Peer-Reviewed Publications Now Available for Free Download
Most peer-reviewed literature can only be obtained through journal subscriptions, which effectively blocks large portions of the public from accessing original research unless they pay for it. The NRTC hopes that by making our research freely available, people without access to professional journals will be able to view our research on topics that matter to them.
In order to share our work more freely, the NRTC has gathered electronic copies of dozens of peer-reviewed publications from our researchers and posted them online. They can be downloaded free of charge. This freely-available research covers a wide variety of topics, including:
- Overcoming transportation barriers for individuals with blindness and visual impairments (B/VI)
- The most effective ways for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) service providers to interact with employers
- Employment outcomes for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients who are also B/VI
- Employment for transition-age youth
For those interested in more brief research recaps, our NTAC-BVI site highlights key research findings and how they relate to employers, service providers, and individuals with B/VI and their families. Our online short courses are another way to hear about research first-hand from the researchers who conducted the projects, and you can earn continuing education credit at the same time!
Current RRTC Research Highlights: Update on the Employment Outcomes of SSDI Beneficiaries Project
About one-third of legally blind VR consumers receive SSDI payments. These payments provide monthly funds to individuals who can no longer work due to disability, and they are available to individuals who have work experience and paid Social Security taxes. However, the SSDI system is in serious financial trouble. Costs for the program are large and growing, and many worry that there is not sufficient funding to keep up with demand. This has prompted interest in helping more people leave the SSDI rolls and return to work.
NRTC researchers are studying individuals who are B/VI and who also receive SSDI payments. They have conducted extensive research on these topics using national data to study nearly 4,500 legally blind VR consumers who also receive SSDI. Our analyses focus on both individual factors (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, education level) and state/agency factors (e.g., VR services received, state economic health). Our goal is to find out what works to get SSDI-recipient VR consumers who are B/VI back to work.
A number of important findings have been uncovered through this project:
- The importance of work experience in overcoming employment barriers: Typically, VR consumers who are African American are less likely to obtain competitive employment. However, among consumers who receive SSDI, there were no race/ethnicity differences in the likelihood of finding competitive employment. This finding indicates that work experience (which you must have in order to receive SSDI benefits) helps eliminate differences in the likelihood of finding work based on race/ethnicity.
- SSDI recipients make great candidates for a return to work: Conventional wisdom holds that SSDI recipients will be reluctant to return to work for fear of losing their monthly benefit payments. However, our research shows that the more substantial the benefit received by individuals with B/VI, the more likely they were to return to work. This may be because receipt of higher benefits means an individual worked longer or at a higher salary level than someone receiving a lower benefit payment. SSDI recipients make very good candidates for returning to work because they, by definition, have prior work experience. In order to help an SSDI recipient return to work, VR counselors may need to help them understand how their benefits will change with a return to work. A wealth of helpful information on this topic can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/work/.
- Consumers who receive certain VR services may be “at risk” for finding competitive employment. Our findings indicate that consumers who received certain services, including reader and interpreter services, job readiness training, augmentative skills training, or assessment are less likely to find a job than their peers who do not receive these services. Consumers who require these services may have more severe disabilities or be less job-ready. Receiving these services doesn’t mean a consumer will never find a job, but VR service providers should carefully monitor this pool of individuals, as they may need the most intensive assistance in order to secure a job.
For more information on this research project, our NTAC-BVI website contains additional study highlights and key research takeaways for both service providers and individuals with B/VI. A copy of the peer-reviewed article where some of these findings are outlined in more detail is available for free download. We also offer a free, online short course that reviews key research from this study and includes a panel of practitioners discussing how they can use the findings in their daily work with consumers. Continuing education credit is available for individuals who successfully complete this course and pass a brief quiz.
A peer-reviewed article outlining the impact of state and agency factors on the employment outcomes for SSDI beneficiaries who are B/VI is coming soon - keep an eye on the NTAC-BVI website for highlights from this next phase of research!
