Vocational Rehabilitation for the Blind
Contact: Lou Oma Durand
Department of Services for the Blind (DSB)
P.O. Box 40933
Olympia, WA 98504-0933
Telephone: (360) 725-3835
Participation: 3,219 participants total (1,406 vocational
rehabilitation participants; 1,784 independent living participants; 29 Business
Enterprise Program vendors) were served by the Department of Services for the
Blind (DSB) between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.
Who is Served: Any person who is blind or has low vision may apply for services. Eligibility is
based on statutory criteria for legal or functional blindness and need for
vocational rehabilitation services. Individuals must have a visual impairment
that creates a barrier to employment.
Program Description: DSB provides comprehensive and individualized services to assist eligible individuals gain competitive employment. The emphasis is on family-wage jobs with benefits in integrated settings.
Typical services include information and referral, vocational assessment, adaptive skills assessment and training, vocational counseling and career exploration, assistive technology and training, job skills and academic training, job development and job search assistance, transportation, placement, job site analysis (including assistive technology), and employer support and follow-up. When appropriate, DSB also provides assistance in establishing small businesses. Services may include assessment and development of a business plan, occupational licenses, tools, equipment, technological aids, and other goods and services that can be reasonably expected to help participants achieve successful employment.
Other Program Characteristics: DSB currently employs 15 full-time counselors, each
with an average annual caseload of close to 65 participants requiring intensive
vocational rehabilitation services. On average, every year we serve 1,200
participants and receive 320 applicants for services. The rapidly changing
nature of technology in the workplace presents a major opportunity and challenge
for the Vocational Rehabilitation program. More jobs require high levels of
technical skill and knowledge of computerized systems. Access to technology is
required for visually impaired workers to be more productive and competitive in
DSB strives to effectively integrate its
Vocational Rehabilitation services into the Workforce System. The Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act provides the opportunity to leverage the
resources of larger agencies to assist in the employment of blind individuals.
Program History: Originally part of the Department of Social and
Health Services, the Commission for the Blind was established in July 1977. It
was renamed the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) in July 1983.
Funding and Regional Division: The agency is directed from Olympia with field
offices in Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Yakima, and working office
space in the Tri-Cities and Wenatchee. The federal Department of Education,
Rehabilitation Services Administration requires a state plan. Funding is
allocated by formula based on state population and requires 21.3 percent
non-federal matching funds.
State Funding: $ 2,140,000 (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014)
Federal Funding: $ 10,767,000 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014)
Other Funding: $30,000 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014)
Planning Cycle: State annual and biennial planning. Federal planning
is coordinated with the WIA State Unified Plan process.
State Core Measures: See Workforce Training Results at http://wtb.wa.gov/WorkforceTrainingResults.asp
Other Outcome Measures: The primary outcome measure for vocational
rehabilitation is successful competitive employment (above minimum wage in an
integrated setting). Other measures include average wages, increase in earnings,
benefits, job retention, employment outcome quality, participant satisfaction,
coverage and accessibility of services, and cost effectiveness.
Statutory Authority: Federal-34 CFR 361. State-WAC, Chapter 67-25.
Administered by the Department of Services for the Blind.