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Level the Playing Field, Don’t Lower the Bar. Gracia Larson, MS, CRC, PVE Kathleen Deery, Ph.D., CRC. 75% . # of adults with visual impairments are not in the labor force. Employment Rates 3-5yrs Post High School . Why So Low?.

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Level the Playing Field, Don’t Lower the Bar


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

    2. 75% # of adults with visual impairments are notin the labor force

    3. Employment Rates 3-5yrs Post High School

    4. Why So Low? • The usual yaddayadda (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

    7. How?Three-pronged approach

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

    9. What is Vocational Evaluation? • Assessment of functionalskills • Assets, work aptitudes, considerations • Uses real and simulatedwork 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

    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

    20. Soft Skills

    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

    23. Employer Priorities

    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. “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” “Tell me what you want and I’ll do that.”

    28. Experiential Learning

    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

    31. Success Strategies • I2M2: 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

    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?

    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 gracia.larson@state.mn.us 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 deeryk@uwstout.edu