ED/OSERS/RSA
Rehabilitation Services Administration
ED

Published February 16, 2017.   Print   Print preview   Export to MS Word   Export to Excel  

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 2015 (submitted FY 2014)

Preprint - Section 1: State Certifications

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 https://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/ed80-013.pdf) for both the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryGreg Trapp

Title of SignatoryExecutive Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/26/2014

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 2015Yes

Comments:

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryGreg Trapp

Title of SignatoryExecutive Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/26/2014

* 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.

Preprint - Section 2: Public Comment on State Plan Policies and Proceduress

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.

Preprint - Section 3: Submission of the State Plan and its Supplement

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.

Preprint - Section 4: Administration of 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))

This agency is not 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.

Preprint - Section 5: Administration of the Provision of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

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.

Preprint - Section 6: Program Administration

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.

Preprint - Section 7: Financial Administration

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.

Preprint - Section 8: Provision of Supported Employment Services

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.

Attachment 4.2(c) Input of State Rehabilitation Council

Required annually by all agencies except those agencies that are independent consumer-controlled commissions.

Identify the Input provided by the state rehabilitation council, including recommendations from the council's annual report, the review and analysis of consumer satisfaction, and other council reports. Be sure to also include:

  • the Designated state unit's response to the input and recommendations; and
  • explanations for the designated state unit's rejection of any input or recommendation of the council.

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

BASIS OF INPUT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The State Rehabilitation Council met in Santa Fe on February 20, 2014, and discussed and adopted the process for development of the 2015 State Plan. Notice of the meeting was provided pursuant to the New Mexico Open Meetings Act, 10-15-1 NMSA 1978, with notice being published in local newspapers, placed on the Commission’s web page, placed on NEWSLINE for the Blind, and posted to the Sunshine Portal. The process adopted by the Council included creating a State Plan Committee, use of public hearings and town forums to gather public comments, use of demographic and medical data, and use of a Consumer Satisfaction Survey; all of which were to be reviewed by the Council at its meeting on June 5 and 6, 2014, after which the Council would Approve the State Plan.

Comments from Public Hearings and Town Forums

Two public hearings and two town forums were conducted to gather input on the 2015 State Plan for the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. These meetings were conducted so as to solicit comment from geographically and ethnically diverse populations. To better facilitate gathering of comments, “town forums” were used to help create a more informal and inviting setting. Notice was published in local newspapers, placed on the Commission’s web page, placed on the Commission’s NEWSLINE for the Blind service, posted to the Sunshine Portal, and distributed by email to interested persons and stakeholders. The Agency Executive Director attended all of the public hearings and town forums, as did the SRC Liaison, who took detailed notes of the public hearings and town forums.

The first public hearing was held in Albuquerque on February 14, 2014, at the Central New Mexico Community College, Student Resource Center, 835 Buena Vista SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106. The second public hearing was held in Albuquerque during the state convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of New Mexico. This public hearing was held on April 5, 2014, at the Sheraton Hotel, 2600 Louisiana Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110. The NFB convention was the only consumer organization convention held in the state in 2014. There were 189 persons registered for the convention, and these persons came from all parts of the state. A town forum was held in Gallup on April 3, 2014, in the Red Rock Meeting Room of the San Juan Center for Independence, 1300 W. I-40 Frontage Rd., Gallup, New Mexico 87301. The final town forum was held in Las Cruces on May 9, at the Commission for the Blind office building, located at 2014, 277 EAST AMADOR, SUITE 101, LAS CRUCES, New Mexico 88001.

A review of all of the public hearings and town forums took place at a two-day meeting of the State Rehabilitation Council held on June 5 and 6, 2014. During the review, the SRC Liaison read her notes recording the comments made at each public hearing and town forum. No written comments were received, although the option of submitting written comments was clearly stated in each meeting notice and announced at each public hearing and town forum.

Consumer Satisfaction Survey A Consumer Satisfaction Survey was conducted using a sample size equal to approximately 10 percent of Commission consumers. The sample was randomly selected. The sample included cases that were currently open or which had been closed for any reason during the last year. The survey consisted of ten questions and one open-ended narrative question. The Consumer Satisfaction Survey was approved by the State Rehabilitation Council. To assure that the survey was anonymous, the survey was conducted by an independent contractor who was not an employee of the Commission for the Blind. The independent contractor presented the survey results at a two-day meeting of the State Rehabilitation Council held on June 5 and 6, 2014.

Demographic Data and Medical Trends

The State Rehabilitation Council met on June 5 and 6, 2014, and reviewed and discussed recent demographic and medical trends. The discussion included the increasing rate of diabetes in young persons and the impact that it will have on future rates of blindness as more persons will have diabetic retinopathy; the dramatically increasing rate of Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) and the increasing numbers of consumers with ONH that the Agency can expect in the next 5 to 10 years; the fact that the Agency is in a trough between two large waves of blindness with persons born in the 50s with Retrolental Fibroplasia ( now called retinopathy of prematurity) aging out of the workforce and children with ONH and diabetic retinopathy about to age into the workforce; the increasing level of persons deciding to not participate in the workforce as a part of an overall national trend; the impact of the “failure to launch” trend that is resulting in young persons not starting work until later; and the overall aging of the workforce.

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCIL

The Council met in Albuquerque on June 5 and 6, 2014, for the purpose of approving the State Plan. Notice of the meeting was provided pursuant to the New Mexico Open Meetings Act, 10-15-1 NMSA 1978, with notice being published in local newspapers, placed on the Commission’s web page, placed on NEWSLINE for the Blind, and posted to the Sunshine Portal. The Council reviewed and discussed the State Plan attachments, reviewed and discussed the comments that were solicited at the public hearings and town forums, reviewed and discussed the results of the Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and reviewed and discussed the demographic and medical trends. After the review and discussion of the public hearing and town forum comments, the Consumer Satisfaction Survey, and the demographic and medical trends, the Council discussed, revised, and commented on the established Goals and Priorities. The Goals and Priorities were read individually allowing for thorough opportunity for recommendations and comments on each Goal and Priority. The Council adopted the twelve priorities from the prior year, modifying Goals and Priorities a, f, and h. The Council changed “eye doctors” to “ophthalmologists and optometrists” in Goal and Priority a. The Council added a reference to the construction of apartments in Goal and Priority f, which deals with the Orientation Center. In Goal and Priority h, which pertains to services to persons who are Deaf-Blind,” the Council added a reference to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as an organization that the Agency would work with.

What follows are the approved Goals and Priorities, along with an Agency Summary of what the Agency has done to meet the Goals and Priorities, Council Comments, and the Agency Response:

Goals and Priorities

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

Agency Summary: Letters have been sent to all Ophthalmologists in the state, along with a copy of the Annual Report and a newly developed referral form. The goal is that the referral form will enable doctors to provide all required information at the time of the initial referral and thereby improve the speed and accuracy of the eligibility determination process. The referral form will also be placed on the Agency web page. The Agency has attended the New Mexico Academy of Ophthalmology Conference each of the last five years. The agency actively worked to obtain signed cooperative agreements with school districts, sponsored the National Certification in Literary Braille Exam, and conducted outreach through the Technology for Children program. The Agency will also provide business cards to the Council members so that the Council can better help conduct outreach.

Council Recommendation: The Council discussed and decided to retain the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities, and asking that optometrists be specifically included. The Council also suggested that a consumer be present that the Academy of Ophthalmology Conference, and encouraged the Agency to make referrals directly to appropriate individuals in the programs that serve students with disabilities at colleges and universities.

