Division on Visual Impairments

VIDBEQ 62(2) Spring 2017

A quarterly newsletter from the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Visual Impairments containing practitioner tips for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and other professionals.

Issue link: http://dvi.uberflip.com/i/827904

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 39

VIDBE-Q Volume 62 Issue 2 computer skills, social engagement, and disability-specific skills such as orientation and mobility, reading and writing with braille or using optical devices and assistive technology (Capella-McDonnall, 2010, 2011; Wolffe & Kelly, 2011; Wolffe, 2014). However, ensuring that students with visual impairments have opportunities to effectively learn these prerequisite employability skills and secure jobs prior to graduation is challenging. Most of these students are served in mainstream public schools where the staff with whom they work may not feel they have time with the students' busy academic schedules to also teach employability skills or guide them in job seeking. To be ready to exit secondary programs, join the workforce, and integrate into local communities, students with visual impairments may benefit from off-campus or extracurricular instruction in self-awareness, career exploration, job seeking and job maintenance skills to help them secure jobs. The Perkins School for the Blind is known widely for its stellar on-campus programming for students with visual impairments, including those with additional disabilities. In 2015, Perkins Administration with Board support decided to expand the school's short course offerings to meet this transition need of students with visual impairments throughout New England and its CEO established a program planning committee with faculty, staff, and an external consultant. During the last six months of 2015, the committee edited materials from the Transition Tote System (Wolffe, 2012) and the RNIB Pre-Employment Program Trainer's Manual (Wolffe, 2011), and collected a variety of resources from the Internet. These curricular materials were chosen based on evidence of their effectiveness in similar training situations (Jorgensen-Smith & Lewis, 2004; McMahon, Wolffe, Wolfe, & Booker, 2013; Wittich, Watanabe, Scully, & Bergevin, 2013). With this content, the team designed and wrote up a proposed curriculum and syllabus to launch the Perkins PEP in January 2016. The pilot was offered at the Grousbeck Center, on the Perkins' campus, as a ten-session classroom program (every other Saturday during the spring semester) with online learning support between sessions via Yammer. It was designed specifically for youth with visual impairments, intending to enter competitive employment settings. The ten PEP sessions included self-awareness and career exploration activities; as well 34

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