SSB News, Notices and Reports


News

Driving and Receiving Services from SSB

We get a lot of questions about driver's licenses from potential clients. Here are the most common:

Is it possible to drive with a vision loss?

Yes. Every applicant for a driver’s license must undergo a vision screening with the Division of Motor and Vehicle Services. Those with insufficient vision can take steps with eye-care professionals to achieve the best vision possible. If vision interferes with the safe operation of a motor vehicle, driving privileges are denied.

If I am eligible for a restricted driver’s license , can I still receive services from SSB?

Yes. Some clients do have restricted licenses. Our counselors determine eligibility based on visual acuity or visual field, impediments to employment, and functional limitations.

If I receive services from SSB, is that information shared with licensing officials?

Yes. Each quarter, we provide the Department of Public Safety (DPS) with a list of new SSB applicants. DPS contacts the applicants about driving restrictions and qualifications and may request more information (such as a driver's license vision report) or require additional testing to ensure highway and road safety.

Who decides whether I keep my license?

DPS makes the determination. 

SSB Resource Guide

SSB’s new Resource Guide brings together, in one place, info on all the services and organizations available to support blind, DeafBlind and low vision Minnesotans who are looking to land that next job or build skills for independence.

SSB is on Audioboom

Share! Connect! Succeed!

What’s Audioboom, you’re wondering?

It’s an app and social networking site that connects people through everything audio: podcasts, audio clips, voice messages, personal recordings and more. The content that SSB is putting up on Audioboom is also available as a text transcript.

What’s Available

You can check us out on one of our three channels:

  • BATeencast is a place where Minnesota young adults who are blind, DeafBlind, or experiencing vision loss can come together to share ideas, tell their stories, and download podcasts on everything from landing that first summer internship to figuring out the world of assistive tech. You’ll also find interviews with Minnesotans who are blind, DeafBlind, or who have low vision and how they’ve managed the world of work or school. It’s a place to connect, to learn, and to be heard!
  • RTB features the podcasts produced by the folks at the Radio Talking Book. It’s our curated collection of articles on finding a job, building your career, and navigating the world of work and school with a vision loss. Many of these podcasts share the stories of people who are blind, DeafBlind or visually impaired who are out achieving their goals. You’ll also find plenty of podcasts there that speak directly to the experience of being a young adult.
  • Blind Abilities is an open mic for social and thought provoking conversations by Adults, Teens, and Teachers of the Blind and visually impaired. It is based in Minnesota and has a global reach. Oh, and it’s also a place to have a bit of fun along the way.
How Does it Work?

You can download the Audioboom app on your Apple or Android device, or go to the website at Audioboom.com.

From your app, or online, fill out the registration info, and then do a search for BATeencast, RTB, and Blind Abilities. Then select the follow button to keep up-to-date with new content. Direct links to each of these Audioboom channels are below.

Get Heard!

The BATeencast Channel is the spot for Minnesota’s community of young adults who are blind, DeafBlind, or who are losing vision to make their own voices heard. If you’d like to be a contributor, just send an email to BATeencast@comcast.net letting us know you’re interested. We’ll help you out from there. All content will be reviewed for posting. We want to make this a safe, exciting, engaging, practical and fun place to figure out the world of school, work and life.

Check us out!

Access the Blind Abilities Channel.

Individual links to each channel:

Download the app from the iTunes store. Or download the app from Google Play.

Notices

Public Hearings Address Changes in What SSB will Pay for Post-Secondary Education

State Services for the Blind (SSB) is making changes to our policies for post-secondary schooling and maintenance. These changes may affect the vocational rehabilitation services you receive. You are invited to discuss these changes with us at a meeting date scheduled below.

Download the Maintenance Fee Public Hearing, and the School Fee Public Hearing documents to learn more about these changes.

You can give SSB your comments and suggestions several ways:

  • Attend one of the two remaining scheduled public meetings in person or via phone.
    • Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss, January 25, 2016, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
      4505 W. Superior St, Duluth
    • SSB Main Office in St. Paul, February 1, 2016, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
      2200 University Ave W., Suite 240, St. Paul
    • The call-in number for each meeting is 1-888-742-5095 and the conference call ID is 5032664284.
  • Email thoughts and ideas to Natasha.Jerde@state.mn.us by February 12, 2016.
  • Call Natasha Jerde at 651-539-2344 by February 12, 2016.
  • Mail a letter before February 12, 2016, to:
    Natasha Jerde
    2200 University Ave West
    Suite 240
    St. Paul, MN 55114

If you require a reasonable accommodation to access the public hearings, please notify Brigitte Whaley, 651-539-2357, at least five business days prior to the public hearing date.

Handouts will be provided in Braille and large print at the public hearings.

Note that a random sample of 200 current SSB customers plus all college students were notified in a mass mailing.

Order of Selection

Starting October 1, SSB’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) unit is on Order of Selection. Category A will remain open. Categories B and C are closed at this time. All individuals determined eligible on or after October 1 are placed on a waiting list. Job retention customers are exempt from Order of Selection. Pre-Employment Transition Services will still be provided to transition students.

What is Order of Selection (OOS)?

OOS is a system or method for prioritizing the customers a VR agency intends to serve. The federal government requires VR agencies to use an OOS when a VR agency anticipates that they do not have enough money and/or staff to serve everyone who is eligible. Those individuals who fall into the open categories can be served immediately. Those individuals who fall into the closed categories are put on a wait list and are served when there is capacity/availability. (Section 101(a)(5)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Act) and 34 CFR 361.36(a)(1))

Who is impacted?

All individuals determined eligible on or after October 1 will be placed in a category based on the number of barriers to employment. If the category is closed, those individuals will be put on a waiting list. At this time, Category A is open and Categories B and C are closed. Individuals who seek assistance with retaining their current job are exempt from the waiting list. Transition students will still be able to receive Pre-Employment Transition Services regardless of their wait list status.

When do I get off the waiting list?

As financial resources become available, more categories may open. You will be notified if your category is opened and when you will be removed from the waiting list.

Will SSB stay in contact with me while I am on the waiting list?

SSB will send you updates twice per year on the status of the waiting list.

What resources do I have in the meantime?

See the SSB Resource Guide for community resources to assist you. SSB also has an accessible computer lab open to the public during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday). 

Starting October 6, 2015, there will be open computer lab hours every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and every Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. During open lab hours, an assistive technologist will be available to provide basic instruction on using the accessibility devices and software in the lab, basic troubleshooting of electronic devices, and advice on using or purchasing assistive technology. The Assistive Technology Resource Center will accept walk-ins and/or reservations can be made by contacting Assistive Technology Coordinator Shawn Wallin, 651-539-2299.

See the Order of Selection FAQ document for more detailed information. If you have questions regarding OOS, contact SSB Director Carol Pankow.

Reports

SSB Reports