Customer Experience Survey Identifies BBVS Trends

Customer Experience Survey Identifies BBVS Trends

The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind conducted a survey of Pennsylvania residents who either are current or former recipients of services from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, hereafter referred to as BBVS. The purpose of this study was to gather feedback on the quality of services provided by BBVS from the customer’s perspective. The goal was to identify trends that are being experienced throughout the state, across BBVS’ six district offices. The survey was intended to gather feedback from individuals who self-identified as either having applied for service or been the recipient of at least one BBVS service within the last five years. Survey questions were developed by PCB peers who are familiar with BBVS as customers and citizen advocates. Feedback was sought among six question sections: Application Process, Communications, Goals & Objectives, Service Delivery, Customer Satisfaction, and Demographic Information. It was available for completion January through April 2019.
The final report includes an in-depth discussion and analysis of the trends apparent in the data along with two appendices of findings including unedited customer feedback to the open-ended questions. The full report with appendices is posted below and has been converted to alternate formats available for download or request.

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Customer Experience Survey Identifies BBVS Trends

Report Date:
October 17, 2019

Report Prepared By:
Pennsylvania Council of the Blind
931 N. Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
Phone 717-920-9999 or Toll-free 877-617-7407
Email: pcboffice@pcb1.org
Website: pcb1.org

Introduction

The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind conducted a survey of Pennsylvania residents who either are current or former recipients of services from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, hereafter referred to as BBVS. The purpose of this study was to gather feedback on the quality of services provided by BBVS from the consumer’s perspective. The goal was to identify trends that are being experienced throughout the state, across BBVS’ six district offices. The survey was intended to gather feedback from individuals who have either applied for service or been the recipient of at least one BBVS service within the last five years. This survey was available for completion during January through April 2019. This report aims to explain the survey process, share the data gathered, highlight the trends evidenced in the data, and offer recommendations for improvement.

Methodology

The study was conducted using Survey Monkey, a popular survey data collection platform. The survey could be completed independently by individuals with computers, using their preferred assistive technology or over the telephone through the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind’s toll-free number. Respondents were solicited through social media, PCB chapter meetings, local blindness serving agencies, PCB website, and other notices. In some instances, staff from the Pennsylvania Association of the Blind’s branch agencies also assisted respondents in completing the survey.

It should be noted that this survey was conducted completely independent of BBVS. Neither the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation nor BBVS had any input into the design of the survey or the way it was administered. No organization other than PCB provided any funds for the development or administration of this survey. Respondents were invited to provide contact information in order to have their name put into a drawing for 1 of 3 $50 Amazon gift cards. This was done on a voluntary basis, so that respondents could be motivated to complete the survey; yet, they could also opt out of this option.

Survey questions were developed by PCB peers who are familiar with BBVS as consumers and citizen advocates with the intention of gathering a broad array of feedback relevant to rehabilitation service provision. the survey was organized as follows: The Application Process Q1-6 ; Communications Q7-12; Goals and Objectives Q13-19; Service Delivery Q20-24; Customer Satisfaction Q25-29; and Demographic Information Q31-33. No question or section was weighted more than another. The survey was designed to take approximately twenty minutes to complete and the questions were designed so that they could be answered easily either by computer or using human assistance. It should be noted that because the questions were designed to garner experiential trends and anecdotal feedback, and not in-depth statistical data, the survey was not vetted by a statistics professional prior to implementation.

Findings

In total, 85 individuals participated in the survey with an average completion rate of 73 percent. In order to capture as close to an accurate accounting as possible, the findings are given numerically rather than as percentages. The answer choice is followed by the numeric count of respondents who selected it. Since some respondents left some questions blank, not all totals will equal 85. The exact wording of each question along with both numeric and percentage responses and the comments from open-ended questions is attached as Appendix A.

Respondents self-determined their eligibility to complete the survey based on having either received at least one BBVS service or applied for BBVS services within the last five years. While one survey question did ask respondents to recall their initial date of application to BBVS, they were never specifically asked to verify their last date of service. Therefore, data from all 85 respondents has been included in the findings that follow. Using responses to this question, we did create a subset of results from the 38 respondents who provided a date of application within the five-year target range. Please see Appendix B for these findings. They will be referenced periodically in the Trends & Implications section.

Application Process

Method of Application: Over the phone 23; Commonwealth’s online application 8; In person 28; Editable email file 4; Other 16

Needed Assistance with Application: Yes, my preference 32; Yes, unable to do independently 31; No, able to complete independently 19

Experienced Difficulty during Application Process: Yes 8; No 71

District Office: Altoona 2; Erie 12; Harrisburg 10; Philadelphia 29; Pittsburgh 17; Wilkes Barre 9

Date of Application: Since 2014 38; Prior to 2014 27: Not sure 20

Communications

Time before Initial Contact by Counselor: Less than two weeks 11; Two weeks to one month 28; One to two months 16; Two to six months 9; Six to twelve months 6; More than twelve months 3; Still waiting for initial contact 4

Frequency of Communication after Initial Contact: Once a week 11; Once a month 20; Once a Quarter 19; Once every six months or longer 16

Provided Paperwork or Information in Preferred Format: Always 23; Sometimes 20; Rarely 11; Never 17

Person Who Usually Initiated Contact: I did 30; Counselor did 10; Equally initiated contact 27

Customer Provided with Information about Other Resources for Blindness Services: Yes 34; No 35

Customer Given Information about Right to Appeal Case Decisions: Yes 34; No 34

Customer Was Told about Consumer/Support Groups such as PCB: Yes 24; No 46

Goals & Objectives

Customer Came with a Specific Vocational Goal in Mind: yes 50; No 20
If No, all Methods Used to Determine Goal: Vocational testing 4; Career research 4; Guidance from BBVS counselor 10; Advice from family/friends 9; Other 12

Customer Felt He/She Was Integral to Determining Vocational Goal: Yes 48; No 19

Customer Felt Steered toward Specific Vocational Goal because of Blindness: Yes 26; No 40

Used Testing/Exploration to Determine Practicality of Goal: Yes 15; No 51

Developed a Plan to Achieve Goal: Yes 38; No 29

Customer’s Family Supported Goal: Yes 54; No 8

Service Provision

Comparison of number of customers who either requested or understood the service as necessary to achieving their vocational goal and actual number who received services.

Service Type # Requested/# Received
Counseling & Guidance 23/18
Low Vision Eval. & Therapy 25/20
Facility-based Adjustment Training 14/8
In-home Adjustment Training 21/14
Orientation & Mobility Instruction 37/28
Assistive Technology Eval. & Training 38/35
Vocational Testing & Exploration 8/7
Job Search/Resume writing/Interviewing 17/8
Vocational Training Programs 13/11
OJT & Internship Subsidies 7/5
Job Jeopardy/Workplace Accommodations 13/9
Summer Academy Transition Program 5/5
Pre- employment Transition Services 3/3
College Support 12/7
Referral to Other Resources 9/6
Other 9/7
(Comments listed in Appendix A, Q20-21.)