Agency Response: The Agency agrees with the change, and will attempt to bring consumers to the Academy of Ophthalmology Conferences, and will make referrals to appropriate persons at programs that serve students with disabilities at colleges and universities. The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. 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.

Agency Summary: The Agency continues to provide assistive technology to consumers who are high school seniors who need it to be successful in their freshman year of college, and to consumers who otherwise require it to become employed. The Agency continues to use the Technology for Children program to identify eligible individuals and to provide those individuals with assistive technology that provides access to information. The Agency also sponsored the National Certification in Literary Braille (NCLB) Exam and review course, and enabled an additional 4 employees to obtain NCLB certification. Finally, the agency sent its Orientation Center Braille teacher to study Braille teaching methods at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. 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, enabling Commission consumers to have the opportunity to obtain employment at higher levels of compensation.

Agency Summary: The Agency encourages consumers to set their own goals and does not inappropriately direct or pressure consumers into employment settings that are at lower levels than the consumer is capable of achieving. In doing this, the Agency does not inappropriately utilize “home maker” closures, and the Agency also actively seeks out and serves those consumers with the most challenging disabilities in addition to blindness. As a result, the Agency has fewer employment outcomes, but the employment outcomes that are achieved are at higher levels.

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, stating its agreement with the emphasis being placed on quality employment outcomes over mere quantity, and agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. 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.

Agency Summary: The Agency stated its commitment to provide NFB-Newsline and to maintain and enhance the local Newsline for the Blind service through the adoption of new software to replace the prior software that was increasingly unstable and difficult to maintain. Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities, urging the Agency to continue the NFB-Newsline and local Newsline for the Blind services. The Council decided to create a Newsline Committee.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. 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.

Agency Summary: The Agency is committed to using the Skills Center to provide support to Vocational Rehabilitation consumers, including through activities such as STEP, the NCLB exam and review, Hadley course support, seminars and classes, and for hosting meetings such as AHEAD which frequently uses the facility.

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. f. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes by using and renovating the facilities of the Adult Orientation Center to provide employment preparation training for both adults and transition students, including through the addition of an apartment facility to be constructed on land immediately next to the Center.

Agency Summary: The Orientation Center has a full load of students, and has a waiting list of students wanting to attend the Center. By adding an apartment facility, the Orientation Center can serve more students, and serve those students in a more appropriate and effective fashion. The Agency renovated the Orientation Center to make the facility more conducive to learning, reducing distracting noise levels and temperature variations, and making the Center more professional and appropriate in its appearance. The Orientation Center and obtained full accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and full certification from the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB).

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities, asking that it be changed to add the construction of an apartment facility, and asking to be kept updated on progress.

Agency Response: The Agency agrees with the change, and will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. g. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the provision of independent living training to vocational rehabilitation consumers

Agency Summary: The Agency recognizes that not all Vocational Rehabilitation consumers are able to attend the Orientation Center, and that these individuals need support from the Independent Living Teachers to learn needed vocational rehabilitation skills. The Independent Living Teachers use a Personal Activity Report to document their time spent on Vocational Rehabilitation activities, making this an allowable VR expense. This enables the Agency to employ nine Independent Living Teachers, plus the Coordinator of Independent Living Technologies and one other Technology Specialist who spends part of his time on Independent Living.

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council.

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

Agency Summary: The Agency has negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation that is intended to help enhance services to persons who are Deaf-Blind or who have both vision and hearing loss. The Agency also has a cooperative agreement with Community Outreach Programs for the Deaf that is designed to help implement the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The Agency has also installed a “hearing loop” in the Skills Center Lecture Hall and Technology Lab, and in the old conference room. The Agency has also obtained portable hearing loops that can be used in any location.

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities, asking that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation be specifically included in consideration of the fact that the Agency has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation that is designed to enhance services for persons who are Deaf-Blind or who have vision and hearing loss.

Agency Response: The Agency agrees with the change, and will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. i. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) by shortening the time required for vendors to complete the required training.

Agency Summary: The Agency is actively working to shorten the training period, and achieving this goal is a priority of the BEP Manager.

Council Recommendations: The Council decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. j. Enhance overall performance and productivity by improving administrative services and increasing the accuracy and timeliness of the submission of Federal reports.

Agency Summary: The Agency has implemented Personal Activity Report (PAR) software that automates the PAR process. The software will be revised in the fall to improve it and make it more user friendly. The Agency also has in place an approved Cost Allocation Methodology. The Agency has completed three successive state fiscal years without a single fiscal finding on its annual independent audit. The Agency is committed to providing services in a way that meets federal requirements

Council Recommendations: The Council decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. k. Enhance overall performance and productivity by engaging in activity designed to mitigate and ameliorate the impacts of blindness and visual impairment, and by engaging in outreach and other activities designed to identify additional potential consumers, and by making the public and medical establishment more aware of Commission services.

Agency Summary: The Agency cannot predict in advance every opportunity or option to provide allowable Vocational Rehabilitation services, and it is beneficial to keep in mind the need to provide such services. The Agency has been able to obtain very positive coverage of the Agency and of an Agency consumer. The Agency has also participated in events that have allowed it to form new contacts with school teachers and school systems, such as the Braille Challenge.

Council Recommendations: The Council decided to continue the Goal and Priority, agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council. l. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers by providing enhanced benefits counseling and guidance, with the purpose being to reduce fears related to the loss or reduction of benefits.

Agency Summary: The Agency continues to provide benefits counseling and guidance to consumers, and sees such counseling as a priority. This is accomplished through the use of internal staff, as well as outside entities such as the New Mexico Legal Aid Society.

Council Recommendations: The Council discussed and decided to continue the Goal and Priority, noting the benefits of working, and agreeing with the Agency activities.

Agency Response: The Agency will continue to support the Goal and Priority as approved by the Council.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 12:20PM by Jim Salas

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

This agency has not requested a waiver of statewideness.

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

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

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

  • Federal, state, and local agencies and programs;
  • if applicable, Programs carried out by the Under Secretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture; and
  • if applicable, state use contracting programs.

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 existed for many years to coordinate the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to persons who are deaf-blind. The MOU was revised in FY 2013 to update provisions for the coordination of services, processing of referrals, transitioning of cases, handeling of joint cases, sharing of office space, sharing of confidential information, and representation on the State Workforce Board.

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 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 Students in Transition to Employment program (STEP). We expect approximately thirty-five students will be participating in the 2015 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 has representation on 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 representative of the SILC is expected to be appointed to the Agency’s SRC in FY 2015, and as such, will be able to keep the Council up to date on their respective current activities.

The agency regularly interacts with the Governor’s Commission on Disability, with a goal of helping to coordinate state services and programs in a way that maximizes employment opportunities for vocational rehabilitation consumers.

This screen was last updated on Jun 23 2014 4:56PM by Jim Salas

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

  • Describe the designated state unit's plans, policies, and procedures for coordination with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services, including provisions for the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment before each student determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services leaves the school setting or, if the designated state unit is operating on an order of selection, before each eligible student able to be served under the order leaves the school setting.
  • Provide information on the formal interagency agreement with the state educational agency with respect to
    • consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including VR services;
    • transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and educational agency that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs;
    • roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining state lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services;
    • procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services.

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

Coordination with the Public Education Department

A memorandum of understanding 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.