In the Works: Training and Technical Assistance
New Research-Based Resources Now Available
We are always hard at work to translate the results of our research into products that will be useful to employers, service providers, and individuals with B/VI and their families. We’re always adding to our list of products, and a few new resources have recently become available:
- Our latest short course, entitled “Working with Employers: Why it is Important and What Successful VR Agencies Do”, highlights our research on the most effective ways for VR agencies and their personnel to work with employers in order to secure employment for individuals who are B/VI. Each of our free, online courses can be taken for CRC credit. Courses take about an hour to complete and consist of a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by audio narration.
- Our library of transportation-related materials is growing fast! Lack of transportation can be a big barrier for individuals with B/VI who are seeking employment. Our Transportation Guide is a comprehensive manual of tips and strategies aimed at helping individuals who are B/VI find reliable transportation. The Customized Transportation Plan is designed to help service providers walk their consumers through the process of finding transportation. Our collection of one-page briefs address specialized transportation topics, from white canes to public transportation.
Mark Your Calendars
The NRTC has a few important dates coming up for you to keep in mind:
- October 1st is the deadline to submit an application to be part of next year’s Vision Specialist Graduate Certificate Program. Every year, NRTC specialists provide training for VR counselors from around the country who would like more in-depth preparation for working effectively with B/VI consumers. Most of the training is conducted online, and participants visit the Mississippi State University (MSU) campus for three weeks in the spring to receive hands-on, in-person training from NRTC researchers and experts. The 2016 program will run from January 11th to August 4th, with the on-campus portion of the program taking place from April 25th to May 13th. Stipends are available. Visit our website to learn more and apply!
- The Annual Mississippi Teacher’s Workshop will take place October 7th and 8th on the MSU campus in Starkville, MS. This workshop is designed primarily for general education and special education personnel in Mississippi, with the goal of helping them understand the basics of educating students who are B/VI. This year’s workshop will focus on transition from kindergarten to graduation, the Expanded Core Curriculum, and the state Braille Plan to incorporate the new braille code and how that will impact teachers and students. TVIs, parents, and students are all welcome to attend. Please stay tuned to our website for further details on how to register, and contact BJ LeJeune with any questions.
Other NRTC News
NRTC Staff Receive University Recognitions
This spring, two NRTC staff members received University-wide recognition for their outstanding work. Anne Steverson, Research and Training Coordinator, was awarded MSU’s Office of Research and Economic Development 2015 Research Support Award for the College of Education. This award honors staff members who contribute significantly to MSU’s mission of research. Anne was recognized for the big role she plays in many NRTC projects and the essential support she provides to researchers.
In addition, BJ LeJeune, Training Supervisor, received a 2015 Diversity Award from the MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities. BJ was recognized for her years of service to the B/VI community and for her work as chair of the College of Education’s Diversity Committee, where she has spearheaded efforts to make campus facilities more accessible to individuals with disabilities. Her work to promote diversity and accessibility for all are a big asset to both the NRTC and the University.
Congratulations to both Anne and BJ!
Renee Brannon joined the NRTC team in April 2015 as the Business Manager. In this role, she assists NRTC staff with grant and contract management and oversees NRTC finances. She has extensive experience in these areas, and we are excited to have her on board!
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
- Crudden, A. (in press). Transportation issues: Perspectives of orientation & mobility providers. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
- Crudden, A., McDonnall, M.C., & Hierholzer, A. (in press). Transportation: An electronic survey of persons who are blind or visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
- Farrow, K. (in press). Using a group approach to motivate adults to learn braille. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.
- Giesen, J.H., & Hierholzer, A. (in press). Vocational Rehabilitation services and employment for SSDI beneficiaries with visual impairments. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.
- McDonnall, M.C. (2015). The relationship between vocational rehabilitation professional’s interactions with businesses and employment outcomes for consumers who are blind or visually impaired. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0034355215586389
- LeJeune, B.J. (2015, November). Brain injury and vision loss. Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Conference on Vision Loss in Older Adults and Veterans: Leveraging Our Collective Wisdom. Norfolk, VA.
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.
To unsubscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with unsubscribe the-nrtc-newsletter in the message body. To subscribe or change your contact information, contact the NRTC at email@example.com.