Office of Children and Family Services

New York State Commission for the Blind

Vocational Rehabilitation Services for Transition Age Youth (14-21)

Teens - want to talk on line with other teens? The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has a site called "Teen Connect" that is advertised as "a place where you can proceed with speed to chat it up with the coolest, hippest teens with vision loss all over the country". There is also terrific material on the AFB website about mentors, what employers look for, technology and college. To access the site, go to: www.afb.org, then choose "for teens".

NYSCB provides rehabilitation services to assist in the transition of youth from school to adult opportunities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that transition planning begin when the student is 14 and that services be coordinated between the school and the vocational rehabilitation agency. Transition planning encompasses how each student will be living, learning, and working in his community.

NYSCB is responsible for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services for students who are legally blind, even if they may have additional disabilities.

The Commission's primary role with school-age youth is to provide consultation that may include:

  • recommending assessments and assisting in the interpretation of results, if requested;
  • providing information on resources in the area and assisting in identifying the need for involvement by other state agencies and service providers;
  • providing assessments for in-school youth in order to meet the planning needs of NYSCB;
  • providing information on vocational rehabilitation services and outcomes;
  • providing information to assist in the selection of suitable vocational goals;
  • attending or providing input to Committee on Special Education meetings;
  • providing services written into the student's Individualized Education Plan by the CSE with the direct involvement and agreement of NYSCB.

Services provided by NYSCB may include:

  • rehabilitation teaching - outside of school hours, for application in the home
  • orientation and mobility - outside of school hours, for application in the home
  • low vision exams and devices
  • adaptive equipment for home use (total not to exceed $500/student/year)
  • social casework services
  • summer youth employment and/or work experiences, which may include
  • job coaching
  • reimbursement to the employer for training expenses (wages)
  • a training stipend to the student to cover work related expenses (e.g. maintenance and transportation) when the student is not paid wages by the employer

NOTE: NYSCB policy places limitations on the provision of these services

NYSCB will not take responsibility for services and assistive technology that the school district is mandated to provide.

Once the student has an Individualized Plan for Employment (not before two years of exiting school), a wider array of rehabilitation services will be available. High tech assessment, training and equipment can be provided at that time if needed for application in a post-secondary setting, vocational training specific to the student's vocational goal, or placement for a job.

New York State Transition Partnership Serving Youth who are deaf-blind is an interagency team formed to help youth with deaf-blindness to achieve positive outcomes as they transition out of school. The state team is composed of representatives of:

  • Commission for the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)
  • Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-VR (ACCES-VR)
  • Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
  • New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative (NYDBC)
  • New York City Department of Education
  • New York State Department of Health (Early Intervention Services)
  • Helen Keller National Center (HKNC)
  • Parents
  • Consumers who are deaf-blind

The state team established regional teams that meet when a youth is identified as a student who could benefit from a team approach to help plan for adult life. The teams have worked with over 50 students, providing assistance to identify the students' goals and aspirations; obtain needed supports; revise the students' educational programs to incorporate skills for living, learning and working in their communities; and help students gain work experiences and obtain employment.

The State team provides support to the regional teams by addressing systemic issues and providing technical support and assistance. For example:

  1. Training for Regional Team members - topics include Personal Futures Planning, placement issues, adaptive technology, team building, Medicaid waiver, vision impairment, and hearing loss.
  2. Technical Assistance to Schools - currently staff from NYSTAP is putting together a Guidebook on Deaf-Blindness to be distributed to all school districts in the state.
  3. Policy Input – NYSTAP made recommendations for revisions to the agreement between NYSCB and VESID regarding vocational rehabilitation services to individuals who are deaf-blind.
  4. New team Development – NYSTAP staff will provide technical assistance to recently developed teams as needed.

For further information regarding NYSCB Transition Services; contact;

Laurie Munro, Coordinator of Children's Services
Commission for the Blind
Capital View Office Park, Room 201
52 Washington Street
Rensselaer, NY 12144-2796
(518) 474-6956
E-mail: laurel.munro@ocfs.ny.gov

Additional information describing the transition process for secondary students with disabilities can be found at the VESID web site at:
http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/do/transition.htm