Needs assessment is defined as a systematic and ongoing process of providing usable and useful information about the needs of a target population in order to make judgments about policy and programs (Shell, 2009) (Steinmetz, 2006). OOD is committed to using the data from the current needs assessment to inform future state plans and policy. As with any service delivered to a population in need, OOD acknowledges that there are gaps between the current reality of the VR system in Ohio and ideal conditions. The goal of current needs assessment activities is to assess the progress made since 2015 and continue to strategically identify gaps through the use of data and, ultimately, expand services to unserved and underserved populations in Ohio. Many of the projection statistics referenced in this report are estimates of existing and/or future conditions. The existing sources used for generating estimates were vetted by individuals with expert knowledge through the 2015 CSNA process, and new sources were also vetted through experts.
The Needs Assessment Process. This needs assessment utilizes each of the strategies identified in the most current available VR Needs Assessment Guide (Shell, 2009) and the innovative methods designed in the 2015 CSNA that further meets the unique needs of Ohioans that could benefit from OOD VR services. The six basic steps described by Shell (2009) guided project activities:
Step 1: Defining and Establishing CSNA Goals
Step 2: Developing CSNA Plan for Information and Dissemination
Step 3: Gathering the information
Step 4: Analyzing the Results and Developing Findings
Step 5: Develop the Conclusions: Potential Action Strategies
Step 6: Informing Ohio’s Combined State Workforce Plan, Goals, Priorities, and Strategies
The strategies for gathering and analyzing information and data in steps 3 and 4 included: 1) using existing disability population statistics; 2) creating disability population estimates from available data; 3) creating population projections; 4) Utilizing federal and state labor force statistics; 5) utilizing existing VR data; and 6) incorporating state and county level statistics.