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Deaf-Blind Services

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NC DIVISION OF SERVICES FOR THE BLIND POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION


Section: D
Title: Deaf-Blind Services
Current Effective Date: 02/08
Revision History Revised 01/96; 02/02; 10/04; 01/05; 01/08; 07/15

The North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) has a responsibility, through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to serve individuals with significant disabilities who are deaf-blind. This population has unique needs because of combined hearing and vision loss. Persons who are deaf-blind must have equal access to, and receive, appropriate services in order to reach their highest level of rehabilitative independence within the home, community, and employment.

The agency is committed to serving individuals with hearing and vision loss and maintains specialized staff to provide the exceptional services needed. Specialty staff consist the Deaf-Blind Specialists and Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist.

North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind (DSB) follows the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) definition of deaf-blindness which is:

When considering decisions about appropriate referrals for Deaf-Blind services, case managers will utilize the above HKNC definition. Additionally, case managers are encouraged to refer individuals with suspected hearing loss to the Deaf-Blind Specialist based on functional observations.

DSB acknowledges that each individual who is Deaf-Blind is unique. The term Deaf-Blind encompasses different categories including: Hard of Hearing-Visually Impaired, Hard of Hearing-Blind; Deaf-Visually Impaired, and Deaf-Blind. DSB holds that it is an individual preference as to how a person is identified.

The Deaf-Blind Specialist

The Agency maintains five (5) regional Deaf-Blind Specialists who provide comprehensive services to individuals who are deaf-blind through services in our Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VR), Independent Living Rehabilitation Program (ILR), Independent Living Older Blind Program (ILOB), and Independent Living Services Program (ILS).

Deaf-Blind Specialists provide the support necessary to assist individuals with finding suitable employment and/or increasing their level of independence within the home. The Deaf-Blind Specialist role involves advocacy, consultation, assessment, technical support, service coordination, training, transition planning, job placement and development, and other individualized services. These Specialists are familiar with Deaf culture, telecommunications, assistive technology, hearing aids, Assistive Listening Devices (ALD), assistive alerting devices, methods of communication, community resources and are fluent in American Sign Language. Deaf-Blind Specialist positions are located in the Wilmington, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Asheville and Greenville offices (On-Line Appendix-Deaf-Blind specialist Service Areas).

The Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist

The Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist (DBATPS) is also a resource to service delivery personnel. In addition to managing program policy and procedures, the DBATPS is an available resource to assist with complex cases that present for VR services.

Referrals for Deaf-Blind Services

The VR, ILR, ILOB, and ILS programs shall refer persons with vision and hearing loss to the Deaf-Blind specialist, using the BEAM Program Name Internal Referral – Deaf Blind form. Please include the following when making a referral for Deaf-Blind Services: eye report, audiology report if available, and appropriate mode of communication.

Coding

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Independent Living Counselors must make every effort to properly code individuals with hearing loss as being deaf-blind under primary disability in BEAM. Case Managers referring to the Blind Register will use the appropriate Blind Register Hearing Impairment Code.

Responsibilities of the Deaf-Blind Specialist to the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

The Deaf-Blind Specialist will function as a consultant to the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and perform the following services as directed:

Responsibilities of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to the Deaf-Blind Specialist

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are asked to adhere to the following recommendations to ensure quality services are provided to persons who are deaf-blind.

Responsibilities of the Deaf-Blind Specialist to the Independent Living Rehabilitation (ILR) Counselor

The Deaf-Blind Specialist will function as a consultant to the Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselor and perform the following services as directed:

Responsibilities of the Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselor to the Deaf-Blind Specialist

The Independent Living Rehabilitation Counselors are asked to adhere to the following recommendations to ensure quality services are provided to persons who are deaf-blind.

Responsibilities of the Deaf-Blind Specialist to the Social Worker for the Blind

The Deaf-Blind Specialist will function as a consultant to the Social Worker for the Blind and perform the following services as directed:

Responsibilities of the Social Worker for the Blind

The Social Workers for the Blind are asked to adhere to the following recommendations to ensure quality services are provided to persons who are deaf-blind.

Collaboration with Other Agencies and Vendors

DSB staff may collaborate with community partners to best meet the needs of complex cases. In specific cases, DSB may utilize the services of private vendors to meet unique needs of individuals who are deaf-blind. Prior to seeking external resources, DSB staff is encouraged to fully utilize the services of the Deaf-Blind Specialist. A decision to seek supplemental services should be made in consultation with the Deaf-Blind Specialist, immediate supervisor and the Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist.

One such community partner is the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC). The HKNC is a nationally recognized program designed to meet the diverse needs of persons who are Deaf-Blind. This residential Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program offers evaluation, vocational skills training, adaptive technology and computer skills, orientation and mobility, independent living, appropriate modes of communication, speech-language skills, creative arts, fitness, and leisure activities. The curriculum is community-based and the trans-disciplinary team works together to support eligible individuals in achieving employment outcomes.

Individual training programs are based on individual preferences, future goals and training recommendations identified by the individual and trans-disciplinary team. HKNC also offers assistance with vocational and residential placement at the end of the training program.

The majority of individuals who are deaf-blind and require facility-based training will receive training at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind (RCB). In such instances when the individual needs are too great to receive services from the RCB, the HKNC will be considered, as appropriate even if services have previously been received at RCB. Referrals to the HKNC do not obligate DSB for funding. Each referral to the HKNC will be examined on a case by case basis to determine the extent of the Agency’s participation, if any. Examples of needs exceeding the capacity of the RCB include, but are not limited to, individuals with no formal language, individuals who cannot adequately communicate their needs, individuals with behavior problems that may potentially compromise the safety of RCB participants, or when instructional services and consumer support service needs cannot be met.

Vocational potential is required at the time of referral on all referrals to the HKNC. If no vocational potential exists, then the referral is not appropriate. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor shall assist the referral in identifying other resources.

All referrals to the HKNC shall go through the Deaf-Blind Specialist and the Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist. The Deaf-Blind Specialist will conduct an assessment and serve as a resource to the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, while the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor maintains the authority and responsibility for developing the IPE with the individual, if the individual is approved for the HKNC program. The Deaf-Blind Specialist shall also be responsible for conducting person-centered planning and developing a plan of action to be implemented, with the full intent of assisting the individual with obtaining and maintaining employment upon the completion of the program. In such cases when the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Deaf-Blind Specialist, and individual cannot determine which program can best meet the needs, the Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist shall be utilized

After the application for services has been completed, a copy will be sent to the Deaf-Blind & Assistive Technology Program Specialist, who will maintain a database of all referrals to the HKNC.

When DSB sponsors HKNC training, the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor will authorize for services from their individual caseload budgets regardless of economic need. Contact the HKNC to obtain the current rates for the program. Once an individual is approved to attend, an application from HKNC may be obtained by contacting 516-944-8900.

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