Steven E. Boone, Ph.D Douglas Watson, Ph.D.
This research and publication was conducted
by faculty of the University of Arkansas Research and Training Center for
Persons who are Deaf or hard of Hearing, which is funded by the National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. department
of Education under grant number H133B6002. The opinions contained in this
publication are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those
of the University of Arkansas or U.S. Department of Education.
This paper presents the preliminary results of a national assessment of the technical assistance needs of community based rehabilitation centers (CBRC's) that serve persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Completed during 1998, the project was conducted in order to identify and prioritize the types of resources, support and assistance required to enhance the services delivered by community-based agencies to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. This paper overviews the study and its results. Content areas for technical assistance and as well as preferred strategies to obtain this assistance are discussed.
Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing receive postsecondary education and rehabilitation services to enhance employment from many entities. Often, these entities lack the specialized expertise to face the challenges posed by these individuals. They require technical assistance to orient their services to the unique needs and communication accommodations needed to provide these services. In response to this need, the Federal government has funded a number of agencies and initiatives to assist these programs.
Most recently, the Federal government funded four regional postsecondary education technical assistance centers. These Centers, collectively identified as PEPNet, were mandated to assess the technical assistance needs of the nations postsecondary training programs, including colleges and other programs that assist deaf or hard of hearing individuals to enhance their employability.
As part of the PEPNet mission, a national needs assessment was conducted to identify and assess the technical assistance needs of the nation's two and four year college programs (Hopkins & Walter, 1998). They surveyed 10,391 postsecondary institutions listed on the 1995-96 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) taken from the National Center for Educational Statistics. The study verified earlier estimates that approximately 20,000 deaf and hard of hearing students are enrolled in two and four year colleges in the United States.
Focused on students enrolled at two and four year colleges, the findings were targeted to the more academically capable segment of the deaf and hard of hearing student populations. The study did not include any special effort to survey community-based rehabilitation and career training programs -- not listed in the IPEDS database -- that nevertheless serve significant numbers of the nation's less academically qualified deaf and hard of hearing students.
Prior postsecondary enrollment projections,
prepared by the Career Development Educational Outreach Consortium, a consortium
of six federally funded postsecondary programs for deaf students, estimated
that each year approximately 7,800 hearing-impaired individuals graduate
or leave secondary schools in the U.S. (See Table One). These individuals
can be functionally divided into three groups with varying needs for services.
The lowest functioning group, those reading below the second grade level,
number about 2,000 per year, are considered prime candidates for career
and vocational training programs best provided by "Comprehensive Community-Based
Rehabilitation Centers" (CBRC). The middle group, numbering perhaps 3,500
students who read between the 2-4th grade level are usually not prime candidates
for college but are considered able to benefit from vocational training
in CBRC programs or in non-college proprietary training programs. The top
2,130 of these 7,800 students, those reading between grades 4-12 with an
overall grade achievement of 6-12, are considered to possess the skills
to benefit from postsecondary support services in colleges and universities
that offer special programs for deaf students (Watson, 1998).
|Number of School Leavers||2300||3500||2000|
|Overall Grade Achievement||6-12||4-8||2-4|
|Reading Grade Achievement||4-12||2-4||0-2|
|Service Providers||Gallaudet, NTID, RPEPD*, 150+ Colleges||VR||Private Sources|
|Physical Capacity for New Students/Clients||2500||<3500||300|
|New Student/Client Demand||2500||>5000||>2000|
|Human Resources Capacity for New Students/Clients||2300||<3500||<50|
* RPEPD: Regional Postsecondary Education
Programs for Deaf Students
PEPNet program personnel recognized the
fact that there is a parallel need to conduct a similar needs assessment
for the community-based rehabilitation programs that provide career training
services to enhance employment of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
To address this need, they invited leading CBRC's in deafness and the University
of Arkansas RRTC for Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (RT-31) to
a series of program review meetings with federal staff at OSERS in order
to determine how to best survey the needs of community-based training programs
serving students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This paper provides an
overview of this study and its preliminary results.
In the Spring of 1998, in collaboration with PEPNet, RT-31 initiated a study in response to the federally identified need to identify, prioritize and offer technical assistance to community-based rehabilitation programs that serve deaf and hard of hearing persons. In order to meet the long range goal of designing a National Technical Assistance Network for Community-based Programs, the project focused on three key goals:
Questionnaire. A four page questionnaire was developed based upon the PEPNet College Survey format. Questions were worded to be parallel to the PEPNet survey, with changes made to fit issues relevant to community-based as opposed to college programs. Items included multiple questions regarding the level of services provided to persons who are deaf and hard of hearing, the number and populations of persons served, the outcomes of these services, the types of assistance desired, and preferred strategies to obtain this assistance.
