ED/OSERS/RSA
Rehabilitation Services Administration
U.S. Department of Education

State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and
State Plan Supplement for the State Supported Employment Services Program
New Mexico Commission for the Blind State Plan for Fiscal Year 2012 (submitted FY 2011)

1.1 The New Mexico Commission for the Blind is authorized to submit this State Plan under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended [1] and its supplement under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act [2].

1.2 As a condition for the receipt of federal funds under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind [3] agrees to operate and administer the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program in accordance with the provisions of this State Plan [4], the Rehabilitation Act, and all applicable regulations [5], policies and procedures established by the secretary. Funds made available under Section 111 of the Rehabilitation Act are used solely for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and the administration of the State Plan for the vocational rehabilitation services program.

1.3 As a condition for the receipt of federal funds under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act for supported employment services, the designated state agency agrees to operate and administer the State Supported Employment Services Program in accordance with the provisions of the supplement to this State Plan [6], the Rehabilitation Act and all applicable regulations [7], policies and procedures established by the secretary. Funds made available under Title VI, Part B, are used solely for the provision of supported employment services and the administration of the supplement to the Title I State Plan.
Yes

1.4 The designated state agency and/or the designated state unit has the authority under state law to perform the functions of the state regarding this State Plan and its supplement.
Yes

1.5 The state legally may carry out each provision of the State Plan and its supplement.
Yes

1.6 All provisions of the State Plan and its supplement are consistent with state law.
Yes

1.7 The (enter title of state officer below)
Yes

Executive Director New Mexico Commission for the Blind

... has the authority under state law to receive, hold and disburse federal funds made available under this State Plan and its supplement.

1.8 The (enter title of state officer below)...
Yes

Executive Director New Mexico Commission for the Blind

... has the authority to submit this State Plan for vocational rehabilitation services and the State Plan supplement for supported employment services.

1.9 The agency that submits this State Plan and its supplement has adopted or otherwise formally approved the plan and its supplement.
Yes

State Plan Certified By

As the authorized signatory identified above, I hereby certify that I will sign, date and retain in the files of the designated state agency/designated state unit Section 1 of the Preprint, and separate Certification of Lobbying forms (Form ED-80-0013; available at http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/ed80-013.pdf) for both the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Greg Trapp J.D.

Title of Signatory
Executive Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/30/2011

Assurances Certified By

At the request of RSA, the designated state agency and/or the designated state unit provide the following assurance(s), in addition to those contained within Section 2 through 8 below, in connection with the approval of the State Plan for FY 2012
Yes

Comments:

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Greg Trapp J.D.

Title of Signatory
Executive Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/30/2011

* The signatory of the assurance with the authority to execute and submit the State Plan will maintain a signed copy of the assurance(s) with the signed State Plan.

Section 1 Footnotes

[1] Public Law 93 112, as amended by Public Laws 93 516, 95 602, 98 221, 99 506, 100-630, 102-569, 103-073, and 105-220.

[2] Unless otherwise stated, "Rehabilitation Act" means the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

[3] All references in this plan to "designated state agency" or to "the state agency" relate to the agency identified in this paragraph.

[4] No funds under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act may be awarded without an approved State Plan in accordance with Section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR part 361.

[5] Applicable regulations include the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR Parts 74, 76, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85 and 86 and the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program regulations in 34 CFR Part 361.

[6] No funds under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act may be awarded without an approved supplement to the Title I State Plan in accordance with Section 625(a) of the Rehabilitation Act.

[7] Applicable regulations include the EDGAR citations in footnote 5, 34 CFR Part 361, and 34 CFR Part 363.

2.1 Public participation requirements. (Section 101(a)(16)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.10(d), .20(a), (b), (d); and 363.11(g)(9))

(a) Conduct of public meetings.

The designated state agency, prior to the adoption of any substantive policies or procedures governing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under the State Plan and supported employment services under the supplement to the State Plan, including making any substantive amendments to the policies and procedures, conducts public meetings throughout the state to provide the public, including individuals with disabilities, an opportunity to comment on the policies or procedures.

(b) Notice requirements.

The designated state agency, prior to conducting the public meetings, provides appropriate and sufficient notice throughout the state of the meetings in accordance with state law governing public meetings or, in the absence of state law governing public meetings, procedures developed by the state agency in consultation with the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council.

(c) Special consultation requirements.

The state agency actively consults with the director of the Client Assistance Program, the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council and, as appropriate, Indian tribes, tribal organizations and native Hawaiian organizations on its policies and procedures governing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under the State Plan and supported employment services under the supplement to the State Plan.

3.1 Submission and revisions of the State Plan and its supplement. (Sections 101(a)(1), (23) and 625(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act; Section 501 of the Workforce Investment Act; 34 CFR 76.140; 361.10(e), (f), and (g); and 363.10)

(a) The state submits to the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration the State Plan and its supplement on the same date that the state submits either a State Plan under Section 112 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 or a state unified plan under Section 501 of that Rehabilitation Act.

(b) The state submits only those policies, procedures or descriptions required under this State Plan and its supplement that have not been previously submitted to and approved by the commissioner.

(c) The state submits to the commissioner, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner determines to be appropriate, reports containing annual updates of the information relating to the:

  1. comprehensive system of personnel development;
  2. assessments, estimates, goals and priorities, and reports of progress;
  3. innovation and expansion activities; and
  4. other updates of information required under Title I, Part B, or Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act that are requested by the commissioner.

(d) The State Plan and its supplement are in effect subject to the submission of modifications the state determines to be necessary or the commissioner requires based on a change in state policy, a change in federal law, including regulations, an interpretation of the Rehabilitation Act by a federal court or the highest court of the state, or a finding by the commissioner of state noncompliance with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361 or 34 CFR 363.

3.2 Supported Employment State Plan supplement. (Sections 101(a)(22) and 625(a) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.34 and 363.10)

(a) The state has an acceptable plan for carrying out Part B, of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act that provides for the use of funds under that part to supplement funds made available under Part B, of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act for the cost of services leading to supported employment.

(b) The Supported Employment State Plan, including any needed annual revisions, is submitted as a supplement to the State Plan.

4.1 Designated state agency and designated state unit. (Section 101(a)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.13(a) and (b))

(a) Designated state agency.

  1. There is a state agency designated as the sole state agency to administer the State Plan or to supervise its administration in a political subdivision of the state by a sole local agency.

  1. The designated state agency is a state agency that is primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities (Option A was selected/Option B was not selected).

  1. In American Samoa, the designated state agency is the governor.

(b) Designated state unit.

  1. If the designated state agency is not primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities, in accordance with subparagraph 4.1(a)(2)(B) of this section, the state agency includes a vocational rehabilitation bureau, division or unit that:

  1. is primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and is responsible for the administration of the designated state agency's vocational rehabilitation program under the State Plan;
  2. has a full-time director;
  3. has a staff, at least 90 percent of whom are employed full-time on the rehabilitation work of the organizational unit; and
  4. is located at an organizational level and has an organizational status within the designated state agency comparable to that of other major organizational units of the designated state agency.

  1. The name of the designated state vocational rehabilitation unit is
New Mexico Commission for the Blind

4.2 State independent commission or State Rehabilitation Council. (Sections 101(a)(21) and 105 of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.16 and .17)

The State Plan must contain one of the following assurances.

(a) The designated state agency is an independent state commission that

  1. is responsible under state law for operating or overseeing the operation of the vocational rehabilitation program in the state and is primarily concerned with the vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities in accordance with subparagraph 4.1(a)(2)(A) of this section.
  1. is consumer controlled by persons who:
    1. are individuals with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit major life activities; and
    2. represent individuals with a broad range of disabilities, unless the designated state unit under the direction of the commission is the state agency for individuals who are blind;
  1. includes family members, advocates or other representatives of individuals with mental impairments; and
  1. undertakes the functions set forth in Section 105(c)(4) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.17(h)(4).

(b) The state has established a State Rehabilitation Council that meets the criteria set forth in Section 105 of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361.17

(c) If the designated state unit has a State Rehabilitation Council, Attachment 4.2(c) provides a summary of the input provided by the council consistent with the provisions identified in subparagraph (b)(3) of this section; the response of the designated state unit to the input and recommendations; and, explanations for the rejection of any input or any recommendation.

(Option B was selected)

4.3 Consultations regarding the administration of the State Plan. (Section 101(a)(16)(B) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.21)

The designated state agency takes into account, in connection with matters of general policy arising in the administration of the plan and its supplement, the views of:

(a) individuals and groups of individuals who are recipients of vocational rehabilitation services or, as appropriate, the individuals' representatives;
(b) personnel working in programs that provide vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
(c) providers of vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
(d) the director of the Client Assistance Program; and
(e) the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has a council.

4.4 Nonfederal share. (Sections 7(14) and 101(a)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 80.24 and 361.60)

The nonfederal share of the cost of carrying out this State Plan is 21.3 percent and is provided through the financial participation by the state or, if the state elects, by the state and local agencies.

4.5 Local administration. (Sections 7(24) and 101(a)(2)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.5(b)(47) and .15)

The State Plan provides for the administration of the plan by a local agency. No

If "Yes", the designated state agency:

(a) ensures that each local agency is under the supervision of the designated state unit with the sole local agency, as that term is defined in Section 7(24) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.5(b)(47), responsible for the administration of the vocational rehabilitation program within the political subdivision that it serves; and
(b) develops methods that each local agency will use to administer the vocational rehabilitation program in accordance with the State Plan.

4.6 Shared funding and administration of joint programs. (Section 101(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.27)

The State Plan provides for the state agency to share funding and administrative responsibility with another state agency or local public agency to carry out a joint program to provide services to individuals with disabilities. No

If "Yes", the designated state agency submits to the commissioner for approval a plan that describes its shared funding and administrative arrangement. The plan must include:

(a) a description of the nature and scope of the joint program;
(b) the services to be provided under the joint program;
(c) the respective roles of each participating agency in the administration and provision of services; and
(d) the share of the costs to be assumed by each agency.

4.7 Statewideness and waivers of statewideness. (Section 101(a)(4) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.25, .26, and .60(b)(3)(i) and (ii))

X This agency is requesting a waiver of statewideness.

(a) Services provided under the State Plan are available in all political subdivisions of the state.
(b) The state unit may provide services in one or more political subdivisions of the state that increase services or expand the scope of services that are available statewide under this State Plan if the:

  1. nonfederal share of the cost of these services is met from funds provided by a local public agency, including funds contributed to a local public agency by a private agency, organization or individual;

  1. services are likely to promote the vocational rehabilitation of substantially larger numbers of individuals with disabilities or of individuals with disabilities with particular types of impairments; and

  1. state, for purposes other than the establishment of a community rehabilitation program or the construction of a particular facility for community rehabilitation program purposes, requests in Attachment 4.7(b)(3) a waiver of the statewideness requirement in accordance with the following requirements:

  1. identification of the types of services to be provided;

  1. written assurance from the local public agency that it will make available to the state unit the nonfederal share of funds;

  1. written assurance that state unit approval will be obtained for each proposed service before it is put into effect; and

  1. written assurance that all other State Plan requirements, including a state's order of selection, will apply to all services approved under the waiver.

(c) Contributions, consistent with the requirements of 34 CFR 361.60(b)(3)(ii), by private entities of earmarked funds for particular geographic areas within the state may be used as part of the nonfederal share without the state requesting a waiver of the statewideness requirement provided that the state notifies the commissioner that it cannot provide the full nonfederal share without using the earmarked funds.

4.8 Cooperation, collaboration and coordination. (Sections 101(a)(11), (24)(B), and 625(b)(4) and (5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.22, .23, .24, and .31, and 363.11(e))

(a) Cooperative agreements with other components of statewide work force investment system.

The designated state agency or the designated state unit has cooperative agreements with other entities that are components of the statewide work force investment system and replicates those agreements at the local level between individual offices of the designated state unit and local entities carrying out the One-Stop service delivery system or other activities through the statewide work force investment system.

(b) Cooperation and coordination with other agencies and entities.

Attachment 4.8(b) (1)-(4) describes the designated state agency's:

  1. cooperation with and use of the services and facilities of the federal, state, and local agencies and programs, including programs carried out by the undersecretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture and state use contracting programs, to the extent that those agencies and programs are not carrying out activities through the statewide work force investment system;

  1. coordination, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 4.8(c) of this section, with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. establishment of cooperative agreements with private nonprofit vocational rehabilitation service providers, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 5.10(b) of the State Plan; and,

  1. efforts to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and entities with respect to the provision of supported employment and extended services for individuals with the most significant disabilities, in accordance with the requirements of subsection 6.5 of the supplement to this State Plan.

(c) Coordination with education officials.

  1. Attachment 4.8(b)(2) describes the plans, policies and procedures for coordination between the designated state agency and education officials responsible for the public education of students with disabilities that are designed to facilitate the transition of the students who are individuals with disabilities from the receipt of educational services in school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services under the responsibility of the designated state agency.

  1. The State Plan description must:

  1. provide for the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment in accordance with 34 CFR 361.45 as early as possible during the transition planning process but, at the latest, 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; and

  1. include information on a formal interagency agreement with the state educational agency that, at a minimum, provides for:

  1. consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to postschool activities, including vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and the educational agency for students with disabilities that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs under Section 614(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;

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

  1. procedures for outreach to students with disabilities as early as possible during the transition planning process and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services.

(d) Coordination with statewide independent living council and independent living centers.

The designated state unit, the Statewide Independent Living Council established under Section 705 of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 364, and the independent living centers described in Part C of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 366 have developed working relationships and coordinate their activities.

(e) Cooperative agreement with recipients of grants for services to American Indians.

  1. There is in the state a recipient(s) of a grant under Part C of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services for American Indians who are individuals with disabilities residing on or near federal and state reservations. Yes

  1. If "Yes", the designated state agency has entered into a formal cooperative agreement that meets the following requirements with each grant recipient in the state that receives funds under Part C of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act:

  1. strategies for interagency referral and information sharing that will assist in eligibility determinations and the development of individualized plans for employment;

  1. procedures for ensuring that American Indians who are individuals with disabilities and are living near a reservation or tribal service area are provided vocational rehabilitation services; and

  1. provisions for sharing resources in cooperative studies and assessments, joint training activities, and other collaborative activities designed to improve the provision of services to American Indians who are individuals with disabilities.

4.9 Methods of administration. (Section 101(a)(6) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.12, .19 and .51(a) and (b))

(a) In general.

The state agency employs methods of administration, including procedures to ensure accurate data collection and financial accountability, found by the commissioner to be necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the plan and for carrying out all the functions for which the state is responsible under the plan and 34 CFR 361.

(b) Employment of individuals with disabilities.

The designated state agency and entities carrying out community rehabilitation programs in the state, who are in receipt of assistance under Part B, of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and this State Plan, take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities covered under and on the same terms and conditions as set forth in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

(c) Facilities.

Any facility used in connection with the delivery of services assisted under this State Plan meets program accessibility requirements consistent with the provisions, as applicable, of the Architectural Barriers Rehabilitation Act of 1968, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the regulations implementing these laws.

4.10 Comprehensive system of personnel development. (Section 101(a)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.18)

Attachment 4.10 describes the designated state agency's procedures and activities to establish and maintain a comprehensive system of personnel development designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified state rehabilitation professional and paraprofessional personnel for the designated state unit. The description includes the following:

(a) Data system on personnel and personnel development.

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

  1. Qualified personnel needs.

  1. 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;

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

  1. 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 five 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.

  1. Personnel development.

  1. A list of the institutions of higher education in the state that are preparing vocational rehabilitation professionals, by type of program;

  1. The number of students enrolled at each of those institutions, broken down by type of program; and

  1. 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.

(b) Plan for recruitment, preparation and retention of qualified personnel.

