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 Funded by the United States Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Transition on Track: Development of an App to Help Parents and Youth Focus on Employment

Principal Investigator: Karla Antonelli, kantonelli@colled.msstate.edu

For many youth who are blind or visually impaired (B/VI) or deaf-blind (DB), the transition from school to career can be challenging. Vital to youths’ success, parents can play a significant role, beginning in youths’ early years, in supporting and encouraging development and preparation for this school to career transition. This project involves the development of an app to help parents of youth who are B/VI or DB, ages four to 24, and youth who are B/VI, focus on the necessary steps in preparing for and obtaining employment following the completion of their education. The project will utilize and significantly expand upon the existing Transition Activity Calendar (TAC). The TAC lists age-appropriate college preparation tasks for youth in late middle school through high school. The app will expand upon this existing TAC structure to include information to assist parents in supporting their children’s preparation for employment beginning at a young age and continuing throughout their education.

The app framework will be developed by AFB Tech to be compatible with iOS, Android, and web platforms. Two distinct versions of the app are being developed, one designed for youth with B/VI and their parents and one for parents of youth who are DB with multiple impairments. The app will provide a personalized experience based on the user’s profile information, such as the role of the user (parent/youth); disability of youth (B/VI or DB); birthdate and school year of youth; academic progress in school; and future college/career goals. The profile will control the automated dissemination of information and active (“push”) notifications to each user throughout their transition process. App users will receive suggested activities, information and resources, reminders to complete these activities, and a checklist to track their progress.

The NRTC staff, working in conjunction with a team of external experts, will develop the content for the app. Following content development, advisory boards of four experts for each of the populations (B/VI and DB) will assist with content validation. These experts will independently evaluate the content that has been developed and provide their expert opinion about its appropriateness. Input will also be received from the three target end users through focus groups, usability testing, and a field test of the app. End user input will be utilized to improve the app prior to its public release, which is set for 2020.