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. Similarly, the PED maintains qualified personnel who work to address transition needs of students throughout New Mexico, and a PED representative is expected to be appointed to the agency’s Statewide Rehabilitation Council in FY2015.

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 revised its 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.

To further enhance the number of consumers and improve transition services, the Commission signed an additional 12 cooperative agreements with school districts in FY13. These school districts included Taos, Portales, Roswell, Silver City, Gadsden, Deming, Clovis, Farmington, Cloudcroft, Bloomfield, Las Cruces, and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The agreements were signed by the Executive Director in meetings with the Special Education Director of each school district. The Commission is now pursuing cooperative agreements with school districts in Gallup-McKinley County, Los Lunas, Cuba, Aztec, Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho, Las Vegas, Tucumcari, and Santa Rosa.

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.

FY 2015 marks the eigth year of 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 $80,000, 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 23 2014 4:57PM by Jim Salas

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

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

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.; 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 SILC representative is expected to be appointed to the Agency’s Statewide Rehabilitation Council in FY2015, and as such, will keep each respective Council up to date on their respective activities. The Commission’s Coordinator of Independent Living Technologies 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 23 2014 4:59PM by Jim Salas

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

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

  • supported employment services; and
  • extended services.

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; 811 St. Michael’s Dr. Suite 107, Santa Fe, NM; and 2500 Missouri Ave., Las Cruces, 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. LifeROOTS, 1111 Menaul Blvd N.E., Albuquerque, NM; and 1009 Golf Course Road, Suites 105 & 106, Rio Rancho, NM. LifeRoots 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.

4. 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. 5. Tobosa Developmental Services, 1219 West Summit, Roswell, NM, 88201 Tobosa Developmental 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.

6. The Opportunity Center, 905 10th St Ste C, Alamogordo, NM, The Opportunity Center 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.

7. Zia Therapy Center Inc., 900 W. 1st, Alamogordo, NM. Zia Therapy 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 Jun 23 2014 5:00PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

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, along with the number of current vacancies and the number of vacancies projected over the next five years.

Upper Level Management Staff: Executive Director: 1, 0, 0 Deputy Director for Vocational Rehabilitation Programs: 1, 0, 0 Deputy Director for Independent Living/Building Manager: 1, 0, 1 Deputy Director for Adult Orientation Center: 1, 0, 0 Deputy Director for Finance and Administration: 1, 0, 0 Totals: 5, 0, 1,

Mid-Level Management Staff: Program Manager for Vocational Rehabilitation Programs: 1, 0, 1 Program Manager for Assistive Technology 1, 0, 1 Program Manager for Business Enterprise Program 1, 0, 0 Accounting Function Manager: 1, 0, 0 Orientation Center Dormitory Supervisor: 1, 0, 0 Totals, 5, 0, 2,

VR/RT/AT/BEP Technical Staff: Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor: 8, 0, 2 Orientation Center Instructor: 8, 2, 3 Rehab/IL Teacher: 9, 1, 2 Assistive Technology Specialist: 4, 1, 1 Business Operations Specialist: 4, 1, 1 Coordinator of Independent Living Technologies: 1, 0, 0 Coordinator of Technology for Children: 1, 0, 0 Totals, 26, 5, 9

VR/RT/AT Support Staff: Reader/Driver: 8, 0, 3 Orientation Center Dormitory Workers: 5, 0, 1 Totals, 13, 0, 4,

Finance/HR/IT Technical Staff: Accountant/Auditor: 1, 0, 0 Financial Specialist: 2, 0, 0 HR, Training, and Labor Specialist: 1, 0, 0 IT Network Specialist: 1, 0, 0 Business Operations Specialist: 2, 0, 0 Office Manager: 1, 0, 1 Totals, 8, 0, 1,

Administrative/Maintenance Support Staff: Secretary: 11, 1, 2 Receptionist: 1, 0, 0 Maintenance and Repair Worker: 3, 0, 0 Totals, 15, 1, 2,

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 Upper-Level Management Staff 5 0 1
2 Mid-Level Management Staff 5 0 2
3 VR/RT/AT/BEP Technical Staff: 26 5 9
4 VR/RT/AT Support Staff: 13 0 4
5 Finance/HR/IT Technical Staff: 8 0 1
6 Administrative/Maintenance Support Staff: 15 1 2
7 0 0 0
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 0
10 0 0 0

 

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. Three of our current counselors graduated from the New Mexico Highlands program. New Mexico Highlands has 55 students currently enrolled in their rehabilitation counseling program. They graduated ten students in December 2013, eight students in May 2014, and expect to graduate eight students in August 2014. I am pleased to note that the New Mexico Highlands program is CORE accredited. 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.

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 other universities, including 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 completed the University of North Texas program in spring 2010.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 New Mexico Highlands University 55 3 21 26
2 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0

 

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 jobs" 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. Three of our current counselors graduated from the New Mexico Highlands program. New Mexico Highlands has 53 students currently enrolled in their rehabilitation counseling program. They graduated ten students in December 2013, eight students in May 2014, and expect to graduate three students in August 2014. I am pleased to note that the New Mexico Highlands program is CORE accredited. 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.

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 other universities, including 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 completed the University of North Texas program in spring 2010.

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. However, the program has been resurrected and began offering classes again in summer 2014. Two of our staff members completed the NMSU O and 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.

 

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, five of the Agency’s eight counselors have CRC certification; two have completed Master’s degrees in fields other than rehab counseling but are not yet eligible to sit for the CRC and do not yet possess alternative state licensure; and one has just begun a Master’s program in rehab counseling.

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 Master’s 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. State licensure was enacted in 2000. The agency has set aside funds for counselor training to help counselors meet academic standards.

 

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 five 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. During FY 2011, the Commission began using textbooks that couple instruction in MS Office applications with specific screen readers and screen magnifiers.

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. Historically, Commission staff have served on all four of the local boards and the Executive Director serves on the State Workforce Board. Recent staff separations have caused a few vacancies on local boards, but those vacancies are expected to be filled with Commission staff during FY 2015. 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 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.

 

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, including a phone-based interpreter service. 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 word processing 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.

 

The Agency coordinates 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 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 2014 1:13PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.11(a) Statewide Assessment

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. For the 2013 State Plan, it utilized a variety of sources and strategies 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.

ADOPTION OF NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEY

Pursuant to 34 CFR Section 361.29, the State Rehabilitation Council developed and approved the methodology for the Needs Assessment Survey at its meeting on February 17, 2012. The methodology adopted consisted of the following: 1. Written Survey 2. Public Hearings and Town Forums 3. Focused Discussions

Focused Discussions

One Stop Centers and Community Rehabilitation Providers

On April 2, 2012, a focused discussion meeting was conducted by the Commission and State Plan Committee at the Office of Workforce Solutions in Carlsbad. The meeting began with a discussion of the concern that the Commission is not currently represented on the Southeastern Work Force Board. The Commission Executive Director, Mr. Greg Trapp, said that he planned to nominate the new Director of the Orientation Center, noting that she was formerly a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Mr. Trapp also discussed the issue of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor not being in the Roswell office, saying that counselors from the Albuquerque and Farmington offices have been serving the southern part of the state, and it is expected that a counselor will be hired for the Roswell office soon. Mr. Trapp explained that transportation is also a great need. The One Stop staff said that Carlsbad now has a bus route and two cab companies. Concern was also expressed that the education system is not prepared for the needs of the area.

