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Level the Playing Field, Don’t Lower the Bar Gracia Larson, MS, CRC, PVE Kathleen Deery, Ph.D., CRC.

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Presentation on theme: "Level the Playing Field, Don’t Lower the Bar Gracia Larson, MS, CRC, PVE Kathleen Deery, Ph.D., CRC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Level the Playing Field, Don’t Lower the Bar Gracia Larson, MS, CRC, PVE Kathleen Deery, Ph.D., CRC

2 # of adults with visual impairments are not in the labor force 75%

3 Employment Rates 3-5yrs Post High School 29% With Visual Impairment 69% Without Visual Impairment

4 Why So Low? The usual yadda yadda (attitude, discrimination, lack of opportunity….) They aren’t ready We are starting too late

5 How early is too early to start getting ready for work?

6 Early Investment In Work Readiness Transition begins at age 14 (legally) Proactive rather than reactive  Awareness (self and work)  Experiential learning  Opportunities to learn from mistakes

7 How? Three-pronged approach Vocational Evaluation Soft Skills Training Work Experience

8 Vocational Evaluation (VE) SSB Evaluation Model Stout/SVRI Intensive Model

9 What is Vocational Evaluation? Assessment of functional skills – Assets, work aptitudes, considerations Uses real and simulated work environments Formulate viable vocational goals Multi-day assessments allow better understanding of work behaviors

10 What Can Be Determined Through Vocational Evaluation? Learning Style Attention To Detail Self-management Skills Flexibility/Adaptability Problem Solving Environmental Response Factors (noise, movement, objects, space) Motivation Appearance/Hygiene Communication Skills Accommodations Ability To Accept Constructive Feedback Work Values

11 Tests Don’t Have To Be Standardized To Provide Meaningful Information What Is This??

12 Context makes all the difference

13 A Quick ‘Q & A’ Q: Do I really need to pay an evaluator for this? A: The short answer is ‘yes’ Q: Why? A: Because an evaluator… … has specialized training and experience … provides an outside perspective grounded in principals of measurement … can relate both testing and observation to functional ‘real world’ skills

14 Research shows that: VE leads to higher rates of success AND NOT having a VE leads to higher rates of failure (Homa, 2005; Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, 2003; Adelman, Spitznagel, & Saxon, 1997)

15 SSB Evaluation Model Collaborative Model – Emphasis on pre-planning – Referral questions guide process Process: – Individualized & Flexible Outcomes: – Observational/Behavioral/Vocational – Customer portfolio

16 Personalized Portfolio Achievement scoresInterest testing resultsData (i.e., typing speed)Job ideasCollege/training informationCareer exploration materialsSample completed job applicationBasic resume

17 Preliminary Project Data (08/2009 – 12/2011) 100% took action based on Evaluator recommendations 22.6% closed ‘successfully employed’ or are in ‘ready for employment’ status

18 Stout Vocational Model Flexible model of assessment Emphasizes soft skills in work context Uses ‘teaching hospital’ approach Prioritizes next steps – holistic view of work

19 Stout’s “Intensive Evaluation” Integration of vocational evaluation & assistive technology Process approach Changing accommodations is part of eval If something doesn’t work, try something else Doesn’t have to be expensive Maximize person’s potential


21 Soft Skills Are…. …a cluster of personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social graces that are necessary for career success. In other words, Can you pass ‘lunch break’?

22 Essential Soft Skills Critical ThinkingProblem SolvingTeamworkAdaptability/FlexibilityAbility To Take Constructive CriticismDecision Making Social Awareness (Respect, Deference, Sharing, Tact, Confidentiality )

23 Employer Priorities Soft Skills Hard Skills Other

24 “Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.” – Bill Gates

25 Millennials & Gen Y Feel special Highly social – need to connect Seek partnership & consensus Product of ‘power-parenting’

26 Generational Work Challenges High expectations - can feel like entitlement Multi-tasking is a way of life Zero tolerance for delays Crave feedback, reinforcement & structure Not used to speaking for themselves Fear of failure

27 “Tell me what you want and I’ll do that.” “What I want you to do is figure it out.” “OMG. You’re setting me up for failure. Why do you hate me? I quit”


29 Work Experience as Evaluation Multi-tasking Organization Punctuality Knowledge Transfer Stamina Social Skills Real Life Feedback

30 Ready, Set, Connect Job seeking skills for transition students Traditional skills in an interactive format Self advocacy Disclosure Accommodations Teamwork

31 Success Strategies I 2 M 2 : Interesting, Interactive, Motivating, & Meaningful Delivery needs to relate to the person’s world view ( Stories, Raps, Language) Evaluator remains flexible; Less concerned about being “professional”

32 Collaboration is VITAL StudentParentsTeachersVRIEP team

33 Why Flipping Burgers Is A Good Thing Practice soft skills Work out the “kinks” in the system – Accommodations – Disclosure Gain confidence Learn from choices (good & bad) Experience consequences

34 Other Benefits of “Food, Filth & Flowers” Reality-testing Gives parents time to adjust and discover capabilities of students Opportunity for a ‘do-over’ when someone screws up Wash, Rinse and REPEAT AS NEEDED

35 So where do we go from here? Continue to gather dataBuild collaboration Create tools (Replicate while still allowing individualization) Increase ‘buy in’

36 Recognition Thank You: Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) University of Wisconsin-Stout Department of Rehabilitation & Counseling and SVRI National Science Foundation Grant # 1129682

37 Contact Information: Gracia Larson, MS, CRC, PVE Vocational Evaluator/Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor DEED State Services for the Blind 2200 University Ave W, Suite #240 St. Paul, MN 55114 USA 651.642.0443 office 1-651-649-5927 FAX Kathleen Deery, Ph.D., CRC, Professor Department of Rehabilitation and Counseling University of Wisconsin-Stout 231 Vocational Rehabilitation Bldg. Menomonie, WI 54751 715.232.2233 office 715.232.2356 FAX

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