Plan for state VRS

State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program
and
State Plan Supplement for the State Supported Employment Services Program

Maine Division for the Blind & Visually Impaired (DBVI) State Plan Fiscal Year 2012 (submitted FY 2011)

Attachment 4.2(c) Input of State Rehabilitation Council
Required annually by all agencies except those agencies that are independent consumer-controlled commissions.
Identify the Input provided by the state rehabilitation council, including recommendations from the council’s annual report, the review and analysis of consumer satisfaction, and other council reports. Be sure to also include:

  • the Designated State Unit's response to the input and recommendations; and

  • explanations for the Designated State Unit's rejection of any input or recommendation of the council.

The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) works closely with DBVI leadership and staff on many aspects of our service delivery system. The primary objective of the SRC is to be a direct influence for improving the responsiveness of VR services in Maine. During the past year, the SRC has been involved in many activities with DBVI.

A statewide public hearing was held on June 15, 2011 using the ‘Polycom’ system which connected Career Center sites in Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, Presque Isle and Augusta. These locations were advertised in a number of newspapers as well as on a statewide Radio Reading Service (Maine AIRS), the Blind Forum and the DOL website. This time was used to review, answer any questions and address concerns of the 2012 draft State Plan. The full SRC was provided a copy of the 2012 draft state plan and given an opportunity to make comments. SRC comments:

There has been a large change in membership with the Maine DBVI SRC this past year.  The new members have a lot of new ideas to increase and expand outreach activities so more individuals will learn about DBVI services.

Attachment 4.7(b)(3) Request for Waiver of Statewideness

Identify the types of services to be provided by the program for which the waiver of statewideness is requested.
The waiver request should also include:

  • a written assurance from the local public agency that it will make available to the designated state unit the non-federal share of funds;

  • a written assurance that designated state unit approval will be obtained for each proposed service before it is put into effect;

  • a written assurance that all state plan requirements will apply to all services approved under the waiver.

This agency has not requested a waiver of statewideness.

Attachment 4.8(b)(1) Cooperative Agreements with Agencies Not Carrying Out Activities Under the Statewide Workforce Investment System

Describe interagency cooperation with and utilization of the services and facilities of agencies and programs that are not carrying out activities through the statewide workforce investment system with respect to

  • Federal, state, and local agencies and programs;

  • if applicable, Programs carried out by the Under Secretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture; and

  • if applicable, state use contracting programs.

The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired has continued the use of cooperative planning to expand and enhance the work of rehabilitation for consumers who are blind or have low vision. DBVI works in conjunction with other agencies that are not in the statewide workforce investment system.

The Division works cooperatively with Coastal Enterprise, Inc. (CEI) a private, nonprofit Community Development Corporation and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in assisting and supporting consumers who are interested in self-employment opportunities.

The staff, from the DBVI regional offices, have been involved in teaming efforts with the staff at the Veterans Administration (VA) program at the Togus, VA hospital to provide services not provided by the VA to veterans who are blind or visually impaired.  A Memorandum Of Understanding with the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program has been developed and signed by both parties.

The Division works collaboratively  with representatives of the Maine State University system to explore ways to effectively integrate VR services and community colleges statewide to ensure that the financial issues of students who are blind or have low vision are being addressed.

Attachment 4.8(b)(2) Coordination with Education Officials

  • Describe the designated state unit's plans, policies, and procedures for coordination with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services, including provisions for the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment before each student determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services leaves the school setting or, if the designated state unit is operating on an order of selection, before each eligible student able to be served under the order leaves the school setting.

  • Provide information on the formal interagency agreement with the state educational agency with respect to

    • consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including VR services;

    • transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and educational agency that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs;

    • roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining state lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services;

    • procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services.

The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, along with the Department of Education developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) back in 1999.  In an effort to capture changes in resources and maximize our on-going efforts between agencies, a new MOU has been developed. The new version addresses topics such as youth in transition and reflects changes in federal and state legislation since the original MOU was written. The existing MOU reflects coordination of staff training and development, strategies for determining financial responsibility, as well as dispute resolution procedures.

The purpose of this collaboration with DOE is to promote and establish a process that results in an effective working relationship between state agencies on behalf of, and with youth with disabilities, in order to gain the greatest benefit from their respective programs and services. Specific areas of collaboration include: consultation, technical assistance, transition planning, roles and responsibilities, financial responsibilities of each agency and procedures for outreach and identification.


