Likes||Number of people that "liked" any post||402||+52|
|Total Followers||The number of people/pages that follow the page||446||+76|
|Total Reach||The number of people who had any content from or
about the page enter their screen through unpaid
Top Five Facebook Posts
|Above & Beyond Award - Sharon Koch||September 1||234|
|WE'RE HIRING! Orientation and Training Center Administrator||July 12||219|
|The Department of Services for the Blind is excited to introduce
our first ever Youth Services e-newsletter intended for and
written by students from our very own Youth Services program!
|Outstanding Customer Service Award - Tom Baugh||July 1||134|
|Outstanding Customer Service Award - Jim Dykes||August 1||114|
|Total Followers||Number of people that follows the account||178||+ 12|
|Unique Impressions||The number of people/pages that follow the page||282||+ 19|
Calculated as: (Clicks + Likes + Comments + Shares + Follows) / Impressions
over previous month
Top Five LinkedIn Posts
|Above and Beyond Award - Sharon Koch||September 1||95|
|Outstanding Customer Service Award - Jim Dykes||July 1||76|
|WE'RE HIRING! Orientation and Training Center Administrator||July 12||70|
|DSB Reopening Rescheduled||August 11||59|
|WE'RE HIRING! Several positions available||July 20||56|
- July 1 – Culture of Engagement Training Pilot (Virtual; continued from June)
- August 4 – DSB Town Hall with consumer groups
- August 23 – Renton Chamber of Commerce Business Engagement meeting.
- Communications Directors Meetings – ongoing, bi-weekly
Federal Fiscal Year Q4 2021, through September 30, 2021
2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – REVIEW THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
|General Fund - State||$ 3,491||$ 360||$ 3,131|
|General Fund - Federal||$ 12,657||$ 3,163||$ 9,494|
|Donations||$ 30||$ 4||$ 26|
|BEP||$ 1,288||$ 166||$ 1,122|
|Total||$ 17,466||$ 3,693||$ 13,773|
2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
|2020 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 9,389||$ 8,504||$ 757||$ 128|
|2021 Voc. Rehab Basic Services -
$1.4 million is for Pre-ETS set aside
|$ 12,026||$ 101||$ 2,235||$ 9,690|
|2020 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 27||$ 0||$ 19|
|2021 Supported Employment||$ 46||$ 4||$ 2||$ 40|
|2020 IL Older Blind||$ 676||$ 547||$ 129||$ 0|
|2021 IL Older Blind||$ 677||$ 0||$ 51||$ 626|
|Total||$ 22,860||$ 9,183||$ 3,174||$ 10,503|
2021 STATE FISCAL YEAR – TOTAL EXPENDITURES BY PROGRAM AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
|Voc. Rehab Services Adults||$ 2,568||$ 347||$ 0||$ 2,915|
|Voc. Rehab Pre-ETS||$ 425||$ 0||$ 0||$ 425|
|Supported Employment||$ 2||$ 0||$ 0||$ 2|
|Independent Living Part B||$ 0||$ 14||$ 0||$ 14|
|IL Older Blind||$ 179||$ 0||$ 0||$ 179|
|Birth through 8
(Not Grant Funded)
|$ 0||$ 0||$ 4||$ 4|
|Social Security Revenue||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0||$ 0|
|Business Enterprise Program||$ 0||$ 7||$ 158||$ 165|
|Total||$ 3,174||$ 368||$ 162||$ 3,704|
- FFY 2020 VR Grant: DSB continued to spend 2020 federal grant funds through September 2021 and is projected to spend all but $45,000 of this grant, all Pre-ETS set aside funds.
- Reallotment: DSB was successful in receiving $2.4 Million of federal reallotment funds for FFY 2021.
- FFY 2021 VR Grant: DSB State spend strategies in FFY 2021 allowed DSB to carryover approximately $9.8 million of the 2021 FFY VR grant into FFY 2022.
HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Kenneth Sanchez||VRC4 In-Training||Field Services||Seattle||10/01/2021|
|Joy Davidson||VRC 4||Field Services||Lacey||10/04/2021|
|Carl Peterson||Business Engagement and
Workforce Program Manager
|Ron Jasmer||OTC Program Manager||Customer Services||Seattle||11/15/2021|
|Cora Shields||Youth Services Specialist||Youth Services||Spokane||11/16/2021|
|Tom Aitken||Reader Driver||CS/Admin||Tacoma||11/22/2021|
|Emily Ricco||Non-Perm Part-Time VRC
|Bianca Kolle||South Region Area Manager||Customer Services||Lacey||12/01/2021|
|Michael Skog||East Region Lead/RT||Customer Services||Spokane||12/01/2021|
|Status||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Recruiting||Reader Drivers||CS / Admin||Seattle, Spokane||Open until filled|
|Recruiting||Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 1-4
(In-Training) Internal Only
|Field Services||Lacey||7-day internal
|Recruiting||Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4
|Recruiting||HR Liaison and DEI Program Manager||Admin||Lacey||11/09/2021|
|Filled||Administrative Assistant 3||Admin||Lacey||Hire start date
|Personnel||Job Title||Team||Duty Station||Effective Date|
|Sheila Burkett- Luckey||VRC4||Field Services||Seattle||11/01/2021|
|Harry Whiting||VRC4||Field Services||Lacey||11/01/2021|