[NFBWATLK] [Washington] Services for the Blind Director News

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Mon Dec 3 17:32:42 UTC 2018

From: Cox, Kristina (DSB) [mailto:kristina.cox at dsb.wa.gov]
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2018 12:29 PM
To: Keith Clark <kclark at seattlelh.org>; Conner, Kimberly B (DSHS/WASILC) <connekb at dshs.wa.gov>; Paul Dziedzic <pdz at uw.edu>; steve at fiksdal.com; Laurie Ford (lfh4 at uw.edu) <lfh4 at uw.edu>; glwerstein at juno.com; Kahlo, Tracy <tkahlo at wapave.org>; Kirschbaum, Teesha R (HCA) <teesha.kirschbaum at hca.wa.gov>; Amy Koehl <akoehl at seattlelh.org>; Kurz, Janet <janet.kurz at wssb.wa.gov>; McCallum, Scott <scott.mccallum at wssb.wa.gov>; Merz, Janet <janet.merz at wssb.wa.gov>; Miller, Danielle <danielle.miller at sos.wa.gov>; Marshalll, Nate <nmarshall at tacomagoodwill.org>; Noel Nightingale (nnightingale at comcast.net) <nnightingale at comcast.net>; Jelica Nuccio <JBNuccio at comcast.net>; Ott, Robert <pilsung at comcast.net>; O'Willow, Deborah (DSHS/ALTSA/ODHH) <owillmd at dshs.wa.gov>; tjpaulding at gmail.com
Subject: Services for the Blind Director News

Hello Everyone,

We have much to celebrate:

*         This federal fiscal year 157 VR participants completed their rehabilitation programs and went to work in good jobs with benefits.

o   The Jobs and Employers list<https://dsb.wa.gov/sites/default/files/about/documents/Successful%20Employment%20Outcomes%202018.pdf> is posted on our Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) web site, and I encourage you to check it out.  It is always inspiring to see the wide range of occupations and businesses in which our customers succeed.

o   Our average hourly wage for FFY 2018 was over $24.00 per hour.

o   35% of those with an employment outcome were over age 55.

*         Our Independent Living program served 1617 older blind individuals and 168 under the age of 55, for a total of 1784.

*         Although it is rare to find new viable opportunities for Business Enterprise sites, in April 2019 the BEP will take on a new federal site in Seattle.

*         Our youth services continue to thrive and expand across the state, providing opportunities for youth to learn adaptive and technology skills, explore careers, benefit from recreation and social experiences, gain college life and paid work experiences.  This year we served 335 individuals and their families in these programs.   Please check out descriptions of our robust range of youth programs on the DSB web site.  DSB Youth Programs and Workshops<https://dsb.wa.gov/services/youth-programs-and-workshops.shtml>

*         The Orientation and Training Center (OTC) served 73 customers, which included:

o   27 full-time residential students.

o   24 full-time or part-time commuting students.

o   15 students attended the OTC's intensive workshops.

o   7 students enrolled in Long Distance braille courses.

o   3 students studied English as a Second Language students.

o   6 students gained English Literacy.

We continue to face challenges:

*         We have just completed our second month under an Order of Selection in VR.  It is painful for us all that some customers will be waiting for services.

o   Right now we have 42 participants on our waiting list.  We do currently make exceptions for Job Retention cases, when substantial services are needed.

o   The Executive Team continues to analyze our resources and track expenditures to determine when we may start to remove individuals from the waiting list.

o   Please let us know of any concerns or issues you may experience during this time of OOS impacts.  We want to do our very best to support you and those we serve.

*         We continue to feel the shortfall of resources for the Independent Living program, and are working with two stakeholder groups to strategically plan and collaborate to leverage resources and find solutions.

*         In mid-December we should know whether our budget request proposals, for VR, IL, and IT, have been included in the Governor's budget. If they are, they will still need to make it through the Legislature.

Good things are in the works:

*         Staff are currently developing statewide DSB Open House days.  The concept is that all DSB offices across the state will be open to the public on the same day.  The Open House Days will provide opportunities for anyone interested, including those who may be on the wait list, to learn about adaptive skills, assistive technology and other resources.

*         VR staff are also refining our information and referral processes for new applicants who may be placed on the waiting list.  Our goal is to connect them with valuable community resources during the interim.  We want to connect them to those resources in a warm, supportive and personal way.

*         The Business Management System Team has kept our IT project very much on track,  with the critical support of so many of you who have carved out time from your regular work to offer your expertise, do testing, clarify processes, work on training manuals, etc.  Kudos to all of you!  I believe that DSB is a model in state government for how these difficult systems changes can be handled in a strong (even if small) organization.  We Go Live in March!  That event will be here before we know it.  And I am delighted that the entire DSB staff gets to be together for a whole week!  The BMS Team is preparing a very exciting week of fun activities and learning.  Much more information about this will be coming.

*         We are delighted to welcome several new and dynamic staff members to our DSB Team.  We know that each of you have much to offer.  Thank you for joining us in our mission.

It's that time of year when we step aside from many of the swirling issues of life and pause to enjoy the season, the opportunity to be festive, and especially to appreciate those around us.

Happy Holidays!  Please take very good care of yourselves.


Lou Oma

Lou Oma Durand

Executive Director

WA State Dept. of Services for the Blind

Seattle: 206-906-5535

Olympia: 360-725-3835

louoma.durand at dsb.wa.gov<mailto:louoma.durand at dsb.wa.gov>


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