Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide was created for community rehabilitation program providers, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) working to improve employment outcomes for teens and young adults who are blind or low vision. Youth with blindness/ low vision belong in competitive integrated jobs during and after high school like their sighted peers. For this to happen, youth with vision loss need to have an edge on the sighted students competing for the same in-demand part-time, after school, and summer jobs and this edge is only achieved if the youth receive specialized instruction in workplace readiness training no later than age 14. This is especially critical considering across the nation the age youth can begin to work ranges from ages 10 to 14. Overall, if the employment rate of teens and young adults with vision loss in the workforce is going to increase, work-based learning needs to start early, and the implementation of specialized instruction for these teens and young adults needs to be widespread.

Transition to Work: A WIOA Program Activity Guide Created Specifically for Teens Who Are Visually Low Vision

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires states to reserve funds to provide pre-employment transition services to youth who are blind or low vision. Vocational rehabilitation agencies are responsible for making five required activities available to students:

  1. Job exploration counseling
  2. Work-based learning experiences
  3. Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs at institutions of higher education
  4. Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living skills
  5. Instruction in self-advocacy

The lessons included in this guide can be utilized by service providers to implement three of the five required activities for their blind/ low vision clients: job exploration, work-based learning, and workplace readiness training.

Emphasis on Workplace Readiness

The activities in the guide place an emphasis on students developing workplace readiness skills by requiring them to explore and hold jobs prior to the career exploration process. As teens and young adults who are blind/ low vision identify their interests and skills, they need to understand that these aspects of their character may evolve as they grow and gain work experience. Teens with vision loss need exposure to and opportunities to work in jobs to fully develop an understanding of their current skills, abilities, and interests.

Teacher giving personal instruction to male student

Teens are often asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” The phrase “grow up” associated with the term “career” can be overwhelming to any student at the age of 14, regardless if they have a disability or not. This is a very complex question, and the reality is young teens who are blind or low vision are often in the process of learning what they are capable of doing. Instructors can facilitate this learning process by helping teens explore “what they want to be” through the provision of job exploration and work-based learning activities.

Emphasis on Work-Based Learning

On-the-job training opportunities, internships, and job shadowing experiences will give blind/ low vision students the opportunity to learn basic employability or transferrable skills, skills that can be learned at any job and used to pursue any career. These employment opportunities will help them determine what type of career they would like to pursue. Holding a job at an early age can also help a teen determine whether or not his future should include postsecondary education at a college or career school.

Students with vision loss who do not have experience holding a job may make premature decisions about their career path that are based solely on their perception of the career and not their actual experiences associated with holding a job. Therefore, students with low vision need to explore jobs and have employment opportunities while they are still in high school.

A male teacher standing behind a teenage student guiding them on using the computer

Blind and low vision students need experience and practice finding their own jobs. When work experiences are pre-arranged for students, they miss out on learning the skills needed to be successful in the working world. Students need to participate in the entire process of locating and obtaining a job—from completing job applications to being interviewed to starting their first day of work. Students who do not participate in the job seeking process may have misconceptions that finding and getting hired for a job is a quick and easy process. Having students find and obtain jobs on their own will help them realize that they are accountable for their employment success and give them the foundation of skills needed to independently obtain future employment.

Implementing Program Activity Guide Materials

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide is designed for youth whose primary (and possibly only) disability is their vision. The activities can be modified for individual student needs and for students with additional disabilities. The activities are designed to facilitate individual and small-group instruction and can also be used to facilitate distance instruction with students in rural areas when face-to-face instruction can’t occur.

The activities in the guide should be used in tandem with the Job Seeker’s Toolkit to provide comprehensive training in workplace readiness. Ideally, students should complete all of the activities in the toolkit and activity guide. Several of the activities will direct you to a lesson within the Job Seeker’s Toolkit. Users will need to register with CareerConnect to access these activities.

The activities have been numbered in a format that progresses from basic career skills to more advanced skills. However, students with vision loss should receive instruction in each skill area based on their assessed career skill needs.

The first lesson in the activity guide addresses students leading their own IEP Meetings. If students become invested in making their own decisions about their future early on, they will be more likely to become employed or attend postsecondary education. The ultimate goal is for the student to take initiative and accept responsibility and accountability in the process of planning and making decisions about their future. This process is driven by students receiving and using feedback about their performance from their teachers, counselors, family members, and other people in their personal network.

Additional activities facilitate self-exploration which will guide youth who are blind or low vision in determining if they have the skills and abilities needed to pursue college, career school, and/or employment. Students who engage in self-directed and inquiry-based learning may be more realistic about their capabilities and therefore may be more successful with their chosen direction.

Lessons Available in Multiple Learning Mediums

The lessons were developed with the intention of providing instructors easy access to a variety of activities in several formats to meet the learning medium needs of all of their students. The activities are also available as electronic braille files (BRF) in the Unified English Braille (UEB) Code ready to be embossed. The BRF files are available for download at the bottom of each lesson. Right-click and “save as” to download a file to a computer.

The Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide was developed by Alicia Wolfe for the American Foundation for the Blind.