Time between Initial Application & Receipt of First Service beyond Case Management: One month 15; Two to three months 21; Four to six months 8; Six months to one year 9; More than one year 9

Customers Are Currently Receiving service or on a Waiting List for Services: Yes 18; No 43; I don’t know 5

Customer Feels Vocational Goals & Service Expectations Have Been Met: Yes 31; No 30 (Customer comments listed in Appendix A, Q24.)

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Filed an Appeal/Grievance: Yes 9; No 54
(Customer comments listed in Appendix A, Q25.)

Client Assistance Program Researched Claim Objectively & Fully: Yes 12; No 8

Customer Satisfied with the Appeal Outcome/Resolution Rendered: Yes 8; No 6
(Customer comments listed in Appendix A, Q27.)

Overall Satisfaction as a BBVS Customer: Very satisfied 10; Satisfied 23; Dissatisfied 18; Very dissatisfied 5

Description of Difficulties Encountered: This was an open-ended question to which 33 individuals offered comment. In general, difficulties mentioned included: counselor/customer communication breakdowns; wait times/perceived delays; incompetent staff; limited job search assistance; not getting enough training; poor equipment selection; and staffing shortages/vacancies.
(Customer comments listed in Appendix A, Q29.)

General Comments or Additional Information: 26 customers offered comments which included some positive feedback regarding case counselors and more expressions of service concerns.
(Customer comments listed in Appendix A, Q30.)

Demographic Information

Customer Current Age Range: 14-21 0; 22-35 15; 36-55 14; Over 55 31

Length of Time Experiencing Visual Impairment or Blindness: Less than 2 years 3; 2-5 years 8; 5-10 years 4; More than 10 years 25; Since birth 19

Customer Described Visual Function:
Totally Blind 11
Can tell if the light is on or off 35
Can see colors and match clothing. 23
Use color contrast for daily living tasks 19
Can read large print without magnification 19
Need magnification to read print 27
Use a computer with screen reader 23
use a computer with magnification 20
Vision fluctuates from day to day 21
Vision loss is stable/not likely to deteriorate 10
May lose more vision based on my diagnosis 27

Trends & Implications

The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind took on this survey project to gather data from current and recent customers of the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services regarding their experiences. The survey, prepared by peers who are blind or visually impaired, used a combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions to provide a collection of feedback, directly from the customers about the state of blindness rehabilitation services in Pennsylvania. The feedback yielded several trends which raise concerns about BBVS processes and results. In this section we will explore the data trends and implications.

Survey questions 1-5 targeted the customer’s experience with the application process. Of the 85 survey respondents, 38 are relatively new applicants to BBVs, having submitted their initial pre-application for services since 2014. The remainder of respondents are earlier applicants who have utilized at least one service within the last five years. (See Appendix B for the subset of results from the 38 newer applicants.) Respondents from all six of BBVS’ district offices submitted surveys with the greatest numbers from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Overall, more than 75 percent of respondents used some type of assistance to apply for BBVS services. Most completed their pre-application with a staff person over the phone, during an in-person meeting, or through a third party such as a parent, teacher, or PAB staff person.
Among newer applicants, more than one-third indicated they used sighted assistance for the pre-application because they could not access it independently.

When we look at the data from this section, and consider the World health organization’s predictions about exploding numbers of seniors experiencing vision loss in coming years, we believe this trend of needing or perceiving to need assistance to complete the pre-application for BBVS services needs to be addressed with a more accessible, efficient process. When BBVS moved to the online system through CWDS, it seemed to have been done to make the application process more efficient. This misassumption, as evidenced by the 3 out of 38 newer applicants who applied this way, fails to account for the loss of access to technology that occurs when a person loses vision—which is why they apply for BBVS services. A technological solution to be considered is an automated phone system where applicants could call and use their voice to answer and navigate the pre-application independently. An additional alternative to consider is a statewide customer service center that efficiently processes new pre-applications and requests for service from long-time customers over the phone, freeing up district office staff to provide actual services.

In Q6-12, the survey sought to learn more about customer/counselor communications with regard to content, frequency, and accessibility. Overall, half of respondents indicated initial contact with a case worker occurred within two months of their application. Since the agency has frequently stated that the goal is to get the pre-application to an application with a counselor within 60 days, this would be a failing grade in any test situation. Of the 50 percent not receiving service within 60 days 10 percent indicated they waited over six months for initial contact. When asked how frequently the customer and counselor communicated, more than half of customers answered quarterly or less. In 30 of the 67 respondents’ cases, they said it was the customer who initiated most communication. Throughout the survey there are examples of a wide array of communication concerns.

When we asked about the kinds of information being shared with the customer, the data reveals another startling trend. In response to how often the customer received paperwork and information in his or her preferred reading format, 28 of 71 respondents (39 percent) answered rarely or never, and fully two thirds of respondents did not always receive communications in their preferred format. Overall, half of respondents said they did not receive information about their rights to appeal through the Client Assistance Program (CAP). Furthermore, half indicated they were not given information about additional resources such as the National Library Service and Hadley Institute. And two-thirds of respondents shared that they did not receive information about other groups which could assist in their adjustment process, such as support groups and organizations like PCB.

An agency, all of whose clients are blind or visually impaired should have procedures in place that guarantee customers always receive written documentation in an alternate accessible format. While it is possible the customers were given printed papers containing all the CAP and resources we asked about, how would the customer know and how could they be expected to use it if it is not accessible to them? Not providing access to basic information without sighted help to get it just furthers customer dependence on the agency and sighted helpers. At a minimum, we believe upon application for BBVS services, each customer should receive in his/her preferred format, a list of the top 10 state/national resources that could impact their lives. Customer independence should be the priority in all areas of service, especially communication. Enabling customers’ ability to access other resources may also alleviate some of the demand for BBVS services. This may well involve teaching self-advocacy much earlier in the counselling process.

In the next section of the survey we asked customers about their experiences with establishing goals and objectives for their vocational rehabilitation. Overall, 20 respondents out of 70 admit they did not have a vocational goal in mind when they applied for BBVS services. Some commented that they were already working or were retired. Nineteen out of 67 expressed that they did not feel they were an integral part of the process to determine their vocational goal. When asked if they felt steered to a specific vocation or training because of their visual level, 40 percent of the 66 total respondents said yes. That number rises to 44% within the subset of newer applicants. Among the subset, 7 out of 34 (20 percent) said they did not undergo any vocational testing or career exploration activities to test if the goal was practical for them.

It seems from this data that in many cases, BBVS staff is not customizing goals and objectives to meet individual customer interests and abilities. There does not seem to be much time spent on allowing the customer an opportunity to learn about different jobs so they can decide on the right fit. Perhaps this limited opportunity approach is a reaction to the pressures for more closures and more customers served. It would be interesting to examine if this “Vanilla Vr” is causing more case reopenings for job replacement and retraining.

In this age of individualized vocational plans, 14 out of 34 newer applicants answered that they and their counselors did not develop a plan of objectives to reach their goals. Since the rehabilitation system requires everyone to have a plan, why were these individuals unaware of such a plan. This could be additional evidence of poor counselor-customer communication efforts, lack of plans provided in accessible formats, and general disregard for customer involvement in a personalized VR approach.

