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JOB EXPLORATION with Helen Keller National Center (HKNC)

Each individual will begin identifying their interests by completing interest inventories which could include but are not limited to: verbal or pictorial editions; O*Net Interest profiles; mynextmove program,  or assessments included in the virtualjobshadow program

Learning about jobs currently in demand, employers’ expectations and financial considerations of employment, workplace etiquette and culture are involved.

HKNC uses the virtualjobshadow program, a resource that provides opportunities for job shadowing and comprehensive career exploration. The program offers videos where an individual can job shadow professionals and get an understanding of the day-to-day life in a particular job. The section on job exploration offers a multitude of interest inventories that link to a full description of the career cluster chosen and a future look at employment opportunities. Each participant can also identify colleges in the home state that offer programs related to vocational interests. In addition, videos are provided to discuss soft skills. The program offers closed captioning and is accessible with JAWS. Assessment and training are provided utilizing the platform in combination with instruction by the HKNC transdisciplinary team.


HKNC provides opportunities to gain work readiness skills through participation in collaborative peer learning groups. These groups offer opportunities to learn from others to build a reference for work and enhance one’s knowledge of work skills including soft skills and strategies for success. Topics for work readiness include strategies for accessibility and understanding the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); practicing applications both paper and online; developing interviewing skills; developing a resume; and acquiring skill in self-advocacy, time management, problem-solving skills and soft skills.

A transition plan is the key to successfully securing employment. HKNC’s deaf-blind specialists are located throughout the country and, if available in your state, have a major role in assisting with job search. In addition, HKNC’s national employment & business relations specialist focuses on developing relationships with national companies. The specialist will work closely with each consumer and their VR counselor to provide job leads and introductions to companies. The specialist is also a resource for developing and providing sensitivity and orientation training with the prospective employer.


Exploring the job market in relation to each individual’s identified career interests, engaging in informational interviews, preparing a resume, experiencing mock or real time job interviews and gaining skills to utilize a variety of strategies and resources for job seeking are all included.



Orientation and mobility skills, skills of independent living, communication skills training, adaptive technology, audiology and low vision are incorporated into each individualized training plan. In addition, a technology instructor will work with each individual to assess adaptive technology skills prior to the beginning of assessment.


Communication methods in the work environment for face-to-face communication including communication cards, apps, text messaging and how to access group interpreting is provided. This includes accessing ASL interpreting and captioning during group meetings and accessing group video platforms such as Zoom. Instruction on banking and budgeting, time management, college exploration, sign language, fingerspelling and academics provide opportunities to develop and enhance communication skills for optimal participation at work, home, college and in your community. Distance braille classes are offered to anyone from beginners to someone who is interested in further refining skills and/or continuing to gain proficiency.


Training is provided in assistive technology related to screen magnifiers, screen readers, braille displays, text to speech, braille note takers, Dolphin Guide Connect, OCR software/hardware, digital book services, relay services and accessible keyboards. Training in technology for the Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, and iOS apps such as Object Recognition, GPS, and Proloquo2go, face-to-face communication, Zoom Meeting and social media is the gateway for accessible, effective and efficient communication in all domains of life. Computer and related skills including e-mail, internet, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, Google docs, typing, operating systems, webcams/camera, scanners, drawing, readers, removable storage devices and video editing are areas of training available to match your individual’s needs for work, home, school and in the community. Remote programs such as JAWS Tandem and TeamViewer are used to access your individual’s computer for troubleshooting support if needed.


The independent living remote assessment is completed through a combination of interview, self-report and video observation. The independent living assessment questionnaire is incorporated to cover areas of the independent living curriculum. The assessment may also include assignments to be completed and discussed with the evaluator. When possible, equipment will be demonstrated through video. Based on assessment in the areas listed below, appropriate training and equipment recommendations will be made. Independent Living training focuses on food preparation for simple and advanced meals which incorporates menu planning, following recipes, food shopping and safe tactile cooking techniques for the stove, oven, alternate cooking equipment and adaptive appliances.

