Just three weeks after his appointment as Executive Director of the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC), Kevin L. Miller made a two-hour visit to the Cleveland Sight Center (CSC) to learn of its broad scope of services, and speak with its staff members. CSC is a partner with the Ohio RSC in the operation of four Vocational Rehabilitation Public Private Partnership (VRP3) programs for innovative services that help those with vision impairments and other disabling conditions to achieve employment, independence, and participation in their community. In his letter of introduction, Director Miller emphasized the importance of these partnership programs to the enhancement of RSC's services for Ohioans with disabilities.
Accompanying Mr. Miller on his visit were Dan Connor, Chief of the RSC's Bureau of Services for the Visually Disabled, Jay Scerbak, Northeast Ohio Regional Manager of the Ohio RSC, Brenda Cronin, Chief of Staff for Director Miller, and Shirley Marchi, the Director's Executive Assistant. CSC managers took Mr. Miller and his staff on a tour of CSC's major rehabilitation and other direct service programs, including the Preschool, Orientation and Mobility services, the Low Vision Center, the EYE-dea retail shop, and the four VRP3 programs described below.
Amp Up to Success is the first of CSC's VRP3 programs, and has helped adolescents and young adults learn vital social and pre-employment skills since it began in September, 2008.
The Business Enterprise Online Training Project, begun in October 2010, is a pioneering internet-based training program, preparing those who are legally blind to manage and operate an Ohio business enterprise food-service facility. Residents from counties across the state are now enrolled in this program, studying to pass the required Business Enterprise licensure examination. The program's first graduate will begin management of a food-service facility in Columbus, Ohio, this month.
The CSC-RSC Call Center Training Project that also started in October 2010 prepares those with visual impairments and other disabling conditions to perform call center and other customer-service work. Graduates of this program now work for Marriott's Global Reservation and Customer Service Center in Solon, Ohio, and with other call-centers based in northeast Ohio. This is a popular program for those with multiple disabling conditions, not only because of the high earnings potential, but also because a growing number of call centers allow employees to work from home, eliminating the costs and risks of commuting to a work site.
The CSC-RSC Supported Employment (SE) VRP3 program, launched in July 2010, is implementing an evidence-based model of vocational rehabilitation services developed at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The SE model was originally developed to improve employment outcomes among those whose primary disability is a severe mental illness. CSC was awarded funds to adapt the model to serve those whose primary disabling condition is a severe visual impairment. Case Western Reserve University's Center for Evidence Based Practices will provide CSC with the training and consultation needed to adapt and implement the SE service model.
At the conclusion of Director Miller's visit, CSC Executive Director Steven M. Friedman, Ph.D., expressed his appreciation for the Director's interest in the mission of CSC, and for his eagerness to promote the success of the RSC's partnership programs with CSC.