Quarterly Connections: News from the NRTC
Linking Blindness and Low Vision Research to Practice
The New National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment Website
The NRTC is proud to announce the launch of a new website, the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Visual Impairment (NTAC-BVI). As part of the Center's current NIDRR grant, the NTAC-BVI website is designed to provide information about blindness and low vision, provide opportunities for continuing education, and develop an interactive means of communicating with business and industry, service providers, and persons who have experienced vision loss.
The website includes a section for businesses, with information on what types of jobs people with vision impairments can do, accommodating the visually impaired in the workplace, and legal requirements of hiring a person with a visual impairment. Other main sections of the website are designed for service providers and persons with vision loss. These sections are under development, with much of the current information directed toward the topic of transition from school to work or college. There is also a comprehensive list of Apple applications that are useful for persons with visual impairments. New content will continue to be added to these sections in the coming months.
Other highlights of the website include forums and online courses. The forums are designed to provide employers, service providers, and individuals with vision loss an interactive platform for asking questions and sharing knowledge. The forum for employers is password protected in order to allow businesses an opportunity to ask questions about employing individuals who are blind or visually impaired that they might be uncomfortable to ask in alternate settings. There are also self-paced online courses available that are free to all users. These courses can be completed to receive Continuing Education Units (CEUs), for a small fee, or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credits.
Current RRTC Research Highlights: An Employment Mentoring Intervention for College Students who are Legally Blind
One of the major difficulties faced by young adults transitioning from college to a career is finding employment. This is especially true for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The Employment Mentoring Project for College Students who are Legally Blind has been underway at the NRTC since January 2012. The goal of this project is to determine whether pairing college and graduate students who are legally blind with professionals, who are also legally blind and employed in the students' field of interest, will improve employment outcomes for this population. Some employment outcomes of interest include: ability to obtain competitive employment after graduation, job satisfaction, and skills, knowledge, and behaviors related to searching for and obtaining employment. This project provides legally blind students preparing for graduation a unique opportunity to learn from successful mentors, to develop job seeking skills and career goals, and to participate in networking and job shadowing experiences. This project directly benefits participants who are legally blind, while improving the evidence-based support for mentoring programs in the field of blindness.
The project consists of four cohorts that include mentors and mentees, as well as a control group of students. Each cohort begins at a different time point based on student graduation dates. The primary goal is to pair students with mentors at a critical time in their education as they prepare to enter the workforce. Students are randomly assigned to participate in either the intervention group or control group. Each student in the intervention group is matched with a legally blind professional in his or her field, or a closely related field, who ideally lives within an hour of the student. Students are provided financial assistance intended to support travel to meet mentors face to face over the course of one year.
Mentor pairs work at their own pace to discuss important issues related to job seeking, including topics such as: transfer of technology skills from a school environment to a work environment, preparing for interviews, addressing accommodations and disclosure, and networking. Students are also expected to meet with their mentors face-to-face monthly in addition to phone and email contact, and to participate in at least one job shadowing experience with their mentors. Mentees complete monthly online reports regarding their progress in job seeking and in the mentoring relationship, and mentors also complete online reports quarterly to share their experiences. Students assigned to the control group receive helpful resources for seeking employment, incentives for participation, and they also report their job search activities quarterly.
One major benefit of the study is that it is a nationwide project, providing an opportunity to conveniently participate from anywhere in the country. Additionally, students from a wide variety of fields have the opportunity to be matched with someone who is legally blind and successfully employed in their field of interest. The majority of current participants were successfully matched with a local mentor, allowing them to meet face-to-face. Matching based on geographic location has been more challenging for a few students, particularly those with unique career interests or those living in less populated areas. Although it is most preferable to pair students with a local mentor, a few students were paired with distance mentors when local mentors could not be located.
The overall response from current participants has been very favorable. The first cohort included students graduating between April 2012 and December 2012. There were 5 students paired with mentors and 4 students in the control group. This cohort recently completed their participation in the study, which lasted one full year. The second cohort, which includes those graduating between January and July 2013, began in August and recently completed 6-month measures in February. Cohort 2 consists of 5 mentoring pairs and 7 students in the control group. The last two cohorts will begin in April 2013 and January 2014, with recruitment open through December 2013. Currently, there are 53 students and 94 mentors eligible to participate, however, with a final sample goal of at least 70 students there is still a great need for both mentors and students. For more information on this project, or if you are interested in participating, please visit http://blind.msstate.edu/research/participate/mentoring/ or contact Dr. Jamie O'Mally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Works: Training and TA
Vision Specialist Program 2013
Other NRTC News:
Save the Date!
New Research and Training Coordinator Position
NRTC Research Utilization Award Deadline
Highlighting Successful Individuals and Businesses
NRTC Projects Shared on the Air!
New Chapter for NRTC Anne Sullivan Macy Scholar
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Recent Publications/Publications in Press:
LeJeune, B.J. (2013, May). Help, there is a blind student in my class! Two day workshop sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education. Mississippi State, MS.
Bybee, J. (2013, May). Promoting Randolph-Sheppard through research and training. NFB/NABM Business Leadership and Superior Training (BLAST) Conference. Indianapolis, IN.
LeJeune, B.J. (2013, June). Overview of childrens' eye conditions. One day workshop sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education. Mississippi State, MS.
Publications Recently Archived for Download from Our Website:
Frank, J.J. (2006). A guide to using the accommodation request process of the Americans with Disabilities Act for people who are blind or who have low vision. Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Giesen, J.M., Cavenaugh, B.S., & Gooding, E. (2000). Providing services to African Americans who are blind: Views of experienced White and African American rehabilitation counselors. Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Giesen, J.M. & McBroom, L.W. (1986). The blind homemaker closure: A multivariate analysis (Executive summary). Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Johnson, G.L. & Kirchner, C. (1997). Enhancing training effectiveness of agencies, consumers, and employers: Final report. Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Maxson, B.J. (1990). Teaching youth who are deaf-blind: Annotated bibliography. Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
McBroom, L. W., Sikka, A., & Jones, L. B. (1994). The transition to college for students with visual impairments (Technical Report). Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
McBroom, L.W., Tedder, N.E., & Kang, J. (1991). Youth with visual disabilities: Transition from School to Work (Executive Summary). Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
McBroom, L.W., Tedder, N.E., & Kang, J. (1990). Youth with visual disabilities: Transition from school to work (Selected Readings). Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Tedder, N., Sikka, A., Ewing, S., & Sikka, A. (1993). Selected readings on the preparation of personnel for the education of students who are deaf-blind. Mississippi State, Mississippi: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
For Additional NRTC 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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