Training on organization, labeling, wardrobe management, personal care, alerting devices and housekeeping skills provide the foundation for success at work, school, in the community and at home. Instructional modalities include using iPhones, iPads, videophones, FaceTime, laptops and braille devices using the platforms of Zoom and Google docs.


When performing a virtual orientation and mobility (O&M) assessment certified orientation and mobility specialists (COMS) will collect data in a variety of formats with each individual to determine training goals that will benefit their unique abilities and home travel environments. Data will be collected via a consumer interview, video submission, and information provided (if needed) by virtual assistants, which may include blind rehabilitation professionals (COMS, CVRT and/or TVI) and/or family and friends. Throughout this entire assessment, you as vocational rehabilitation counselor and the consumer will ultimately drive determined training goals. HKNC instructors will focus on specific attention to associated risk for all categories of assessment. The orientation and mobility services include assessment and training through discussion on orientation to indoor and outdoor environments, human guide skills, protective techniques, recovering dropped objects, cane knowledge and techniques, stair travel, indoor and outdoor travel, communication when traveling, street crossings, public transportation, night travel, preparedness for community travel and dog guides.


works with each participant to learn about current vision capabilities and functional visual difficulties using interviews and by reviewing vision reports. Assistive tools such as distance and near magnifiers, telescopes, and Artificial Intelligence (wearable device) may be discussed with a focus on exploring the benefits and concerns for each low vision tool. Corresponding implications based on shared visual diagnosis will be discussed to bring clarity and understanding on how to maximize each consumer’s current functional vision.


The audiologist provides information regarding hearing loss, hearing function and what options are for managing the hearing loss. Whether a person would do best with in-the-ear, behind-the-ear or receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids and what assistive listening devices would work with those hearing aids are some of the topics that can be covered in a virtual consultation with the HKNC audiologist. Other considerations may include the use of cochlear implants or the BAHA Hearing Implant System and identifying situations where a consumer may still struggle with communication. Perhaps the addition of a remote microphone is needed. Is an FM system needed or will a remote microphone system be sufficient? Would Bluetooth connectivity be sufficient or would your individual also need direct audio input to access some of their auditory devices such as talking book players?

Knowing the options and understanding listening needs is critical to making an informed decision. The audiologist can provide personalized consultations to assist each individual with navigating the options.


Helen Keller National Center recognizes the need for emotional support as an integral part of every individual’s journey through the transitional stage of life regarding vocational rehabilitation training. At present, HKNC continues to offer mental health services remotely in the form of individual supportive counseling and support groups. These services are being provided by a certified licensed clinical social worker. The supports provided vary from psychotherapy to confidence building and self-advocacy. Mental health counseling plays a crucial role in a successful rehabilitation journey for individuals who may struggle with isolation, depression, anxiety, grief and loss. Presently remote supportive individual counseling is being provided. In addition, there are several support groups being facilitated. These groups meet the needs of individuals who are deaf-blind with various needs. Groups currently facilitated are Usher syndrome I, Usher syndrome II and hard of hearing support groups. The groups are eight (8) weeks each and provide a safe forum where an individual may obtain a clear understanding of the loss of both vision and hearing and begin to explore emotional adjustment strategies in regards to self and the impact it has had on their family and environment. With the support of the facilitators and the other members of the group, coping mechanisms and barriers will be explored and identified and advocacy issues will be addressed. The group focus is to support each individual with working through adjustment in anticipation to bringing them closer to adapting to everyday life with a combined vision and hearing loss. The process can facilitate more productive training experiences and in addition can help to build coping skills for the future. A peer collaborative group also provides connection opportunities with others, and affords a way to renew friendships and/or develop new ones. Groups will continue to evolve based on the need and feedback received from participants.

For more information, please contact your:

HKNC Regional Representative, or HKNC Admissions Coordinator, Dora Carney