Sample. The sample was identified
from prior RT-31 research (Scherich, McGee, Watson, & Geyer, 1995).
In this study, a national list of programs were compiled from multiple
sources and sent to state rehabilitation and commissions for the deaf or
hard of hearing in each state. These agencies were asked to review the
list and add or subtract community programs that provided services to deaf
or hard of hearing persons. For this needs assessment, these programs were
again traced resulting in a total of 969 programs. The programs were geographically
distributed across the United States. Figure One shows the geographical
distribution of responding programs across the four PEPNet regions.
Procedures. A cover letter explaining
the purpose of the study and the questionnaire was mailed to all programs.
Four mailings resulted in responses from 452 programs, for an overall response
rate of 46.6%. Geographically, these programs can be divided into parallel
regions as those of PEPNet. As may be seen in Table Two, the response rate
as well as the geographical distributions are comparable to results obtained
in the PEPNet college survey. Data from the returned questionnaires were
coded, error screened and prepared for data analysis using appropriate
A total of 429 programs reported serving an average of 1872.31 (SD=7512) consumers. Of these programs, 395 programs provided information regarding the consumers that they served. The majority of these programs (386, 97.7 %) serve or plan to serve persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Only 9 programs (2.3 %) indicated they have no current plans to serve these persons.
Most programs served persons with a wide
variety of hearing losses. As may be seen in Table Three, the programs
served significant number of persons with hearing loss, averaging 528.6
(SD=2187.4) persons. As may be seen in Table Three, the programs primarily
served deaf consumers followed by those who identified themselves as hard
of hearing. As expected, fewer numbers of persons were served from subgroups
of the population of persons with hearing loss.
|Hard of Hearing||174.7||899.1|
|Low Functioning Deaf||36.9||198.8|
Data regarding the services delivered during
1998 is provided in Figure Two. As may be seen in the Figure, almost 80%
of those identified were receiving ongoing services (39.5%) or had completed
their program (37.3%). A substantial number of persons (20%) had been referred
to other program for services. Very few individuals had been terminated
from the program (2.2%) or had their program interrupted (.9%).
A substantial percent (19.1%) of those
served received employment related services. These services led to the
employment outcomes depicted in Figure Three. These outcomes indicate a
high degree of success in employment, with over 60% of the sample becoming
employed. Employment outcomes were in competitive settings (39.7%), supported
settings (13.7%), or sheltered settings (10.9%).
Another 20% were seeking employment. Less
that 17 percent of the overall group were not employed and not seeking
employment. These findings argue for the success of these programs in producing
Technical Assistance Needs
What are the technical assistance needs
of these programs. As may be seen in Table Four, programs expressed needs
in virtually all areas. High priority needs revolved around resources to
assist consumers and to promote access to the programs. More medium priority
needs were in the area of staff development. Lower priority needs could
be categorized as program/staff management.
|Strategies to Obtain Funding to Operate Program (Grant Writing)||3.89||1.30||350|
|Strategies to Improve Services||3.83||1.12||353|
|Self-advocacy Training for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Individuals||3.66||1.25||350|
|Strategies to Recruit Deaf and HOH Consumers||3.46||1.31||350|
|Technology to Facilitate Accessibility (ALDS, Realtime Speech to Text, Etc)||3.46||1.27||340|
|Resource Materials for Employer Development||3.44||1.41||337|
|Mentoring Programs Matching Persons Who Are Deaf or HOH with Adult Peers||3.44||1.30||339|
|Technology to Facilitate Learning (Distance Learning, Computers, Educational Media)||3.43||1.25||341|
|Resource Materials for Workplace Literacy Skills||3.40||1.42||340|
|Resource Materials for Problem Solving||3.39||1.35||342|
|Training Staff to Work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing People||3.38||1.29||350|
|Strategies to Retain Deaf and HOH Consumers||3.37||1.35||344|
|Resource Materials for Job Maintenance/advancement||3.35||1.36||338|
|Resource Materials for Job Accommodations||3.35||1.33||343|
|Developing Communication Instruction/strategies for Staff||3.33||1.30||343|
|Resource Materials for Assessment of Basic Skills and Individualized Planning||3.33||1.34||339|
|Program Management (Computers, Etc)||3.32||1.25||339|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Interpreters||3.32||1.47||346|
|Resource Materials for Work Experience and Placement||3.28||1.40||337|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Interpreters||3.28||1.49||341|
|Strategies to Recruit Deaf and Hard of Hearing Staff||3.23||1.32||346|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Counselors||3.19||1.40||342|
|Working in Partnership with VR Counselors||3.19||1.26||346|
|Laws Related to Disability and Service Delivery||3.18||1.39||343|
|Program & Facility Access for Deaf and HOH Individuals||3.10||1.31||339|
