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Trending Topics announcement !


Greetings !

Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) has a long standing commitment to supporting the dreams and aspirations of Deaf-Blind youth & adults to live and work in their community of choice. I would like to introduce Laura Rocchio an administrator at HKNC who has a long history of overseeing programs that  embrace both traditional pathways to independence and those that require customization. Laura is joined by Deb Harlin who serves as Director of Information Research and Product Development. We look forward to your engagement in this topic which will highlight the expansion of the HKNC traditional program to include students who require more intensive long term supports 


Transition lead 

Mike Fagbemi

Posted May 19, 2018 by Mike Fagbemi

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Comments (13)

H Debra. All VR agencies are trying to adjust to the new requirements around working with youth. Understanding how to do it and then creating the programs to provide the services. That said people can receive services either through the pre-employment transition services or as a general customer. The pre-employment transition services are focused on pre employment activities and have targeted outcomes to assist youth with understanding and preparing for work but not gaining work. For an outcome of gaining employment being a customer is the option.

I know you asked Mike but I'm going to address your comment about parent’s fear of losing their child’s Social Security income due to earning too much. There are many work incentives that assist individuals with working. These work incentives enable people to have more income not less. If you look in Social Security’s Red Book, page 12, you will see a list of work incentives. Over the years I have seen many people go to work who are on Social Security and have more money. There are work incentives to assist with individuals keeping their medical insurance either free or low cost.

Marlene Swarts

Posted Jul 10, 2018 by Marlene Swarts

I just read your response about SSI benefits. Thanks, Debra

Debra Pickens

Posted Jul 3, 2018 by Debra Pickens

Hi Marlene,
No not the funding but the training and skills needed to work with young adults from 14 -21.
I know that WIOA is new and there are certain restrictions.

Mike, we have someone coming to discuss SSI vs. SSDI at our conference. Some parents don't want to lose the income if the child makes too much income, but I also know that there are options around the income restriction. Marlene?

Debra Pickens

Posted Jul 3, 2018 by Debra Pickens

Hi Marlene , I thought I posted a question a couple of days ago but I may not have hit send. There are concerns raised by families who want their child to work but are concerned about losing the hard fought benefits they currently have. The jobs do not pay enough for the person to be independent but in some cases benefits are in jeopardy because of the amount of hours and pay accrued. What advice do you have for families to help mitigate this and allay their concerns ?

Mike Fagbemi

Posted Jul 3, 2018 by Mike Fagbemi

Hello everyone. Debra Pickens when you stated that the challenge was with working with vocational rehabilitation do you mean funding?
VR is required to explore at first dollar resources, consider if the services are required and explore in-state services first. Showing VR that the services are not available in state, that creating the needed services in state costs more than the individual attending HKNC and that the services are required for the individual to attain employment is needed.
What I like about DBIE is that the home team creates a team that will attend with the individual receiving the services. This team then comes home, uses the tools/information they learned and provides follow-up and services in the community where the individual lives. One example of a team could be the individuals’ family/care provider whom provide care and developer/job coach staff who will be providing employment services.

Marlene Swarts

Posted Jul 2, 2018 by Marlene Swarts

Good evening everyone and Debra, plus the challenge is finding a suitable provider/vendor to assist with community placement in the type of job that is of interest for our consumers too. Still a lot of teamwork but we are working on it

Marilyn  T

Posted Jun 29, 2018 by Marilyn T

Good afternoon, This is Debra Pickens, NC Deaf-Blind Family Specialist. We have had 3 NC families attend the DBIE at HKNC this year. I attended with one of the families in January and was amazed at the abilities of the DB Learner. He was able to load the dishwasher, clean the tables and eventually load a vending machine in less than an hour. He went out in the community and purchased food and visited a hardware store and hospital where he folded towels. Not once did they talk about his disabilities but his abilities.
We are having discussions regarding similar services in NC. This is a great program for individuals with multiple disabilities including deaf-blindness. The challenge was working with Vocational Rehabilitation.

Debra Pickens

Posted Jun 14, 2018 by Debra Pickens

Hi all, reaching out to the regional representative via phone call or email is most appropriate to start the discussion.

Deborah Harlin

Posted Jun 5, 2018 by Deborah Harlin

Good afternoon everyone , following up on Patti's response : for a student thinking about participating in either program are there things for the team to consider regarding medical , behavioral , communication needs that would preclude them from attending one program or the other ?

Mike Fagbemi

Posted Jun 4, 2018 by Mike Fagbemi

Hi Deb,
I have a question on behalf of families: So, if a family found this information but does not yet have a formal relationship with their HKNC rep, would they still first reach out to their state rep for more information or just email for more information to the email provided on the website? What would be the most appropriate steps for families to begin the process? I would too imagine this process and planning would require some time, so what would be an expectation of a time frame for families that may be interested in one of the programs you have described before beginning at the Center?

Patti McGowan

Posted Jun 1, 2018 by Patti McGowan

Mike, the DBIE is a week-long experience for the individual who is deaf-blind, his/her support staff and family. The HKNC team work with the individual on communication systems and independent living skills while providing vocational experiences. The staff and family who have accompanied the individual observe for the first part of the week. Then staff work as coaches assisting support staff and family interacting with the deaf-blind individual for the rest of the week. The expanded traditional program provides a full assessment and training that is customized specifically to those deaf-blind folks with additional disabilities who will stay in the dorm for a more extended period of time. He/she will be provided with assessment and training in all areas of communication, independent living, mobility, technology and employment.

Deborah Harlin

Posted May 31, 2018 by Deborah Harlin

Hi Deb , the expansion of your traditional program to include young adults who require long term supports is exciting. How does this differ from the DBIE program which also serves deaf-blind youth with additional disabilities?

Mike Fagbemi

Posted May 29, 2018 by Mike Fagbemi

Hello everyone! HKNC's on-campus program, as well as the Deaf-Blind Immersion Experience (DBIE) and consultative services are available to provide services to deaf-blind individuals with additional disabilities including intellectual disabilities. Please copy and paste the following url in your browser to read a description of these services on our website:

Deb Harlin

Deborah Harlin

Posted May 21, 2018 by Deborah Harlin

NCDB : The Research Institute : Western Oregon University : 345 N. Monmouth Ave. : Monmouth, OR 97361
Contact Us: 800-438-9376 |

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