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Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities 

Section III. Progress and Follow-up to the 2015 CSNA Recommendations

 

 

Below is a summary of the recommendations presented in the 2015 CSNA and OOD’s progress towards addressing them. OOD has implemented all but one of the nine 2015 CSNA recommendations. The recommendation that has not been implemented involves an agreement with the Social Security Administration that is still in process.

 

Recommendation Status
Actively engage OOD VR counselors in the early stages of a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) development and utilize the VR services that have yielded positive outcomes.

OOD and the Ohio Department of Education entered into an interagency agreement to launch the Ohio Transition Support Partnership (OTSP) in October 2015. This partnership funds 30 dedicated VR counselors and 15 caseload assistants to serve approximately 3,800 students with disabilities each year. OOD is also actively engaging with students and contributing to IEP development for younger students. The number of youth with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 18 served by OOD has increased more than 77 percent from FFY 15 to FFY 17. The Partnership supports earlier engagement for students with disabilities to get a head start on becoming job ready and better prepared to enter the labor market with the skills necessary to be successful in today’s workforce. From its launch in October 2015 through September 4, 2018, over 1,000 youth have obtained a job through the Partnership.

Formalize efforts to increase services to individuals with visual and hearing disabilities; specifically evaluate and prioritize identified recommendations cited in the Workforce Integration Taskforce (WIT). The Workforce Integration Taskforce (WIT) presented a series of recommendations and strategies that OOD has implemented, including:
  • Driver’s License – Removal of the Ohio Driver’s License requirement to apply for state jobs. This requirement screened out visually impaired applicants who are unable to attain a driver’s license due to their disability.

  • CDL testing – OOD partnered with Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Office of Criminal Justice to implement Ohio’s authority to train and test individuals who obtain a federal hearing exemption waiver for a CDL licensure for the first time since 1970. So far, 11 individuals have completed this process with average earnings of $16.28 per hour.

  • Braille Literacy – In June 2017, OOD and the Ohio Department of Higher Education Aspire program partnered with the Cleveland Sight Center and Cuyahoga Community College to implement instruction in basic braille literacy.

  • OOD partnered with Columbus State Community College (CSCC) to install BlindSquare beacons on the campus to assist students with visual impairments and other wayfinding barriers to independently navigate the campus.

  • To increase access to jobs and enhance disability inclusion in state government for Ohioans with hearing and visual impairments disabilities, OOD has collaborated with more than 40 state agencies to provide disability awareness and accessibility training sessions for state agency human resources administrators. OOD also assists qualified job candidates to apply and interview for available positions.
Expand and leverage new employer and state agency partnerships to achieve Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act common performance measure outcomes.

In alignment with the WIOA common performance measure in serving employers effectively, OOD’s Division of Employer and Innovation Services provides training and technical assistance to employers throughout Ohio. OOD’s Business Relations Specialists have conducted approximately 346 training sessions for 147 employers since 2016. Other activities that support this performance measure include regional job fairs and hiring events, which connect more than 700 OOD candidates to nearly 200 businesses each year; administrative support for Disability:IN Ohio; candidate sourcing for Ohio employers; and On-the-Job training arrangements.

Meet the workforce needs of employers by evaluating in-demand occupations as a standard approach of VR counselors’ work in developing job goals and service plans for OOD job seekers.

OOD developed several labor market information tools to assist OOD’s VR counselors in writing Individualized Plans for Employment (IPE) that align with the in–demand occupations in their particular area and by industry cluster. OOD’s Business Relations team also uses this information to identify employers seeking candidates for these occupations to establish partnerships for the purpose of sourcing qualified OOD eligible individuals for the available jobs.
OOD promoted In-Demand Jobs Week by hosting events throughout Ohio during the first full week of May 2018 to align job seekers and employers to raise awareness on the in-demand jobs available in Ohio.

Work with the Social Security Administration to identify strategies for referring disability claimants to the Vocational Rehabilitation program.

OOD’s Division of Disability Determination has submitted a proposal to the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlining a pilot process for referring youth who are approaching age-18 re-determination to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. A final decision from SSA is pending.

Concentrate efforts to bring awareness and assist OOD VR served individuals to register in OhioMeansJobs.com (OMJ) as means to achieving their employment goals.

The VR Job Related Services procedure directs VR Staff to assist job-ready individuals with online registration for OhioMeansJobs.com as part of job seeking skills training. CRPs who provide job development services for OOD are also required to assist candidates to register as a requirement for billing.

Utilize technology to increase access to OOD VR services and improve operational efficiencies.

In October 2016, OOD launched an online application portal, OODWorks.com, to assist individuals with disabilities and their families to learn about the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program to determine if the program is appropriate for them, as well as allowing them to begin the process of applying for VR services online. It includes a motion graphics video discussing the purpose of the VR program, a self-assessment to help someone determine if they are a good candidate for the program, and connection to other resources if they are not a good candidate for services. OODWorks.com has been well received by individuals who have used the site and as of August 2018, more than 2,250 Ohioans with disabilities have initiated an application for vocational rehabilitation services through this initiative.

Design a formal business plan model that allows for agile deployment of human and financial resources across Ohio counties when new opportunities to expand VR services arise.

The establishment of a fifth administrative area in VR was announced on January 24, 2018. The East Central Area, which covers Canton, Mansfield, Youngstown and Zanesville, consists of seven teams of VR Counselors and support staff aligned under seven Supervisors and an Area Manager. The new area is also supported by a dedicated Business Relations Specialist to facilitate interactions with employers in the East Central Area in the development of employment opportunities for VR participants.

In 2015, the VR program implemented a new structure for onboarding new VR counselors. All probationary counselors are supervised by a designated training supervisor for the area during at least the first six months of service. This structure allows for consistent training and development of new VR counselors statewide and ensure they are properly supported during this critical period of mastering their job duties.

Re-evaluate the partnership with the Ohio Department of Aging, leveraging both Vocational Rehabilitation and the Independent Living and Older Blind programs. In 2015, OOD changed its service delivery model for the Independent Living and Older Blind (ILOB) program. OOD hired dedicated staff to manage cases, resulting in an increase in the number of individuals served. In FFY 2017, the ILOB program achieved a reduction of 95.3 percent in the time an individual waited for an eligibility decision after applying for services. OOD also increased the number of Independent Living Plans written by 28.1 percent. The ILOB program partners locally with Area Agencies on Aging to provide wrap around services to older individuals who are blind, as well as to develop program referrals for both the ILOB and AAA programs.

It should be noted that the ILOB program is not an employment program, rather an independent living program that focuses on assisting older individuals who are blind in maintaining their independence through rehabilitation teaching services and orientation and mobility training.

 

 

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