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  • Program-Specific Requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation (Blind)

    The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan [13] must include the following descriptions and estimates, as required by section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by title IV of WIOA:


    [13] Sec. 102(b)(2)(D)(iii) of WIOA

    • i. Comprehensive System of Personnel Development; Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

      Describe the designated State agency's procedures and activities to establish and maintain a comprehensive system of personnel development designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified State rehabilitation professional and paraprofessional personnel for the designated State unit, including the following:

      • 4. Staff Development

        Describe the State agency's policies, procedures, and activities to ensure that, consistent with section101(a)(7)(C) of the Rehabilitation Act, all personnel employed by the designated State unit receive appropriate and adequate training in terms of:

i. 4. A. A system of staff development for professionals and paraprofessionals within the designated State unit, particularly with respect to assessment, vocational counseling, job placement, and rehabilitation technology, including training implemented in coordination with entities carrying out State programs under section 4 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998; and

Current Narrative:

Staff Development

The Division monitors personnel development needs on an annual basis. Training is funded through the VR basic support grant. The Division based its core training programs on the areas emphasized in the federal regulations: rehabilitation technology, career guidance and counseling, job development, placement, and assessment. Additional training will be provided to ensure that staff has a 21st century understanding of the evolving labor force. The Division collaborates with CareerSource Centers and shares information about its services and the referral process with disability navigators at the CareerSource Centers. The Division will seek opportunities to coordinate training with the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) by referring clients to FAAST for assistive technology. The FAAST demonstrates trains, and temporarily loans equipment for clients to test.

The assessment of training needs is an ongoing process consisting of ensuring compliance of federal and state mandates and examining individual personnel training requirements related to current job performance, future job requirements, and promotional or career advancement needs. Training is an essential component to the VR program, but it is often complicated by turnover. The Division plans to incorporate a new Learning Management System (LMS) into its training process. The LMS is designed specifically for vocational rehabilitation programs and includes an array of courses to enhance understanding of the rehabilitation process. Several staff serving in positions with varying roles and responsibilities were chosen to complete online courses offered via the Yes LMS. Based on their feedback, the Division determined this system best fits its needs as it relates to the VR program. Analysis of training needs compiled from performance reviews, the FDBS Strategic Plan, Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, training evaluations, and surveys indicated continual training is necessary in the following areas:

  • Expanding staff knowledge of serving individuals with dual disabilities (where individuals have a primary disability of blindness and a dual disability unrelated to vision)
  • Overcoming employment barriers for visually impaired consumers with a criminal history
  • Providing rehabilitation counseling for individuals with visual impairment and substance abuse issues and/or psychiatric disorders
  • Information on benefits counseling and the Ticket to Work Program

VR counselors also benefit from training in supported employment, identifying appropriate candidates, working through the rehabilitation process with these individuals, and recording accurate information for federal reports. Vocational rehabilitation staff will receive annual training on various aspects of the VR program, including career counseling and assessment. The annual training in October 2019 focused on topics specific to vocational evaluations, case management/documentation, apprenticeship programs, assistive technology, conflict resolution, reading eye medical reports, and virtual career fairs. In addition, the EPS participated in a separate session that focused on job development and placement, on the job training, work experiences, and workers’ compensation.

Given that job placement and development are pivotal elements to client success, the Division requires all rehabilitation specialists, senior rehabilitation specialists, and assistant district administrators to participate in three levels of training - assessment, job development, and placement as part of the Employment Outcomes Professional II Training Manual developed by DTG-EMP, Inc.

Training during the assessment level entails eligibility determination, understanding low vision reports and eye diseases terminology, and vocational assessment. The assessment level also includes training on developing an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). For the job development level, training is concentrated on the process of developing jobs, which includes generation of leads, selection for time management purposes, holding face-to-face meetings with employers to identify needs and closing the deal (actual placement). This level of training incorporates a tool for self-assessment as job developers. The job placement level focuses on training employees to identify the essential elements needed to obtain/maintain a job including motivation, abilities, access to employers, and credibility. In this level, employees learn intervention tools and marketing strategies to manage their caseloads as job developers.

The Division will utilize the rehabilitation technology training program conducted by the FDBS Rehabilitation Center for all professional and paraprofessional personnel. This training includes a week-long introduction to rehabilitation technology for blind and visually impaired individuals and incorporates the use of rehabilitation technology in job development activities.  Training is provided annually to update existing personnel on new technology issues. The Division is also exploring the use of the Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist for People with Visual Impairments (CATIS) in lieu of the FDBS rehabilitation technology training for those with CATIS credentials.