Development, updating on an annual basis, and implementation of a plan to address the current and projected needs for qualified personnel based on the data collection and analysis system described in paragraph (a) of this subsection and that provides for 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 in accordance with paragraph (c) of this subsection, including personnel from minority backgrounds and personnel who are individuals with disabilities.

(c) Personnel standards.

Policies and procedures for the establishment and maintenance of personnel standards to ensure that designated state unit professional and paraprofessional personnel are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained, 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.

  1. 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, the institutions of higher education identified in subparagraph (a)(2), and other public agencies of these steps and the time lines for taking each step.

  1. The written plan required by subparagraph (c)(2) describes the following:

  1. specific strategies for retraining, recruiting and hiring personnel;

  1. the specific time period by which all state unit personnel will meet the standards required by subparagraph (c)(1);

  1. procedures for evaluating the designated state unit's progress in hiring or retraining personnel to meet applicable personnel standards within the established time period; and

  1. 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 and the identification of a plan for training such individuals to meet the applicable standards within the time period established for all state unit personnel to meet the established personnel standards.

(d) Staff development.

Policies, procedures and activities to ensure that all personnel employed by the designated state unit receive appropriate and adequate training. The narrative describes the following:

  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.

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

(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs.

Availability of personnel within the designated state unit or obtaining 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.

(f) Coordination of personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

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

4.11. Statewide assessment; annual estimates; annual state goals and priorities; strategies; and progress reports.

(Sections 101(a)(15), 105(c)(2) and 625(b)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.17(h)(2), .29, and 363.11(b))

(a) Comprehensive statewide assessment.

  1. Attachment 4.11(a) documents the results of a comprehensive, statewide assessment, jointly conducted every three years by the designated state unit and the State Rehabilitation Council (if the state has such a council). The assessment describes:

  1. the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities residing within the state, particularly the vocational rehabilitation services needs of:

  1. individuals with the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services;

  1. individuals with disabilities who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program carried out under this State Plan; and

  1. individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide work force investment system.

  1. The need to establish, develop or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state.

  1. For any year in which the state updates the assessments, the designated state unit submits to the commissioner a report containing information regarding updates to the assessments.

(b) Annual estimates.

Attachment 4.11(b) identifies on an annual basis state estimates of the:

  1. number of individuals in the state who are eligible for services under the plan;

  1. number of eligible individuals who will receive services provided with funds provided under Part B of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and under Part B of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act, including, if the designated state agency uses an order of selection in accordance with subparagraph 5.3(b)(2) of this State Plan, estimates of the number of individuals to be served under each priority category within the order; and

  1. costs of the services described in subparagraph (b)(1), including, if the designated state agency uses an order of selection, the service costs for each priority category within the order.

(c) Goals and priorities.

  1. Attachment 4.11(c)(1) identifies the goals and priorities of the state that are jointly developed or revised, as applicable, with and agreed to by the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council, in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

  1. The designated state agency submits to the commissioner a report containing information regarding any revisions in the goals and priorities for any year the state revises the goals and priorities.

  1. Order of selection.
    If the state agency implements an order of selection, consistent with subparagraph 5.3(b)(2) of the State Plan, Attachment 4.11(c)(3):

  1. shows the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. provides a justification for the order; and

  1. identifies the service and outcome goals, and the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.

  1. Goals and plans for distribution of Title VI, Part B, funds.
    Attachment 4.11(c)(4) specifies, consistent with subsection 6.4 of the State Plan supplement, the state's goals and priorities with respect to the distribution of funds received under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of supported employment services.

(d) Strategies.

  1. Attachment 4.11(d) describes the strategies, including:

  1. the methods to be used to expand and improve services to individuals with disabilities, including how a broad range of assistive technology services and assistive technology devices will be provided to those individuals at each stage of the rehabilitation process and how those services and devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities on a statewide basis;

  1. outreach procedures to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who are minorities, including those with the most significant disabilities in accordance with subsection 6.6 of the State Plan supplement, and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program;

  1. as applicable, the plan of the state for establishing, developing or improving community rehabilitation programs;

  1. strategies to improve the performance of the state with respect to the evaluation standards and performance indicators established pursuant to Section 106 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

  1. strategies for assisting other components of the statewide work force investment system in assisting individuals with disabilities.

  1. Attachment 4.11 (d) describes how the designated state agency uses these strategies to:

  1. address the needs identified in the assessment conducted under paragraph 4.11(a) and achieve the goals and priorities identified in the State Plan attachments under paragraph 4.11(c);

  1. support the innovation and expansion activities identified in subparagraph 4.12(a)(1) and (2) of the plan; and

  1. overcome identified barriers relating to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and State Supported Employment Services Program.

(e) Evaluation and reports of progress.

  1. The designated state unit and the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state unit has a council, jointly submits to the commissioner an annual report on the results of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the vocational rehabilitation program and the progress made in improving the effectiveness of the program from the previous year.

  1. Attachment 4.11(e)(2):

  1. provides an evaluation of the extent to which the goals identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1) and, if applicable, Attachment 4.11(c)(3) were achieved;

  1. identifies the strategies that contributed to the achievement of the goals and priorities;

  1. describes the factors that impeded their achievement, to the extent they were not achieved;

  1. assesses the performance of the state on the standards and indicators established pursuant to Section 106 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

  1. provides a report consistent with paragraph 4.12(c) of the plan on how the funds reserved for innovation and expansion activities were utilized in the preceding year.

4.12 Innovation and expansion. (Section 101(a)(18) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.35)

(a) The designated state agency reserves and uses a portion of the funds allotted to the state under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act for the:

  1. development and implementation of innovative approaches to expand and improve the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities under this State Plan, particularly individuals with the most significant disabilities, consistent with the findings of the statewide assessment identified in Attachment 4.11(a) and goals and priorities of the state identified in Attachments 4.11(c)(1) and, if applicable, Attachment 4.11(c)(3); and

  1. support of the funding for the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has such a council, consistent with the resource plan prepared under Section 105(d)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.17(i), and the funding of the Statewide Independent Living Council, consistent with the resource plan prepared under Section 705(e)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 364.21(i).

(b) Attachment 4.11 (d) describes how the reserved funds identified in subparagraph 4.12(a)(1) and (2) will be utilized.
(c) Attachment 4.11(e)(2) describes how the reserved funds were utilized in the preceding year.

4.13 Reports. (Section 101(a)(10) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.40)

(a) The designated state unit submits reports in the form and level of detail and at the time required by the commissioner regarding applicants for and eligible individuals receiving services under the State Plan.
(b) Information submitted in the reports provides a complete count, unless sampling techniques are used, of the applicants and eligible individuals in a manner that permits the greatest possible cross-classification of data and protects the confidentiality of the identity of each individual.

5.1 Information and referral services. (Sections 101(a)(5)(D) and (20) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.37)

The designated state agency has implemented an information and referral system that is adequate to ensure that individuals with disabilities, including individuals who do not meet the agency's order of selection criteria for receiving vocational rehabilitation services if the agency is operating on an order of selection, are provided accurate vocational rehabilitation information and guidance, including counseling and referral for job placement, using appropriate modes of communication, to assist such individuals in preparing for, securing, retaining or regaining employment, and are referred to other appropriate federal and state programs, including other components of the statewide work force investment system in the state.

5.2 Residency. (Section 101(a)(12) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.42(c)(1))

The designated state unit imposes no duration of residence requirement as part of determining an individual's eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services or that excludes from services under the plan any individual who is present in the state.

5.3 Ability to serve all eligible individuals; order of selection for services. (Sections 12(d) and 101(a)(5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.36)

(a) The designated state unit is able to provide the full range of services listed in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, as appropriate, to all eligible individuals with disabilities in the state who apply for services. Yes

(b) If No:

  1. Individuals with the most significant disabilities, in accordance with criteria established by the state, are selected first for vocational rehabilitation services before other individuals with disabilities.

  1. Attachment 4.11(c)(3):

  1. shows the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. provides a justification for the order of selection; and

  1. identifies the state's service and outcome goals and the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.

  1. Eligible individuals who do not meet the order of selection criteria have access to the services provided through the designated state unit's information and referral system established under Section 101(a)(20) of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361.37, and subsection 5.1 of this State Plan.

5.4 Availability of comparable services and benefits. (Sections 101(a)(8) and 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.53)

(a) Prior to providing any vocational rehabilitation services, except those services identified in paragraph (b), to an eligible individual or to members of the individual's family, the state unit determines whether comparable services and benefits exist under any other program and whether those services and benefits are available to the individual.
(b) The following services are exempt from a determination of the availability of comparable services and benefits:

  1. assessment for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs by qualified personnel, including, if appropriate, an assessment by personnel skilled in rehabilitation technology;

  1. counseling and guidance, including information and support services to assist an individual in exercising informed choice consistent with the provisions of Section 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act;

  1. referral and other services to secure needed services from other agencies, including other components of the statewide work force investment system, through agreements developed under Section 101(a)(11) of the Rehabilitation Act, if such services are not available under this State Plan;

  1. job-related services, including job search and placement assistance, job retention services, follow-up services, and follow-along services;

  1. rehabilitation technology, including telecommunications, sensory and other technological aids and devices; and

  1. post-employment services consisting of the services listed under subparagraphs (1) through (5) of this paragraph.

(c) The requirements of paragraph (a) of this section do not apply if the determination of the availability of comparable services and benefits under any other program would interrupt or delay:

  1. progress of the individual toward achieving the employment outcome identified in the individualized plan for employment;

  1. an immediate job placement; or

  1. provision of vocational rehabilitation services to any individual who is determined to be at extreme medical risk, based on medical evidence provided by an appropriate qualified medical professional.

(d) The governor in consultation with the designated state vocational rehabilitation agency and other appropriate agencies ensures that an interagency agreement or other mechanism for interagency coordination that meets the requirements of Section 101(a)(8)(B)(i)-(iv) of the Rehabilitation Act takes effect between the designated state unit and any appropriate public entity, including the state Medicaid program, a public institution of higher education, and a component of the statewide work force investment system to ensure the provision of the vocational rehabilitation services identified in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, other than the services identified in paragraph (b) of this section, that are included in the individualized plan for employment of an eligible individual, including the provision of those vocational rehabilitation services during the pendency of any dispute that may arise in the implementation of the interagency agreement or other mechanism for interagency coordination.

5.5 Individualized plan for employment. (Section 101(a)(9) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.45 and .46)

(a) An individualized plan for employment meeting the requirements of Section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.45 and .46 is developed and implemented in a timely manner for each individual determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, except if the state has implemented an order of selection, and is developed and implemented for each individual to whom the designated state unit is able to provide vocational rehabilitation services.
(b) Services to an eligible individual are provided in accordance with the provisions of the individualized plan for employment.

5.6 Opportunity to make informed choices regarding the selection of services and providers. (Sections 101(a)(19) and 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.52)

Applicants and eligible individuals or, as appropriate, their representatives are provided information and support services to assist in exercising informed choice throughout the rehabilitation process, consistent with the provisions of Section 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.52.

5.7 Services to American Indians. (Section 101(a)(13) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.30)

The designated state unit provides vocational rehabilitation services to American Indians who are individuals with disabilities residing in the state to the same extent as the designated state agency provides such services to other significant populations of individuals with disabilities residing in the state.

5.8 Annual review of individuals in extended employment or other employment under special certificate provisions of the fair labor standards act of 1938. (Section 101(a)(14) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.55)

(a) The designated state unit conducts an annual review and reevaluation of the status of each individual with a disability served under this State Plan:

  1. who has achieved an employment outcome in which the individual is compensated in accordance with Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 214(c)); or

  1. whose record of services is closed while the individual is in extended employment on the basis that the individual is unable to achieve an employment outcome in an integrated setting or that the individual made an informed choice to remain in extended employment.

(b) The designated state unit carries out the annual review and reevaluation for two years after the individual's record of services is closed (and thereafter if requested by the individual or, if appropriate, the individual's representative) to determine the interests, priorities and needs of the individual with respect to competitive employment or training for competitive employment.
(c) The designated state unit makes maximum efforts, including the identification and provision of vocational rehabilitation services, reasonable accommodations and other necessary support services, to assist the individuals described in paragraph (a) in engaging in competitive employment.
(d) The individual with a disability or, if appropriate, the individual's representative has input into the review and reevaluation and, through signed acknowledgement, attests that the review and reevaluation have been conducted.

5.9 Use of Title I funds for construction of facilities. (Sections 101(a)(17) and 103(b)(2)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.49(a)(1), .61 and .62(b))

If the state elects to construct, under special circumstances, facilities for community rehabilitation programs, the following requirements are met:

(a) The federal share of the cost of construction for facilities for a fiscal year does not exceed an amount equal to 10 percent of the state's allotment under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act for that fiscal year.
(b) The provisions of Section 306 of the Rehabilitation Act that were in effect prior to the enactment of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 apply to such construction.
(c) There is compliance with the requirements in 34 CFR 361.62(b) that ensure the use of the construction authority will not reduce the efforts of the designated state agency in providing other vocational rehabilitation services other than the establishment of facilities for community rehabilitation programs.

5.10 Contracts and cooperative agreements. (Section 101(a)(24) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.31 and .32)

(a) Contracts with for-profit organizations.

The designated state agency has the authority to enter into contracts with for-profit organizations for the purpose of providing, as vocational rehabilitation services, on-the-job training and related programs for individuals with disabilities under Part A of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act, upon the determination by the designated state agency that for-profit organizations are better qualified to provide vocational rehabilitation services than nonprofit agencies and organizations.

(b) Cooperative agreements with private nonprofit organizations.

Attachment 4.8(b)(3) describes the manner in which the designated state agency establishes cooperative agreements with private nonprofit vocational rehabilitation service providers.

Section 6: Program Administration

6.1 Designated state agency. (Section 625(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(a))

The designated state agency for vocational rehabilitation services identified in paragraph 1.2 of the Title I State Plan is the state agency designated to administer the State Supported Employment Services Program authorized under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act.

6.2 Statewide assessment of supported employment services needs. (Section 625(b)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(b))

Attachment 4.11(a) describes the results of the comprehensive, statewide needs assessment conducted under Section 101(a)(15)(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and subparagraph 4.11(a)(1) of the Title I State Plan with respect to the rehabilitation needs of individuals with most significant disabilities and their need for supported employment services, including needs related to coordination.

6.3 Quality, scope and extent of supported employment services. (Section 625(b)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(c) and .50(b)(2))

Attachment 6.3 describes the quality, scope and extent of supported employment services to be provided to individuals with the most significant disabilities who are eligible to receive supported employment services. The description also addresses the timing of the transition to extended services to be provided by relevant state agencies, private nonprofit organizations or other sources following the cessation of supported employment service provided by the designated state agency.

6.4 Goals and plans for distribution of Title VI, Part B, funds. (Section 625(b)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(d) and .20)

Attachment 4.11(c)(4) identifies the state's goals and plans with respect to the distribution of funds received under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act.

6.5 Evidence of collaboration with respect to supported employment services and extended services. (Sections 625(b)(4) and (5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(e))

Attachment 4.8(b)(4) describes 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 to assist in the provision of supported employment services and other public or nonprofit agencies or organizations within the state, employers, natural supports, and other entities with respect to the provision of extended services.

6.6 Minority outreach. (34 CFR 363.11(f))

Attachment 4.11(d) includes a description of the designated state agency's outreach procedures for identifying and serving individuals with the most significant disabilities who are minorities.

6.7 Reports. (Sections 625(b)(8) and 626 of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(h) and .52)

The designated state agency submits reports in such form and in accordance with such procedures as the commissioner may require and collects the information required by Section 101(a)(10) of the Rehabilitation Act separately for individuals receiving supported employment services under Part B, of Title VI and individuals receiving supported employment services under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act.

7.1 Five percent limitation on administrative costs. (Section 625(b)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(g)(8))

The designated state agency expends no more than five percent of the state's allotment under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act for administrative costs in carrying out the State Supported Employment Services Program.