The staff of the One Stop Center said their services include: job search; placement assistance between employer and job seeker; assessments such as Key Train and ProveIt; one-on-one help with resumes; and workshops. The meeting concluded with discussion of the accessibility of the computer system at the One Stop. While an accessible work station had been identified, the software was not maintained and the system was not working.

On April 9, 2012, a focused discussion meeting was conducted by the Commission and State Plan Committee with the Office of Workforce Solutions. The Director of the office said that budget reductions have reduced the staff of the office from 27 to 16. One fact making finding jobs difficult in the area is that people from Texas compete for work because of New Mexico’s higher minimum wage. Other serious issues faced by area workers are child care and transportation.

There are two computers set aside which are adapted for people with disabilities; but the adaptive software and hardware are not in use.

Mr. Trapp said that the Commission has been impacted in this part of the state by not having a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Las Cruces Office, but that he was confident that one could be hired in the next few months. The need for assistive technology was also noted.

On May 31, 2012, a focused discussion meeting was conducted by the Commission and State Plan Committee at the Workforce Solutions Office in Farmington. It was mutually recognized that the Farmington office of Workforce Solutions is the only One Stop that was co-located with the Commission. This co-location ceased about 2 years ago, and it is hoped it can be reinstated. It was discussed that the predicted economic boom in Farmington never materialized. As a result, the unemployment picture in Farmington includes company vice-presidents and others in higher executive positions that have lost their job as a result of mergers and closures.

On May 25, 2012, a focused discussion meeting was conducted by the Commission and State Plan Committee with Mike Kivitz, the Director of Adalante. Mr. Kivitz said people with disabilities have been hit hard by the recession. His programs have been affected and changes will need to be made to consumer services.

A common issue which the Commission and Adalante face is the potential for a gap in service delivery for consumers on the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid waiver. Support for job coaching has also been reduced. Job coaches working for Adalante have not received a pay increase in over 3 years, and it is difficult to find and keep good job coaches.

Other successful collaborations in which Adalante and the Commission are involved include the state Use Act programs, roadside vending, and Ability One programs.

On May 31, 2012, a focused discussion meeting was conducted by the Commission and State Plan Committee with Mary Best, the Executive Director of Goodwill, as well as other members of her staff. Goodwill had once had a previous director on the State Rehabilitation Council, and Mary Best is interested in Council membership.

Goodwill serves a variety of constituencies with many programs. These include a program for the homeless, Medicaid assessments in partnership with Molina Health Care, a recycling program, a brain injury program, transitional housing for veterans, trial works, and job development. All placements are in an integrated setting. The program for the homeless is also available in Farmington. Job development is seen as one of the great strengths. A classroom program will start in July, 2012.

On June 20, 2012, a focused discussion meeting was conducted by the Commission and State Plan Committee with Lucy Alexander, the director of the Commission for the Blind’s Orientation Center, further exploring discussions that took place at the State Rehabilitation Council meeting on February 17, 2012. Ms. Alexander reported that there was a waiting list for the Orientation Center. She said that the Center needs more dormitory staff, a Home Management Instructor, and a Personal Management Instructor. Ms. Alexander said that the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors now believe in the program and are promoting it.

Ms. Alexander said that the student population at the Orientation Center is expected to expand as the population in New Mexico increases. She said that the state is ethnically diverse and there are higher rates of diabetes in the Hispanic and Native American populations. Combined with the aging of the working population, she expects an even greater number of students at the Center. The increase in children being born with Optic nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) is also a concern. Ms. Alexander said she expects that many younger students will need to attend the Center because of the failing school system and the corresponding lack of skills that are being taught.

Ms. Alexander said to maintain the growing Orientation Center program, several major renovations are required. Ms. Alexander discussed the need to have an attractive, safe, and secure Center, which will in turn attract more students. She said that the Center needs to modify the entry way to bring it into ADA compliance, to allow for added security, to meet CARF expectations, and to provide for a more professional and welcoming appearance. Ms. Alexander said that the Center needs to renovate the alarm system and add video surveillance, which is a serious safety issue. She said that there is also a need to make renovations to provide for greater accessibility for persons with disabilities, including in the men’s bathroom and with respect to more accessible signage. She also said that the Center will need to renovate the HVAC system, replace flooring, replace cracked and inefficient windows, and to paint. With these renovations, she said she expects to be able to serve the anticipated students.

Public Hearings and Town Forums

The Commission and State Rehabilitation Council jointly held two public hearings in Albuquerque, along with town forums in Alamogordo, Farmington, and Las Cruces. Notices were widely distributed, including being published in local newspapers, being posted on NEWSLINE for the Blind, being placed on the Commission web page, and being placed on the Sunshine Portal. The hearings and town forums were designed specifically for the purpose of soliciting input on statewide needs. Two public 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 150 persons.

The public hearing and town forum process resulted in the following needs being identified:

A need for provision of more public outreach and assistive technology support for post-employment consumers.

A need for strengthening and expanding the Orientation Center in Alamogordo.

A need for the provision of more assistive technology training at the Orientation Center, including on Apple products.

A need for the provision of more assistive technology to blind and visually impaired students who are receiving services from public schools. A need for the provision of more transition guidance with respect to career goals.

The need for provision of more support for blind and visually impaired students who are receiving services from the public schools.

Needs Assessment Survey

The Commission and State Plan Committee also developed and conducted a written consumer Survey, the specific results of which were presented to the State Rehab Council at its meeting on June 1, 2012. The survey instrument was specifically designed to solicit information on the needs of consumers pursuant to 34 CFR Section 361.29. The survey was distributed to the email distribution lists maintained by the state affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind. The survey was also mailed to all current Commission consumers and consumers closed both rehab and non-rehab over the past year. Potential respondents were also given the opportunity to respond anonymously. A total of 22 persons responded to the survey, with 20 of those being current vocational rehabilitation consumers, and 2 being closed vocational rehabilitation consumers.

The specific survey questions were:

1. Describe the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation needs with respect to Individuals who have disabilities in addition to blindness and who may need job coaching or other support to become or remain employed.

2. Describe the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation needs with respect to Individuals who are minorities.

3. Describe the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation needs with respect to Individuals who have been unserved or underserved.

4. Describe the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation needs with respect to Individuals with disabilities served through the state workforce investment system, such as the New Mexico Workforce Connection’s One Stop Centers.

5. Describe the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation needs with respect to any other area of specific need, including items such as youth who are transitioning from high school to college, youth who are transitioning from high school to work, persons who need basic blindness skills training, persons who need assistive technology services, persons living in rural communities, and persons who are older workers.

6. Put an “x” in front of the item that best describes you:

Current recipient of Commission vocational rehabilitation services Past recipient of Commission vocational rehabilitation services who was successfully employed Past recipient of Commission vocational rehabilitation services who was not successfully employed Other (please describe _______________________________________ Following is a summary of the results of the consumer survey, public hearing, and town forum processes as they relate to:

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

(a) Individuals with the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services.

- There were no particular themes in the responses related to this area of the consumer survey. Some of the responses addressed agency staff, such as a need for counselors to have various skills, need to learn more about dual diagnoses, need for staff working with individuals with multiple disabilities to learn more about the specific areas that will be relevant to the consumer’s success, a need for the Commission to have appropriate specialists/therapists to maintain services, the need for job developers to have specific training, and a need for counselors to be familiar with all resources within their communities. There were also comments related to consumers, such as a need for more workshops on strategies, motivation, and professional skills; a need to continue providing new technology to individuals who are employed or will be employed in the near future so that they can be efficient and productive; the need for assistive technology training services; the need for appropriate blindness skills training at any age; and a need for more on-the-job training opportunities.