Regarding actual service requests and actual service delivery, the data indicate some differences in terms of the nature of services requested and those received.  Except for Pre-Employment Transition Services and the Summer Academy Transition Program, the number of respondents requesting each service was greater than the number of respondents who stated that they had received that service.  This was even true for blindness specific training such as orientation and mobility,  assistive Technology Evaluation, Training and Purchase, and Low Vision Evaluation  Therapy.   Even the number of respondents who requested Job Jeopardy/Workplace Accommodations exceeded the number who received this group of services. In the case of the most basic and popular vocational service request, job search assistance, resume writing, and interview help, less than half received the service they anticipated. We certainly hope that, during this period in which the order of selection is closed, counselors make a special effort to advise their clients or customers about resources in addition to those normally provided by BBVS so that they might seek other avenues of service.

The data indicates the BBVS services in highest demand are those specific to blindness rehabilitation: assistive technology services, orientation and mobility training, and low-vision therapy. This data was not a surprise, as we have always contended that blindness is a lifetime adjustment process. Not only do changes in vision precipitate need for additional services, but so too do common life events such as moving to a new neighborhood, changing jobs, updating technology, public transit changes, acquiring an additional disability, etc. Many of the respondents to this survey are people who originally applied for service more than a decade ago, but they have encountered situations within their lives which have them still needing a service from BBVS. And without healthcare to cover these services and make them more available, people who are blind will continue to return to the VR system for blindness rehabilitation services again and again.

One recurring theme among the open-ended feedback we received focused on service delays. When asked how long customers waited from the time of application to receive the first service, 18 of 62 indicated six months or longer. Of 61 respondents, half indicated they did not feel their goals and service expectations had been met. When asked for further explanation, comments noted delays, inadequate training, insufficient equipment, differing views of goals, etc. (Reference Q22 in Appendix A for respondent comments. .)

We attempted to gage the respondents’ experience with the appeal process by asking questions about the Client Assistance Program. Unfortunately, the primary point we learned is that it is very unclear whether people truly understand what CAP is. For example, 9 respondents indicated that yes, they had filed an appeal with CAP, but then when the follow-up question for those individuals asked if they thought CAP researched their claim objectively and fully, 20 people responded when only 9 should have. The feedback collected from the comment part of these questions clearly indicates customers do not know about CAP; Customers who requested information about CAP were not given it; and those who appealed through CAP did not have a satisfactory experience. It’s worth reiterating here that when asked if they were given information about their right to appeal through CAP, exactly half of the 68 respondents to that question answered, no. Since we know that decisions all include appeal rights and information about using CAP, we cannot help but believe that the issue of preferred format for correspondence which would otherwise be in standard print might well be the reason for the disconnect.

Out of 56 respondents, only 33 indicated their overall level of satisfaction as a BBVS client as being either very satisfied or satisfied. When given the opportunity to provide open-ended feedback on any difficulties faced as a BBVS client, 33 clients shared their comments. Many of the perceived difficulties had to do with long wait times for services, frustrations over counselors not keeping clients informed or returning their calls, cases being switched to other staff without notification, unfulfilled expectations about the quality and duration of services, etc. While there were some positive statements shared among the 26 individuals who provided additional general comments, the collective feedback provided offers grave cause for concern about BBVS efficiency and effectiveness. (See responses to Q29 and Q30 in Appendix A for customer comments.)

We learned from the demographic questions that half of the 60 respondents who gave their age range are over 55. Three-quarters of question respondents indicated they have been blind or visually impaired since birth or for longer than 10 years. With 19 customers purporting their visual function as being able to read large print without magnification, and the 25 respondents who can read with some type of magnification, it appears individuals with partial sight may account for 75% of the BBVS client base. Of the 60 clients responding to the visual function question, 27 (44 percent) indicated they could lose even more vision based on their diagnosis. As the nature of adjustment to blindness goes, it is very likely these clients will need to return to BBVS for additional rehabilitation training as usable vision deteriorates. This additional training may well not have any vocational aspect to it, but could well involve learning to adapt to additional vision loss without becoming isolated for that later portion of life which could easily be twenty to thirty years.

Conclusion

In conclusion, some of the problems encountered by the customers completing this survey are systemic like getting the case process started or giving customers complete and usable correspondence so that they know what is happening and why and when they have a right to appeal a decision. Customers should always be given additional resources in their preferred format, so they know where to access other services and support not available through BBVS. Other identified issues involve communication between customer and counselor with expectations being clearly identified and goals being clearly determined and stated. It should not be difficult to encourage communication between customer and counselor and to create agency policies which foster such communication. It doesn’t seem to make sense that a person with an active case with BBVS would only need to touch base with an appropriate worker once a quarter or less, but this survey indicates that more than half of the 66 people who answered that communication question had such a response.

We hope this report serves as a catalyst for change within Pennsylvania’s blindness rehabilitation system. The trends presented provide an opportunity to become more efficient and effective in carrying out BBVS’ purpose. A sincere demonstration of OVR’s commitment to improving these services would be the hiring of a permanent BBVS Director, a position that has remained vacant for 15 months. For its part, PCB stands ready to assist the agency with finding solutions whether they be through focus groups to assist in policy development, advocacy for either Federal or State legislation which would ultimately recognize the difference between Vocational Rehabilitation and the non-vocational, adjustment to blindness rehabilitation needed later in life to maintain independence and an active life, or pursuing a medical method of paying for some of these services as happens with mental or physical rehabilitation.

The most important point the survey data demonstrates is how vital both blindness and vocational rehabilitation services are to the customer. We literally could not live and work independently without them. We call on all policy makers within BBVS and OVr to give the customer feedback the attention it deserves and make every effort to improve service.

Appendix A

2019 BBVS Service Trends Survey
Final Results with Customer Comments

Each answer is followed by the count of respondents who selected it, and then the percentage that count represents based on the overall number of responses.

Total Survey Respondents: 85
Average Completion Rate: 73%
Anonymity: Respondent names and references to specific personnel have been redacted.
Unedited: Customer comments have not been edited for spelling, punctuation, etc.

Application Process

Q1 – How did you complete the application to receive services from BBVS? (80 respondents)
Over the phone – 24 30.00%
Through the Commonwealth’s online application – 8 10.00%
In person/on-site – 28 35.00%
An editable file/email – 4 5.00%
Other – 16 20.00%
If Other, please describe –
1. I do not have an account with BBVS
2. Was a child, probably in person
3. I believe a social worker from Vision Corps assisted me with the application process
4. Took some info over the phone but someone came to my house.
5. We completed paperwork with Venango County Blind Association
6. Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
7. Teacher in school
8. local blind association social worker
9. my parents signed me up when I was young
10. My social worker at Bucks County Assoc.
11. through a social worker at my current blind assn
12. through counselor at Vision Corps.
13. My high school transition coordinator signed me up for BVS services.