7.2 Use of funds in providing services. (Sections 623 and 625(b)(6)(A) and (D) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.6(c)(2)(iv), .11(g)(1) and (4))

(a) Funds made available under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act are used by the designated state agency only to provide supported employment services to individuals with the most significant disabilities who are eligible to receive such services.
(b) Funds provided under Title VI, Part B, are used only to supplement and not supplant the funds provided under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act, in providing supported employment services specified in the individualized plan for employment.
(c) Funds provided under Part B of Title VI or Title I of the Rehabilitation Act are not used to provide extended services to individuals who are eligible under Part B of Title VI or Title I of the Rehabilitation Act.

8.1 Scope of supported employment services. (Sections 7(36) and 625(b)(6)(F) and (G) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.5(b)(54), 363.11(g)(6) and (7))

(a) Supported employment services are those services as defined in Section 7(36) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.5(b)(54).
(b) To the extent job skills training is provided, the training is provided on-site.
(c) Supported employment services include placement in an integrated setting for the maximum number of hours possible based on the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice of individuals with the most significant disabilities.

8.2 Comprehensive assessments of individuals with significant disabilities. (Sections 7(2)(B) and 625(b)(6)(B); 34 CFR 361.5(b)(6)(ii) and 363.11(g)(2))

The comprehensive assessment of individuals with significant disabilities conducted under Section 102(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and funded under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act includes consideration of supported employment as an appropriate employment outcome.

8.3 Individualized plan for employment. (Sections 102(b)(3)(F) and 625(b)(6)(C) and (E) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.46(b) and 363.11(g)(3) and (5))

(a) An individualized plan for employment that meets the requirements of Section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.45 and .46 is developed and updated using funds under Title I.
(b) The individualized plan for employment:

  1. specifies the supported employment services to be provided;

  1. describes the expected extended services needed; and

  1. identifies the source of extended services, including natural supports, or, to the extent that it is not possible to identify the source of extended services at the time the individualized plan for employment plan is developed, a statement describing the basis for concluding that there is a reasonable expectation that sources will become available.

(c) Services provided under an individualized plan for employment are coordinated with services provided under other individualized plans established under other federal or state programs.

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.

ATTACHMENT 4.2(c): SUMMARY OF INPUT AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL; RESPONSE OF THE DESIGNATED STATE UNIT; AND EXPLANATIONS FOR REJECTION OF INPUT OR RECOMMENDATIONS

Council Comments and Recommendations

The Council identified ten goals and priorities for the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, specifically the following:

a. Increase the number of consumers served through enhanced Outreach Activities; including Media outreach, collaboration with Eye Doctors, and the use of the Technology for Children program to conduct outreach to school districts.

The Council commented that the agency was doing an adequate job of reaching potential consumers, recommending an expansion of Commission outreach efforts to try to identify and reach additional consumers, including transition consumers.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendations.

b. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes of transition consumers by providing assistive technology where appropriate as a part of an Individualized Plan for Employment, by providing assistive technology through the Technology for Children Program, and by conducting educational activities to increase awareness and use of Braille, including Braille math.

The Council commented that it is essential for the Commission to engage in advocacy activities related to education of children who are blind and visually impaired. The Council commented strongly that such advocacy is paramount in guiding the Commission to ameliorate the impact on transition-age consumers, noting academic and compensatory skills deficiencies that impair employment training efforts. Of great concern is the lack of appropriate Braille instruction, and the lack of appropriate mathematics instruction using the Nemeth Code. The Council recommended that The Commission advocate for better Braille instruction as a form of barrier removal. The Council recommended that the Technology for Children Program be used as an additional way to enhance Braille literacy through the removal of barriers and the identification of consumers. The Council will continue discussions related to this issue. The Council will invite the Superintendent of the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NMSBVI) to a future meeting, commenting that the Commission and NMSBVI work very closely together. The Council commented that NMSBVI is the key provider of educational services to children who are blind or visually impaired through its early childhood programs, residential campus and outreach programs to school districts.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

c. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing services in a way that genuinely honors the “informed choice” provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

The Council recommended continued Commission emphasis on the "Informed Choice" provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, including emphasis on quality employment outcomes as measured by the average starting wage.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

d. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing a quality Newsline system that gives consumers access to employment listings, news, and other important information.

The Council recommended that the agency continue provision of Newsline, commenting that it was an invaluable program, including identification of Newsline as an item for the innovation and expansion funds.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

e. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by using the Skills Center to meet the needs of vocational rehabilitation consumers, as well as potential vocational rehabilitation consumers, in a way that is creative and innovative.

The Council recommended creative and innovative use of the skills center in Albuquerque, including use of the Center to conduct training and outreach activities for vocational rehabilitation consumers, and including use of innovation and expansion funds.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

f. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by utilizing the Adult Orientation Center to provide employment preparation training for both adults and transition students.

The Council recommended continued use of the Adult Orientation Center to provide employment preparation training, commenting that it was essential for meeting the needs of many newly blinded consumers, as well as consumers participating in the Students in Transition to Employment Program who have not received an appropriate education through their local school districts.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

g. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the provision of independent living services to vocational rehabilitation consumers.

The Council recommended that the Commission use Independent Living Teachers to provide Independent Living services to vocational rehabilitation consumers that will better enable the vocational rehabilitation consumers to obtain an employment outcome.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

h. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers who are Deaf-Blind through collaboration and partnership with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, including through the delivery of assistive technology to consumers who are Deaf-Blind.

The Council recommended placing an emphasis on the vocational rehabilitation needs of consumers who are deaf-blind, including through collaboration with other agencies.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

i. Enhance performance and productivity by increasing the accuracy and timeliness of the submission of Federal reports.

The Council recommended that the Commission place an emphasis on the documentation of performance on the Standards and Indicators, and especially the primary Indicators, through the accurate and timely submission of Federal reports.

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

j. Evaluate the goals/accomplishments for State FY 2010, goals for SFY 2011, and goals for SFY 2012 as part of the Performance-Based Budgeting process of the New Mexico Legislature. Consider state fiscal year goals as federal fiscal year goals.

The Council recommended evaluation of agency goals and accomplishments submitted as part of the Performance-Based Budgeting process, including consideration of economic, geographic, demographic, and other relevant circumstances.

1.) Number of quality employment outcomes for blind or visually impaired consumers:

- SFY 2010 Goal 50, Actual 40

- SFY 2011 Goal 45

- SFY 2012 Goal 38

2.) Average hourly employment wage for blind or visually impaired consumers:

- SFY 2010 Goal $15.00, Actual $13.32

- SFY 2011 Goal $15.00

- SFY 2012 Goal $13.50

3.) Number of employment opportunities provided for blind entrepreneurs in different vending and food facilities through the Business Enterprise Program:

- SFY 2010 Goal 32, Actual 32

- SFY 2011 Goal 32

- SFY 2012 Goal 32

The agency accepted the Council’s recommendation.

Other Council Comments and Recommendations

The Council based its comments and recommendations on discussions that took place in open session of Council meetings, which included a summary of public comments that were gathered at a series of town forums and public hearings. A summary of those comments are incorporated into this Attachment. The Council also adopted the Commission’s Strategic Plan, which is incorporated into this Attachment. No other comment or recommendation was provided by the Council.

EXPLANATION FOR AGENCY REJECTION OF COUNCIL INPUT OR RECOMMENDATIONS

The agency did not reject any Council input or recommendations.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS FROM PUBLIC HEARINGS AND TOWN FORUMS

Comments were taken at seven public hearings and town forums, conducted throughout the state and designed to solicit comment from geographically and ethnically diverse populations. The locations were Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Farmington. Notice was placed in local newspapers, placed on the Commission’s web page, placed on the Commission’s NEWSLINE for the Blind service, distributed to Independent Living Centers, and distributed by email to other stakeholders. Some of these events were held as town forums to create a less intimidating and more inviting process for participants, including two forums which offered participation by telephone. The forums and hearings were attended by State Rehabilitation Council members, including the Council Chair, the Chair of the Council’s State Plan Committee, and the Commission’s Executive Director. Opportunity for consumer participation was also facilitated by conducting hearings during the two statewide consumer organization conventions. Accessible materials were placed on the Commission’s web page and Newsline system. An opportunity for submission of written comments was provided and announced at each public hearing and town forum, but no written comments were received. A review of the public hearings and town forums took place at a meeting of the State Rehabilitation Council on June 10, 2011.

1. Town Forum by Teleconference: Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A town forum was held by teleconference in order to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The teleconference was held from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. The participants included council members Greg Trapp, the Executive Director of the Commission; Christine Hall, President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico; Marina Cordova; and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State Plan Committee. James Salas, Deputy Director for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, also participated. There were no members of the public participating.

There was extensive discussion regarding the education of children who are blind. The primary concern was the effectiveness of the education process and the impact on vocational rehabilitation for consumers. Kelly Burma pointed out that consumers are increasingly unprepared for college or other vocational training. She also made the point that the Teachers of the Visually impaired are frequently unprepared to teach assistive technology. Christine Hall pointed out that there are not enough Teachers of the Visually Impaired to serve the needs of students in school districts throughout the state. James Salas explain that changes had been made to the Manual of Operating Procedures which allows consumers to start college at half-time and then increase their course load as they progress. He also expressed a concern that remedial courses could be cut. This is a concern as many Commission consumers must take remedial coursework. The participants agreed that another issue is the lack of the appropriate teaching of alternative skills related to blindness. Solutions, including training at the Adult Orientation Center in Alamogordo and the use of the Hadley School for the Blind were discussed. The point was also made that the consumer’s informed choice has to be respected, meaning that participation in such programs could not be required as a perquisite to receipt of services.

A discussion regarding training programs led to a comment that the structured discovery model continues to be important. Marina Cordova said that she attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind, a training center run by the National Federation of the Blind, and that she found that learning using the structured discovery model was important as it was akin to dealing with real life situations.

2. Santa Fe Town Forum: Thursday, February 17, 2011

A town forum was held in the conference room of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind’s Santa Fe Office, 2905 Rodeo Park Drive East, Building 4 Suite 100, to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The forum was held from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. Eight people were in attendance at this forum, including Greg Trapp, the Executive Director of the Commission; James Salas, Deputy Director of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program; Virginia Murphy, Deputy Director of the Independent Living Program; Kelsang Jorlam, Director of Budget and Finance; James Babb, the Vice-Chair of the Council; Dallas Allen; Marina Cordova; Bernadine Chavez; and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State Plan Committee. Opportunity to participate by telephone was provided. However, no one joined by telephone.

There was discussion regarded outreach to independent living consumers, especially those whose cases were closed. Ms. Murphy provided a brief update on the survey of independent living consumers. Mr. Trapp provided a brief summation of the process regarding the survey of Vocational Rehabilitation consumers. He noted that an outside contractor is used in this process.

Responsiveness to consumers was discussed. Mr. Salas said that the expectation was that calls would be returned by the next business day, and that for new consumers it could be two weeks to 30 days from referral to application, depending on the counselor’s activities.

3. National Federation of the Blind Public Hearing: Saturday, April 09, 2011

A public hearing was held at the Hilton Hotel, 1901 University Boulevard Northeast, in Albuquerque, as part of the annual state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico, to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The public hearing was held from 11:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. Council members present for this hearing were Art Schreiber, the Chairman of the Council; Greg Trapp, Executive Director of the Commission; Christine Hall, the President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico; Peggy Hayes; Marina Cordova; and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State Plan Committee. James Salas, the Deputy Director of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program was also present. There were approximately 140 people in attendance.

Al Carter expressed concern that technology is the biggest single expense for the Commission. While he applauded the Commission for making such purchases, he felt that the equipment is rather complex and asked how consumers would be trained to use it. He expressed the concern that the manufacturer’s instructions are frequently badly written.

Mr. Trapp responded by saying that many technology items are difficult to learn because one must learn to use the accompanying assistive technology. He then said that Juan Haro had joined the Technology Unit in order to provide additional training.

Mr. Salas spoke to this further by saying that while work is being done to strengthen the technology instruction piece, it should be recognized that there are constraints regarding the use of Vocational Rehabilitation resources for Independent Living and Older Blind consumers. While Mr. Haro has been added to the technology staff to provide instruction, sources of good instructional material are also being investigated. Mr. Trapp said that self-motivation in learning is essential, explaining that consumers who apply themselves have greater success.

Discussion by Mario hooee and James Garriss regarded issues related to the globalization and digitalization of the economy and the meeting of individual needs where advocacy with employers is concerned. Mr. Trapp encouraged self-advocacy and working with counselors to meet individual needs.

Art Tannenbaum expressed appreciation for the spirit and personal perspective given by Mr. Trapp and Mr. Salas. Mr. Trapp called for recognition of Mr. Tannenbaum, as it is understood that Albuquerque would not have as good of a fixed route system without his persistent work.

Veronica Smith queried how the case load will be distributed among counselors when one of them leaves. Mr. Trapp said that the Commission balances caseloads, and he further solicited public comment on how each region can be better served. There are a few things that must be kept in mind, including the fact that the state is in a hiring freeze.

John Blake commended the Adult Orientation Center for its work in teaching alternative skills of blindness. Mr. Trapp expressed his thanks for Mr. Blake’s comment.

Mr. Trapp concluded the hearing by thanking Christine Hall for allowing the Commission to take the time on the NFB Convention’s agenda, as he believes it is important to reach out to the consumer organizations.

4. Farmington Town Forum: Thursday, April 21, 2011

A town forum was held at the Farmington Field Office of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, 3535 East 30th Street Suite 212, in Farmington, to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The town forum was held from 3:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. Greg Trapp, the Executive Director of the Commission for the Blind; and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State plan Committee were present. Angela Kyle, the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who serves the northwestern areas of New Mexico also represented the Commission. Others in attendance were Patricia Ziegler, the Executive Director of the San Juan Center for Independence; and Linda Sillers, one of Ms. Ziegler’s staff members. There were also parents of blind children in attendance, as well as Carol Green, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired who serves the Farmington school district. A Spanish language interpreter was provided as requested.

The focus of the discussion at this town forum was on the state of educational services to children who are blind or visually impaired in the region. Collaboration with the various area entities, including the Commission and the San Juan Center for Independence was discussed.

One discussed issue was technology. An important reason for this discussion in this area is the case of the Farmington School District, in which they use Apple computers in the classroom and labs. While equipped with screen reading and magnification technology as part of the operating system, there is concern that they are not universally accepted within the business community in a way that would prepare students who are blind or visually impaired for life beyond school. The Technology for Children Program was discussed in this town forum, and there was comment that it provided a way to conduct outreach to students and schools.

5. Alamogordo Town Forum: Thursday, May 12, 2011

A town forum was held at the Adult Orientation Center, 408 North White Sands Boulevard in Alamogordo, to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The forum was held from 12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. Greg Trapp, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind; and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State Plan Committee were present. No others were in attendance and no comment was received.

6. American Council of the Blind Public Hearing: Friday, May 13, 2011

A public hearing was held at the MCM Elegante Hotel, 1900 Menaul Boulevard NE in Albuquerque, as part of the annual state convention of the American Council of the Blind of New Mexico, to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The public hearing was held from 11:15 A.M. to 11:45 A.M. There were approximately 20 people in attendance which included Greg Trapp, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State Plan Committee. The Commission was also represented by James Salas, the Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation Programs. Lucy Birbiglia, the President of the American Council of the Blind of New Mexico was also in attendance.

Sharon Fernandez began by asking whether assistive technology classes were still held at the Commission. Mr. Trapp explained that federal requirements specify that the group receiving instruction must be people who are served by the Commission, most specifically those participating in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. He suggested working with the Independent Living staff, as work has been done to increase their capacity to instruct in assistive technology. Where training for Vocational Rehabilitation consumers is concerned, the addition of Juan Haro as a trainer increases the staff level to four and a half people.