*The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Department of Education (DOE), Division of Applied Technology, Division of Special Services, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Department of Labor, Department of Corrections,  Maine Developmental Disabilities Council, parents, consumers, and private agency providers continue to work together through the Committee on Transition (COT), regionally and statewide, to update agreements on transition. The transition agreement with the Department of Education defines and strengthens the relationships with DOE and calls for identification of students with disabilities, both in Special Education and regular programs, in order to plan their transition before graduation. The agreement focuses upon the needs of the individual student and allows for flexibility and professional judgment to be exercised by personnel. It also spells out the roles of each agency in referral, outreach, and the provision of service. The blindness-specific curriculum elements and services that are identified in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) facilitate the achievement of the employment goal, which is further developed in the Vocational Rehabilitation Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). DBVI, the student and parent(s) develop the IPE, utilizing the interests, strengths, and needs of the student.


Local transition events continue to be effective in connecting employment programs, vocational programs, and special education programs to employers as an aid to sorting out career options, developing successful work histories, and creating jobs for students. As a result of the elimination of funds for COT, Maine Parent Federation has begun to provide training/information for parents to function as case managers for their children and espousing the notion of choice for students in transition. Service coordination between the schools and the adult agencies serving people with disabilities has been strengthened through the catalyst of COT project staff providing local school systems with technical assistance in transition planning.

Attachment 4.8(b)(3) Cooperative Agreements with Private Nonprofit Organizations

Describe the manner in which the designated state agency establishes cooperative agreements with private non-profit vocational rehabilitation service providers.

The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired contracts with private non-profit providers through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, which is facilitated by the Division of Purchases, Bureau of General Services. We work closely with contracted community providers to ensure that their staff is qualified to deliver rehabilitation services for individuals who are blind or have low vision. DBVI sponsors joint events, which cover a variety of topics such as the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, with its inclusion in the Workforce Investment Act; promotion of informed consumer choice in all services; : monitoring of consumer satisfaction with these services; and  blindness-specific skills training.

The primary community provider for adult blindness rehabilitation services for DBVI continues to maintain its’ National Accreditation Council (NAC) accreditation for delivery of rehabilitation services for people who are blind.

DBVI also contracts with other community providers on a fee for service basis. Some of the services are job development and coaching, assistive technology, low vision rehabilitation, adjustment to blindness counseling and transportation. The Division will continue the expansion of the number and types of service providers available to consumers who are blind or have low vision.

Attachment 4.8(b)(4) Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment Services

Describe the efforts of the designated state agency to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and other appropriate entities in order to provide the following services to individuals with the most significant disabilities:

  • supported employment services; and

  • extended services.

The Division has remained committed to assuring that individuals with the most severe disabilities receive supported employment services when this is appropriate. An Individual Plan of Employment (IPE) is developed that describes the services provided, the need for extended services, if appropriate, and an assurance that the individual has been able to make an informed choice in the provision of these services and the goal itself.

DBVI staff participate in meetings with the Division of Adult Mental Health Services (DAMHS) and the Division of Adults with Cognitive and Physical Disability Services (DACPDS) to discuss how to work more effectively in assisting consumers in obtaining employment with appropriate and necessary supports. The objective of these meetings is to get people together regularly to provide the opportunity for face-to-face communication so that we can better network services, increase understanding of program and resource limitations, and refine procedures. As a result of regular meetings with Community Rehabilitation Providers, DHHS, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the DBVI continue to advocate with the DACPDS agency for increased state financial support for extended support and supported employment services. Another outcome of these meetings has been increased collaboration at the local level in troubleshooting individual consumer circumstances.

The Division will continue regular consultation at both state and local levels with the DHHS.

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

1. Describe the development and maintenance of a system for collecting and analyzing on an annual basis data on qualified personnel needs with respect to:

  • the number of personnel who are employed by the state agency in the provision of vocational rehabilitation services in relation to the number of individuals served, broken down by personnel category;

  • the number of personnel currently needed by the state agency to provide vocational rehabilitation services, broken down by personnel category; and

  • projections of the number of personnel, broken down by personnel category, who will be needed by the state agency to provide vocational rehabilitation services in the state in 5 years based on projections of the number of individuals to be served, including individuals with significant disabilities, the number of personnel expected to retire or leave the field, and other relevant factors.