- The public hearing and town forum process resulted in the following needs being identified:

-- A need for provision of more public outreach and assistive technology support for post-employment consumers. -- A need for the provision of more assistive technology to blind and visually impaired students who are receiving services from public schools. -- A need for the provision of more transition guidance with respect to career goals. -- The need for provision of more support for blind and visually impaired students who are receiving services from the public schools.

(b) Individuals with disabilities who are minorities.

- The consumer survey yielded some comments related to Commission staff, such as a need for more bilingual staff; a need to gain an understanding of cultural diversity; and a need to increase services to individuals from Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Pacific islands. There was only one comment related to minority consumers, and that was to bring their technology skills up to current standards.

(c) Individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program.

- Consumer survey respondents expressed a need for more funding and more staff to reach rural and underserved areas of the state. They also covered the landscape in regard to services, expressing needs for more transportation, education, transition, and employment services; as well as a need to provide more services to older individuals with vision and hearing loss. One respondent expressed the need that "More outreach and community education is necessary to enable prospective employers and other interested community members to understand the needs as well as the assets that individuals with disabilities have."

(d) Individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system.

- There were two themes in the consumer survey responses to this question: 1. Respondents who were not familiar with the one-stops (in our view primarily because the consumers are not at a point in their service plans where they would have a need to access one-stop services); and 2. Respondents who were critical of the one-stops for their lack of understanding when it comes to serving people with disabilities, their lack of blind-friendly equipment in the one-stops, and their lack of awareness when it comes to agencies like the Commission for the Blind.

2. The need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within the State.

- Town forums and focus discussion meetings with CRPs resulted in comments such as the need to recruit and retain good job coaches and specialized training center staff, ; a need to support more younger students at training centers because of the failing school system and the corresponding lack of skills that are being taught; A need for the provision of more assistive technology training at the Orientation Center, including on Apple products; and a need for strengthening and expanding the Orientation Center in Alamogordo, including the need for renovations to improve occupant comfort, accessibility, safety, and functionality.

As the result of input received by the Commission and State Rehabilitation Council through the needs assessment survey, focused discussions, public hearings, and town forums, the following Goals and Priorities have been adopted to address the identified needs:

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, enabling Commission consumers to have the opportunity to obtain employment at higher levels of compensation.

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 using and renovating the facilities of 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 training 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 overall performance and productivity by improving administrative services and increasing the accuracy and timeliness of the submission of Federal reports.

j. Enhance overall performance and productivity by engaging in activity designed to mitigate and ameliorate the impacts of blindness and visual impairment, and by engaging in outreach and other activities designed to identify additional potential consumers, and by making the public and medical establishment more aware of Commission services.

k. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers by providing enhanced benefits counseling and guidance, with the purpose being to reduce fears related to the loss or reduction of benefits.

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. As described above, the Commission and State Rehabilitation Council have already adopted specific Goals and Priorities. As a result of the needs assessment, specific and ongoing 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 appropriate 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, who are from other minority backgrounds, and who are from unserved or underserved populations, are considered and addressed during the development and implementation of the State Plan.

This screen was last updated on Aug 17 2012 12:34PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates

ATTACHMENT 4.11 (b): ANNUAL ESTIMATES OF INDIVIDUALS TO BE SERVED AND COSTS OF SERVICES

It is estimated that there are 425 persons eligible to receive and wishing to seek vocational rehabilitation services from the Commission. In FY 2015 approximately 425 persons will be served at the Agency. It is expected that all eligible consumers referred for services will be served in FY 2015. It is estimated that 375 consumers will receive service under Title I, Part B (Basic Support), and 50 consumers will receive service under Title VI, Part B (Supported Employment). Below is a chart of the estimated number of individuals and estimated service costs.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Title I $4,867,295 375 $12,979
Title VI $663,722 50 $13,274
Totals   $5,531,017 425 $13,014

This screen was last updated on Jun 25 2014 6:44PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.11(c)(1) State Goals and Priorities

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 2012, as well as a review of FY 2012 Standards and Indicators data, identified operational priorities

in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs:

On June 5 and 6, 2014, the State Rehabilitation Council discussed and voted to approve the following twelve Goals and

Priorities: a. Increase the number of consumers served through enhanced Outreach Activities; including media outreach, collaboration

with ophthalmologists and optometrists, 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, enabling Commission consumers to have the

opportunity to obtain employment at higher levels of compensation. 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 using and renovating the facilities of the Adult Orientation

Center to provide employment preparation training for both adults and transition students, including through the addition

of an apartment facility to be constructed on land immediately next to the Center. g. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the provision of independent living training 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 Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, with the Community Outreach Programs for the Deaf, and with the

Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, including through the delivery of assistive technology to consumers who are Deaf-

Blind. i. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes through the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) by shortening the

time required for vendors to complete the required training. j. Enhance overall performance and productivity by improving administrative services and increasing the accuracy and

timeliness of the submission of Federal reports. k. Enhance overall performance and productivity by engaging in activity designed to mitigate and ameliorate the impacts of

blindness and visual impairment, and by engaging in outreach and other activities designed to identify additional potential

consumers, and by making the public and medical establishment more aware of Commission services. l. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers by providing enhanced benefits counseling and

guidance, with the purpose being to reduce fears related to the loss or reduction of benefits.

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 2014 12:25PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.11(c)(3) Order of Selection

  • 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

Attachment 4.11(c)(4) Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B Funds

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 2015 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 23 2014 6:59PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.11(d) State's Strategies

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.

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 1.1 Difference in the number of individuals with employment outcomes and Indicator 1.2, the Percentage of individuals receiving services who had 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.

 

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.

The Commission provides a wide variety of technology devices and services to consumers. Devices cover the landscape, including all-in-one and notebook computers; tablets; handheld, portable, and desktop magnifiers and magnification software; screen readers; optical character recognition software/hardware; book readers; Braille displays, text-to-Braille translation software, and Braille embossers; and portable electronic note takers.

Technology is made available to consumers while in secondary and post-secondary education settings, while attending the Commission’s Orientation Training Center, while attending the agency’s summer Students in Transition to Employment Program, and in employment settings.

Technology training is made available in a variety of formats. Self-paced training materials are provided on each consumer computer. The training materials couple step-by-step instruction on Microsoft Office applications, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox with the screen reading or screen magnification program preferred by each consumer . Instructional materials are also provided on each screen reader and screen magnification program. Staff technology trainers provide person-to-person instruction both in-person and remotely across the state. The Commission is also increasing its technology training capacity by utilizing contract trainers.

FY 2015 marks the eighth 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 $80,000, 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.

 

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.

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 5000 listeners. The local Newsline and NFB-Newsline have publications that include newspapers from Albuquerque, Farmington, Alamogordo, Roswell, 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. This feature enables individuals who are deaf-blind to access the entire selection of more than 365 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, Apache, 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. This is also the case for the Las Cruces office and southern/southwestern New Mexico, where the VR counselor, technology specialist, and Rehab Teacher are bilingual; while the technology trainer in the Roswell office is also bilingual.

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. The Commission will continue sending annual letters to special education directors at each of these school districts in order to make them aware of Commission transition services. 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 $80,000, 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 currently has representation on two of the four local Workforce Investment Boards in addition to the executive director serving on the state board. Appointments of commission staff to the other two local boards is expected during FY 2015. 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.

