Helping young people who are blind or have low vision successfully transition to independence and adulthood is an important task for service providers. NRTC research has uncovered factors that make it more likely that youth with blindness and low vision will be ready to successfully pursue careers or college, such as early work experience and academic achievement.
Follow the links below to access article summaries and other free resources about transition for young people who are blind or have low vision.
Short-Term Effects of Job Search Skills Training and a Summer Work Experience Program for Youth
Research Takeaway: We evaluated the effects of job search skills training and summer work experience (SWE) program participation on short-term outcomes for youth with visual impairments. Our results indicate that job search skills training and SWE programs may have differing effects on youths’ job search knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy.
What Were We Trying to Learn?
Studies of work experience programs for youth have yielded mixed results, but programs with strong impacts tend to include added components, like job search assistance. We know little about the effectiveness of work experience programs for youth with visual impairments or about strategies for teaching job search skills to this population.
We wanted to find out if participating in a job search skills training program leads to improved short-term outcomes for youth with visual impairments. We also explored whether outcomes differed for youth who participated in a vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency-sponsored summer work experience (SWE) program. In particular, we wanted to know if youth who participated in these programs had increases in the following:
- Job search knowledge (knowledge about searching for jobs)
- Job search behavior (e.g., filling out applications, sending resumes to employers, contacting employers for job leads)
- Job search behavior self-efficacy (confidence in performing different job search behaviors)
- Job search outcomes self-efficacy (confidence in successfully finding a job).
How Was This Project Carried Out?
NRTC researchers compared the effects of a SWE program for youth with visual impairments and a job search skills training program titled Putting Your Best Foot Forward (PYBFF). The SWE program included about six weeks of work with an employer in the community, for which the VR agency paid youths’ salaries. PYBFF is a 35- to 40-hour program that teaches youth to:
- Identify and present their strengths and skills
- Understand the employer’s perspective
- Find job openings
- Develop an effective resume
- Use disability disclosure strategies
- Identify job accommodations
- Prepare for job interviews
The participants in this study were 92 youth (ages 15-22) with visual impairments. Youth participated in PYBFF, the SWE program, both PYBFF and the SWE program, or neither of these programs. Phone interviews were conducted with youth to collect data about their job search knowledge, behavior, and self-efficacy.
What Are the Most Important Things We Learned?
Both the job search skills program (PYBFF) and the SWE program contributed to positive outcomes for youth.
- Youth who participated in PYBFF had significant increases in knowledge about searching for jobs, job search behavior, and confidence in performing different job search behaviors.
- Youth who completed the SWE program increased their confidence in performing different job search behaviors and confidence in successfully finding a job. They did not increase their knowledge about searching for jobs or job search behavior.
- Participants who did both PYBFF and the SWE had larger increases in confidence in performing different job search behaviors than those who only did PYBFF.
How Do These Findings Relate to Me?
- Consider registering for our PYBFF trainer workshop. This free workshop focuses on how to implement PYBFF. It includes interactive activities, content on group training techniques, and an introduction to the PYBFF materials. You can use what you learn to implement the PYBFF training.
- Teach and support youth to find their own jobs or sponsored work placements. The experience of looking for a job helps young people build independence and prepare for their future. You may need to offer encouragement if a young person is faced with rejection or other obstacles.
Findings were taken from the following article:
Cmar, J. L., & McDonnall, M. C. (2020). Short-term effectiveness of job search skills training: Comparisons by summer work experience participation. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0034355220910225
For more information about this project, visit the project overview page.
Our article summaries are downloadable PDFs that describe findings from NRTC research in clear language using a simple format that makes it easy to view practical takeaways at a glance. The Transition Activity Calendar suggests activities students who are blind or have low vision should complete to prepare for college. Other resources include a review of factors that help youth with blindness or low vision successfully transition to career and college, a list of transition programs in each state, and a look at how mentors can encourage career success.
Article Summary: Experiences of Young Adults with Deaf-Blindness After High School
Research Takeaway: Many young adults with deaf-blindness do not receive the services they need after leaving high school, particularly when it comes to job training and assistance. While a majority of these young adults spend at least some time working or pursuing a postsecondary degree, many are unengaged and unplugged from the service-delivery system.
Keys to a Successful Transition: Ensuring Youth with Visual Impairments are Ready for Career and College
What does it take to prepare youth who are blind or have low vision to successfully find employment? This document highlights three key themes from our research: early work experience, academic achievement, and social/internal skills. A series of research takeaways illustrate practical ideas for translating these findings into practice.
This calendar lists tasks students who are blind or have low vision can complete as early as middle school in order to be ready to attend college. From taking the right high school courses to learning to use appropriate assistive technology, the suggested activities continue through 12th grade and the summer before starting college.