The Maine Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired believes that in order to ensure a high level of skilled staff to deliver quality services to consumers, the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) plan must address long-range college training needs for qualified rehabilitation blindness professionals and paraprofessionals. In addition, the CSPD must provide short-term training needs that allow for continuous learning and the maintenance of Certification to include Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credentials, Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) for Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRT).

Maine DBVI currently does not have a wait list for individuals seeking services. It is anticipated that approximately 1,020 VR individuals will be served in FFY 2011. The average caseload for the past five years has ranged from 77 – 91, with an overall average of 80 clients per one FTE. However, at any given moment,  that average caseload of 80 clients could increase with an additional 20-30 clients moving in and out of the system throughout the year resulting in as many as 110 clients per caseload. We expect these numbers to remain fairly consistent going forward. DBVI has experienced a turnover of counselors but expects that trend to decrease over the next five years. Based on the number of personnel and the previous numbers served, the number of individuals we expect to serve over the next five years should have a range of 760-1020. We predict that will include 100% of individuals with significant disabilities due to the population that DBVI serves.

Current service delivery is performed by DBVI staff, which consists of staff as outlined in the table below.

All O&M/VRT staff currently are ACVREP certified or certifiable, with the exception of one who is out on extended medical leave. One O&M is still vacant but we anticipate filling that prior to the end of the fiscal year.

During this fiscal year, four of the VRCs meet the qualified staff requirements. Four additional VRCs are working on their requirements to become qualified staff.  To date we have two VR Counselor vacancies that we have not received permission to fill. Two VRCs have retired during this fiscal period.

The Division continues to have four paraprofessional staff.

It can be projected that DBVI staffing needs could include as many as eight staff including three VRC II in the next five years.

Row
Job Title
Total positions
Current vacancies
Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1
Director
1
0
0
2
Rehab Services Manager
2
0
1
3
Regional Director Rehab Services
2
0
0
4
Blind Rehabilitation Specialist
3
0
1
5
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor II
8
3
3
6
Paraprofessional VRC 1
4
0
1
7
Support Personnel
3
0
0
8
Rehabilitation Consultant
1
0
0
9
Business Enterprise Program Staff
3
0
0
10
Orientation & Mobility
10
1
2

2. Describe the development and maintenance of a system for collecting and analyzing on an annual basis data on personnel development with respect to:

  • a list of the institutions of higher education in the state that are preparing vocational rehabilitation professionals, by type of program;

  • the number of students enrolled at each of those institutions, broken down by type of program; and

  • the number of students who graduated during the prior year from each of those institutions with certification or licensure, or with the credentials for certification or licensure, broken down by the personnel category for which they have received, or have the credentials to receive, certification or licensure.

Maine has only one in-state institution of higher education, the University of Southern Maine (USM), that offers an educational program which satisfies the standards set forth by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for states lacking a state standard for fully qualified vocational rehabilitation counselors (i.e. qualifies to sit for the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) exam). Unfortunately, USM does not offer RSA grant funding to rehabilitation program participants. Maine DBVI utilizes distance educational programs that offer RSA grant funding to participants in order to leverage our training funds. University of Wisconsin-Stout and Assumption College in Massachusetts previously offered on-line graduate programs with RSA funding; however, we currently do not have any staff enrolled in either of these programs. University of Virginia-Commonwealth currently has a RSA sponsored program. Maine DBVI has one VRC enrolled in the On-Line graduate program and is in his second year. One new hire has applied and will begin in September 2011. Maine has one other VRC that needs to complete two courses to be eligible to take the CRC. In total, Maine DBVI has four VRC II staff that do not currently meet the fully qualified VRC standard but are working towards the standard.

Row
Institutions
Students enrolled
Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA
Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA
Graduates from the previous year
1
Assumption College
0
0
0
0
2
University of Wisconsin-Stout
0
0
0
0
3
University of Virginia-Commonwealth
3
3
0
0
4
University of Southern Maine
0
1
0
1
5
UMass Boston
0
0
0
0

Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel

Describe the development (updated on an annual basis) and implementation of a plan to address the current and projected needs for qualified personnel including, the Coordination and facilitation of efforts between the designated state unit and institutions of higher education and professional associations to recruit, prepare, and retain personnel who are qualified, including personnel from minority backgrounds and personnel who are individuals with disabilities.

