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Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI)

Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI)

Average hourly earnings of people who exit DBVI as a percentage of state average (RSA 1.5)

83%2016

Story Behind the Curve

These data represent a range in wage earners. Some earn at the lower end closer to minimum wage and others with professional jobs earn at the higher level. Overall, DBVI customers are earning less than the average Vermont wage earner. One future research agenda is to track how post-secondary education and vocational training and certification leads to higher wage jobs.

Partners

DBVI considers the people we serve as partners. This year we conducted Town Meeting events in each of our 4 regions. The goal was to hear the “Voice of the Customer” about the results they expect from our program. A series of questions were designed to help us identify improvements and new strategies to help people obtain employment and improve their independence.

We also work closely with the State Rehabilitation Council, appointed by the Governor. The Council partners with us to evaluate data and to develop goals and strategies.

DBVI is encouraged that our partnership with the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is helping customers to build the adaptive skills they need on the job and in the community. We are also encouraged that progressive employment strategies and our partnership with the Vermont Association for Business, Industry, and Rehabilitation is helping DBVI to partner effectively with businesses to provide opportunities for blind or visually impaired workers to demonstrate their abilities in the workplace.

The DBVI partnership with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps is helping students and young adults build the skills they need in the workplace. VYCC helps DBVI run a summer youth employment program that provides the opportunity for students to learn employment skills and Independent Living Skills. These early employment experiences help build the confidence needed to succeed in college, in vocational training, and in the workplace.

The DBVI partnership with the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is essential. VABVI has a staff to certified blindness staff available to deliver services to individuals who need to learn adaptive skills related to their blindness.

What Works

The path to economic independence and a good job begins when individuals work with DBVI to learn new adaptive skills related to their vision loss. These new skills make it possible to accomplish daily tasks in a new way. Many individuals also need to learn new technology. For example, there are screen enlargement and screen reader programs that make it possible for blind individuals to navigate the computer with proficiency. There are also specialized low vision devices that provide specialized magnification for individuals to use for job duties at their place of employment.

Building vocational skills is also very important to compete for the jobs. DBVI provides financial and technology support and encourages individuals to pursue post-secondary education and vocational training. Many individuals also are placed with employers for a work experience. These short-term experiences help individuals decide if they like a certain type of work and also helps them build skills for their resume. These experiences can lead to paid employment when future opportunities are available at the company.

In addition, post-secondary education and vocational training helps individuals get higher paying jobs. DBVI consumers who graduate from these programs have more options and the opportunity to earn more. Some individuals have obtained high paying jobs using the Schedule A opportunity provided as an option for employment in federal government. This, however, often requires a move out of state which is not feasible for most.

Action Plan

DBVI will continue to educate employers and the public about the abilities of individuals who are blind. DBVI conducts several public education events each year. The most effective way to educate is through a work experience placement. In these situations the employer sees first-hand how the blind individual uses adaptive skills to complete all aspects of the job. DBVI will also continue to develop the Learn, Earn, and Prosper summer employment program that is available to students who are blind. This experience gives students early exposure to work and results in students pursuing additional vocational training and college. These students are guided to the next step to achieve their employment goals. DBVI will also pursue more opportunities to connect consumers with vocation technology centers to gain certificates and skills for employment.

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