Lucy Birbiglia, a Counselor for the Special Student Services Program at Central New Mexico Community College, said that she has noted that students are deficient academically and in their technology skills. As a result, they are not independent in their work. She expressed that she has also noted deficiencies in orientation and mobility skills.

Mr. Trapp said that when deficiencies are noted that they should be brought to the Commission’s attention. He then explained that the responsibility for educating students before entering college lies with the education system. Furthermore, parents who fight for their children’s rights and services are key to the student’s success and ability to benefit from the educational system. Kelly Burma also said that while the Commission offers a variety of services, including technology training through the Hadley School for the Blind, the consumer has the right to exercise informed choice when deciding whether to take advantage of the offered services.

Maria Ster thanked the Commission for her independence.

Mitch Pomerantz, the national ACB President and representative for the convention, said that he knew that there is a partnership between the American Council of the Blind of New Mexico and the Commission. He also said that there is a task force whose goal is to get a member from the organization’s on each State Rehabilitation Council. He queried as to whether the Commission currently had a member on the Council and if not, when did that change?

Mr. Trapp said that there have been ACB members on the council, and that he believed that there may be one current ACB member on the Council. He is happy to have ACB members considered for State Rehabilitation Council membership when opportunities arise for interested individuals to be appointed.

Lucy Birbiglia asked about the status of the skills center in Albuquerque. She also asked about how many had attended the Adult Orientation Center in Alamogordo and the cost per person related to that service.

Mr. Trapp said in response that reconceptualization of the skills center is taking place. Originally, it was to be a training program for seniors; however, budget constraints and strict requirements for usage of funds have caused its purpose to be used primarily for the Vocational Rehabilitation program. It can still be used for the Senior Week program as well as the Student in Transition to Employment Program. Where the Adult Orientation Center is concerned, the cost of not providing the service far outweighs the cost of providing the service. This having been said, an exact cost of this service per consumer is difficult to pin down because of the use of the Center for the STEP program.

Pablo Rivera expressed concern that residents of northern New Mexico are not aware of Commission services. Mr. Trapp said that he appreciated the comment and understands that more can be done in that area; however, public relations work in northern New Mexico does take place. This includes work with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and individual school districts to identify eligible students, including through the Technology for Children Program. Public Service Announcements have been distributed to radio stations, including some in Spanish; however, it is often difficult to get a Public Service Announcement on the air.

At the end of the comment period, Mr. Trapp thanked Lucy Birbiglia for allowing the time on the agenda during the ACB convention.

7. Carlsbad Town Forum: Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A town forum was held at the San Jose Senior Center, 814 San Jose Boulevard, in Carlsbad, to gather comment on the State Plan, Strategic Plan, Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and Needs Assessment. The town forum was held from 3:00 P.M. to 4:45 P.M. Greg Trapp, the Executive Director of the Commission and Kelly Burma, the Chairperson of the Council’s State plan committee were present. There were approximately 20 people in attendance, including Charles Gray, the leader of a low vision and blindness support group in the area and Janelle Whitlock, a city council member.

Much of the comment gathered regarded the lack of quality transportation services in the area. After the specific services were described, Mr. Trapp told the assembled group that the City of Carlsbad was meeting the requirements of applicable law; however, he expressed his understanding of the frustration of the people in the room.

Issues related to medical services and transportation to El Paso, Texas, where people are generally sent for certain medical services, including opthomology, was also discussed. Part of this discussion was anecdotes about how supports for the people in the room, such as spouses and family members were pitching in to meet the need. With the help of Mr. Trapp continued discussion surrounded how meeting of the need could be organized, especially using the independent living center in the area.

One of the attendees asked if there is a therapeutic benefit to attending meetings of the support group by phone. Ms. Burma and Mr. Trapp said that some benefit may be derived from such activities; however, the benefit of social interaction with peers is important.

Concern was also expressed that the commission’s presence is not felt as much as members of the group would like in the area. Mr. Trapp explained that there is a vocational rehabilitation counselor and an Independent Living Teacher assigned to the area from the Roswell Field Office. Efforts regarding media outreach were also discussed. The reality is that resources are limited.

The parent of a child who is blind expressed gratitude for the Commission’s help for her son through the vocational rehabilitation program, including through the Technology for Children and Independent Living programs. The parent also expressed regret that her child was not able to attend the Student Transition to Employment Program in Alamogordo. Mr. Trapp explained that because of the state hiring freeze and the unpredictability in getting exceptions to it, the residential Students in Transition to Employment Program could not be provided in a way so as to assure adequate staffing and participant safety.

STRATEGIC PLAN

NEW MEXICO COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND

Strategic Plan

July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013

(1) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Commission for the Blind develops the strategic plan through discussion and input from a variety of stakeholders, including the State Rehabilitation Council. The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) is federally mandated by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The SRC is representative of the disability community and required to be comprised of a majority of individuals who are legally blind. The membership includes current or former recipients of rehabilitation services; members of business, industry or labor; representatives of individuals with a disability not able to represent themselves; a representative of the State Independent Living Council; a representative from the Client Assistance Program; and a current or former vocational rehabilitation counselor. The membership also includes a representative of the State Department of Education; a representative from the Workforce Development Board; a representative from the Native American Section 121 Projects; and a representative from a Parent Training and Information Center.

The SRC undertook an extensive revision of the Strategic Plan in 2011. As part of this review, the SRC conducted meetings throughout the State. These meetings were open to the public and notices were published in the appropriate newspapers and also placed on Newsline for the Blind. These public hearings provided the public with an opportunity to comment on needs and prioritization of services. The strategic plan was approved by the SRC on June 10, 2011, and by the Commission on August xxx, 2011.

(2) INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ASSESSMENTS

a. Situation Inventory

The Commission for the Blind is the key state agency for providing and integrating services for persons who are legally blind. Commission staff serves on the four Local Workforce Development Boards. Commission employees also serve on numerous other entities, including the Governor’s Commission on Disability (GCD); the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC); the Statewide Transition Coordinating Council; and the New Mexico Technology Assistance Program. The Executive Director also has the national perspective from his service as a Past President of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), and his continued service on the NCSAB Executive Committee.

While the Commission ranks as one of the nation’s leading agencies in provision of employment services to persons who are blind, the Commission is facing the twin prospects of a dramatic increase in the number of younger persons who are blind, as well as a dramatic increase in the number of persons who are "older blind." The Commission must be prepared to meet this growing challenge. The Commission is also confronted with an increasing number of vocational rehabilitation consumers who require intensive and highly specialized services and training, and must likewise be prepared to meet this growing need. The Commission must provide services to persons who are blind in a way that is both innovative and that builds upon the successes of the past.

b. Environmental Scan

The Commission is governed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the rules and regulations of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). RSA is a branch of the United States Department of Education. RSA issues regulations and policy directives which interpret the Rehabilitation Act, as well as the Randolph-Sheppard Act and Ability One (formerly the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act). The Commission is obligated to observe these RSA regulations and policy directives. The Commission is mandated by the Rehabilitation Act to provide its services in partnership with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), whose members are appointed by the Governor. The Commission is also required to work with a committee of blind operators of vending facilities run pursuant to the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act, as well as the companion state vending law at NMSA 22-14-24. Additionally, the Commission is governed by various state statutes and regulations, including the Commission for the Blind Act which established the Commission and created a three-person board of directors appointed by the Governor. The Commission is also a mandated partner of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and Commission employees serve on the local Workforce Development Boards. The Commission must also operate pursuant to other applicable law, including Section 102 of the Rehab Act, Section 504 of the Rehab Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

c. Anticipation or Foresight

Population Served

The Commission serves populations which can be placed into three basic groups;

(1) Young persons 14 21 who are transitioning from school;

(2) Persons over 14 who have a vocational goal; and

(3) Persons who have an independent living goal.

There are important trends that can be identified in regard to all three population groups.

Transition Services

The Commission helps young persons who are in the process of leaving the school setting, either immediately to work or to college or vocational programs for additional education. Within this population group there are several clearly discernable trends which can be identified;

(1) A decreasing rate of Braille literacy;

(2) An increasing number of persons who have multiple disabilities; and

(3) An increasing need for technology training.

The reduction in Braille literacy is resulting in a corresponding decrease in overall literacy. Persons who have strong Braille skills have been shown to have a better chance of becoming successfully employed. This trend is primarily due to decreasing use of residential schools for the blind, the trend within local schools to mainstream blind students, the shortage of qualified teachers of the visually impaired, and the use of audio books, magnification, or other reading methods which are sometimes substituted inappropriately for Braille. The Commission will need to provide these students with additional support and training to achieve a successful employment outcome.

There is a dramatic increase in the rate of persons born and diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH). The rate of ONH has increased by 600% in the last 30 years. ONH results in an underdeveloped optic nerve, and often results in learning and developmental disabilities. There is also an increase in the number of premature births, with an increase of 29% since 1981. Visual impairments and other disabilities are significantly more common in infants born prematurely. The increasing rate of multiple-disabilities due to the increasing rates of ONH and premature births, the deinstitutionalization of residents from state facilities, and the overall trend towards less restrictive community placements has caused a dramatic increase in the number of consumers who have multiple disabilities. These persons require significantly higher levels of additional services and resources. Over the next five to twenty years, the Commission will be confronted with a large influx of consumers who have ONH, and the Commission must be prepared to meet the needs of this population.

The increasing importance of computers and the internet has caused a corresponding increase in the need to provide transitioning students with assistive technology that is adapted for use by the blind. Many school districts lack both the expertise and resources to provide this assistive technology. As a result, the Commission must be willing and able to provide this assistive technology to assure that the transitioning student has the appropriate opportunity for a successful employment outcome. In 2008, the Commission obtained $80,000 in reoccurring “Technology for Children” funding through a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Health. The Commission entered into an additional memorandum of understanding with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to help distribute the assistive technology. The technology provided is designed to complement what is being provided by the schools, serve as an outreach activity to build and strengthen relationship with school districts, and to remove barriers that might otherwise impede the employability of current and future consumers. The Technology for Children program serves children birth through age 17, helping to prepare these children for eventual participation in the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation program.

Vocational Rehabilitation

There are four primary trends which can be seen in the vocational rehabilitation program:

(1) A growing number of adults who do not have Braille skills;

(2) An increase in the number of persons who have multiple disabilities;

(3) An increase in the number of older persons who have a vocational goal; and

(4) An increase in the need for computer proficiency to become and remain employed.

Independent Living and Older Blind

The Commission provides independent living services which help blind persons to live in their own homes and communities. Most of these persons are newly blind and over 55 years of age (older blind). Because of the aging of the population, the number of older blind persons is predicted to increase dramatically. There are approximately 5.5 million seniors who are blind or visually impaired. 3.5% of persons over 65 are legally blind. In 1992 it was estimated that nationally there were 787,000 blind seniors who were 65 or over. The National Federation of the Blind estimates that this number will have increased to 1.6 million by 2015. This estimate is likely a conservative number as it does not take into account the continually increasing life span and the corresponding increase in the rate of age-related macular degeneration that accompanies longevity. The aging of the population is also resulting in an increase of the number of persons who are deaf-blind.

Succession Planning

Succession planning is a critical need for vocational rehabilitation agencies. It is even more urgent for state agencies for the blind as such agencies concentrate functions in fewer individuals, making each individual critically important to the overall operation of the agency. There is also a shortage of professionals who are qualified to hold many of these positions, and most especially of qualified professionals who are blind. The Commission must therefore attempt to anticipate the departure of key staff and plan accordingly.

The Commission has only had four executive directors in its 25 year history. The current executive director has served in that capacity since 1999, making him the longest serving director in the Commission’s history. Changes in administration in Santa Fe have never resulted in removal of the agency director, or of the other Governor’s Exempt staff. In 2003, the Commission placed its most critical fiscal operations under classified staff to mitigate the impact should a future administration replace Governor’s Exempt staff. The Commission is especially susceptible to succession difficulties since it has a relatively large number of Governors Exempt staff in critical management positions, and since these staff possess highly specialized abilities. In addition, the state and national economic situation has resulted in a hiring freeze, which has unavoidably and unfortunately resulted in the further concentration of critical duties in key staff.

The Commission will maintain an awareness of the possible and likely departure schedules of all key staff, as well as the departure of other staff which may engender succession difficulties. Maximum effort will be undertaken to seek exceptions to the hiring freeze, and to cross-train and mentor key employees. To the maximum extent possible, the Executive Director and Deputy Directors will work to time retirement or departure schedules to lessen the impact.

Disaster Recovery

The post-911 environment requires additional consideration of disaster and threat issues. The Commission maintains a disaster recovery plan wherein a backup of the information on the Commission’s computer network is maintained outside of the Commission’s physical office space. This information is saved on a nightly basis, and physically stored at State Archives on a weekly basis. The Commission will continue to monitor the threat level, and will implement new procedures or otherwise modify the disaster recovery plan accordingly.

d. Bench Marking

The Commission seeks to provide persons who are blind with meaningful employment, consistent with their “strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.” As measured by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Commission continues to be one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation agencies in its ability to place blind persons in quality employment. The Commission consistently ranks at or near the top in the nation for the average starting wage of consumers measured against the average state wage, for the percentage of consumers with competitive employment outcomes, and for the difference made as a result of the provision of services. The Commission met or exceeded all other performance measures for FY 2010. The independent living and older blind programs are more difficult to measure as quantifiable measurements such as starting salary and employment outcomes are not available. The Commission continues to serve an increasing population of persons who are older blind. The Commission has implemented a new measurement which will measure how services have delayed or avoided placement in a nursing home, as well as reducing or eliminating reliance on the Medicaid Personal Care Option.

(3) AGENCY GOALS AND PRIORITIES

a. Increase the number of consumers served through enhanced Outreach Activities; including Media outreach, collaboration with Eye Doctors, and the use of the Technology for Children program to conduct outreach to school districts.

b. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes of transition consumers by providing assistive technology where appropriate as a part of an Individualized Plan for employment, by providing assistive technology through the Technology for Children Program, and by conducting educational activities to increase awareness and use of Braille, including Braille math.

c. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing services in a way that genuinely honors the “informed choice” provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

d. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing a quality Newsline system that gives consumers access to employment listings, news, and other important information.

e. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by using the Skills Center to meet the needs of vocational rehabilitation consumers, as well as potential vocational rehabilitation consumers, in a way that is creative and innovative.

f. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by utilizing the Adult Orientation Center to provide employment preparation training for both adults and transition students.

g. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the provision of independent living services to vocational rehabilitation consumers

h. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers who are Deaf-Blind through collaboration and partnership with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, including through the delivery of assistive technology to consumers who are Deaf-Blind.

i. Enhance performance and productivity by increasing the accuracy and timeliness of the submission of Federal reports.

(4) AGENCY MISSION STATEMENT and OVERVIEW

Mission Statement

Our mission is to enable persons who are blind to achieve vocational, economic and social equality by providing career preparation, training in the skills of blindness and above all, promoting and conveying the belief that blindness is not a barrier to successful employment, or to living an independent and meaningful life.

Overview

The Commission was created in 1986 with the passage of the "Commission for the Blind Act" Section 1 through 9 {28 7 15 to 28 7 23 NMSA 1978}. The Commission provides services to any qualifying legally blind and visually impaired citizen residing in the state of New Mexico.

The nature of the Commission’s work is determined by the federal Rehabilitation Act, as well as the powers and duties set forth in The Commission for the Blind Act. The Commission for the Blind Act states that the Commission shall:

a. apply for and receive money from any state or federal agency to be used for purposes relating to blindness and receive on behalf of the state any gifts, donations or bequests from any source, to be used in carrying out the Commission’s duties;

b. maintain a complete register of blind persons domiciled in New Mexico;

c. maintain bureaus of information and industrial assistance to help blind persons find employment, train them in work which may be pursued in their own homes and assist them in merchandising and marketing their goods;

d. establish, equip and maintain a center with qualified instructors for vocation, industrial and other training of eligible blind persons. The center shall also provide for orientation and assistance for the adjustment of blind persons;

e. research and study the causes of blindness and its prevention in cooperation with the state or any other entity which the Commission deems appropriate;

f. cooperate with appropriate state agencies in the adoption and carrying out of preventive measures relating to blindness;

g. promulgate rules and regulations necessary to effectuate the provisions of the Commission for the Blind Act; and

h. publish an annual report on the activities and services of the Commission.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 1:13PM by Jim Salas

This agency has requested a 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 screen was last updated on Dec 16 2008 10:45AM by Jim Salas

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.