Despite the low salary scale for professional staff, Maine DBVI has had an adequate track record for recruitment and outstanding track record for retention of qualified staff. However, it continues to be a major concern for the future. In FFY 2009, an appeal to reclassify the salary scales for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, supported by Maine DBVI, was successful. Equally important for retention of qualified personnel was the ability for DBVI to successfully reclassify several other positions. In addition to looking at salary scales, the following strategies of the Division are utilized in order to retain qualified staff: Support of the use of flex time, support of training and dual certification, CSPD committee representation from all disciplines and regions, and financial support for certification maintenance. Although State Government in Maine is currently subject to a hiring freeze, the Division, through its close work with the State of Maine’s Bureau of Human Resources (BHR), has often been provided an exemption status to this hiring freeze when filling vacancies for VRC II positions. Recent recruitment efforts, which have included electronic vacancy postings on national and State of Maine websites, local postings with community providers and through information sharing with Maine and other Northeast regional colleges that offer a rehabilitation/blindness program, have yielded increased and more highly credentialed candidates. Recruitment methods used continue to be extensive and include internet postings on a variety of specific and general job bank sites, ongoing contact with graduate programs throughout the country, promotion of Maine DBVI staffing opportunities at national conferences, networking with Community Rehabilitation Providers, other state agencies, our contracted partners, and offering internship opportunities to pre-and post-graduate level students, as well as job listings in Maine Career Centers.

The State of Maine promotes the employment of persons from diverse backgrounds. In February 2006, then Governor Baldacci issued an executive order calling for the state to better promote state jobs to persons with disabilities, to identify difficult-to-fill jobs, and to survey state workers about their disabilities and experiences with state government. The Bureau of Human Resources provides a system, referred to as ‘Special Appointment’, to facilitate the recruitment of people from minority backgrounds and individuals with disabilities in filling State government vacancies. Through this initiative, the individual must meet the qualifications for the position and then can be hired under this program in an “acting capacity” for up to one year. The worker receives the same pay and health benefits as other workers, but does not accumulate seniority time. If at any time during this year the supervisor deems the worker has performed their duties satisfactorily, he/she will be placed in the position as a new employee and the usual probationary period will begin. A unique feature of this initiative is that the Human Resources Department throughout all of state government is centrally connected to this process, which allows for people with disabilities from anywhere within the state to be contacted at the very first point we become aware that we will be having an open position. In this manner we can recruit from across a comprehensive network to fill vacancies within DBVI, as long as they meet the qualifications of our position. Once hired through this Special Appointment process, the individual will have available all CSPD programs to support the retention and training of qualified staff.

Personnel Standards

Describe the state agency's policies and procedures for the establishment and maintenance of personnel standards to ensure that designated state unit professional and paraprofessional personnel are adequately trained and prepared, including:

  1. standards that are consistent with any national or state-approved or -recognized certification, licensing, registration, or, in the absence of these requirements, other comparable requirements (including state personnel requirements) that apply to the profession or discipline in which such personnel are providing vocational rehabilitation services; and

  2. to the extent that existing standards are not based on the highest requirements in the state applicable to a particular profession or discipline, the steps the state is currently taking and the steps the State Plans to take in accordance with the written plan to retrain or hire personnel within the designated state unit to meet standards that are based on the highest requirements in the state, including measures to notify designated state unit personnel, institutions of higher education, and other public agencies of these steps and the timelines for taking each step.

Be sure to include the following:

  • specific strategies for retraining, recruiting, and hiring personnel;

  • the specific time period by which all state unit personnel will meet the standards;

  • procedures for evaluating the designated state unit’s progress in hiring or retraining personnel to meet applicable personnel standards within the established time period;

  • the identification of initial minimum qualifications that the designated state unit will require of newly hired personnel when the state unit is unable to hire new personnel who meet the established personnel standards;

  • the identification of a plan for training newly hired personnel who do not meet the established standards to meet the applicable standards within the time period established for all state unit personnel to meet the established personnel standards.

