Quarterly Connections: News from the MSU-RRTC
Linking Blindness and Low Vision Research to Practice
Celebrating 30 Years of Applied Research
The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) at Mississippi State University (MSU) is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in October! The RRTC was established in 1981 under a National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) grant. In the decades since then, the RRTC has continued its applied research under NIDRR funding, including six 5-year RRTCs and two Disability and Rehabilitation Research (DRRP) grants. Other funding has been provided by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This support has allowed MSU-RRTC researchers to make significant contributions to the professional literature in the field of blindness research on a wide range of topics (see our website for a list of recent and historical publications). Outcomes from RRTC research projects have provided information used by professionals ranging from direct-service practitioners to administrators of state agencies and federal programs.
We are making plans to celebrate our 30-year anniversary at the next AER International Conference in July 2012 in Seattle. We will share the details when they become available, and hope you will be able to join us to help us celebrate!
Current RRTC Research Highlights: A Customized Transportation Model
This project will utilize a quasi-experimental design to examine the effectiveness of “a customized transportation model employing an intensive intervention with a small number of people who are blind or severely visually impaired to enable them to resolve specific transportation issues,” according to project P.I., Dr. Adele Crudden, a senior researcher at MSU-RRTC. The project seeks to extend the “customized employment” vocational rehabilitation model to apply it with VR consumers who are blind or severely visually impaired and for whom transportation is the sole remaining barrier to employment.
The project is being conducted in Alabama; the state was split into equivalent halves in terms of population distribution, taking minority status and rural/urban designations into consideration, and in such a way that state VR service delivery areas will remain intact. One half of the state will receive the intervention; the other half will be the comparison group. The intervention will provide transportation resource materials and training to two “transportation coordinators,” who will work under the supervision of a “manager.” VR counselors throughout the state will receive training on referral criteria for the study. VR consumers within the intervention group who meet criteria will be referred to a transportation coordinator for intensive, individualized assistance in obtaining and retaining transportation to work; those in the comparison group will receive general information about arranging transportation to employment. All consumers who are referred will complete three pre- and post-test instruments, measuring problem solving ability, knowledge, and self-efficacy. The manager will serve as liaison between MSU-RRTC researchers and transportation coordinators throughout the study.
The current status of this project is that MSU-RRTC staff, the manager, transportation coordinators, and state VR supervisory staff have met a number of times to make decisions about the division of the state for intervention and comparison, the criteria for inclusion in the study, and other logistical and administrative issues. MSU-RRTC staff have identified an existing problem-solving instrument which will be used, and have developed the resource and training materials and the knowledge and self-efficacy measurements. The transportation manager and coordinators have been hired, trained, and we expect to begin taking referrals for the project in October.
The project “is an attempt to develop a model for people for whom transportation is the single remaining barrier to work,” said Dr. Crudden. “This is not a one-size-fits-all approach, it does not involve policy changes . . . [if the intervention works, it will] enable people to resolve specific transportation issues.”
Contact Us Now to Participate in a Nationwide Employment Mentoring Project!
It's not too late to sign up to enroll in this interactive, nationwide mentoring project! If you are interested in being paired as a mentor or as a mentee with someone who lives in your local area, we are still in need of college students and professionals who are legally blind to participate. Volunteer today for this great opportunity or forward the information to someone you know! Students, visit http://tiny.cc/mentor-students. Professionals, go to http://tiny.cc/mentor-professionals.
To find out more, visit MSU-RRTC Mentoring Project.
In the Works: Training and TA
MSU-RRTC's Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate program is still accepting applicants - but only until October 1! A limited number of stipends are available.The program has continued to attract professionals from across the country, with 36 states represented by students working to earn this graduate credential. In fact, 2011 has been a record year with 20 candidates enrolled. For more information, visit http://www.blind.msstate.edu/training/visionspecialist/ or contact B. J. LeJeune at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-325-2694. The application deadline for the 2012 Vision Specialist program is October 1, 2011.
Upcoming Highlight! On October 12 & 13, 2011, MSU-RRTC will sponsor its annual two day workshop for Mississippi teachers who have students with visual impairments in their classrooms. The emphasis of the workshop this year will be on "Reading Resources and Technology." Topics will include downloadable books, reading resources, the Apple "Phenomenon," and conducting functional reading assessments. Speakers will include Trudy Klemm (Director, Vision Services), B. J. LeJeune and Alberta L. Orr (MSU-RRTC training staff), Cindy Nugent (Outreach/Children's Librarian, Mississippi Library for the Blind), and Jim Sullivan (Humanware), who will present a special session on the SpotDot Braille Embosser. There will also be an opportunity to meet with a number of reading technology company representatives, who will introduce their products. CEUs will be available. For more information, contact B. J. LeJeune at email@example.com or Angela Shelton at 662.325-2001.
During September, RRTC Training Coordinator B. J. LeJeune will collaborate with Billy Brookshire to conduct an in-service training for Kentucky Services for the Blind.
Other RRTC News:
Career Advantage Live Online Now!
“Like” the MSU-RRTC on Facebook!
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Publications Recently Archived for Download from Our Website:
Cavenaugh, B. S., Pierce, S. J. (May, 1998). Characteristics, services, and outcomes of rehabilitation consumers who are blind or visually impaired served in separate and general agencies. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State University.
McBroom, L. W., Giesen, J. M., Gooding, E. M., Hicks, J., Laney, T. C., & Robertson, C. (1997). Student perceptions of careers in blindness rehabilitation services at historically African American and historically white universities. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State University.
DeCoster, J., O'Mally, J., & Iselin, A. M. (2011). Archiving for psychologists: Suggestions for organizing, documenting, preserving, and protecting computer files. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 18(3) 246-265.
McDonnall, M. C. (2011). Predictors of employment for youth with visual impairments: Findings from the second National Longitudinal Transition Study. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 105(8), 453-466.
LeJeune, B. J. (2011, September). Psycho-social adjustment for persons aging with hearing and vision loss. Panel presenter on persons with dual sensory loss. Envision: A multi-disciplinary low vision rehabilitation and research conference. St. Louis, MO.
For Additional MSU-RRTC News and Activities:
Visit our website at http://www.blind.msstate.edu/.
This newsletter was supported in part by grant #H133B10022 from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Newsletter contents do not represent policies of NIDRR or the Department of Education and viewers should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to interested parties.
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