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(1): COOPERATION WITH AGENCIES THAT ARE NOT IN THE STATEWIDE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT SYSTEM AND WITH OTHER ENTITIES

Because the Agency recognizes the need for more services to the deafblind population, a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the Commission for the Blind and the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (CDHH) has been established. The JPA has provided financial support to fund the National Federation of the Blind Newsline program in New Mexico. Newsline allows access to over 325 newspapers around the country, enabling deafblind persons to access critical information that they need to live independent lives. In 2009, the CDHH suspended funding of the JPA, but the Commission is working with the CDHH and legislature to restore funding of the JPA.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and the Agency has been established to coordinate the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to persons who are deaf-blind.

A Cooperative Agreement in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding between the agency and the State Public Education Department has been established to facilitate the professional relationship between the two agencies. This agreement facilitates the referral process and coordination of services between the agencies, and among the state's school districts. The Commission for the Blind has the basic responsibility to provide vocational rehabilitation services to all eligible blind residents of New Mexico. The Public Education Department has the basic responsibility to provide an appropriate public education to New Mexico children with disabilities, including those with visual disabilities. The Executive Director of the Commission serves on the IDEA State Advisory Panel and regularly attends meetings of the Panel. He participates in Panel committees to coordinate the delivery of educational services. The Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation serves on the Statewide Transition Coordinating Council.

The Agency assures the interagency cooperation with, and utilization of the services and facilities of the Federal, State, and local agencies and programs. This includes programs carried out by the Under Secretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture and State use contracting programs, to the extent that such agencies and programs are not carrying out activities through the statewide workforce investment system.

With regard to coordination with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation service, the Agency has in place the Student in Transition to Employment program (STEP). We expect approximately thirty-five students will be participating in the 2011 STEP program. These students come from various locations around the state and are recruited through high school counselors and special education departments.

The Agency works with the following rehabilitation services providers: NM Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; Zuni Entrepreneurial Enterprises, Inc.; New Vistas Center for Independent Living; Developmental Disabilities Planning Council; TRESCO; Laguna-Acoma Vocational Rehabilitation; Navajo Nation Office of Special Education & Rehabilitation Services; Jemez Disabilities Project; Tobosa Developmental Services; Goodwill Industries; Department of Health, Developmental Disabilities Support Division; Taos County ARC; Community Options; Helen Keller National Center; Community Outreach Programs for the Deaf; and the NM Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons.

The agency's executive director is a member of the SILC. The Agency will explore ways to build better ties with the IL centers and work with the SILC, in an effort to increase staff and consumer awareness of their activities. A member of the SILC serves on the Agency's SRC, and as such, keeps the Council up to date on their respective current activities.

The Executive Director serves on the Governor's Commission on Disability, in which capacity he is able to help coordinate state services and programs in a way that maximizes employment opportunities for vocational rehabilitation consumers.

This screen was last updated on Aug 9 2010 5:04PM by Jim Salas

  • 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.

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(2): COOPERATION AND COORDINATION WITH EDUCATION OFFICIALS

Coordination with the Public Education Department

A Cooperative Agreement between the Agency and the State Public Education Department (PED) has been established to facilitate the professional relationship between the two agencies. This agreement facilitates the referral process and coordination of services among the agencies. The Commission for the Blind has the basic responsibility to provide vocational rehabilitation services to all eligible blind residents of New Mexico, with employment being the Agency's goal. The PED has the basic responsibility to provide an appropriate public education to New Mexico children with disabilities, including those with visual disabilities. The Executive Director of the Commission serves on the IDEA State Advisory Panel and regularly attends those meetings. He participates in Panel committees to coordinate delivery of educational services.

A summary of the terms of the MOU between the Commission and PED are as follows:

1. Consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities:

Through adoption of the MOU, the Commission and PED will work towards development of a seamless service delivery system, and work towards methods of facilitating and coordinating services wherever practicable and appropriate.

The Commission and PED maintain different requirements for determination of eligibility, documentation of disability, and the provision of services. The MOU does not require either entity to provide services to persons who would not otherwise be eligible for services, or to provide services that would not otherwise be required by applicable law or regulation.

2. Transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and educational agency that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs:

School personnel make every effort to provide adequate notice to Commission counselors regarding upcoming IEP meetings. Commission counselors make every effort to attend all IEP meetings for their consumers. At the IEP meetings, Commission counselors and school personnel work together to identify necessary services that will both help the consumer complete their secondary education goals and also prepare the consumer for post-secondary work or school. As a result of these coordination efforts, the Commission develops an Individualized Plan for Employment to address the needs of each transition student.

3. Roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining state lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services:

The Commission and PED maintain various advisory and governing bodies. To assure maximum coordination of services, both organizations agree to maintain representation on appropriate advisory and governing bodies. The Commission recommends qualified personnel to serve on the Statewide Transition Coordinating Council and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State Advisory Panel. The PED supports and facilitates the placement of these designated individuals on the respective Council or Panel, subject to any applicable requirements of state or federal regulations or directives from the Governor. The PED recommends a qualified individual to serve on the Commission's State Rehabilitation Council, and the Commission supports and facilitates the placement of this individual on the State Rehabilitation Council, subject to any applicable requirements of state or federal regulations or directives from the Governor.

The Commission has designated qualified personnel to be responsible for provision and coordination of transition services. The Commission's Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation serves on the Statewide Transition Coordinating Council and the Commission's executive director serves on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State Advisory Panel. Similarly, the PED maintains qualified personnel who work to address transition needs of students throughout New Mexico, and their transition coordinator serves on the Statewide Rehabilitation Council.

In the event that either organization is asked by an individual or another agency to provide or assist in obtaining a service that it believes to be the responsibility of the other Party, the Party asked to provide the service shall notify the other Party of its position in order to give the other Party an opportunity to assume proper responsibility. Disagreements over the Parties’ responsibilities shall be addressed through the dispute resolution provisions contained in the MOU.

4. Procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services:

The Commission and PED understand the importance of providing transition services to eligible students starting at the age of fourteen. Accordingly, both entities agree to develop and coordinate outreach procedures to facilitate identification of eligible individuals and to assure appropriate and timely delivery of services, to include the development of an IPE as soon as possible after the consumer turns age 14.

To the maximum extent practicable, the PED agrees to share results of Child Find and other outreach activities with the Commission, including identification of specific students who are identified as being blind or visually impaired. The students identified shall be of transition age, but will also include students who are nearing transition age so that the Commission may begin transition services immediately upon the student reaching the age of fourteen. Accordingly, students who are thirteen and identified as being blind or visually impaired shall be identified to the Commission by the PED. The provision of services to these identified students by the Commission shall be in accordance with a MOU that the Commission has with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) that addresses how the Commission and DVR are to coordinate services.

Coordination with Other Education Officials

The Agency recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NMSBVI). The MOU is designed to facilitate and coordinate transition services across the state. The agency's Executive Director, Deputy Director, and VR Program Manager are in frequent communication with the superintendent of NMSBVI. Several NMSBVI students will be participating in the Agency's Students in Transition to Employment Program (STEP). Agency staff and NMSBVI Outreach representatives have met, and established communication to discuss issues common to both entities.

The Agency's Executive Director has coordinated meetings with Educational Stakeholders, persons who provide educational services to individuals who are blind, including the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Superintendent, the President of the National Federation of the Blind, the President of Parents of Blind Children, as well as other educational officials responsible for providing special education services to blind students.

The agency has also entered into a MOA with the Department of Health and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The MOA will administer an allocation from DOH of $69,600, designed to provide assistive technology that, for a disability other than blindness, would be considered durable medical equipment.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2010 5:33PM by Jim Salas

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

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(3): COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH PRIVATE NONPROFIT VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICE PROVIDERS

The Agency works with the following non-profit rehabilitation services providers:

Zuni Entrepreneurial Enterprises, Inc.; New Vistas Center for Independent Living; TRESCO; Tobosa Developmental Services; Goodwill Industries; Taos County ARC; Community Options; Helen Keller National Center; and Community Outreach Programs for the Deaf.

The Agency also maintains cooperative partnerships with the Centers for Independent Living throughout the state, and coordinates services through the Statewide Independent Living Council. The Agency has actively worked to expand ties with the IL centers and work with the SILC, in an effort to increase staff and consumer awareness of their activities. A member of the SILC serves on the Agency's State Rehabilitation Council, and as such, keeps each respective Council up to date on their respective current activities. The Executive Director of the Agency also serves on the SILC.

The manner in which these agreements are established comes from several methods. The Agency receives input directly from consumers and service providers, either through telephone contact or written referrals and requests. Input is received from Public Hearings, the State Rehabilitation Council, the SILC, and the joint planning ventures with various service providers. Needs assessments studies, consumer surveys, and cooperative meetings are also conducted to gather data and information with respect to establishing cooperative agreements. Cooperative agreements typically do not involve any monetary exchange between the agencies. The staff of each agency agrees to cooperate with each other, and reciprocate in referring consumers for services as appropriate.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2010 5:33PM by Jim Salas

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.

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(4): EVIDENCE OF COLLABORATION REGARDING SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES AND EXTENDED SERVICES

In the past, the Agency has worked with the nonprofit organizations listed below for the provision of coordinated supported employment services to consumers who qualify for supported employment.

Extended services may be provided to consumers after successful case closure in order to maintain job stability. These services may include specialized tools and supplies, specialized training, and costs of needed services not otherwise available from long-term funding sources.

1. Goodwill Industries of New Mexico, 5000 San Mateo Blvd., Albuquerque, NM. Services included job assessment, job development and placement, intensive on-the-job skills training, and other training and support in order to achieve and maintain job stability. The population served under this agreement included individuals who meet the eligibility requirements of the Commission's supported employment program.

2. Community Options, Inc., 4301 Lomas NE, Albuquerque, NM. Community Options provided job assessment, job development and placement, on-the-job intensive skills training, other training and support required to achieve and maintain job stability, facilitation of socialization and communication with coworkers, and assistance with transportation arrangements. Individuals served under this agreement are those who meet the eligibility requirements of the Commission's supported employment program.

3. New Vistas Supported Employment Services, 2890 Trades West Road, Santa Fe, NM. Services included job assessment, job development and placement, on-the-job intensive skills training, other training and support in order for the consumer to achieve and maintain stability on the job, facilitation of socialization and communication with coworkers, and assistance with transportation arrangements. The population served under this agreement included individuals who meet the eligibility requirements of the Commission's supported employment program.

4. Tobosa Developmental Services, 337 East Sixth Street, Roswell, NM. Tobosa Development Services provided job assessment, job development and placement, on-the-job intensive skills training, other training and support in order for the consumer to achieve and maintain job stability, the facilitation of socialization and communication with coworkers, and assistance with transportation arrangements. The populations served under this agreement included individuals who meet the eligibility requirements of the Commission's supported employment program.

Similar programs in other New Mexico communities will be contacted, as appropriate, to determine their capacity to participate in collaborative efforts regarding the Commission's supported employment program.

This screen was last updated on Aug 9 2010 5:09PM by Jim Salas

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

2. Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

The Commission endeavors to maintain caseload sizes of between 50 and 75 cases per counselor. To ensure the ratio of one counselor to 50 - 75 consumers, the Agency employs eight counselors. The Commission’s list of functional position titles and FTEs is provided below.

Executive Director: 1

Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation Programs: 1

Deputy Director for Independent Living/STEP/Building Manager: 1

Deputy Director for Adult Orientation Center: 1

Deputy Director for Administration: 1

Program Manager for Vocational Rehabilitation Programs: 1

Director of Budget and Finance: 1

Business Enterprise Program Manager: 1

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor: 8

Orientation Center Instructor: 7

Rehab/IL Teacher: 9

Business Operations Specialist: 4

Financial Specialist: 3

HR, Training, and Labor Specialist: 1

IT Network Specialist: 1

Assistive Technology Specialist: 5

Secretary: 11

Receptionist: 1

Maintenance and Repair Worker: 3

Orientation Center Dormitory Staff: 6

Reader/Driver: 4.5

Holloman AFB Switchboard: 8.5

The FTEs listed above are slots that are either filled or will be filled soon.

Projections of staff needs in five years based upon current consumer trends would require the continued employment of eight counselors to maintain the present ratio of one counselor for every 50 to 75 cases. The Commission will maintain the present ratio of one counselor for every 50 to 75 cases in order to assure optimum services to consumers.

It is apparent that improvements in service delivery will not necessarily rely upon expanded numbers of staff, but rather upon the qualities and training of personnel in the existing personnel configuration. The Agency will continue to provide annual intensive staff training, as well as periodic training to meet specific identified needs. In addition, the Agency has implemented the Accessible Web-Based Activity and Reporting Environment (AWARE) case management system, which will free additional time for counselors to serve consumers. Training on the AWARE program began in August of 1999 and is conducted on an ongoing basis. The Agency is serving all consumers that are referred for services, and it is not anticipated that there will be any significant increase in the number of consumers seeking services.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 0 0 0
2 0 0 0
3 0 0 0
4 0 0 0
5 0 0 0
6 0 0 0
7 0 0 0
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 0
10 0 0 0

 

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 0 0 0 0
2 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0

 

3. Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel

Commission personnel will meet with public and university personnel to review options for enabling the Commission’s rehabilitation teachers to meet certification requirements. The current and projected personnel needs for vocational rehabilitation counselors are stable, and are not expected to increase. This projection of personnel needs is based on the implementation of the AWARE case management program and a trend towards stable vocational rehabilitation caseloads statewide. However, the Commission is aware of changing demographics which may impact this, including the aging of the work force and an increasing rate of blind infants and children who have disabilities in addition to blindness. There are currently eight counselor positions in the vocational rehabilitation program. As previously discussed, the Executive Director of the Commission and his/her designee will continue to meet with university personnel to provide appropriate training to the eight rehabilitation counselors.

The Agency also actively recruits individuals who come from minority backgrounds or who have disabilities, including posting of job announcements on the "blind job" list service and other blindness related list services. We also provide internships and recruit graduates of the New Mexico Highlands rehabilitation counselor program, which generally includes representation from minority populations as well as candidates who speak Spanish and Native American languages.

The Commission has a Memorandum of Understanding with New Mexico Highlands University, located in Las Vegas, New Mexico, which is offering a degree program in vocational rehabilitation counseling. Four of our current counselors graduated from the New Mexico Highlands program. New Mexico Highlands has 51 students currently enrolled in their rehabilitation counseling program. They graduated two students in December 2010, one student in May 2011, and expect to graduate seven students in August 2011. I am pleased to note that the New Mexico Highlands program recently received CORE accreditation. Our MOU with New Mexico Highlands also offers support of intern placements whenever possible, although we were unable to host any interns during the past FY. The Commission will continue its positive relationship with New Mexico Highlands University to assure that NMHU students consider employment with the Commission. One of our counselors just completed her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at NMHU.

Although we encourage our counselor staff to attend the Highlands University program, we recognize that, depending on individual situations, distance education programs offered by other universities may also serve our staff education needs. As such, we have also inquired of the counselor training programs at Southern University (a recent recipient of RSA funding for Region VI) and the University of North Texas (part of a well-established consortium between the University of North Texas, San Diego State University, and Georgia State University). A Commission counselor recently completed the University of North Texas program.