The agency has received additional funding from the New Mexico Legislature and has added two Rehab Teachers to the seven already onboard. This will enable the agency to reduce the geographic coverage of each teacher and improve the quality of service delivery statewide. 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.

 

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

The Orientation Center is a residential training program for adults who are blind or visually impaired. Most of the Center’s students are “newly blinded,” having lost vision relatively recently. The Orientation Center is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Center is also a “Structured Discovery” center that is certified by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB). The CARF accreditation and NBPCB certification help attract students to the Center, increasing the student population. The CARF accreditation is also a part of the Center’s risk management process, and the Center would face increased liability without CARF accreditation.. Fully staffed, the Center is able to serve up to 16 students effectively.

The Commission made a variety of improvements to the Orientation Center physical plant during FY 2013. These improvements included the remodeling of restroom facilities in the men’s dormitory, making them both attractive and accessible; creating an attractive and welcoming entrance from the main parking lot; creating an attractive and welcoming waiting area for center visitors; remodeling administrative office spaces; replacing 52 old leaky windows with modern energy-efficient windows; and replacing flooring throughout the training center. The agency would like to build student apartments on donated land adjacent to the dormitory. The agency has begun the process of designing the apartments and expects that the entire project will take several years to complete.

 

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

Regarding Indicator 1.1, the Commission has had a great deal of turnover in the past three years, in particular the retirements of three senior, highly productive counselors. Remaining counselors had vast territories to cover and had little success in securing job placements. The positions have been filled and the training of new counselors is underway. The agency anticipates some staff stability and should be able to increase employment outcomes in the coming years, especially with the new requirements for federal contractors.

Regarding Indicator 1.2, the agency is confident in its approach to consumer service. The agency’s score on this indicator is directly related to the high level of economic and social disadvantages present in New Mexico, and the considerable geographic and demographic challenges associated with a geographically large and sparsely populated state. It is also due to the Commission’s desire 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. This includes an unusually large percentage of consumers with secondary disabilities. The Commission welcomes and even solicit consumers with challenging situations, and does not discourage or deflect such individuals from the vocational rehabilitation program. In addition, the Commission places a high priority on the consumer’s right to exercise informed choice. While this is an important factor in the agency’s successful performance on Indicator 1.5, it sometimes results in a situation where the consumer may have a reduced likelihood of a successful employment outcome.

 

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

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 currently has representation on two of the four local Workforce Investment Boards in addition to the executive director serving on the state board. Appointments of commission staff to the other two local boards is expected during FY 2015. 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.

 

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.

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION

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 325 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 financial component has been discontinued, but the agencies work closely to meet the needs of deaf-blind consumers.

The Commission employs a Deputy Director for Independent Living/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 rennovation is now complete and we are scheduling a variety of activities in the Skills Center. These activities include meetings, workshops, seminars, and other training events such as our summer Students in Transition to Employment Program.

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.

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 2015 marks the eighth 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 $80,000, 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.

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 and 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. 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. This feature enables individuals who are deaf-blind to access the entire selection of more than 365 national newspapers and magazines.

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 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 deaf-blind consumers who require sign language support. This is especially effective in rural areas where it is difficult to schedule human interpreters. 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 25 2014 5:50PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 4.11(e)(2) Evaluation and Reports of Progress

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

ATTACHMENT 4.11(e)(2): EVALUATION AND REPORT OF PROGRESS IN ACHIEVING IDENTIFIED GOALS AND PRIORITIES AND USE OF TITLE I FUNDS FOR INNOVATION AND EXPANSION ACTIVITIES

THE COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND CONDUCTED A COMPREHENSIVE SERIES OF STRATEGIC PLANNING DISCUSSIONS, TOWN FORUMS, AND PUBLIC HEARINGS IN FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR 2013. THIS WAS DONE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL. AS A RESULT, THE COMMISSION REVISED ITS STRATEGIC PLAN, ADOPTING A 5 YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN THAT BEGINS ON JULY 1, 2013. THE COMMISSION HAS IDENTIFIED AREAS OF FUTURE NEED, AND IDENTIFIED NEW AND INNOVATIVE APPROACHES TO THE MEETING OF EXISTING NEEDS. OF PRIME CONCERN IS A PROJECTED DRAMATIC INCREASE IN BLINDNESS DUE TO THE AGING OF THE POPULATION, AS WELL AS THE NEWER TREND OF SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN THE NUMBER OF BLIND CHILDREN, AND THE NEED TO SERVE THIS POPULATION THROUGH VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICES. ACCORDING TO THE 2010 AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY, THERE ARE 56,726 PERSONS IN NEW MEXICO WHO REPORT HAVING SERIOUS DIFFICULTY SEEING, EVEN WHEN WEARING GLASSES OR CONTACT LENSES. OF THAT NUMBER, 4,233 ARE UNDER 18, WHILE 24,235 ARE 65 AND OLDER.

The increase in blind children is due to Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, which has increased 600% in the last 30 years. The Commission is actively preparing for an increase in the number of vocational rehabilitation consumers entering the program with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH). ONH is now the leading cause of blindness in children, and it often causes cognitive impairment and developmental delays in addition to blindness.

GOALS AND PRIORITIES

The Commission has made the following progress with regard to meeting the goals and priorities identified in the FY 2013 State Plan:

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 Commission regularly participates in the annual New Mexico Academy of Ophthalmology conference in Albuquerque. Counselors also visit ophthalmologists in their territories to ensure that the medical community is aware of the Commission and the services that are provided.

Another important outreach activity is the Technology for Children program, which is also a frequent point of first contact with the agency. The Technology for Children program provides information to the public, parents, and schools about the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation program and services 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, including assisting in the establishment of cooperative agreements with the Commission. 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 administers an annual allocation from DOH of $80,000, designed to provide assistive technology that, for a disability other than blindness, would be considered durable medical equipment. The Technology for Children program places a special emphasis on providing assistive technology to economically disadvantaged and rural school districts. The Coordinator of the Technology for Children program also speaks Spanish.

To further enhance the number of consumers and improve transition services, the Commission signed an additional 12 cooperative agreements with school districts in FY13. These school districts included Taos, Portales, Roswell, Silver City, Gadsden, Deming, Clovis, Farmington, Cloudcroft, Bloomfield, Las Cruces, and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The agreements were signed by the Executive Director in meetings with the Special Education Director of each school district. The Commission is now pursuing cooperative agreements with school districts in Gallup-McKinley County, Los Lunas, Cuba, Aztec, Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho, Las Vegas, Tucumcari, and Santa Rosa.

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. As already mentioned, the Commission has entered into cooperative agreements with school districts throughout the state. The agreements will facilitate the participation of counselors in IEP meetings, enabling counselors to raise issues such as the use of Braille and Braille math.

The Commission has also 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, Outlook, and Internet Explorer; Mozilla Firefox; the Kurzweil and OpenBook OCR systems; Victor Reader Stream and BookSense portable book readers; PAC Mate, BrailleNote Apex, and BrailleSense electronic notetakers; and various magnification software and hardware. During FY2013, 143 consumers received training in the Monday morning walk-in clinic, 191 received one-on-one training, and 1068 received telephone tech support.

The Students in Transition to Employment Program (STEP) included 45 participants in FY 2013. 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 achieve their vocational rehabilitation goals.