Maine DBVI personnel requirements and hiring practices are aligned with the Rehabilitation Act mandates and its regulations. Maine DBVI does not have an established state standard for fully qualified vocational rehabilitation counselors so defers to the Rehabilitation Services Administration standard whereby an individual must possess a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, CRC status, or be eligible to sit for the CRC examination when filling Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor II vacancies. Applicants and staff who possess masters degrees in counseling or a counseling-related degree, defined as Social Work, Psychology, Special Education, and Counseling also meet the standard if a graduate course in Theories and Techniques of Counseling course was completed as part of the degree requirements and additional graduate courses have been completed with a primary focus on Assessment, Occupational Information or Placement, Medical or Psychosocial Aspects of Disabilities, and in Community Resources or Delivery of Rehabilitation Services. In Maine, DBVI requires that new hires lacking fully qualified status enter into educational plans designed to achieve fully qualified status as a condition of employment and anticipates that some new employees may require up to five years to achieve qualified status. If there are extenuating circumstances, a new plan will be developed and the time may be extended. If the employee is still unable to achieve qualified status and it affects the performance of his/her job, disciplinary steps will be put in place through the annual performance appraisal process.

DBVI also supports educational programming for existing staff seeking to meet fully qualified status and, for those who have achieved CRC status and require on-going CRC training credits. Maine DBVI personnel standards for O&M/VRT staff are the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) certified or certifiable. ACVREP website explains: The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) offers professional certification for vision rehabilitation and education professionals in order to improve service delivery to persons with vision impairments. ACVREP is committed to quality certification programs that meet rigorous recognized standards. Programs are designed to offer applicants the means to demonstrate that professional knowledge and skills that promote the provision of quality service and ethical practice. ACVREP offers certification in three disciplines: Low Vision Therapy, Orientation & Mobility, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (formerly Rehabilitation Teaching). Individuals who possess ACVREP certification demonstrate a level of quality and care that is unmatched in the field.

When recruiting or hiring new staff, Maine DBVI gives preference to fully qualified individuals. If, however, it is necessary to meet a critical agency staffing need and recruitment efforts do not result in the identification and securing of suitable candidates who meet the DBVI hiring standard, individuals can be hired conditionally subject to agreement and implementation of a Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) plan to acquire the appropriate credentials toward becoming fully qualified. CSPD plans and schedules for completion, with timeframes responsive to the needs to the individual counselor, and agreed to by management, are incorporated into the employee’s annual performance review to ensure continuity and progress toward fully qualified status. Counselors who require a full master’s degree program to meet fully qualified status are allotted up to five years after completion of their probationary period to meet the requirements while those with related counseling master’s degrees seeking to meet CRC exam standards or are currently in a master’s in counseling program are provided accelerated timeframes dependent on remaining coursework.

Working to ensure that CSPD standards are achieved to the maximum extent possible, Maine DBVI regularly reviews the qualifications of all staff and tracks the educational plans of new hires and personnel requiring education and training. Content of CSPD plans for rehabilitation counselors who have not met the State standard are developed with supervisors upon completion of probation and reviewed as part of an annual performance review. CSPD plans reflect a balance between personnel development and operational needs, seek optimal training modalities and formats, as well as most cost effective methods utilizing those institutions with RSA grants. Upon entering CSPD plans, program and coursework approval must be from the DBVI Training Coordinator, who will maintain a record of all staff training activities and certifications. 

DBVI has identified that having internships results in hiring of qualified staff. Therefore, we will be having three to five internships over the next year in hopes of recruiting for staff vacancies. Additionally, ARRA funds have allowed Maine DBVI to hire temporary staff that could result in filling current vacancies with qualified staff.

Staff Development

Describe the state agency's policies, procedures, and activities to ensure that all personnel employed by the designated state unit receive appropriate and adequate training in terms of:

  1. 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; and

  2. procedures for the acquisition and dissemination to designated state unit professionals and paraprofessionals significant knowledge from research and other sources.

The Division provides a variety of staff development opportunities and monitors staff development through a variety of methods. All DBVI staff are subject to annual performance reviews, a portion of which specifically addresses personal development. At these reviews, staff and supervisors jointly identify training required to address performance enhancement or, for professional staff, training needs to ensure adequate progress to maintain credentialing, as well as timeframes needed to complete the training(s).