New Mexico State University had sponsored a graduate program in Orientation and Mobility. Unfortunately, the program was discontinued following the completion of the Summer 2009 semester. Two of our staff members completed the NMSU O&M program. One of these staff members is still with our agency and provides valuable training expertise for both our vocational rehabilitation and independent living consumers.

Other training for rehabilitation professionals in the fields of blindness, deaf-blind and related disabilities such as diabetes has been continually provided by the Agency to existing professional and support staff. It is anticipated that these efforts will enable the Agency to meet federal certification requirements over the foreseeable future. The Commission will provide additional training in key areas, such as those related to transition services, career assessment, and job placement.

The agency currently uses a manual system for the tracking of data related to each counselor, their training programs and data directly pertinent to the CSPD requirements. A record of the transcripts and course work completed by each counselor is maintained in a file and is used to track progress in achieving the necessary academic requirements.

 

1. Personnel Standards

The New Mexico Commission for the Blind continues to monitor and update the comprehensive system of personnel development each year, to ensure that an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation professionals and paraprofessionals are available to the Commission. Qualified counselors are those that have earned Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification, are eligible to sit for the CRC examination, or have attained a New Mexico License in Rehabilitation Counseling under the Master’s level requirements of the state license, as described below.

A. Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from a regionally accredited college or university. This requirement shall be satisfied by meeting the requirements of Paragraphs (1) or (2) of Subsection A below.

(1) A master’s degree awarded by a New Mexico college or university must incorporate the New Mexico Public Education Department’s approved competencies in rehabilitation counseling.

(2) A master’s degree awarded by a college or university outside of New Mexico must be for a rehabilitation counseling program approved by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

B. Master’s degree in school counseling, vocational counseling or other related field and the provisions of Paragraphs (1) or (2) of Subsection B below

(1) one (1) year of experience in rehabilitation counseling, or

(2) fifteen (15) semester hours of credit in the rehabilitation counseling competency areas of vocational/transition assessment, medical aspects of disability, psychosocial and/or psycho-cultural aspects of disability, case management in rehabilitation counseling, issues and practices in rehabilitation counseling, or placement aspects of rehabilitation counseling.

At present, four of the Agency’s eight counselors have CRC certification; three have completed a Master’s Degree in Rehab Counseling, have alternative state licensure, and are eligible to sit for the CRC; and one position is vacant. The three counselors who do not yet have CRC certification are planning to sit for the CRC in calendar year 2010 and 2011.

The existing staffing configuration will include current staff as well as new staff hired to fill any positions that should become vacant. As turnover occurs due to retirement or staff leaving their positions, the Agency will make it a high priority to promptly fill any vacant counselor positions with CRC Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. The desired academic qualification for a new counselor is a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. If the pool of candidates does not include a person possessing the desired qualifications, the minimum degree will be a Bachelor’s degree with a requirement that the counselor obtain either CRC certification or alternative state licensure within a maximum of four (4) years of the date of hiring. At present, all of our counselors meet the desired academic standard of a Master’s Degree. State licensure was enacted in 2000. The agency has set aside funds for counselor training to help counselors meet academic standards.

 

4. Staff Development

Training on the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 is being provided to emphasize legal requirements for current and newly hired staff.

Via the In-Service Training Plan, the staff is trained through group training sessions for targeted classes of employees, and individualized training and professional development. The Commission uses its own staff, wherever possible, to accomplish staff training. Content experts from outside the Agency, including from the Region VI Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Center, will be secured in areas where Agency staff does not have the knowledge or expertise necessary to provide the training.

The Commission has a staff of four assistive technology specialists. The Commission provides continuing training in assistive technology to both staff and consumers. The Commission operates a technology training lab in Albuquerque which provides regular instruction in the use of assistive technology. This training uses a hands-on lab setting to provide instruction in a wide variety of applications, including Word, Excel, Outlook and Internet Explorer. The Commission also provides instruction in the use of different types of Braille note takers, and in the production of Braille documents through the use of Braille translation software and Braille embossers. These trainings are made available to consumers, parents of consumers, and school professionals. Consumers attending the Adult Orientation Center in Alamogordo also receive instruction in assistive technology as a regular part of their Center training. The Commission has increased individualized training to consumers through the addition of remote utilities, contract trainers, distance education trainers, and virtual classrooms.

Commission staff receives training in current research through a variety of mechanisms, including attendance at the annual state conference of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of Persons who are Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), and attendance at the spring and fall meetings of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB). Commission staff has also received updates on current research through viewing of web casts, reading of scholarly journals, and attendance at other relevant conferences.

Commission staff has attended trainings on the provisions of the Workforce Investment Act, and the Commission has provided staff with continuing trainings and information regarding the Workforce Investment Act. Commission staff serves on all four of the local boards. These staff members have received training as a part of their service on the various boards. The VR counselors have also received training on the availability of WIA services through the One-Stops, and on how to assist our consumers to access those services in the most appropriate fashion.

The Commission is providing staff with continuing training in the area of informed choice. On March 13 and 14, 2006, Dr. Fred Schroeder, former RSA commissioner, provided training on informed choice, substantiality of services, and delivery of timely services to Commission staff. These trainings are in addition to periodic discussions of informed choice that take place during regularly scheduled VR Counselor conference calls and meetings. Staff from the Commission has also attended meetings at which informed choice is a featured training topic, including the CSAVR and NCSAB meetings, and at the conventions of the two consumer organizations.

 

5. Personnel to Address Individual Communication Needs

The Agency provides rehabilitation and independent living services in a State with a large population of persons for whom Spanish is a primary language, and with a significant population of individuals who speak a variety of native languages. The Agency has staff persons who can communicate in some of these languages, and hires interpreters when that is not readily feasible. The Agency has Braille production facilities in each of its field locations, and has provided training to staff in each field office in Braille translation and production. Further, the Agency regularly reproduces material on portable media when requested. All Agency text software programs can produce text in large print. The Agency also regularly contracts with sign language interpreters whenever there is a need for a sign language interpreter. The agency has been experimenting with remote video interpreting so as to more-effectively serve deafblind consumers who require sign language support. This is especially effective in rural areas where it is difficult to schedule human interpreters.

Newly hired Agency personnel who work directly with consumers participate in up to two months of intensive training in the skills of blindness at the Commission’s Orientation Center, where two of the classes in the curriculum (Braille and Communications) deal with modes of communication utilized by individuals who are blind.

 

6. Coordination with Personnel Development under IDEA

The Agency’s Planner Director has coordinated with the State Special Education department in participating in the Public Education Department’s CSPD activities in order to coordinate the system of personnel development with the personnel development system under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. When appropriate, joint training will be undertaken between the Commission and the Public Education Department to further the coordination of personnel development. The Agency Executive Director serves on the IDEA State Advisory Panel, and maintains a close working relationship with the Public Education Department.

The State Rehabilitation Council had an opportunity to review and provide input and comments in the development of the CSPD Plan.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 5:28PM by Jim Salas

Provide an assessment of the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities residing within the state, particularly the vocational rehabilitation services needs of:

  • individuals with most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services;
  • individuals with disabilities who are minorities;
  • individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program; and
  • individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system.

Identify the need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state.

ATTACHMENT 4.11 (a): RESULTS OF COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT OF THE REHABILITATION NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES AND THE NEED TO ESTABLISH, DEVELOP, OR IMPROVE COMMUNITY REHABILITATION PROGRAMS

The Statewide Assessment of Rehabilitation Needs of Individuals with Disabilities residing within the State and the need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs is conducted every three years and reviewed annually. It was last conducted in 2009. It utilized a variety of sources for deriving information about:

a. The rehabilitation needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities and their need for supported employment; b. Individuals with disabilities who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program; c. Individuals with disabilities served through components of the statewide workforce investment system other than the vocational rehabilitation program.

I. DIRECT SOLICITATION AND COLLABORATION

In concert with the State Rehabilitation Council, the Executive Director, the Executive Secretary to the Executive Director, the Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation, the Deputy Director for Independent Living, the Deputy Director for the Adult Orientation Center, the Business Enterprise Program Manager, and the Independent Living/Older Blind Administrator, all systematically solicited and received input as to the rehabilitation needs of persons who are blind and who have the most significant disabilities and their need for supported employment.

The Commission and State Rehabilitation Council held two public hearings in Albuquerque, along with additional public hearings in Alamogordo, Farmington, and Santa Fe during FY09. In addition to hearing notices being published in local newspapers, notice of the hearings was posted on NEWSLINE for the Blind, which has over 4,000 listeners. The hearings were designed specifically for the purpose of soliciting input on statewide needs. Two of the hearings were held during the general sessions of the annual conventions of the New Mexico affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind, the total registration for which was in excess of 190 persons. The Executive Director, Executive Secretary, Deputy Directors and the SRC Chair also attended local meetings of consumer organizations, specifically the meetings of the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, and the Blinded Veterans Association, and reported the comments back to the State Rehabilitation Council.

The Executive Director also serves on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State Advisory Panel, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the Governor’s Commission on Disability, where he received input as to the rehabilitation needs of individuals who are blind and/or have other disabilities. The Commission’s Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation also serves on the Statewide Transition Coordinating Council, where he received input as to the rehabilitation needs of transition aged students who are blind and/or have other disabilities; and the Focusing on Abilities Leadership Board, where he received input on the needs of current/prospective State government employees. In addition, the Commission conducted regular meetings with vocational rehabilitation counselors and independent living teachers, during which input was solicited and received.

The Commission also conducted a comprehensive Consumer Satisfaction Survey in FY 2009, the results of which were presented to the State Rehab Council. In addition to being designed to assess consumer satisfaction, the survey instrument was specifically designed to identify areas of consumer need. The survey was conducted anonymously of a randomly selected population (5%) of the Commission’s current vocational rehabilitation consumers, and those consumers (50%) whose case was closed within the last year. A total of 35 current and recently-closed consumers were selected for the survey.

As the result of input received by the SRC through Commission staff, the needs assessment survey, customer satisfaction survey, and public hearings, the following items have been suggested as needs:

a. Provide additional training in the area of assistive technology. b. Provide residential center training at the Commission’s Adult Orientation Center that is appropriate, considers the use of residual vision, and that addresses the needs of persons who use dog guides. c. Provide residential center training at the Commission’s Adult Orientation Center using sleepshades to engender a positive attitude about blindness and avoid the need for students to return for additional training in the event of decreased vision. d. Provide additional support for instruction in Orientation & Mobility. e. Provide additional encouragement for consumers to enter the Business Enterprise Program. f. Provide consumers with additional support in the creation of business plans. g. Provide consumers with continued access to NFB-Newsline to assure that consumers have a greater opportunity to reach their full potential. h. Provide enhanced transition services for students 14 to 21. i. Improve job placement and job coaching services. j. Improve services to individuals from rural portions of New Mexico. k. Improve services to minority or traditionally under-served populations l. Improve services related to benefits planning, benefits counseling, and problems related to disability benefits issues. m. Improve services to families of consumers n. Improve services to individuals who have disabilities in addition to blindness, including those who are deafblind.

II. RESPONSE AND ACTION PLAN

Through the State Plan and other initiatives, the Commission and State Rehabilitation Council will address the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities and the need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs. Specific attention will be provided to: a. The rehabilitation needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities and their need for supported employment. b. Individuals with disabilities who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program. c. Individuals with disabilities served through components of the statewide workforce investment system other than the vocational rehabilitation program.

The State Plan will address the provision and improvement of services to ensure that the service delivery system provides every opportunity for successful employment of individuals with the most significant disabilities, and to enhance provision of services through community rehabilitation programs. The Commission and State Rehabilitation Council will continue to undertake specific steps to assure that the needs of persons who are Native Americans and other minorities are considered and addressed during the development and implementation of the State Plan.

The Agency’s highest goal is to enable blind individuals to become employed and fully contributing members of society. The Agency currently supplies a variety of services to its supported employment consumers, including Job Coaches, Natural Supports, Personal Assistance services, and a range of additional collaborative services to individuals with the most significant disabilities who participate in supported employment.

This screen was last updated on Jul 26 2010 9:46AM by rsasmithj

500

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
N/A Title I $5,051,877 450 $11,226
Title VI $561,319 50 $11,226
Totals   $5,613,196 500 $11,226

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 1:39PM by Jim Salas

The goals and priorities are based on the comprehensive statewide assessment, on requirements related to the performance standards and indicators, and on other information about the state agency. (See section 101(a)(15)(C) of the Act.) This attachment should be updated when there are material changes in the information that require the description to be amended.

  • Identify if the goals and priorities were jointly developed and agreed to by the state VR agency and the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has a council.
  • Identify if the state VR agency and the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has such a council, jointly reviewed the goals and priorities and jointly agreed to any revisions.
  • Identify the goals and priorities in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.
  • Ensure that the goals and priorities are based on an analysis of the following areas:
    • the most recent comprehensive statewide assessment, including any updates;
    • the performance of the state on standards and indicators; and
    • other available information on the operation and effectiveness of the VR program, including any reports received from the State Rehabilitation Council and findings and recommendations from monitoring activities conducted under section 107.

ATTACHMENT 4.11(c)(1): STATE’S GOALS AND PRIORITIES

In the context of the Agency’s mission statement, a goal of the VR Program is integrated, competitive employment, or supported employment placements. The Agency’s goal is having blind individuals employed and contributing members of society. The Agency strives to find, in the words of our former Executive Director and former Rehabilitation Services Administration Commissioner, "real jobs for real blind people." The mission of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind is to enable persons who are blind to achieve vocational, economic and social equality by providing career preparation, training in the skills of blindness and above all, promoting and conveying the belief that blindness is not a barrier to successful employment, or to living an independent and meaningful life.

The Agency’s priorities include serving individuals with the most significant disabilities. As a result of current funding levels, all eligible individuals seeking rehabilitation services are being served. Should funding levels change, the Commission may adopt an Order of Selection, pursuant to applicable provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

Cooperative agreements have been established with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Aging and Long Term Services Department, Department of Health Developmental Disabilities Supports Division, Governor’s Commission on Disability, Public Education Department, Higher Education Department, New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (CDHH), and New Mexico Highlands University.

Input received by the State Rehabilitation Council and Commission staff, including the comprehensive needs assessment conducted during FY 2009, as well as a review of FY 2010 Standards and Indicators data, identified the following items that were suggested as operational priorities in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs:

a. Increase the number of consumers served through enhanced Outreach Activities; including Media outreach, collaboration with Eye Doctors, and the use of the Technology for Children program to conduct outreach to school districts.

b. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes of transition consumers by providing assistive technology where appropriate as a part of an Individualized Plan for employment, by providing assistive technology through the Technology for children program, and by conducting educational activities to increase awareness and use of Braille, including Braille math.

c. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing services in a way that genuinely honors the “informed choice” provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.

d. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes achieved by consumers by providing a quality Newsline system that gives consumers access to employment listings, news, and other important information.

e. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by using the Skills Center to meet the needs of vocational rehabilitation consumers, as well as potential vocational rehabilitation consumers, in a way that is creative and innovative.

f. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by utilizing the Adult Orientation Center to provide employment preparation training for both adults and transition students.

g. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the provision of independent living services to vocational rehabilitation consumers

h. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers who are Deaf-Blind through collaboration and partnership with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, including through the delivery of assistive technology to consumers who are Deaf-Blind.

i. Enhance performance and productivity by increasing the accuracy and timeliness of the submission of Federal reports.

j. Agency goals have been provided to the New Mexico Legislature as part of the Performance-Based Budgeting process. The goals/accomplishments for State FY 2010, goals for SFY 2011, and goals for SFY 2012 are provided below. State fiscal year goals should be considered federal fiscal year goals as well.