Q2 – Did you use sighted assistance to complete the application? (80 respondents)
Yes, I preferred to do so – 32 40.00%
Yes, I had to because I could not access the application independently – 29 36.25%
No, I was able to complete the application independently – 19 23.75%

Q3 – Did you encounter any difficulties with the application process? (79 respondents
Yes – 8 10.13%
No – 71 89.87%
If yes, please describe –
1.It took a long time from completion and submission of the application until a BBVS representative came to my home to do the initial intake. Phone calls were frequently not returned and as a result, almost a year passed before my case was declared open.
2. The counselor did not follow up properly and services were delayed several months making things quite difficult to prepare for school.
3. Eyesight
4. Only that I needed someone to read for me.
Q4 -Within which BBVS district area did you apply for services? (80 respondents)
Altoona – 2 2.50%
Erie – 12 15.00%
Harrisburg – 10 12.50%
Philadelphia – 29 36.25%
Pittsburgh – 16 20%
Wilkes-Barre – 9 11.25%
Unsure – 1 1.25%

Q5 –As best as you can recall, please tell us the month and year that you submitted your application to BBVS.
Since 2014 – 38 44.84%
Prior to 2014 – 27 31.86%
Not sure or Unanswered—20 23.6%

Q6 –After submitting your application, how long did it take you to be contacted initially by your assigned BBVS counselor/caseworker? (77 respondents)
Less than 2 weeks – 11 14.29%
2 weeks to 1 month – 28 36.36%
1 to 2 months – 16 20.78%
2 to 6 months – 9 11.69%
6 to 12 months – 6 7.79%
More than 12 months – 3 3.90%
I am still awaiting initial contact – 4 5.19%

Communications

Q7- After initial contact with your assigned BBVS counselor, how frequently would you say the two of you communicated regarding your case? (66 respondents)
Once a week – 11 16.67%
Once a month – 20 30.30%
Once a quarter – 19 28.79%
Once every 6 months or longer – 16 24.24%

Q8 – How often was paperwork or information provided to you in your preferred reading format (i.e. braille, print, email, etc.)? (71 respondents)
Always – 23 32.39%
Sometimes – 20 28.17%
Rarely – 11 15.49%
Never – 17 23.94%

Q9 –When you communicated, who usually initiated contact? (67 respondents)
I did – 30 44.78%
The Counselor did – 10 14.93%
We equally initiated contact – 27 40.30%

Q10 – Did your counselor make you aware of services from other resources such as National Library Services’ recorded books, Hadley Institute’s free courses, etc.? (69 respondents)
Yes – 34 49.28%
No – 35 50.72%

Q11 – Were you given information about your right to appeal decisions made about your case through the Client Assistance Program? (68 respondents)
Yes – 34 50.00%
No – 34 50.00%

Q12 –Were you told about consumer and support groups such as Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, which is available to assist you in your adjustment process? (70 respondents)
Yes – 24 34.29%
No – 46 65.71%

Goals & Objectives

Q13 –When you applied for BBVS service, did you have a vocational/rehabilitation goal in mind? (70 respondents)
Yes – 50 71.43%
No – 20 28.57%

Q14 –If you chose “No” for #13 please check all methods that were used to help you determine a vocational goal. (28 respondents)
Vocational testing – 4 14.29%
Career research such as job shadowing, online reading, etc. – 4 14.29%
Guidance from my BBVS counselor – 10 35.71%
Advice from my family and/or friends – 9 32.14%
Other – 12 42.86%
If “other” please specify –
1, Did not speak with anyone;. Isn’t this a application?
2. I don’t have an open account with BBVS
3. Was working already
4. I am a retired educator. I did not express an interest in returning to employment.
5. I am retired – no vocational goal was necessary
6. I had a job just need tools to help with it.
7. I am employed

Q15 –Did you feel you were an integral part of the process to determine your vocational goal? (67 respondents)
Yes – 48 71.64%
No – 19 28.36%

Q16 –Do you feel that because of your visual level you have been steered toward a specific vocational goal or training method? (66 respondents)
Yes – 26 39.39%
No – 40 60.61%

Q17 –Did you and your counselor use any type of testing or exploration to help you determine if the goal was practical for you? (66 respondents)
Yes – 15 22.73%
No – 51 77.27%

Q18 –Did you and your counselor develop a plan of steps/objectives that would help you achieve your goals? (67 respondents)
Yes – 38 56.72%
No – 29 43.28%

Q19 –Does your family support your vocational goal? (62 respondents)
Yes – 54 87.10%
No – 8 12.90%
If No, please explain –
1. They wanted me to teach school. I had difficulty teaching due to visual limitations.
2. The service is not good, they rather give all services to individual who are not working and do not want to work rather than help some who works and goes to school to obtain a better career. They flat out deny a product that would be beneficial for a person and the product would help in multiple ways such as home, work, school and traveling.
3. They don’t seem to care one way or another actually.
4. I am retired.
5. I have no family around and I don’t have that kind of relationship with my family.
6. Don’t really have one at the moment.
7. Never had a goal
8. Not sure if support is the correct word in describing my family. They go along with MY decisions.

Service Provision

Q20 –Please check all services that you either requested or understood as being necessary to the achievement of your goal. (64 respondents)
Counseling and guidance services– 23 35.94%
Low vision evaluation and therapy– 25 39.06%
Facility based adjustment to blindness training – 14 21.88%
In-home adjustment to blindness training– 21 32.81%
Orientation and mobility instruction– 37 57.81%
Assistive technology evaluation and training– 38 59.38%
Vocational testing and exploration– 8 12.50%
Assistance with job search, resume writing, interviewing, etc.– 17 26.56%
Vocational training programs– 13 20.31%
On the Job training/internship subsidies– 7 10.94%
Job jeopardy/workplace accommodations– 13 20.31%
Summer academy transition program– 5 7.81%
Pre-employment transition services– 3 4.69%
College support– 12 18.75%
Referral to other services/resources– 9 14.06%
Other – 9 14.06%
If other, please specify –
1. I requested a device that I was able to use at home, work, school, and traveling and I was flat out denied.
2. Lost job prior to BBVS intervention
3. Was never told anything. Took them a year to even send me for eye exam for legally blind.
4. Cane training
5. Assistive technology, I have not been asked about any of this!
6. I retired from my self-employed business as a result of vision loss and did not plan on seeking further employment.
7. Braille
8. Training on specific equipment that was provided to me

Q21 –Which services have you received to this point? (58 respondents)
Counseling and guidance services– 18 31.03%
Low vision evaluation and therapy– 20 34.48%
Facility based adjustment to blindness training– 8 13.79%
In-home adjustment to blindness training– 14 26.14%
Orientation and mobility instruction– 28 48.28%
Assistive technology evaluation, purchase, and training– 35 60.34%
Vocational testing and exploration– 7 12.097%
Assistance with job search, resume writing, interviewing, etc.– 8 13.79%
Vocational training programs– 11 18.97%
On the job training/internship subsidies– 5 8.62%
Job jeopardy/workplace accommodations– 9 15.52%
Summer academy transition program– 5 8.62%
Pre-employment transition services– 3 5.17%
College support– 7 12.07%
Referral to other services/resources– 6 10.34%
If other please list/describe– 7 12.07%
1. Have yet to receive services.
2. No services received from Philadelphia.
3. I did get employed on my own. No assistive technology, I was told I do not qualify! I ordered new glasses in 2018 and still not approved.
4. Braille
5 Since it took a long time for my instructor and I to figure out how to work with the remote server that my company uses, my case was closed before I had adequate time to learn some programs and equipment. Had to figure out programs on my own. Also, I only had a session with my instructor every 3 or 4 weeks. It took 6 months before I could start working.