|Resource Materials for Job Interviewing||3.08||1.40||336|
|Strategies to Retain Deaf and Hard of Hearing Staff||3.03||1.35||343|
|Financial Aid for Tuition, Fees, Etc||3.02||1.49||340|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Assistive Technology Specialists||2.96||1.33||333|
|Resource Materials for Resume Writing||2.95||1.39||336|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Counselors||2.91||1.34||340|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Assistive Technology Specialists||2.79||1.26||336|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Captioners/CART Reporters||2.70||1.33||339|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Rehabilitation Instructors||2.58||1.38||333|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Captioners/CART Reporters||2.57||1.35||333|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Rehabilitation Instructors||2.45||1.30||336|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Tutors||2.43||1.32||326|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Tutors||2.43||1.26||334|
|Recruiting, Scheduling &/or Evaluating Notetakers||2.37||1.26||336|
|Professional Enhancement Workshops for Notetakers||2.31||1.25||327|
Preferred Strategies for Assistance
Given the broad need areas that were expressed,
it is not surprising that preferred strategies for obtaining this assistance
emphasized opportunities for training, collaboration and access to resources.
Table Five illustrates the preferred strategies to obtain assistance.
|Types of Technical Assistance Needed:||Mean||
|State or Regional Seminars||3.75||1.13||346|
|Workshops for Service Providers||3.75||1.18||344|
|Collaborating with Professional Colleagues||3.74||1.10||343|
|Agency Faculty/staff In-service Training and Staff Development||3.70||1.16||343|
|Resources Materials Center||3.65||1.20||346|
|State or Regional Networks||3.64||1.16||338|
|Publications (I.e. Best Practices, Proceedings)||3.62||1.14||342|
|Access to the Information via World Wide Web||3.58||1.29||346|
|National Conferences of Community-based Programs||3.36||1.32||340|
|National Standards for Community-based Services||3.35||1.27||339|
|Satellite Broadcasts on Specific Topics||3.27||1.30||337|
|Peer Review Process to Identify Program Strengths & Needs||3.18||1.22||336|
|On Site Consultation||3.07||1.30||338|
This paper presented preliminary results from a national survey of the technical assistance needs of community-based programs serving deaf and hard of hearing persons. Clearly, the results indicate there are substantial numbers of programs that serve or desire to serve this population. A substantial number of the individuals served do receive services that target enhancing employment outcomes. For the majority of those served, these outcomes are positive in terms of resulting in employment in competitive, supported or sheltered settings.
Despite this optimistic picture, it is evident that programs see the need for broad based technical assistance. Such assistance would allow programs to improve their service delivery efforts. In contrast to the needs identified by a PEPNet national survey of college programs which emphasized program development (i.e. staffing, management), the RT-31 survey identified a need for resources and associated training for staff to use these resources. This finding argues need for the national technical assistance initiative directed toward these programs. Such assistance should involve the development of needed resources and well as the establishing a mechanism to deliver these resources and training in their use.
Creative strategies are required to accomplish both these goals. One possibility would be to link organizations that actively research and develop needed resource materials (such as the federally-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers) with other entities that are responsible for technical assistance (such as PEPNet). Another possibility would be to establish a formal network of community based programs. Policymakers and advocates should accept this challenge by funding such efforts in order to better serve persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. The challenge is to collaborate to find an appropriate strategies, organizational mechanisms, and method to accomplish this goal.
Additional information regarding the RT-31
study or other activities of the University of Arkansas Rehabilitation
Research and Training Center for Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
may be obtained from the RT-31 Website: http://www.uark.edu/depts/rehabres.
Hopkins, K. & Walter, G. (1998) PEPNet Needs Assessment: Summary of findings. In M. Kolvitz (Ed.) Empowerment through Partnerships: PEPNet '98. Conference Proceedings of PEPNet.
Scherich, D., McGee, S., Watson, D., & Geyer, P. (1995). Identifying community-based rehabilitation services for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Presentation at the American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association, Kansas, MO.
Watson, D. (1998, February). The challenge
of tomorrow for deafness: Rehabilitation of LFD persons in the United States.
Invited presentation, OSERS/PEPNET Conference for Planning Postsecondary
Training for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Persons who are LFD, U.S. Office of
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Washington, D.C.
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Last modified 20AUG1999