1.) Number of quality employment outcomes for blind or visually impaired consumers:

- SFY 2010 Goal 50, Actual 40

- SFY 2011 Goal 45

- SFY 2012 Goal 38

2.) Average hourly employment wage for blind or visually impaired consumers:

- SFY 2010 Goal $15.00, Actual $13.32

- SFY 2011 Goal $15.00

- SFY 2012 Goal $13.50

3.) Number of employment opportunities provided for blind entrepreneurs in different vending and food facilities through the Business Enterprise Program:

- SFY 2010 Goal 32, Actual 32

- SFY 2011 Goal 32

- SFY 2012 Goal 32

The goals and priorities described above were jointly developed and agreed to by the Commission for the Blind and our State Rehabilitation Council.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 1:46PM by Jim Salas

  • Identify the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services.
  • Identify the justification for the order.
  • Identify the service and outcome goals.
  • Identify the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.
  • Describe how individuals with the most significant disabilities are selected for services before all other individuals with disabilities.

This agency is not implementing an Order of Selection.

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2009 4:03PM by Jim Salas

Specify the state's goals and priorities with respect to the distribution of funds received under section 622 of the Act for the provision of supported employment services.

ATTACHMENT 4.11 (c)(4): GOALS AND PLANS FOR DISTRIBUTION OF TITLE VI, PART B FUNDS

The Commission has set forth as its number one priority the goal of serving individuals with the most significant disabilities with a quality employment outcome as the end result. A supported employment outcome for individuals with multiple or severe disabilities is a priority with these individuals being served in integrated settings pursuant to the Olmstead decision and regulations addressing extended employment. Some of these individuals have recently been de-institutionalized and some live in isolated rural settings.

The Commission has sought to enhance supported employment placements in the consumer’s own community to provide employment in familiar surroundings and close proximity to natural supports. This activity is intended to address the lack of placement options in rural portions of the State.

The Commission will continue to work with Community Rehabilitation Programs, 121 Projects, consumer organizations, disability groups, advocates and other stakeholders to assess the degree to which current staffing patterns and service delivery activities achieve the goal of improving employment outcomes, especially integrated outcomes in rural portions of the State. These groups will advise Agency management in designing, as necessary, new Agency service patterns to provide a continuum of services to this population.

The Agency will seek to increase the number of supported employment consumers during the next year and will continue to review cases for appropriate identification for supported employment. Needed services for these consumers include training, transportation, day programs, comprehensive assessments, appropriate assistive technology, job coaching, interpreting, and other vocational services. These services will be provided through purchase of direct services using Title VI, Part B funds.

Extended services are provided through various methods, including the Developmental Disabilities Waiver, the Disabled & Elderly Waiver, the Brain Injury Services Fund, the Working Disabled Individual (Category 043), subsidized employment, Employment-Related Work Expenses, Blind Work Expenses, and by arranging for natural supports. The Agency focuses on developing natural supports through co-workers, family members, and friends whenever possible, and by providing training to potential job coaches, who in turn provide services to enable consumers to obtain and maintain employment.

Specific goals for FY 2012 include:

1. At least three closures in integrated settings;

2. Closures averaging at least $7.50 per hour;

3. Closures averaging at least fifteen hours worked per week.

The goals and priorities described above were jointly developed and agreed to by the Commission for the Blind and our State Rehabilitation Council.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 1:46PM by Jim Salas

This attachment should include required strategies and how the agency will use these strategies to achieve its goals and priorities, support innovation and expansion activities, and overcome any barriers to accessing the vocational rehabilitation and the supported employment programs. (See sections 101(a)(15)(D) and (18)(B) of the Act and Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA)).

Describe the methods to be used to expand and improve services to individuals with disabilities.

Identify how a broad range of assistive technology services and assistive technology devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities at each stage of the rehabilitation process; and describe how assistive technology services and devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities on a statewide basis.

Identify what outreach procedures will be used to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who are minorities, including those with the most significant disabilities; and what outreach procedures will be used to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the VR program.

If applicable, identify plans for establishing, developing, or improving community rehabilitation programs within the state.

Describe strategies to improve the performance of the state with respect to the evaluation standards and performance indicators.

Describe strategies for assisting other components of the statewide workforce investment system in assisting individuals with disabilities.

Describe how the agency's strategies will be used to:

  • achieve goals and priorities identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1);
  • support innovation and expansion activities; and
  • overcome identified barriers relating to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the state Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and the state Supported Employment Services Program.

ATTACHMENT 4.11(d): STATE'S STRATEGIES AND USE OF TITLE I FUNDS FOR INNOVATION AND EXPANSION ACTIVITIES

The Mission of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind is to enable persons who are blind to achieve vocational, economic and social equality by providing career preparation, training in the skills of blindness and above all, promoting and conveying the belief that blindness is not a barrier to successful employment, or to living an independent and meaningful life.

The Commission makes every effort to meet and exceed the standards and indicators that track success in this effort. Through the activities identified in this Attachment, the Commission will continue to maintain and improve performance on the standards and Indicators, including Indicator 1.2, the percent of employment outcomes. The Commission's efforts are also directed toward accomplishment of the goals and priorities identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1) and Attachment 4.11(c)(4).

Services provided to accomplish these objectives include individualized training, independent living services, educational and support services, and meaningful opportunities for employment in integrated work settings supported through the provision of assistive technology and reasonable accommodations. The Agency also provides career training, training in a variety of blindness skills, and above all, promotes and conveys the philosophy that blindness is not a barrier to employment or any other aspect of a full, meaningful life.

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION

The Agency will devote its Innovation and Expansion funds (1.5% of our 110 allocation) to supporting Newsline and NFB-Newsline. The Commission believes that Newsline and NFB-Newsline provide essential ability for the Commission to meet many of the goals of this Attachment.

PROVISION OF A BROAD RANGE OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY AT EACH STAGE OF THE REHABILITATION PROCESS

The Commission recognizes that assistive technology is critical to the ability of consumers to obtain a successful employment outcome. This is true for consumers at all stages of the process, including consumers in transition, consumers in post-secondary school settings, for consumers in the workplace, and for consumers who need rehabilitation services to remain employed.

The technology specialists conduct evaluations, make recommendations to counselors, configure systems, deliver hardware and software, and conduct training.

The Commission plans to offer walk-in training each Monday morning in the Albuquerque computer lab. This training provides consumers with an opportunity to resolve individualized problems and address specific needs. Additional training on Microsoft Office applications, scanner programs, and electronic notetakers will be scheduled to meet the individual needs of each consumer. Additional training will be purchased through private venders.

PROVISION OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY ON A STATEWIDE BASIS?

The Commission plans to provide technology services with a team of four technology specialists in 2011. The technology specialists serve the entire state, with one being located in the southern portion of the state, and the other three being centrally located. This distribution will allow the agency to effectively and efficiently manage the needs of consumers throughout the state. In addition, the agency utilizes tools such as remote incidence management software that allows the technology specialists to rapidly serve the needs of consumers throughout the state.

The Commission’s eight Rehab Teachers are located in seven offices throughout the state, and provide assistive technology services to vocational rehabilitation consumers who require an assistive technology tool or device such as instruction in Braille and the use of a Braille writer or slate, the use of a white cane, or assistance with Newsline.

the Commission is making a significant effort to improve our capacity to deliver quality blindness skills training services to vocational rehabilitation consumers. Our Employment Development Center, which had once functioned as a textile manufacturing enterprise, is being repurposed as a skills training center. This will improve the Commission's ability to deliver comprehensive blindness skills and assistive technology training to consumers residing throughout New Mexico.

OUTREACH TO IDENTIFY AND SERVE MINORITIES, INCLUDING THOSE WITH THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DISABILITIES, AND OUTREACH TO IDENTIFY AND SERVE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE BEEN UNSERVED OR UNDERSERVED

The Commission plans to conduct outreach to identify and serve individuals who are minorities, including those who have most significant disabilities, and those who are unserved or underserved. The Agency will focus on the following comprehensive initiatives during the upcoming year:

Newsline is an important part of the Commission's outreach program to identify and serve most significantly disabled persons who are minorities, and individuals who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation or supported employment program. Newsline provides access to state and national publications to individuals in all portions of New Mexico, including in the most rural portions of the state. Newsline started with 200 listeners in the Albuquerque area in 1991, and has grown to more than 4000 listeners. The local Newsline and NFB-Newsline have publications that include newspapers from Albuquerque, Farmington, Alamogordo, and Las Cruces. NEWSLINE also has a Spanish language news category. NFB-Newsline offers prompts in Spanish, and has several Spanish language publications. NFB-Newsline voices can also be customized to meet the needs of individuals who are hard of hearing, and NFB-Newsline offers the ability to download publications for reading on a Braille display. The Commission has obtained funding for NFB Newsline through a JPA with the New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons. This collaboration gives blind and visually impaired persons throughout the state access to over 325 national newspapers and magazines.

In an effort to reach out to populations that have been unserved or underserved in the past, the Commission will continue the operation of field offices, four of which are located in rural portions of the state. For example, the northwest section of the State is served by the Farmington office, and is primarily rural and includes a large portion of the Navajo and pueblo communities. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Rehab Teacher in Farmington are sensitive to the cultural aspects of the communities they serve. The Rehab Teacher is himself Navajo and speaks Diné bizaadthe, the Navajo language. The staff in the Las Vegas office are likewise sensitive to the unique cultural aspects of northern New Mexico, and are fluent in Spanish.

Rehabilitation Counselors will also be encouraged to periodically review any cases that have been closed as unsuccessful. The goal will be to reach out to individuals who have exited the system and inquire if they would like their case re-opened. This will enable the Commission to reach additional individuals who come from minority or unserved or underserved populations, giving them an additional opportunity to receive services. The Commission also has a large percentage of Counselors who speak Spanish, enabling the agency to better reach individuals who are monolingual Spanish speakers, or who speak Spanish as their primary language.

The Students in Transition to Employment Program (STEP) will continue with its efforts to provide work experience and skills training to blind students during the summer months. STEP continues to provide outreach to recruit students with the most significant disabilities, including students from minority backgrounds, and students who are also unserved or underserved. The STEP program is also operated on a residential basis in Alamogordo, which allows students from even the most economically disadvantaged and rural portions of the state to participate. STEP students earn a salary during the employment portion of the program. In addition to providing essential job training and experience, this also has the benefit of serving as a significant incentive for many students from economically disadvantaged families, enabling the Commission to reach and attract more individuals into the program.

There are 89 school districts in New Mexico, most of which are in economically disadvantaged and rural portions of the state. Most of these districts do not have teachers who are specifically trained to instruct students who are blind or visually impaired. Rehabilitation counselors will contact local public school transition coordinators, guidance counselors, or other appropriate personnel to identify children age 13 or over with visual impairments. Counselors will also attend the annual Transition Institute, where they will meet school personnel from around New Mexico. These outreach activities will result in additional contacts with teachers and parents, and increase familiarity with Commission services.

Another important outreach activity is the Technology for Children program, which is also a frequent point of first contact with the agency. It provides information to the public, parents, and schools about the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation program in a way that significantly enhances the agency transition services.. It also provides technical assistance and support services that enhance the agency’s ability to work cooperatively with school districts. The agency has a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Health and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The MOA will administer an allocation from DOH of $69,600, designed to provide assistive technology that, for a disability other than blindness, would be considered durable medical equipment. The Technology Specialist who coordinates the Technology for Children program will continue to provide assistive technology support to economically disadvantaged and rural school districts. The Technology Specialist assigned to the Technology for Children program also speaks Spanish.

The Commission recognizes that individuals who are Deaf-Blind are often unserved or underserved, as are eligible individuals who have a hearing impairment. To address this need, the Commission has obtained an affiliate status with the Helen Keller National Center. the Commission will continue to participate in regular meetings held around the state with an HKNC consultant, local/regional school counselors, and community rehabilitation providers. The Agency has also entered into a Joint Powers Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing to identify and serve eligible individuals who also have hearing impairments. . In addition, the Commission has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on how the agencies will serve this population. The MOU is designed to streamline services and avoid unnecessary service delays.

The One-Stop system faces special challenges in New Mexico due to the rural nature of the state and the state’s very large geographic area. As a result, there are relatively few One-Stop offices that serve the state. The Commission has employees who serve on the four local Workforce Investment Boards. These employees help Commission consumers to better access the One-Stop services, and also help to make the employees of the One-Stops more aware of Commission services. One-Stop system has added extra capacity to generate referrals to the Commission. Unfortunately, funding for the Disability Program Navigators, who assisted individuals with disabilities to more effectively navigate the One-Stop process, ended on June 30, 2010.

The eight Rehab Teachers are required to assist and participate in local support groups, which helps the Commission to identify and serve persons who are from minority backgrounds, or who are otherwise unserved or underserved. The Commission will continue this support group effort, with a special focus on outreach to Native Americans, rural minority populations, and other areas that contain communities of individuals who are unserved or underserved. Approximately 15 support groups are operating throughout the State, with ongoing facilitation being provided in several groups by consumers or former consumers. The majority of the support groups serve consumers in very rural areas with large populations of persons who are minorities, or who are otherwise unserved or underserved. Examples include Farmington, Las Vegas, Silver City, Clovis and Carlsbad.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS RELATING TO EQUITABLE ACCESS TO AND PARTICIPATION OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS

The Commission has adopted policies that prohibit discrimination, including discrimination based on gender, race, national origin, color, disability, and age. The Commission Outreach efforts also comprise a major portion of overcoming identified barriers relating to equitable access in participation of programs and services. Outreach efforts are discussed in detail in the previous section.

Newsline is an important part of the Commission’s activities that overcome barriers. has increased access to the printed word, including announcements of the meetings of the Commission and State Rehabilitation Council. Newsline also provides access to information required during university study, information related to particular professions or occupations, information of interest to the business community, and employment ads. The local Newsline service has a Spanish language category, and NFB-Newsline has several Spanish publications.

New Mexico is mirroring the nation in experiencing a serious problem relating to a lack of appropriate Braille instruction for students who are blind or visually impaired. Indeed, due to the rural and economically disadvantaged nature of the state, this problem is even more serious in New Mexico. As a result, the agency is finding that an increasing number of blind children are entering the vocational rehabilitation program without adequate Braille or literacy skills. This problem constitutes a significant barrier for these children in terms of their ability to equitably participate in the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs. This barrier is a new development that is largely related to the shift away from residential schools, and is therefore prevalent in the younger generation of blind persons. Accordingly, The Commission’s Technology for Children program is an important part of the Commission’s strategy to overcome this barrier. By providing assistive technology to blind and visually impaired children, these children are being given the tools necessary to acquire Braille and literacy skills.

With regard to language barriers, approximately 40% of the Agency's staff is bi-lingual. Therefore, communicating with consumers in their own language is easily accomplished. If an interpreter is needed, in either American Sign Language or other language, the agency secures the services of the appropriate interpreter. The Commission has created a video describing the Orientation Center, which is available in both a captioned and Spanish language format.

The Agency is ADA compliant. All facilities of the Agency are wheelchair accessible and free of physical barriers for the mobility impaired. TDD and TTY devices are in place for persons who are deaf or hearing impaired. All Agency materials are available in accessible formats, or staff is available to assist individuals with completion of any necessary state forms. The Agency makes every effort to fully comply with whatever needs or desires the consumer may have. The Agency employs several reader-drivers for Agency staff who require this accommodation. Reader/drivers are also available to transport consumers to job interviews and other related appointments as necessary.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2010 5:39PM by Jim Salas

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Supported Employment (SE) Goals

The Commission has made the following progress with regard to meeting the areas of need as identified in the Needs Assessment Survey:

a. Provide additional training in the area of assistive technology.

The Commission has expanded its menu of assistive technology training. Choices include walk-in instruction each Monday morning in our Albuquerque lab; distance education; and one-on-one training covering Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, Outlook, the Kurzweil OCR system, and electronic notetakers. During FY2010, 193 consumers received training in our Monday morning walk-in clinic and 156 received one-on-one training. Many more received telephone tech support.

b. Provide residential center training at the Commission’s Adult Orientation Center that considers the benefits of using residual vision, and that addresses the needs of persons who use guide dogs.

