NewView Oklahoma Report
We are grateful to the First Nonprofit Foundation for awarding NewView Oklahoma a grant for $10,000 to equip a five-seat computer lab for our Keys to Work Transition Program for visually impaired students. The program provides computer, daily living skills and career training that enables blind students to be job-ready once they leave high school. As per our grant agreement, I am pleased to provide the final report outlining the use of the funds.
Sustainability and replication: There is 2,500 youth in Oklahoma whose academic and social development is threatened by blindness. Children challenged by vision loss must be taught skills that enable them to learn and function independently in school. Because the public schools are not providing these services, only 34 percent of blind youth will earn a high school diploma and 74 percent will be unemployed once they leave school.
To fill this void in services, NewView created Keys to Work. NewView offers the only in-state transition program for visually impaired youth and young adults. The only other training option is a residential program in Arkansas offered by the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Because NewView can offer this training at just under $2,000 rather than $5,000 per student, DRS is now referring their blind youth clients to the Keys to Work program. These referrals, combined with community grants, such as those received from Express Personnel Professionals, the Harris Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma, will provide a vital source of income for the program moving forward. NewView works with several other blind serving organizations to assist them in replicating our nationally recognized model of low vision services delivery, including the Keys to Work program.
Here are several links to videos and news stories about the Keys to Work Program:
NewView Oklahoma is grateful to the First Nonprofit Foundation for your support of the Keys to Work program. Please contact Sandy Wright, Foundations Director at [email protected] or 405.605.4052, if you have questions or need more information.
Computer training using this equipment was a central focus of the after-school program held at the Tulsa Low Vision Clinic. Students learned technology skills that enabled them to complete homework assignments, as well as participate in other learning experiences such as cooking, self-determination, health management and financial literacy.
In July 2017, 14 blind young adults participated in a summer intensive residential camp focused on job readiness in Tulsa. With instruction provided by an Assistive Technology Specialist, students used this equipment to learn skills that enabled them to search the web for housing, transportation and job options. Every student completed their own individual employment plan and learned to write a resume. Prior to going through mock job interviews conducted by community leaders, students visited a cosmetology school for hair, makeup and grooming sessions and learned tips from HR professionals on how to dress and conduct themselves in interviews. Students also learned daily living skills from managing their finances to preparing meals as well as how to safely use public transportation to shop for groceries and attend job interviews.
NewView developed a Summary of Assessment which was used to measure and track participant achievement of goals in the following categories: Self-determination, Cooking, Medication Management, Personal Self-Care, Home Maintenance, Assistive Technology, Community Travel & Orientation and Financial Management. Every student showed at least a 20 percent improvement in their skill rates as result of this training.
The equipment purchased with this grant continues to play a vital role in the success of our Keys to Work program. While the in-clinic year-round classroom component has been discontinued, the
residential camps have been retained and enrollment has increased. Residential institutes have been held in 2018 and in 2019, with the latest institute being extended from one week to two weeks. Follow up services by NewView therapy staff to participants’ homes reinforces skills learned and provides additional support to students and their families.