October HireGround

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A Publication for Vocational Rehabilitation

Professionals and Partners

Fall 2017

Welcome to HireGround

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities produces this newsletter expressly for our Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professional audience. We hope that these articles and practical tips will be of value to you as we continue our relationship and work with participants. Our goal is to achieve quality employment, independence and disability determination outcomes through our integrated services, partnerships and innovation.

Do you ever recall something from an earlier HireGround that you would like to access again? OOD has posted past issues starting with January 2014 online. All are available both in PDF and text versions at OOD's Website.

OOD Invests in Services to Employers

OOD’s Division of Employer and Innovation Services takes the lead in raising awareness of our mission with employer partners, promoting our talent pool of job-ready candidates and supporting businesses in the hiring and retention of people with disabilities. Over the last three years, OOD’s statewide Business Relations Manager and four regional Business Relations Specialists have worked with employers to identify job opportunities that match the skill set and experience of our job-seekers, and provide services and resources to employers promoting benefits of hiring OOD participants.


This year, OOD has further strengthened its services to employers by enhancing its automated process for matching candidates to job openings, which has resulted in identifying suitable candidates four times faster than before. In addition, through Poses Family Foundation grant funding, OOD expanded from four Talent Sourcing Coordinators to nine. These coordinators are responsible for directly sourcing OOD job seekers, through navigating the application and interview stages hopefully leading to a job offer. This ensures that we efficiently and effectively help in meeting the talent needs of employers throughout the state. There are currently more than 200 job openings actively being sourced directly through OOD’s employer partners. 


Finally, as part of October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebration, OOD released five short videos targeting businesses and highlighting the many advantages for employers connected to OOD. Topics include: How OOD Can Help Meet Your Workforce Needs; Employer Resources and Incentives; Effective Interaction with Individuals with Disabilities; Promoting Employer Peer to Peer Networking; and Workforce Success Stories. You can view them on YouTube.

Employer Awards Spotlight Growing

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities spotlights outstanding Ohio employers through an annual recognition program including awards. The goal is to recognize and highlight Ohio companies committed to providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This year, a record 189 employers will be receiving recognition for meeting or exceeding our established criteria.  


These awards honor companies at any level in the process, from those who have just begun to recruit employees with disabilities, to those with a proven track record of integrating these workers into their workforce.


The annual awards include:

  • Champion of Opportunity - Companies that have gone above and beyond and who serve as statewide examples of what it means to provide quality employment opportunities and increased independence for individuals with disabilities.
  • Committed to Opportunity - Companies with a proven commitment to integrating individuals with disabilities into their workforce.
  • Creating Opportunity - Companies which have recently begun hiring individuals with disabilities.

This year's recipients of the Champion of Opportunity Award are: 

  • Natural Essentials – Streetsboro, OH
  • Miami University - Oxford, OH 
  • HCR ManorCare – Toledo, OH
  • The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

OOD congratulates all recipients and looks forward to partnering with each of them as they continue on their mission of inclusivity.  

OOD Provides Funds to Partners for Service Expansion

In August, OOD awarded a number of vocational rehabilitation partners and providers opportunity dollars totaling more than $280,000 in funds. These one-time funds were available to develop new programs for individuals with disabilities.


The driving themes of those selected include: their focus on connecting students with disabilities to higher wages and in-demand occupations, partnering with technology and trade industries, expanding services to rural areas, and supporting the attainment of nationally recognized credentials for staff to provide supported employment services and work incentives consultations.


After receiving numerous responses to its request for proposals, OOD coordinated an independent scoring and selection committee with representatives from OOD, the Ohio Departments of Developmental Disabilities, Education, Job and Family Services, and Mental Health and Addiction Services.


The committee selected the following proposals to assist Ohioans with disabilities with expanded and improved opportunities: 

  • Food for Good Thought: to develop summer youth sites in the information technology industry 

  • Capabilities - to develop summer youth work experience sites in the technology and trade industries, and to develop a new program to assist students with disabilities in identifying career interests to better prepare them for post-school employment 

  • The Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities - to engage businesses in northeast Ohio to participate in local hiring events for people with disabilities 

In addition, Services for Independent Living in Northeast Ohio, the Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center of Greater Cincinnati, and the Deaf Community Resource Center in Dayton will each receive funding to obtain accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).


An OOD survey sent to partners highlighted the overwhelming need for Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) certification from the Association of Persons Supporting Employment First (APSE) and Work Incentives Practitioner (WIP) training and Certification from Cornell University. OOD received more than 550 requests for CESP certification and more than 160 requests for WIP credentialing. All such requests are slated for funding.

Pre-Employment Transition Services Update

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) places increased emphasis on services to students with disabilities, requiring each state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency to reserve at least 15 percent of its federal VR allotment for the provision of pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities. We hope that such early-stage services will assist students with identifying career interests.


Pre-employment transition services fall into five areas: Job Exploration Counseling; Work-based Learning; Counseling on Post-secondary Opportunities; Workplace Readiness Training; and Instruction in Self-Advocacy.  All these services may be provided to students with disabilities who have a need for pre-employment transition services and who are currently eligible or potentially eligible for VR services.  Services may be delivered individually or in groups. They may be provided in a classroom setting, at an employment site, or in the community. 

To make these services available, OOD is contracting with multiple community partners including Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Community Centers for the Deaf (CCDs), Sight Centers and local County Boards of Developmental Disabilities. More information can be found on the Transition Student tab on OOD's Website.


Fee Schedule Updates

In August 2015, OOD began to align dental, audiological and select medical services with rates established by Ohio Medicaid. Effective October 1, OOD is paying Medicaid rates for all dental, medical and psychological services that are necessary to determine eligibility, functional abilities, or to identify appropriate vocational rehabilitation services. Additionally, OOD will implement updates to the VR Provider Fee Schedule, all of which are outlined in a revision to the Ohio Administrative Code (3304-2-52). These changes come after months of research, public forums and provider feedback. Though the process was lengthy, these changes allow OOD to align its practices with other state and local agencies, increase consistency and simplify the processes of purchasing these services.


In preparation for these changes, VR staff, contractors and providers participated in regional training to learn more about the fee schedule requirements. OOD also updated the forum utilized to communicate more effectively with VR providers.  We encourage any provider interested in receiving communications on upcoming provider training events or the VR Fee Schedule implementation to sign up by going to www.ood.ohio.gov and selecting the “Sign up for OOD Publications” option located in the lower right hand corner of the home page. Once logged in, simply check the box for provider updates.


Providers wishing to begin or continue to receive referrals from OOD must agree to accept Medicaid established rates or rates established on the VR Provider Fee Schedules as payment in full.


BSVI Adds Support to Adult Braille Literacy

As any adult learner can attest, it is difficult to receive Braille instruction once a student is out of the public education system. This holds true throughout Ohio, but particularly in rural and other areas not historically served by vision service providers. In September, OOD put out a request for proposals from eligible entities with staff to provide basic uncontracted Braille instruction to learners with low vision or blindness who are at least 14 years of age and out of school.


We are pleased to report that Ohio’s chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the recipient of this award. NFB Ohio’s proposal offers instruction based in four cities around Ohio, along with wide-ranging initiatives for recruiting eligible learners. Studies will start with groups next spring and include weekly one-on-one follow-up meetings between a certified teacher, a Braille mentor and individual learners for about 14 weeks. Everyone participating in this program will be encouraged to explore the employment assistance available through OOD’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program. 


If you know anyone with a visual impairment and the desire to master Braille, please contact elizabeth.sammons@ood.ohio.gov and stay tuned for additional progress reports as this project develops.


Program Performance Summary

Performance Summary