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’s 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 administered an allocation from DOH of $69,900 in FY 2013 (expected to increase to $80,000 in subsequent years), designed to provide assistive technology that, for a disability other than blindness, would be considered durable medical equipment. The program served 42 children in FY 13. The Technology for Children program provided assistive technology support to economically disadvantaged and rural school districts. The Technology Specialist assigned to the Technology for Children program also speaks Spanish.

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, enabling Commission consumers to have the opportunity to obtain employment at higher levels of compensation.

The Commission uses a number of tools to "inform" the career choice of consumers, including career assessments, the Career Choice Questionnaire, job shadowing, and on-the-job training experiences. The Career Choice Questionnaire guides consumers in researching careers that they have identified, helping them to ultimately select a career that is the best fit. The Commission encourages and supports careers requiring graduate education and careers in self-employment.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Standards and Indicators data, New Mexico ranked first in the nation on two of the three primary indicators used to measure the performance of vocational rehabilitation programs, and in the top third on the third. .

Primary Indicator 1.3: The Commission ranked first for the percentage of consumers with employment outcomes who were competitively employed. According to the ranking, 100% of the Commission’s consumers earned at least minimum wage. No other agencies serving blind consumers achieved the 100% mark.

Primary Indicator 1.4: The Commission ranks first for the percent of Individuals with significant disabilities who had competitive employment outcomes, with 100% of individuals having significant disabilities. The Commission shares this distinction with ten other states.

Primary Indicator 1.5: The Commission ranks eighth for the average starting wage of consumers compared to the average state wage. Our consumers’ starting wage of $14.18 was 72.5% of the average New Mexico wage of $19.54.

Indicator 1.6: The Commission ranks first for the comparison of consumers who on exiting the program rely on their earnings as their primary source of income compared to those who relied on their earnings as their primary source of income when entering the program. The spread was 58.0. Though not a primary indicator, 1.6 measures the difference that Commission services make, and reflects the quality of employment outcomes achieved by Commission consumers. For comparison, Virginia was at 47.09 and Maine was at 47.06.

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 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 2015.

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 5000 listeners. The local Newsline and NFB-Newsline have publications that include newspapers from Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, and Roswell. 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. This feature enables individuals who are deaf-blind to access the entire selection of more than 365 national newspapers and magazines.

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 Skills Center was dedicated in April 2012 and was used to host a number of events during FY13. The Student Transition to Employment Program (STEP is a summer employment and training program for youth between the ages of 14 and 21. STEP utilized the Skills Center during the summers 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Skills Center also hosted a number of meetings and trainings for blind entrepreneurs for the Business Enterprise Program, including entrepreneur trainings, facility selection evaluations, Committee meetings, and the semi-annual meetings of BEP blind entrepreneurs. The facility was also used for vocational evaluations and testing as well as training of VR consumers. The Skills Center was also used as a meeting place for the State Rehabilitation Council and for various stakeholder organizations. Additional staff is being added during FY13 in order to expand trainings to be offered at the Skills Center.

During FY 13, the agency’s executive director began discussions with the Governor’s Commission on Disability (GCD), the administrator of the New Mexico Technology Assistance Program (NMTAP), to allocate NMTAP funds to the Commission for the Blind. The allocation, estimated at $75,000, will be used to purchase a variety of Computers (including Macintosh), Pearl cameras, notetakers, Braille displays, Braille embossers, Braille translation software, screen readers, optical character recognition packages, and magnification hardware/software. The purpose of the technology acquisition will be twofold: 1. to demonstrate options available to consumers when it comes to technology; and 2. To train consumers on the use of the chosen technology. The actual funding and acquisition is expected in FY14.

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 Commission’s Orientation Center generally serves blind adults from August through May and hosts a residential Student Transition to Employment Program (STEP), our summer employment and training program for individuals between the ages of 14 and 21, during June and July.

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.

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 20 students attended Adult Orientation Center training during FY 2013.

The Commission made a variety of improvements to the Orientation Center physical plant during FY 2013. These improvements included the remodeling of restroom facilities in the men’s dormitory, making them both attractive and accessible; creating an attractive and welcoming entrance from the main parking lot; creating an attractive and welcoming waiting area for center visitors; remodeling administrative office spaces; replacing 52 old leaky windows with modern energy-efficient windows; and replacing flooring throughout the training center. An initiative to build student apartments on donated land adjacent to the dormitory is expected through the next several years.

The Orientation Center is a residential training program for adults who are blind or visually impaired. Most of the Center’s students are “newly blinded,” having lost vision relatively recently. The Orientation Center is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). The Center is also a “Structured Discovery” center that is certified by the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB). The CARF accreditation and NBPCB certification help attract students to the Center, increasing the student population. The CARF accreditation is also a part of the Center’s risk management process, and the Center would face increased liability without CARF accreditation.. Fully staffed, the Center is able to serve up to 16 students effectively. In addition, graduates of a structured Discovery Center have earnings on average of $10,000 higher annually than those who graduate from a traditional center.

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

VR consumers have options for receiving necessary independent living skills training: they can receive it in their home communities by rehab teachers assigned to each community, receive services at our residential training center in Alamogordo, or receive training at out-of-state training centers. The Skills Center in Albuquerque is also increasing capacity to deliver needed training. Technology training can also be delivered remotely. In these ways, VR consumers throughout New Mexico can receive the VR-related independent living skills training that they need.

In each case, counselors refer consumers to the rehab teachers, specifying the VR-related tasks that need to be completed so that the rehab teachers can develop lessons that will build the skills necessary to complete those tasks.

The Commission employs two individuals who possess O&M certification. The 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.

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 Commission maintains good working relationships with the Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, as well as the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf (COPD). The goal is to support the needs of deaf-blind consumers in the state. An important part of the relationship is ICanConnect, which is a part of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP). The Commission entered into an agreement with COPD to administer the program in New Mexico.

Also 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. The Commission also serves on the New Mexico Deaf-Blind Task Force, which brings together stakeholders to discuss ways to improve services to deaf-blind individuals in the state. During FY2013, 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, Albuquerque, and Roswell.

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

The Commission has hired additional staff, provided additional training to existing staff, and is improving its case management capacity for the VR Program and the BEP Program. This will include the purchase of new BEP software.

j. Enhance overall performance and productivity by engaging in activity designed to mitigate and ameliorate the impacts of blindness and visual impairment, and by engaging in outreach and other activities designed to identify additional potential consumers, and by making the public and medical establishment more aware of Commission services.

The agency has worked to improve training designed to minimize the impact of blindness and visual impairments on consumers. One initiative was designed to improve the effectiveness of IL teachers who work with VR consumers. Training at the residential training center was also improved in two ways: first by improving the physical plant to provide a more modern and pleasant learning environment; and second by improving the effectiveness of the training itself. The agency improved the ability of consumers to gain necessary technology skills by providing instructional materials to each consumer. The materials provide step-by-step instruction on the use of Microsoft Office applications paired with the specific access technology (screen reader or screen magnifier) used by the consumer. The instructional materials are also provided in Word, text, html, audio, and audio/visual formats, meaning that each consumer can access the instructional materials in a format that is most effective for them.

The agency continues to promote the Technology for Children program, which, in addition to providing needed assistive technology, often serves as an important first contact to the agency for blind and visually-impaired children and youth who will later become consumers of the agency.

The Commission regularly participates in the annual New Mexico Academy of Ophthalmology conference in Albuquerque. Counselors also visit ophthalmologists in their territories to ensure that the medical community is aware of the Commission and the services that are provided.

k. Enhance the number and quality of employment outcomes for consumers by providing enhanced benefits counseling and guidance, with the purpose being to reduce fears related to the loss or reduction of benefits.