The Commission has continued to enhance and develop an Individualized Plan of Instruction (IPI) that customizes training to the needs of each consumer, including those who choose to use a guide dog and those who have some residual vision. The IPI serves as a tool for center staff in making their initial assessment, developing an individualized training program, and assessing progress. Procedures have been developed to serve those consumers who use guide dogs so that they may gain maximum benefit from their training experience. Although center philosophy strongly emphasizes non-visual techniques, low vision devices are incorporated into the curriculum for those students who would benefit from a comparison, and who might take advantage of such devices once they leave the center. A total of 53 students attended Adult Orientation Center training during FY 2010.

c. Provide residential center training at the Commission’s Adult Orientation Center using sleep shades to engender a positive attitude about blindness and avoid the need for students to return for additional training in the event of decreased vision.

The Commission continues to use a model of "structured discovery" at the Orientation Center that incorporates use of sleep shades to provide training that will avoid the need for consumers to return for additional training should the consumer experience a decrease in vision. The Commission funds training at out-of-state facilities whenever a vocational rehabilitation consumer wishes to receive services that do not incorporate sleep shades. During FY2010, the Adult Orientation Center served 53 consumers.

The Commission has received certification from the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) and has obtained accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

d. Provide additional support for instruction in Orientation & Mobility.

The Commission employs three individuals who possess O&M certification. These Rehab Teachers are the front line staff providing the initial instruction in Orientation & Mobility for vocational rehabilitation consumers. The Commission also contracts with private O&M instructors as necessary to meet the needs of vocational rehabilitation consumers across the state. The Commission has also provided professional O&M training to the teachers at the Orientation Center.

e. Provide additional encouragement and incentives for consumers to enter the Business Enterprise Program.

Working in partnership with the Committee of Blind Venders, the Commission has begun the revision of the BEP Manual with the goal of making the BEP program more accessible to consumers. The changes contemplated include a second level of licensure for those persons who are only interested in running a vending machine route. Another contemplated change is to provide more standardized candidate training procedures. During FY2010, the BEP provided 32 business opportunities for licensed blind vendors, and the VR Program served 13 BEP trainees.

f. Provide consumers with additional support in the creation of business plans.

The Commission has procured the services of business consultants to assist consumers in the development of business plans. The Commission also developed a business plan format specific to the BEP business environment.

g. Provide additional support for the vocational rehabilitation and independent living needs of persons who are deaf-blind.

In 2006, the Commission entered into a Joint Powers Agreement with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons to provide financial support for NFB Newsline, which has the capacity to provide an unprecedented level of information access to persons who are deaf-blind or who have both vision and hearing loss. In 2006, the Commission entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired designed to further enhance transition services for students who are Deaf-Blind. During FY2010, the Commission utilized these MOUs to provide enhanced services to deaf-blind consumers. NFB Newsline will also provide deaf-blind persons with access to a variety of New Mexico newspapers, including those in Farmington, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque.

h. Provide consumers with access to NFB-Newsline to assure that consumers have a greater opportunity to reach their full potential. The Commission has provided access to NFB-Newsline, including in coordination with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons. NEWSLINE for the Blind continues to grow yearly, relying on a staff of one and over 100 volunteers. The Agency incorporated NFB Newsline as a part of Newsline services in FY 2002, and intends to continue NFB Newsline in FY 2012. Over 5000 listeners are currently registered with NEWSLINE. Of special importance is the fact that NFB Newsline has added four Spanish language newspapers, helping us to better serve consumers from minority backgrounds. NFB Newsline has also added newspapers in Farmington, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque.

i. Provide consumers with assistance with problems related to disability benefits issues.

The Commission continues to educate staff and consumers on benefit issues, provide benefits counseling and guidance, and coordinate with WIPA, PABSS, DVR, and other benefit resources. During FY 2010, the Mexico Legal Aid opened 6 new cases, closed 10 cases, and helped a total of 22 individuals. Starting July 1, 2010, the contract with New Mexico Legal Aid was modified to specifically limit services to benefits counseling and guidance.

j. Provide enhanced transition services for students 14 to 21.

The Students in Transition to Employment Program (STEP) included 30 participants in FY 2010. STEP continues to be a valuable opportunity for young adults who are blind and have little or no experience in the working world. STEP provides a measure of self-confidence, life skills, and working skills that help students toward their vocational rehabilitation goals. In 2005, the Commission entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Public Education Department designed to enhance transition services. In 2006, the Commission entered into memoranda of understanding with both the Higher Education Department, and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Both memoranda were designed to further enhance transition services for our consumers. The agency has also entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Health and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In FY2010, the MOA administered an allocation from DOH of $80,000, designed to provide assistive technology that the students and their families would not be able to otherwise obtain. This program serves both transition-age and not yet transition-age students.

k. Provide additional training to staff regarding the use and benefits of guide dogs.

During FY 2010, the Center implemented and benefited from the training received in the prior year. The Center also reviewed all written practices and procedures pursuant to the CARF accreditation process, including those that pertained to the use of a guide dog. As a result, changes were made that made the Center’s written rules more consistent with respect to use of guide dogs.

l. Agency performance goals have been provided to the New Mexico Legislature as part of the Performance-Based Budgeting process. The goals and accomplishments for State FY 2010 are provided below. Goals established for our state’s Performance-Based Budgeting process will double as goals for State Plan purposes.

a.) Number of quality employment outcomes for blind or visually impaired consumers: SFY Target - 50, SFY Actual - 40 b.) Average hourly employment wage for blind or visually impaired consumers: SFY Target - $15.00, SFY Actual - $13.32 c.) Number of employment opportunities provided for blind entrepreneurs in different vending and food facilities through the Business Enterprise Program: SFY Target - 32, SFY Actual - 32

STRATEGIES

Effective strategies focus on meeting the needs of consumers, both in terms of State Plan Goals and Priorities and RSA Standards and Indicators. Establishing a firm foundation of monthly income and medical insurance is important to the fundamental job-readiness of each consumer, so we contracted with New Mexico Legal Aid to provide assistance to consumers that needed help with guidance and counseling with respect to SSI and SSDI work incentives. A great deal of emphasis is placed on consumers possessing skills that will help them overcome their vision loss, and we encourage attendance at our Adult Orientation Center. All interested consumers are taken on a tour of the center by their counselor. Those who choose not to attend the center are provided training in their own communities by Commission Independent Living Teachers. We spend a great deal of time and effort assisting the consumer to identify their own career goal, and we ask that they research identified career goals to determine whether a contemplated career is a good fit for them. The research also helps to solidify the path (vocational training, education, licenses, certifications, etc.) necessary to achieve the career goal. We encourage careers requiring graduate education. We work hard to utilize comparable benefits where appropriate, and maximum effort with respect to tuition. For example, we make a particular effort to utilize the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to access Pell and other grant funding to cover costs for college undergraduates. Effective use of comparable benefits, especially school grants, makes more money available for services with no comparable benefit options, such as assistive technology. Use of assistive technology is encouraged and resources are made available to purchase needed hardware and software tools and provide necessary training. On-the-job (OJT) placements of three-six months, funded by the Commission, are used whenever appropriate to help employers overcome any doubts they may have about employing a blind or visually-impaired consumer.

 

Supported employment cases continue to be a high priority for our agency. During FY 2010, we served 66 supported employment consumers and placed two consumers in competitive employment, with an average wage of $7.75 hourly and an average work schedule of thirteen hours per week. We continue to work closely with family members, community organizations, and other state agencies in an effort to provide the most comprehensive services possible. We have worked closely and creatively with each of these groups to fund and deliver training services, transportation services, job development services, job coaching services, and a variety of other ongoing services.

 

The State Rehabilitation Council continues to assess the effectiveness of services provided to consumers. We are pleased that we have met all three primary indicators for FY 2010. Standards and Indicators results for agencies serving blind individuals consider two years of data, so the FY 2010 numbers are an aggregate of 2009 and 2010 data. Here are our results for those indicators:

The Commission’s performance on Standard 1 indicators was successful, passing four of 6 indicators, and passing all three Primary Indicators.

1.1 Difference in the number of individuals with employment outcomes in 2009/2010 compared with 2008/2009: We had five fewer individuals exit the program with an employment outcome during the 2009/2010 performance period as compared to the previous performance period. Of the 24 blind agencies, only six managed to meet the standard with a positive number on this indicator.

1.2 Percentage of individuals receiving services who had employment outcomes in 2009/2010: New Mexico was at 42.71%, just ahead of Nebraska at 37.93% and just behind Massachusetts at 48.00%, Michigan at 48.61%, and Minnesota at 50.97%. We attribute this number to the high level of economic and social disadvantages present in New Mexico, and the considerable geographic and demographic challenges we confront. We also attribute it to our effort to serve all eligible individuals interested in employment, including providing vocational rehabilitation services to those eligible individuals who face the greatest barriers to achieving an employment outcome, including an unusually large percentage of consumers with secondary disabilities. In other words, we welcome and even solicit consumers with challenging situations, and we do not discourage or deflect such individuals from our vocational rehabilitation program. In addition, we respect every consumer’s right to informed choice, which may sometimes result in a situation where the consumer may have a reduced likelihood of a successful employment outcome.

1.3 Competitive Closures: According to the Standards and Indicators data released for the 2009-2010 performance period, 98.82% of our rehabilitation closures were in competitive, self, BEP, or supported employment in an integrated setting. However, one of our rehab closures was submitted as $7.15 per hour rather than the actual $7.50 per hour. It was therefore reflected as a non-competitive closure because of the less-than-competitive wage. We pride ourselves on our efforts to target placements exclusively in integrated and competitive settings, so we are hoping to get this error corrected. Washington achieved 100%, North Carolina 98.57%, Florida 97.31%, and Nebraska 96.10%.

1.4 Individuals with Significant Disabilities: All of our rehabilitation closures were individuals with significant disabilities.

1.5 Ratio of Average Closure Wage to Average State Wage: Our ratio of 0.799 was computed by dividing our average closure wage of $14.81 by the average wage of employed individuals in New Mexico of $18.54. New Mexico ranked fourth behind Maine at 0.990, Iowa at 0.821, and Vermont at 0.806.

1.6 Self Support: New Mexico reported the largest difference between the percentage of closed consumers who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program (90.5%) and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services (28.6%), for a difference of 61.9. New Mexico was ranked first, followed by Virginia at 55.75, Nebraska at 51.35, Washington at 41.22, and Delaware at 40.98.

2.1 Ratio of minority to non-minority service rate: Although our ratio of 1.069 meets the standard of at least 0.800, we (and other states with small numbers of individuals served) are evaluated based on our operating policies and state plan.

 

The Commission has engaged in several innovation and expansion activities in Fiscal Year 2010. The funding of these activities far exceeded the 1.5% of 110 dollars that we generally allocate to innovation and expansion efforts. These activities will continue in FY 2012. The agency supports the funding and program activities of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). The agency finds the SRC to be an integral partner in our efforts to provide unmatched services to our vocational rehabilitation consumers.

The Agency assumes all costs incurred for all regularly scheduled meetings, subcommittees and special meetings. This includes expenses related to securing meeting facilities, members’ travel and per diem expenses, teleconference meetings, interpreters, clerical support, office supplies and materials. The Agency provides a staff person who prepares the agendas, minutes, and other materials as necessary for each scheduled meeting. The Agency provides a staff person to schedule and make all necessary arrangements for Public Hearings. The SRC is active in providing input into the Agency’s State Plan, Manual of Operating Procedures, and other matters pertaining to the Agency’s program of activities.

The Commission has sponsored NFB Newsline. This is an augment to our existing NEWSLINE for the Blind. NFB Newsline enables our consumers to read over 300 national newspapers, four of which are Spanish-language publications, plus New Mexico newspapers, enhancing their ability to access information that is essential for success in both the academic and professional environments, as well as improving quality of life. In 2006, the Commission entered into a Joint Powers Agreement with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons to provide financial support for NFB Newsline, which has the capacity to provide an unprecedented level of information access to persons who are deaf-blind or who have both vision and hearing loss.

The Commission employs a Deputy Director for Independent Living/STEP/Building Management Programs. One of her responsibilities is to seek grant funding for new initiatives designed to enhance our basic services. Her efforts were recently rewarded with a capital improvement appropriation of $750,000 from the New Mexico Legislature to support the initiative to transform the Employment Development Center into a skills training site to meet the needs of vocational rehabilitation consumers, as well as potential vocational rehabilitation consumers.

The Commission has engaged the services of New Mexico Legal Aid to assist our consumers who have problems related to disability benefits. The purpose is to prevent the needless fear of loss of benefits and to encourage consumers to pursue employment based on a clear understanding of their rights. The initiative also enhances our consumers’ likelihood of success by giving them a more stable financial and medical foundation upon which to pursue their vocational rehabilitation goals. The initiative provides assistance with issues of benefits counseling and guidance. Starting July 1, 2010, the contract was modified to specifically limit services to benefits counseling and guidance.

The Commission has adopted a policy to support consumer attendance at the division/special interest group meetings held during national consumer organization conventions. In order to receive the support, the consumer’s vocational goal must be directly related to the particular division/special interest group meeting. Our agency, with the support of our SRC, believes that attendance at related division/special interest group meetings can enhance the consumer’s ability to achieve their vocational goal. Benefits would include learning about current developments in their field, meeting and networking with individuals who are successful in their fields, learning about the use and accessibility of career-specific technology, learning how blind and visually impaired individuals in the field use assistive technology successfully, and learning techniques that would enable them to succeed in their vocational training/education program and ultimately in their chosen field.

FY 2012 marks the fifth year of a MOA with the Department of Health and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The MOA administers an allocation from DOH of $69,900, designed to provide assistive technology that, for a disability other than blindness, would be considered durable medical equipment. This initiative serves blind children that are both transition-age and those not yet transition-age. A total of 18 children were served by this initiative in FY 2010.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 4:49PM by Jim Salas

  • Describe quality, scope, and extent of supported employment services to be provided to individuals with the most significant disabilities
  • Describe the timing of the transition to extended services

ATTACHMENT 6.3: QUALITY, SCOPE, AND EXTENT OF SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

Supported employment services may include a comprehensive assessment as provided under the basic vocational rehabilitation program, job site assessment, and other evaluations to determine possible benefits from supported employment to consumers with the most significant disabilities. Additional supported employment services include job development, placement and intensive job skills training, social skills training, regular observation and supervision of the individual, and regular contact with the employer, consumer, parent, family members, guardians, advocates or other authorized representatives of the individual and other suitable professionals. The utilization of natural support systems as well as the provision of appropriate services under the basic vocational rehabilitation program is available to supported employment consumers.

Extent of Services:

The services offered under Supported Employment are determined on an individual basis depending on the needs of the consumer. Supported employment services generally do not extend beyond an 18-month period of time. However, in some unusual circumstances, Supported Employment Services may be extended if it is determined appropriate and agreed upon in the IPE. To be determined appropriate, there must be a reasonable basis to believe that ongoing supports can be obtained within a relatively brief period of time, and that a disruption or loss of employment would be avoided by the continued provision of Supported Employment Services. Transition to extended services (on-going support services and other appropriate services provided by another state agency, a private non-profit organization, an employer, etc.) may occur prior to the 18 month period of time if the individual has stabilized on the job. In the event that the consumer requires additional job development/placement services after a successful closure, support will be made available for additional training, work tools, and job development services.

Results of Needs Assessment:

The results of the Needs Assessment of rehabilitation and career needs of this population are discussed in Attachment 4.11(a).

This screen was last updated on Aug 9 2010 5:39PM by Jim Salas

The following information is captured by the MIS.

Last updated on 06/30/2011 at 5:34 PM

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Completed on 06/30/2011 at 5:34 PM

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Approved on 07/07/2011 at 2:45 PM

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Published on 09/22/2011 at 12:56 PM

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