Collaboration - Empowerment - Capacity-building

Welcome to the RAISE e-news letter, designed to identify and share resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor: Peg Kinsell

In This Issue

RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the TA provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 state-level PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between SPAN, the Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the six Regional PTACs.

Find your Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)

"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."

- Maggie Kuhn, Social Activist


The American Foundation for the Blind has created VisionConnectâ„¢. This free, accessible iOS app is being called "a prescription for independence for individuals who are blind or losing vision."

VisionConnectâ„¢ provides a searchable directory of services available in the US and Canada for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired including computer and technology training, daily living skills training, braille and reading instruction, dog guide training, employment services, low vision services, and more.

Students who are blind or have low vision can use the app themselves to find resources and tips for living independently with visual impairment, including information on products and technology, personal stories about how people live everyday with macular degeneration or glaucoma, and advice on maintaining employment.

Health care providers can use the app to create customized lists of rehabilitation service providers that they can email to their clients, and provide their patients with home survey checklists, ideas for managing their medications, and more. 

Introducing the RAISE Center Website

The RAISE Center is excited to welcome you to our new technical assistance website. On this site you will be able to:
  • Learn about the RAISE Center
  • Meet our partners
  • Search for transition materials
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Sam Berns   

We love 17 year-old Sam Berns' advice for a happy life.  A high-school Junior, Sam is affected by Progeria, a rare condition that limits growth and causes heart defects.  He advises young people with challenges to do the following THREE things: 
  1. Know that you are OK because there is so much you CAN DO.
  2. Surround yourself with people you WANT to spend time with.
  3. Keep moving forward.  

Active Listening 

Effective communication is a two-way street, so learning to LISTEN is vital. Students can be instructed in a set of "active listening" skills to help them improve communication, especially on the job.

"Active listening" requires a participant in a conversation to make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, to try to understand the complete message being sent.

In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.

  1. Stay focused on the speaker - don't get distracted by other thoughts or other things happening around you.
  2. Avoid planning a "counter argument" while the other person is speaking.
  3. Watch for body language to learn more.
  4. Show that you are listening by leaning in, smiling and making eye contact.
  5. Try repeating their words mentally as they say them - this will reinforce their message and help you stay focused.
Customized Employment
According to the US Department of Labor, Customized Employment is a flexible process designed to personalize the employment relationship between a job candidate and an employer in a way that meets the needs of both. It is based on an individualized match between the strengths, conditions, and interests of a job candidate and the identified business needs of an employer. Customized Employment utilizes an individualized approach to employment planning and job development - one person at a time . . . one employer at a time.

Customized Employment will often take the form of:
  • Task reassignment: Some of the job tasks of incumbent workers are reassigned to a new employee. This reassignment allows the incumbent worker to focus on the critical functions of his/her job (i.e., primary job responsibilities) and to complete more of the central work of the job. Task reassignment typically takes the form of job creation, whereby a new job description is negotiated based on current, unmet workplace needs.
  • Job carving: An existing job description is modified - containing one or more, but not all, of the tasks from the original job description.
  • Job sharing: Two or more people share the tasks and responsibilities of a job based on each other's strengths.
  • Self-employment: Although less common, Self-employment is a form of Customized Employment that allows an individual to receive assistance in the creation of an independently owned small business (typically a micro enterprise, under five employees). The business is based on the strengths and dreams of the individual and the unmet needs of a local market, and incorporates individualized planning and support strategies needed for success.
CALENDAR: 2/15/16      
"Helping Youth Learn Soft Skills: What Families Can Do" Webinar

The National RAISE Technical Assistance Center invites all Parent Centers to join us for our next webinar on transitioning young people from school to post secondary education and/or competitive employment.

Helping Youth Learn Soft Skills: What Families Can Do - This webinar will discuss the soft skills needed for success in the work place for all youth, including youth with disabilities. Families can be very helpful in practicing soft skills with their children from an early age. Soft skills include often unspoken workplace rules about communicating, getting along with others, and deciding what to do when they are given responsibility.

Learn More About "Employment First"

The Office of Disability Employment Policy and the LEAD Center have released three Employment First Technical Briefs for anyone working to implement Employment First in their state, region, or agency.

Technical Brief #1: "Connecting the Dots: Using Federal Policy to Promote Employment First Systems-Change Efforts," provides a robust summary and overview of public policy, regulations, rules, and informational bulletins that support employment outcomes and employment first for youth and adults with disabilities.

Technical Brief #2: "Federal Legal Framework that Supports Competitive, Integrated Employment Outcomes of Youth and Adults with Significant Disabilities," highlights various legal actions by federal enforcement agencies that have significant implications for how states prioritize and deliver services for individuals with disabilities.

Technical Brief #3: "Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change & Provider Transformation," provides guidance to states that are involved in systems change efforts aimed at improving competitive, integrated employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities.


Historic Agreement Will Assist Workers with Disabilities  - National Disability Rights Network and U.S. Department of Labor Enter Agreement

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) has entered into an information-sharing agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to more effectively protect the rights of workers with disabilities.

The agreement concerns language in the Fair Labor Standards Act (Section 14c) that allows employers to pay sub-minimum wages to individuals whose productive capacity is impacted by a physical or mental disability. Ensuring proper implementation, oversight, and enforcement of the sub-minimum wage program is vital in protecting the rights and preventing the exploitation of workers with disabilities.

Committee to Consider Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities will meet again in late January (27-28) via webinar. The meeting is open to the public and will take place on BOTH days from 1:00-5:00 PM EST. The Advisory Committee's four subcommittees will report on their work. There will be a public comment period on January 27, 3:30-4:30 PM EST.