Training funds are available for all DBVI staff members in all areas of the state. The CSPD committee addresses current and projected needs of staff on an annual basis in a training plan. The committee surveys all staff annually, identifying both long and short-term training needs. The CSPD committee is made up of staff from each region and discipline. This provides a streamlined method of communication and involvement. A member of the DBVI State Rehabilitation Council also serves on the committee. The chair of the DBVI CSPD maintains ongoing communications with the DVR CSPD chair. We are able to coordinate training for the benefit of both programs.

The DBVI along with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, hosts a two-day statewide training event every 18 months at which multiple trainings that are identified and prioritized by staff and oversight bodies (i.e. State Rehabilitation Council, CSPD Advisory Committee) are offered. DBVI CSPD has committed in-service training grant funds to go towards a variety of training needs and have prioritized these funds: 1) VR personnel to meet the state standard 2) Staff to maintain certification. Training needs and activities are often identified and offered at regional/office/discipline levels at staff meetings, internal committee work, and at individual initiation.

In an effort to maximize training resources, staff often solicit local training resources to provide free or low cost workshops, attend trainings with a ‘train the trainer’ perspective to provide turn-around training to other staff, and share internal expertise through in-house training opportunities. In prior years, DBVI has been successful at leveraging training funds through collaboration with Assumption College RCEP, Perkins training funds, Lovill Trust and NY Lighthouse School for the Blind.

In the previous year, Maine DBVI has made continuous efforts to seek and identify enhanced learning opportunities, particularly through use of distance learning modalities, in providing educational forums for its staff. Videoconferencing capacity has been established on a statewide basis and has led to an extensive learning collaborative with DVR, the Career Center One Stops, the Social Security Administration, external partners such as Maine CITE, the Small Business Development Corporation, college preparation and the local workforce development boards. Maine DBVI staff also take advantage of distance training opportunities through webinars and teleconferences such as those offered by WorkforceOne, Independent Living Research Utilization, Social Security Administration and Parent Education Advocacy Training Center.

One very successful training provided by videoconferencing is the new counselor training curriculum, which entails a three-week, comprehensive overview of the VR process.  It includes topic areas such as rehabilitation technology, job placement and assessment, and vocational counseling.  It is available to all staff and required of new VRC staff, as well as interactive training modules in casework flow and post-secondary education. Additionally, training opportunities and conference materials are shared through a number of statewide avenues, including the Internet and Intranet, the CSPD advisory committee, and counselor, managerial and supervisory networking activities and interactions.

A library of training resources, including texts, journals and videotapes addressing vocational rehabilitation topic areas, are loaned to regional offices as needed. These materials include Institute on Rehabilitation Issues publications, computer CD’s and videotapes, Consumer Choice News, National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials, and other documents from the various National Rehabilitation and Research and Training Programs throughout the United States.

In October 2010, DBVI received a new In-Service Training Basic Award. Priorities will address recruitment and retention of qualified rehabilitation professionals, provide for succession planning, leadership development and capacity building, and training on the amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998.

Personnel to Address Individual Communication Needs

Describe how the designated state unit has personnel or obtains the services of other individuals who are able to communicate in the native language of applicants or eligible individuals who have limited English speaking ability or in appropriate modes of communication with applicants or eligible individuals.

In addressing issues associated with diversity and cultural needs, the Division has staff who are visually impaired who utilize and are well versed in adaptive technology utilized by our consumers. DBVI has an agreement with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on referral of individuals who are deaf-blind who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their native language. Counselors for the deaf have videophones at their desks for visual telephone communication and Video links, Video Relay Interpreting (VRI) as well as Video Remote Captioning which are at various stages of implementation within DVR and the Career Centers.  DBVI has also worked with the Division of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened and a variety of other collaborative partners to create a training program for professional interpreters for people who are deaf-blind.  This training has resulted in approximately twenty individuals being certified in this area.

When consumers do not speak English, staff employ interpreter services for individuals with whom they can not communicate directly. Specifically, Maine State Interpreters and Catholic Charities Maine are used. Additionally, Language Line is used for telephone interpreting.

Coordination of Personnel Development Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act

Describe the procedures and activities to coordinate the designated state unit's comprehensive system of personnel development with personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

Maine DBVI staff work with statewide Councils on Transition and are involved in events such as Mission Transition. Maine DBVI has also worked closely with the University of Maine and the Iris Network in order to develop and implement a one-week College Preparatory program designed to increase the success of Blind and Visually Impaired students going into a post-secondary institution.