Q22 –From the time you submitted your initial application, how long did it take to begin receiving services beyond simple case management? (62 respondents)
One month – 15 24.19%
Two to three months – 21 33.87%
Four to six months – 8 12.90%
Six months to one year – 9 14.52%
More than one year – 9 14.52%

Q23 –Are you currently receiving or on a waiting list to receive services from BBVS? (66 respondents)
Yes – 18 27.27%
No – 43 65.15%
I don’t know – 5 7.58%

Q24 –Do you feel your vocational goals and service expectations have been met? (61 respondents)
Yes – 31 50.82%
No – 30 49.18%
If No, please explain –
1. when asked about employment was always told there was nothing for me,
2. Some were and some weren’t
3. Need some additional home training and mobility training.
4. I am working, but still need some additional at home training.
5. But more for my own doing and persistence.
6. Originally I was set to go to school but was told by my case worker that my choice of vocation was not a very good choice and they tried to make my choice for me. It was then that I was put on the homemaker end of the program.
7. Although I received satisfactory AT training, it wasn’t enough. Our sessions were disrupted by network problems, and who knows what and whatever. There just was not enough time. It would be helpful to learn the JAWS commands for the latest version of Excel. Very fortunately I am permitted to request advice as needed.
8. I had my O&M training, personal adjustment training in the home. I also had training with technology as well, but I didn’t receive my vocational training.
9. Helping me with computer program. Told me to get a computer with certain mb and I did that. They couldn’t put a program on the computer. Told that computer was no good.
10. I feel like communications they are not good at it.
11. Waiting to meet with VR Counselor to continue vocational goals but was told I was on waiting list and informed application was still open.
12. Too short of time for complete instruction. Only 1 instructor for too many clients waiting their turn.
13. Ongoing – most due to issues outside of BBVS, my counselor, i.e. Trying to find employment within my interest areas and over-coming other barriers such as transportation.
14. With exception of mobility trainer no contact since December of 2016.
15. no communication – do not return phone calls.
16. Lost my job at Lowes because they gave me a broken computer that did not have a battery. Couldn’t take my test to be retained.
17. I received significantly substandard computer training. This led to my dismissal from law school because I was not properly prepared for the task. I am now finding it difficult to try to apply to other schools due to the negative mark on my record. My dream of being a lawyer will mpost likely never be realized.
18. Trying to contact someone. No one returns my calls.
19. Counselors never seem to know or they wait for approval.
20. Trying to get a new braille note taker and they would not provide it.
21. Technology is always a challenge
22. I requested to be sent away to a program to help me meet my vocational goals and was not sent to said program because of issues they were having with the facility.

Customer Satisfaction

Q25 –Did you ever exercise your right to file an appeal or grievance regarding your case? (63 respondents)
Yes – 9 14.29%
No – 54 85.71%
If ”No” please skip to #28. Otherwise please briefly describe your reason for filing a claim –
1. It is a waste of time.
2. Been a long time. I do remember the initial counselor left and I was assigned a new individual.
3. I didn’t know I could.
4. Counselor repeatedly missed appointments with no communication to me.
5. I have asked and not ben given any contact information for this matter.

Q26 –Do you believe the Client Assistance Program researched your claim objectively and fully? (20 respondents)
Yes – 12 60.00%
No – 8 40.00%

Q27 –Were you satisfied with the outcome/resolution rendered by the appeal process? (14 RESPONDENTS)
Yes – 8 47.06%
No – 6 52.94%
If No, please explain –
1. Nothing changed.
2. After months it is still not resolved.

Q28 –Please rate your overall level of satisfaction as a BBVS client. (56 respondents)
Very satisfied – 10 17.86%
Satisfied – 23 41.07%
Dissatisfied – 18 32.14%
Very dissatisfied – 5 8.93%

Q29- Describe any difficulties you encountered as a BBVS client. (40 respondents)
1.Never seen or interviewed.
2. Took 2 years to get and O&M counselor. Once I got him he was not nice. He gave me a little braille training but not enough.
3. Gave 4 names from AHEAD particular job coach was very disappointing to me in the end.
4. Never contacted me back the second time.
5. Waiting for long periods for things to get approved.
6. I think that just because a person works doesn’t mean they are able to afford technology equipment especially working with one income.
7. Counselor was expecting a child. Met with her once at my home and she disappeared, never to be seen/heard from again.
8. Couldn’t get hold of anyone, caseworker always changing and always told why I couoldn’t received or get help with something. If I was told I could received a service or product I always waited over a year to get it. Process always took way too long. Hated always calling and getting voicemail over and over again.
9. My case managers took forever to answer emails or calls. One case manager would only answer my mom and not me.
10. Often case managers take forever to return phone calls or emails. Waited almost 10 months for follow up on technology, O&M, and additional training.
11. I was originally supposed to go to school but was told that psychology was not a good field to pursue and was pushed into English Lit., as a result I was then placed in Home Maker Program which was then dropped from the possible choices! I was then told that there would be no further services to me even though I live alone and in a rural area, because I was not pursuing school and did not have employment. Employment, which, by the way none of my caseworkers ever assisted in finding!
12. It was difficult at first on the job and then they gave me a job coach.
13. There was a long wait in getting the devices I needed due to my counselor resigning his job. Eventually I got everything I needed.
14. SO far, this has been a long, drawn out process. Making connection with the counselor has been challenging.
15. Received a lamp. The guy couldn’t put it together. Came to help cook. Told e I couldn’t put certain ingredients in it. Really? Then I turned around and he was gone. I heard snoring and he was sleeping on my couch. Mr. X was my counselor and was the rudest man I ever met.
16. I thought I would be told more about the services offered. I really do’t have a full understanding what services they provide.
17. When changed counselors there were gaps in over a year before I heard from someone. Counselor left and I don’t even know as it was only thru word of mouth.
18. Lack of communication
19. I understand that BBVS is understaffed. That, however, is not excuse to not answer phone calls, struggle to keep mailboxes that are not full, etc. I have had several counselors over the years and few have been worth anything. My counselor in college, for example, informed me that they could not cover my tuition because “you need to average 12 credits per semester” when the actual rule apparently stated that you just needed to be a full time student (12 credits or more) and maintain a 2.0 GPA, both of which I had. Three years later, I come to find out from my new counselor that this was a “mistake”. That was thousands of dollars worth of a mistake. I am paying for every single month for that “mistake” in the form of massive student loans. But like they say, nobody is perfect, right?” We are understaffed is no excuse. If the job is too hard to you, you shouldn’t have signed up for it. In my experience the accountability with which BBVS holds their counselors is nonexistent at best.
20. Waiting on someone to fill the open VR counselor’s position.
21. I moved to PA from Maine for a job. Because of the waiting period to receive O&M services, I was already working by the time O&M services began. My brother was able to receive help me find a route to and from work, when I moved into my apartment, But once you are employed the system wants to close your case after 90 days; which left a narrow window to work in O&M training while I was still on a new-hire probation period and could not take time off .
22. XX could not wait to close my case. I thoroughly enjoyed the services of XX. He provided frequent checks on me.
23. Lost a good job because of them.
24. in 2015 they were critically short of man power. The only case worker available was on maternity leave. Same problem receiving O&M training. This is probably a budgetary issue.
25. Failure to contact anyone.
26. There was little follow-up and the opportunity to purchase updated technology.
27. Occasionally the time between counseling session was a little longer than I had hoped., but I understand that there were/are not enough case workers to handle the load of persons requiring services.
28. Previously I had a hard time contacting my counselor to get blindness training and even college prep. My current counselor has helped a lot more in the process of me getting a job and O&M lessons.
29. Technology. Over the years I waited for services the second time I applied, especially computer and tech training. I have applied 4 times.
30. I feel they could have been more informative and helpful in helping me reach my goals. They could also be more helpful in job searching.
31. I started working for my company as a volunteer and was then offered a job so my employer expected that I would be able to start paid employment fairly quickly. A switch in counselors , paperwork, and the lack of enough computer instructors caused a delay of about 6 months before I could begin paid employment. Fortunately my employer was very committed to hiring a visually impaired person, and specifically wanted me. The printer that was purchased for me was very difficult for a blind person to use. I am extremely grateful for BBVS’s help in securing the job, but IO feel that services need to move more quickly and clients need to be consulted about equipment before purchase.
32, Such a long process before you get help.
33. I was fortunate to receive good services through BBVS. The only difficulties I encountered were delays in response from my counselor due to under staffing and little support after college As I navigated the job search process in terms of resources and job leads as a young adult with vision loss.
34. None
35. N/A
36. None
37. See other answers
38. None
39. None
40. None