Counselors received training during March 2013 designed to help them understand the myriad benefit programs. The training has increased the ability of each counselor to help consumers understand program requirements and thereby reduce the fear of losing benefits. In addition to the training, counselors also received a desk reference which contains valuable information regarding each program as well as sample letters that can be used to report earnings.

The agency continues to utilize a comparable benefits survey, designed to identify benefit program eligibility for eligible VR consumers.

l. Agency goals have been provided to the New Mexico Legislature as part of the Performance-Based Budgeting process. The goals/accomplishments for State FY 2013 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 2013 Goal 38, Actual 19

2.) Average hourly employment wage for blind or visually impaired consumers: - SFY 2013 Goal $13.50, Actual $16.98

3.) Number of employment opportunities provided for blind entrepreneurs in different vending and food facilities through the Business Enterprise Program: - SFY 2013 Goal 30, Actual 31

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 and reassuring foundation of monthly income and medical insurance is important to the fundamental job-readiness of each consumer, so the Commission 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 the Commission encourages attendance at the 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 the Commission’s Independent Living Teachers. Counselors spend a great deal of time and effort assisting the consumer to identify their own career goal, and counselors ask that they research identified career goals to determine whether a contemplated career is a good fit. The research also helps to solidify the path (vocational training, education, licenses, certifications, that are necessary to achieve the career goal. The Commission recognizes careers requiring graduate education, working hard to utilize comparable benefits where appropriate. For example, counselors 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, means that more money is 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 periods that are typically three-six months, are used whenever appropriate, such as to help employers overcome any doubts they may have about employing a blind or visually-impaired consumer.

 

The commission for the blind conducted a comprehensive series of strategic planning discussions, town forums, and public hearings in federal fiscal year 2013. This was done in partnership with the state rehabilitation council. As a result, the commission revised its strategic plan, adopting a 5 year strategic plan that began on july 1, 2013. The commission has identified areas of future need, and identified new and innovative approaches to the meeting of existing needs. Of prime concern is a projected dramatic increase in blindness due to the aging of the population, as well as the newer trend of significant increases in the number of blind children, and the need to serve this population through vocational rehabilitation services. According to the 2010 american community survey, there are 56,726 persons in new mexico who report having serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses. Of that number, 4,233 are under 18, while 24,235 are 65 and older.

The increase in blind children is due to Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, which has increased 600% in the last 30 years. The Commission is actively preparing for an increase in the number of vocational rehabilitation consumers entering the program with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH). ONH is now the leading cause of blindness in children, and it often causes cognitive impairment and developmental delays in addition to blindness.

Specific goals for FY 2013 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.

Accomplishments

Supported employment cases continue to be a high priority. During FY 2013, the Commission served 44 supported employment consumers and achieved one employment outcome in integrated/competitive settings, with an hourly wage of $11.00 per hour, and a workweek of 20 hours. The Commission continues to work closely with family members, community organizations, and other state agencies in an effort to provide the most comprehensive services possible. The Commission has 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. The Commission has met all three primary indicators for FY 2013. Standards and Indicators results for agencies serving blind individuals consider two years of data, so the FY 2013 numbers are an aggregate of 2012 and 2013 data. Here are the results for those indicators:

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

1.1 Difference in the number of individuals with employment outcomes in 2012/2013 compared with 2011/2012: The Commission had 22 fewer individuals exit the program with an employment outcome during the 2012/2013 performance period as compared to the previous performance period.

1.2 Percentage of individuals receiving services who had employment outcomes in 2012/2013: New Mexico was at 37.31%, just behind Michigan at 47.57% and Florida at 51.22%. This number is due to the high level of economic and social disadvantages present in New Mexico, and the considerable geographic and demographic challenges associated with a geographically large and sparsely populated state. It is also due to the Commission’s desire 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. This includes an unusually large percentage of consumers with secondary disabilities. The Commission welcomes and even solicit consumers with challenging situations, and does not discourage or deflect such individuals from the vocational rehabilitation program. In addition, the Commission places a high priority on the consumer’s right to exercise informed choice. While this is an important factor in our successful performance on Indicator 1.5, it sometimes results 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 2012-2013 performance period, 100% of the Commission’s rehabilitation closures were in competitive, self, BEP, or supported employment in an integrated setting. The Commission takes pride in its efforts to target placements exclusively in integrated and competitive settings. No other agencies serving blind consumers achieved the 100% level.

1.4 Individuals with Significant Disabilities: All of the Commission’s rehabilitation closures were individuals with significant disabilities. These are the individuals who require multiple services over an extended period of time to achieve their employment goals...

1.5 Ratio of Average Closure Wage to Average State Wage: The Commission’s ratio of 0.725 was computed by dividing the average closure wage of $14.18 by the average wage of employed individuals in New Mexico of $19.54. New Mexico ranked 8th amongst the 24 state agencies for the blind. This represents an improvement by one position over the prior reporting period.

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 (80.0%) and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services (22.0%), for a difference of 58.0. New Mexico was ranked first, followed by Virginia at 47.09 and Maine at 47.06. This measure reflects both the relatively low level of economic status for consumers as they enter the program, and the relatively high level of improvement in their economic status as they exit the program.

2.1 Ratio of minority to non-minority service rate: Although the Commission’s ratio of 0.826 does meet the standard of at least 0.800, the Commission and other states with small numbers of individuals served do not meet this indicator due to the methodology that is used, and are therefore evaluated based on their operating policies and state plan.

The Commission’s administrative staff has been and will continue to be involved in upgrading all consumer data collection systems, and fiscal data systems to meet the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act and streamline case management, especially through the utilization of an accessible and dynamic case management system. The Commission is currently using the Accessible Web-Based Activity and Reporting Environment (AWARE). This online case management system enables counselors to manage cases, managers to monitor cases, and the agency to prepare and submit the RSA 911 and other required reports in a timely manner.

 

The Commission has engaged in several innovation and expansion activities in Fiscal Year 2013. The funding of these activities exceeded the 1.5% of 110 dollars generally allocated to innovation and expansion efforts. These activities will continue in FY 2015. The agency supports the funding and program activities of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). The agency recognizes that the SRC is an integral and valuable partner in its efforts to provide services to 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, and 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 and town forums. The SRC is an equal partner in the development of the State Plan, and actively provides input for the Manual of Operating Procedures, agency policies, Orientation Center, and other matters pertaining to the Agency’s programs and activities.

The Commission sponsors NFB Newsline. This is an augment to the existing NEWSLINE for the Blind. NFB Newsline enables consumers to read over 325 national newspapers, four of which are Spanish-language publications, plus New Mexico newspapers, enhancing their ability to rapidly access information that is increasingly essential for success in both the academic and professional environments.

The Commission employs a Deputy Director for Independent Living/Building Management Programs. One of her responsibilities is to seek grant funding for new initiatives designed to enhance basic services. Her efforts were 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 renovation is now complete and the agency is scheduling a variety of activities in the Skills Center. These activities include meetings, workshops, seminars, and other training events such as the summer Students in Transition to Employment Program.

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 2015 marks the eigth 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 $80,000, 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 45 children were served by this initiative in FY 2013.

This screen was last updated on Jun 25 2014 6:16PM by Jim Salas

Attachment 6.3 Quality, Scope, and Extent of Supported Employment Services

  • 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 Jun 25 2014 6:17PM by Jim Salas