Lesson 1: Student-Led IEP Meeting

Activity: Student-Led IEP Meeting Key Considerations As a young adult in middle or high school, you should be participating in your Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. If you aren’t, it is time for you to take an active leadership role in making decisions about your current educational needs and your future goals. Your input into […]

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Lesson 2: Job Versus Career

Activity: A Job Versus a Career Key Considerations Do you think a job is the same thing as a career? The words are often used interchangeably, especially during conversations about work. It is important to understand the difference and similarities between the terms as you begin to prepare for your future as a working adult. […]

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Lesson 3: Employability Skills

Activity: Employability Skills Inventory Key Considerations To be successful at any long-term job or career you will need to master basic employability skills. Employability skills are also considered “transferrable skills,” meaning the skill sets all employers seek in employees are not specific to a particular job. These skills can actually be learned and practiced at […]

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Lesson 4: Qualities of an Employee

Activity: Personal Qualities Employers Seek in Employees Key Considerations In addition to skills, employers of teens and young adults often look for basic qualities in job candidates especially if the candidate has never held a job. Think about your responsibilities as they are associated with either you being a student at school, being a member […]

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Lesson 5: Job Research

Activity: Job Research Key Considerations If you have never volunteered your time, held a job, or had an internship, now is the time to begin exploring the possibilities of obtaining work or work-related experience. Think about your circle of friends and the peers in your age group at school. They are most likely spending time […]

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Lesson 6: Preparing a Resume

Activity: Preparing a Resume Key Considerations The Job Seeker’s Toolkit is an accessible, self-paced, and free online course that helps users develop skills and tools that last a lifetime. The course covers self-awareness, career exploration resources, the preliminary employment process, the interview, and maintaining employment. Through the learning modules, you can complete a number of […]

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Lesson 7: Job Opening Search

Activity: Locating Job Openings on the Web Key Considerations There are a variety of methods you can use to explore and locate job openings. Your resources for locating openings include (but are not limited to) your local newspaper and spreading the word of your job hunt to your personal network of friends, family members, and […]

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Lesson 8: Online Job Application

Activity: Online Job Application Key Considerations Job applications are used by employers to screen potential employees and to decide which applicant to contact for a job interview. Your application can make the difference in whether you get hired or not. Therefore, there are some important things you should keep in mind as you complete your […]

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Lesson 9: Marketing Message

Activity: Marketing Message Key Considerations One underutilized way of locating job openings is to “cold call” your interested place of employment. Searching for a job can create anxiety and often times calling a business about employment opportunities can add to that nervousness of searching for a job. Because it is a proven method for locating […]

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Lesson 10: Elevator Speech

Activity: Elevator Speech Key Considerations As you search for a job, it will be important to simultaneously work on preparing for a job interview. There are many types of interviews and the type you participate in will most likely depend on the kind of job you are interviewing for. If you are interviewing for an […]

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Lesson 11: Job Accommodations

Activity: Job Accommodations Key Considerations Whether you are currently employed or are seeking employment in the competitive workforce, it is important for you to be knowledgeable of your legal rights as a person who is blind/ low vision. Knowing your rights prior to applying for and accepting a position will benefit you. It is vital […]

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Lesson 12: Tools at Work

Activity: Disclosing My Efficiency or Access Tools Key Considerations As a teen or young adult who is blind/ low vision, using your efficiency tools are second nature to you. In fact, others around you don’t even question how you are going to accomplish an educational task or give a power point presentation. As you explore […]

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Lesson 13: E-mail

Activity: E-mail at Work Key Considerations Initial communications between job seekers and employers can often occur online either through the completion of an online job application or through email correspondence when you, for example, inquire about a job opening. When you send an email to someone you’ve never met or personally spoken with, you will […]

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Lesson 14: On the Job Assignments

Activity: On the Job Assignments Key Considerations Your first days of work are the most important. Your boss and co-workers will be observing your performance and deciding if you are going to be a good employee or not. You will be establishing your reputation as a worker. There are some things you can do to […]

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Lesson 15: Work Performance Appraisal

Activity: Student Work Appraisal Key Considerations Employers use work performance appraisals or evaluations as a method to record and evaluate job performance. Essentially, your supervisor will give you feedback about your job performance which includes your productivity, appearance, work etiquette, skills demonstrated, etc. If your supervisor indicates you need to make improvements related to your […]

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Lesson 16: Timesheet

Activity: Timesheet Key Considerations Employers use a variety of methods for having employees record the time spent performing a job or working. The amount of time working is recorded per day and is used by the payroll department to pay an employee. Timesheets are submitted at the end of the timesheet period and those dates […]

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Lesson 17: Interpreting Paystubs

Activity: Interpreting Paystubs Key Considerations The first paycheck you receive from your job will be exciting! Being compensated for your hard work is a good feeling. Your paycheck will have two parts, the check and a paystub. The paystub contains important information you will need to actively review for accuracy each time you are paid. […]

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Lesson 18: Minimum Wage

Activity: Minimum Wage Key Considerations More than likely when you are hired for your first job, it will be for minimum wage. Currently, the federal minimum hourly wage an employer can pay an employee is $7.25 an hour. Some states and cities have raised the minimum wage beyond the amount established by the federal government. […]

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Lesson 19: Job Reflections

Activity: On the Job Reflections Key Considerations While you work it will be important for you to take time to reflect on your job performance. Self-reflection will help you identify your strengths as well as to pinpoint some areas you need to improve in. Writing down your thoughts about your performance will make it easier […]

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