Q30 –Please share any additional comments or information you would like to share with us regarding your experience with BBVS. (30 respondents)
1. I applied for services in Philadelphia, services were poor. Moved to Pittsburgh and it is working much better.
2. Very disappointing,
3. Once I completed initial rehab there was no follow up or the opportunity to stay in contact with a BBVS case worker in order to maintain my proficiency at work or to explore new technologies
4. I had a positive experience and learned my anger and grieving over my vision loss is normal and to try to become the best I can be in another world.
5. No adjustment period. When asked about employment was told there wasn’t any.
6. Place that offered the job last minute job coach postpones interview to do some work in Lancaster. Basically told me job had to be filled and took 3 weeksw for my coach to get with it so I lost that job. I was done with AHEAD and BBVS after that.
7. Beginning had to convince BBVS counselor to not going to the guild. Don’t think all should be put in the same mold. Taught myself all those skills myself though the push was too hard.
8. Initially did my intake with a supervisor and she was professional and helpful. Once I was transferred to a counselor I was pleased with her performance as well. I know there are things they can improve on based on what I heard but I have no personal complaints.
9. The, idea that I am no longer eligible for services because of my independence is more than ridiculous! They were not supportive in my desires for a vocation or training for that vocation and since I live alone I am a home maker. It was also further suggested by my first case worker that I find somewhere else to live, or find someone to live with me to ease the responsibility. I have been in and out of BBVS roster several time and for more than a few years and have never really felt that I was being understood, until they dropped the only program that was able to help.
10. Ask me again next year for further evaluation. From what I’ve heard the state has not provided adequate financial assistance or support to alleviate the overwhelming client load that BBVS is responsible for providing services. Legislators also bear a large responsibility for making access so difficult by failing to acknowledge the plight of visually impaired individuals and providing a caring response.
11. I was expecting more. I don’t know the extent of the services they provide.
12. Urged the counselors to keep in touch with me for there were times in gaps of over a year that I didn’t hear anything and didn’t know what was going on.
13. The counselor I have now is not doing the job.
14. I want to make it clear that I have had a couple of counselors that are, in fact, I the ball, incredibly timely with responses and readily accessible. That completely eliminates any excuses involving the amount of staff your company as. Competent is competent, incompetent is incompetent, If you care about the visually impaired you will make every effort to actually hire competent counselors, Just saying.
15. I felt my previous counselor really made my experience very satisfying but now I am waiting for services because there currently is no job counselor.
16. I told a vase manager who was here at Vision Corps that I got an update for Zoom by the never followed up with me and I do not know how to install.
17 I need quick service
18. My mobility trainer did an excellent job.
19. Once the O&M training finally got going, the instructor met with me 2 or 3 times a week and stayed engaged so we were done to my satisfaction in a couple of months. Just a shame it had to take so long to get there.
20. The workers were all so nice and willing to meet my needs.
21. I work in the field of casework and when I have referred consumers, they have often had to wait months or years for service. It appeared one counselor was very discouraging to many of them. Often I find clients don’t know where they are in the process and they forget where they are in the process and don’t want to complain. Often I find a lack of communication between the clients I refer and the BBVS counselor. Often the referral process is very difficult if you are referring as a third party. You can’t refer the person over the phone. And the last referral I tried to make by fax, the fax machine there was not working. And how can you email a referral and the eye report when you have a copier that does not talk? When very hard to hold of them by phone, staff has a very good report with you they are communicative.
22. They could improve communication with their clients. There have been several times I was notified I did not have a counselor over a month after my counselor left. And it is extremely frustrating that they do not have a solid plan in place for their clients who do not have counselors. I am starting a new job soon and I did not have a counselor for a couple of years which is frustrating because I needed services. And I do not think it is fair that I cannot receive the services I need because they do not have someone to handle my case.
23. My computer instructor, was excellent; she worked very hard to help me access and antiquated server that I needed to use. I am using 2 versions of Windows and 2 versions of JAWS to use the server. Previous instructors that I had through BBVS were not nearly as competent in using blindness related programs and equipment. It was difficult to have a training session once every 3 or 4 weeks, and the lessons usually lasted 3 hours – mind numbing! The instructor no longer contracts with the Wilkes-Barre office, so there is no one I can consult if I have a problem now.
24. I received great services from BBVS in terms of college support, assistive technology, and O&M services. I did encounter the typical issues such as delays in paper work and services at times but got past them because I stayed on top of my responsibilities and advocated for myself. I was able to reopen my case quickly in post employment status because my O&M instructor noted the job ready necessity.
25. In my opinion the wait for third-party providers of low vision and AT was most difficult. Nothing goes in a timely manner. There is always a need to have to wait either for the service (paperwork) or an opening in the provider’s schedule. I think it would be great if the district offices could have these services in-house in some manner.
26. N/A
27. See Previous comments
28. None
29. None
30. Worker was very nice and knowledgeable about the service they provided.

Demographic Information

Q31 –What is your age range. (60 respondents)
14 to 21 – 0 0%
22 to 35 – 15 25.00%
36 to 55 – 14 23.33%
Over 55 – 31 51.67%

Q32 –How long have you experienced visual impairment or blindness? 26 people did not answer this question
Less than 2 years – 3 5.08%
2 to 5 years – 8 13.56%
5 to 10 years – 4 6.78%
More than 10 years – 25 42.47%
Since birth – 19 32.20%

Q33 –Please check all statements that describe your visual function. (61 respondents)
I am totally blind – 11 18.03%
I can tell if the light is on or off – 35 57.38%
I can see colors and match clothing – 23 37.70%
I use color contrast for daily living tasks – 19 31.15%
I can read large print without any magnification – 19 31.15%
I need magnification to read any printed information – 27 44.26%
I use a computer with screen reading software – 23 37.70%
I use a computer with magnification software – 20 32.79%
My vision fluctuates from day to day – 21 34.43%
My vision loss is stable and is not likely to deteriorate further – 10 16.39%
I may continue to lose more vision based on my visual diagnosis – 27 44.26%

Appendix B

Subset of 38 Newer Applicants

Of the 85 respondents, this subset of data reflects the 38 respondents who indicated they initially applied for BBVS services in just the last five years (2014 or more recently). It is provided for general comparison to the overall data in Appendix A which includes all respondents: the 38 newer applicants and the 47 others who self-identified as long-time customers who received at least one BBVS service in the last five years. .

Customer comments have not been edited for spelling, punctuation, etc.

Application Process

Q1- How did you complete the application to receive services
from BBVS?

Over the phone 13
Through the Commonwealth’s online application 3
In person/on-site 14
An editable file/email 2
Other 6
If Other, please describe
PAB Staff 3, Home Visit 2, Teacher 1

Q2- Did you use sighted assistance to complete the application?
Yes, I preferred to do so. 16
Yes, I had to because I could not access the application independently. 13
No, I was able to complete the application independently 9

Q3- Did you encounter any difficulties with the application process?
Yes 3
No 33

Q4- Within which BBVS district area did you apply for services?
Altoona 0
Erie 8
Harrisburg 3
Philadelphia 12
Pittsburgh 9
Wilkes Barre: 6

Q5- As best as you can recall, please tell us the month and year that you submitted your application to BBVS.
2014 or more recent 38

Q6- After submitting your application, how long did it take you to be contacted initially by your assigned BBVS counselor/case worker?
Less than 2 weeks 6
2 weeks to 1 month17
1 to 2 months 5
2 to 6 months 4
Six months to one year 4
More than 12 months 1
I am still awaiting initial contact. 2

Communications

Q7- After initial contact with your assigned BBVS counselor, how frequently would you say the two of you communicated regarding your case?
Once a week 7
Once a month 11
Once a quarter 11
Once every six months or longer 6

Q8- How often was paperwork or information provided to you in your preferred reading format (i.e. braille, large print, email, etc.)?
Always 13
Sometimes 9
Rarely 3
Never 11

Q9- When you communicated, who usually initiated contact?
I did. 14
The counselor did. 4
We equally initiated contact. 17

Q10- Did your counselor make you aware of services available from other resources such as the National Library Services’s recorded books, Hadley Institute’s free courses, etc?
Yes 19
No 17

Q11- Were you given information about your right to appeal decisions made about your case through the Client Assistance Program?
Yes 23
No 12

Q12- Were you told about consumer and support groups such as Pennsylvania Council of the Blind which are available to assist you in your adjustment process?
Yes 14
No 23

Goals & Objectives

Q13- When you applied for BBVS service, did you have a vocational/rehabilitation goal in mind?
Yes 25
No 11

Q14- If you chose “No” for #13, please check all methods that were used to help you determine a vocational goal.
Vocational testing 1
Career Research such as job shadowing, informational interviews, online reading, etc. 0
Guidance from my BBVS Counselor 6
Advice from my family and/or friends 2
Other (please specify)
Either retired or not interested in working

Q15- Did you feel you were an integral part of the process to determine your vocational goal?
Yes 26
No 8

Q16- Do you feel that because of your visual level you have been steered toward a specific vocational goal or training method?
Yes 15
No 19

Q17- Did you and your counselor use any type of testing or exploration to help you determine if the goal was practical for you?
Yes 7
No27

Q18- Did you and your counselor develop a plan of steps/objectives that would help you achieve your goal?
Yes 20
No 14

Q19- Does your family support your vocational goal?
Yes 29
No 5
If No, please explain
Either no family involvement in decision making process or not close geographically

Service Provision

Q20- Please check all services that you either requested or understood as being necessary to the achievement of your goal.
Counseling and Guidance Services 12
Low Vision Evaluation and Therapy 15
Facility-based Adjustment to Blindness Training 5
In-home Adjustment to Blindness Training 8
Orientation and Mobility Instruction 19
Assistive Technology Evaluation and Training 19
Vocational Testing and Exploration 4
Assistance with Job Search, Resume Writing, Interviewing, etc. 9
Vocational Training Programs 6
On the Job Training/Internship Subsidies 3
Job Jeopardy/Workplace Accommodations 4
Summer Academy Transition Program 2
Pre-employment Transition Services 0
College Support3
Referral to Other Services/Resources 5
Other (please specify) 3 Training on specific equipment that was provided.
One respondent lost job prior to BBVS intervention.
One respondent asked about “assertive technology”.

Q21- Which services have you received to this point?
Counseling and Guidance Services 10
Low Vision Evaluation and Therapy 11
Facility-based Adjustment to Blindness Training 2
In-home Adjustment to Blindness Training 6
Orientation and Mobility Instruction 10
Assistive Technology Evaluation, Purchase, and Training 17
Vocational Testing and Exploration 3
Assistance with Job Search, Resume Writing, Interviewing, etc. 6
Vocational Training Programs 4
On the Job Training/Internship Subsidies 2
Job Jeopardy/Workplace Accommodations 5
Summer Academy Transition Program 3
Pre-employment Transition Services 1
College Support 2
Referral to Other Services/Resources 2
If other please list/describe One respondent got job independently, One respondent ordered glasses in 2018 and is still waiting to receive them, one had to learn software independently because of case closure prior to completion of training, and one has yet to receive services

Q22- From the time you submitted your initial application, how long did it take to begin receiving services beyond simple case management?
One Month 8
Two to Three Months 13
Four to Six Months 3
Six Months to One Year 4
More than One Year 4

Q23- Are you currently receiving or on a waiting list to receive services from BBVS?
Yes 11
No 20
I don’t know 4

Q24- Do you feel your vocational goals and service expectations have been met?
Yes 17
No 14
If no, please explain.
1. ORIGINALLY I was set to go to School but was told by my Case Worker that my choice of Vocation, was not a very good choice, and they tried to make my choice for me! It was then that I was put on the Home Maker end of the program.
2. Although I received satisfactory AT training, it wasn’t enough. Our sessions were disrupted by network problems, and who knows what and whatever, there just was not enough time. It would be helpful to learn the JAWS commands for the latest version of Excel. Very fortunately I am permitted to request advice as needed.
3. I had my O and M training, personal adjustment training in the home, I also had training with technology as well, but I didn’t have my vocational training.
4. I am unable to answer this question yet.
5. Again Retired
6. I really don’t have any goals
7. I feel like communications they are not good at it.
8. Waiting to meet with VR counselor to continue your vocational goals, but was told on waiting list (was informed application still open)
9. with the exception of mobility trainer no contact since December of 2016.
10. No communication. Do not return phone calls.
11. I received significantly substandard computer training. This led to my dismissal from law school because I was not properly prepared for the task. I am now finding it difficult to try to apply to other schools due to the negative mark on my record. My dream of being a lawyer will most likely never be realized.
12. I don’t know of anything I need at this time!My case has been closed for awhile.
13. trying to contact someone. no one returns my calls.
14. Counselors never seem to know or they wait for approval.

Customer Satisfaction

Q25- Did you ever exercise your right to file an appeal or grievance regarding your case?
Yes 4
No28
Please describe briefly your reason for filing a claim.
1. counselor repeatedly missed appointments with no communication to me
2. I have asked and not been given any contact information for this matter

Q26- Do you believe the Client Assistance Program researched your claim objectively and fully?
Yes 6
No5

Q27- Were you satisfied with the outcome/resolution rendered by the appeal process?
Yes 3
No 4

Q28- Please rate your overall level of satisfaction as a BBVS client
Very Satisfied 6
Satisfied 14
Dissatisfied 7
Very Dissatisfied 2

Q29- Describe any difficulties you encountered as a BBVS client
1. I started working for my company as a volunteer, and was then offered a job, so my employer expected that I would be able to start paid employment fairly quickly. A switch in counselors, paperwork, and the lack of enough computer instructors caused a delay of about 6 months before I could begin paid employment. Fortunately, My employer was very committed to hiring a visually impaired person, and specifically wanted me. The printer that was purchased for me was VERY difficult for a blind person to use. I am extremely grateful for BBVS’s help in securing this job, but I feel that services need to move more quickly, and clients need to be consulted about equipment before purchase.
2. Such a looong process before you get help
3. I needed to stay on top of the case or things were forgotten. I needed to be clear about my needs. If I was already employed. For those just starting out, it would be very unsettling. VR counselors seem very narrow in their knowledge of general blindness services. No other community services or supports were ever mentioned or offered. I think this is sad for those suffering with their blindness.
4. Never seen or interview
5. Gave 4 names to choice from AHEAD particular job coach was very disappointing to me in the end.
6. I was originally supposed to go to School, but was told that Psychology was not a good field to persue, and was pushed into English Lit.. as a result, I was then placed in the Home Maker Program, which was then dropped from the possible choices! I was then told that there would be no further services available to me eventhough I live alone and in a Rural area, because I was not pursuing School and did not have Employment. Employment which, by the way, none of my Case Workers ever assisted in finding!
7. There was a long wait in getting the devices I neeed, due to my counselor resigning to his job. But eventually, I got everything I needed.
8. So far, this has been a long, drawn out process. Making connection with the case worker has been challenging.
9. I thought I would be told about more of the services offered. I really don’t have a full understanding what services they provide.
10. lack of communication
11. waiting on someone to fill the open VR counselor’s position
12. I moved to Pensylvania from Maine, for a job. Because of the waiting period to recieve O&M services, I was already working by the time O&M services began (My brother was able to help me find a route to and from work, when I moved iinto my apartment). But once you are employed, the system wants to close your case after 90 days: which left a narrow window to work in O&M training, while I was still on the new-hire probation period (and could not take time off from work); and co-ordinate times that fit into both my work-schedule and the O&M instructor’s work-schedule.
13. no communication
14. In 2015 they were critically short of manpower (the only case worker available was on maternity leave). Same problem receiving O&M training. This is probably a budgetary issue.
15. failure to contact anyone
16. Occasionally the time between counselling sessions was a little longer than I had hoped, but I understand that there were (are?) not enough case workers to handle the load of persons requesting services.
17. Previously, I had a hard time contacting my counselor to get blindness training, and even college prep. My current counselor has helped a lot more in the process of me getting a job, and o&m lessons.
18. My case managers took forever to answer emails or calls. One case manager would only answer my mom and not me.

Q30- Please share any additional comments or information you would like to share with us regarding your experience with BBVS.
1. My computer instructor was excellent; she worked very hard to help me access the antiquated server that I needed to use. I am using 2 versions of Windows and 2 versions of JAWS to use the server. Previous instructors that I had through BBVS were not nearly as competent in using blindness-related programs and equipment. It was difficult to have a training session only once every 3 or 4 weeks, and the lesson usually lasted about 3 hours – mind-numbing! She no longer contracts with Wilkes-Barre office, so there is no one I can consult if I have a problem now.
2. In my opinion, the wait for third-party providers of low vision and AT was the most difficult. Nothing goes in a timely manner. There is always have to wait either for the service (paperwork) or an opening in the provider’s schedule. I think it would be great if the district offices could have these services “in-house” in some manner.
3. Place that offered the job last minute job coach postpones interview to do some work in Lancaster. Basically told me job had to be filled and took 3 week for my coach to get with it so lost that job. Was done with AHEAD and BBVS after that.
4. I initially did my in-take with a supervisor and she was very professional and helpful. Once I was transferred to a counselor I was pleased with her performance as well. I know there are things they can improve on based on what I heard but I have no personal complaints.
5. The idea that I am no longer eligible for services because of my Independence, is more than ridiculous! They were not supportive in my desires for a Vocation or training for that Vocation! And since I live alone, I AM the Home Maker! It was also further suggested by my first Case Worker, that I find somewhere else to live, or find someone to live with me, to ease the responsibility.. I have been in and out of the BBVS Roster several times, and for more than a few Years, and have never really felt that I was being understood, until they dropped the only Program that was able to help!
6. Worker was very nice and knowledgeable about the service they provide.
7. Man was a get help, he stepped in whenen my counselor resigned and got me all the things that I needed.
8. Ask me again next year for further evaluation. From what I have heard, the state has not provided adequate financial assistance or support to alleviate the overwhelming client load that BBVS is resposible for providing services. Legislators also bare a large responsibility for making access so difficult by failing to acknowledge the plight of visually impaired individuals and providing a caring response.
9. I was expecting more. I don’t know the extent of the services they offer
10. the counselor I have now is not doing the job.
11. my mobility trainer did an excellent job.
12. Once the O7M training finally got going the instructor met with me two or three times a week and stayed engaged so we were done to my satisfaction in a couple of months. Just a shame it had to take so long to get there.
13. The workers were all so nice and willing to meet my needs!
14. Applied for services in Philadelphia, services were poor. Move to Pittsburgh and it is working much better
15. Very disappointing.
16. I had a positive experience. I learned that my anger and grieving over my vision loss is normal and to try to become the best I can be in a different world.

Demographic Information

Q31- What is your age range
14 to 21 0
22 to 35 7
36 to 55 5
Over 55 19

Q32-How long have you experienced visual impairment or blindness?
Less than 2 years 4
2 to 5 years7
5 to 10 years 1
More than 10 years 10
Since birth 8

Q33- Please check all statements that describe your visual function
I am totally blind 8
I can tell if the light is on or off. 18
I can see colors and match clothing. 13
I use color contrast for daily living tasks. 11
I can read large print without additional magnification 14
I need magnification to read any printed information14
I use a computer with screen reading software. 10
I use a computer with magnification software. 9
My vision fluctuates from day to day. 11
My vision loss is stable and is not likely to deteriorate further. 5
I may continue to lose more vision based on my diagnosis. 15

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