Writing the Report
Welcome Back. I’m Bryen Yunashko. In the previous videos we discussed how to prepare for an assessment visit, interviewing the consumer, and preforming a technology evaluation. This video will discuss the next step in the evaluation process, the report. We’re going to review how to put together an evaluation report that gets your consumer the best possible equipment and training that meets their needs. Before you dive in to writing the report you have some homework to do. You should check in with other programs and agencies to determine whether additional programs will benefit your consumer. It’s important to collaborate with partner agencies to determine the best outcome for your deaf blind consumer. Throughout the rest of this video we will discuss best practices and guidelines.
You must be very careful to not let your bias influence your decisions. We all have a favorite product or brand that we personally consider to be most effective. I’m sure you’ve heard of “Apple people”, or “Windows people” or even “Linux people”. It’s easy for us to be tempted to simply choose our favorite equipment to recommend to our consumer. However, there are many products that meet the same purpose but approach it in different ways. It’s important to understand the specific features that make a product unique and how those features can meet our consumer’s unique needs. For example two screen magnification programs. Each software has unique features that differentiates it form another software. A successful evolution involves you providing choices that give the consumer the most benefit. The same applies to operating systems. Today, Apple and Windows are some of the more popular operating systems. Your consumer may want an Apple device but the software they want only runs on a Windows operating system. It may be better to recommend a Windows PC to maximize their ability. At the same time you have to consider their history and their learning curve. If a consumer has extensively experience using an Apple and has never used a Windows PC. You need to think about the time it takes for the consumer to learn a new operating system and the limited amount of training hours available. Again try not to let your personal biases affect your decision.
Your agency may have several experts on staff focusing on specific areas or may have a relationship with other agencies who have experts. Perhaps an expert on low vision equipment, audiology equipment, braille equipment or Independent Living. It’s a good idea to form a relationship with these experts and keep informed of the latest tech development in those areas. Most of us can’t be an expert in every area.
For example you just assessed a Deaf Blind man. He has a Deaf wife and three hearing children. He needs a notification alert system to know when the doorbell or phone is ringing. You must be careful not to remove accessibility from his Deaf wife or hearing children. For this reason you might want to consult a independent living expert who can show you options for equipment that will notify through vibration for the Deaf-Blind consumer, light flash for his Deaf wife and sound for his children. By consulting the expert you ensured that the consumer got the right piece of equipment for him and his family. It also helped you keep up to date with the most current trends in technology.
There are many different programs that can benefit your consumer. It can be complicated for you to know everything that exists our there. However, knowing what programs can benefit your consumer and knowing how the rules work for each program will further help maximize the equipment your consumer can get. For example the NDBEDP helps Deaf-Blind consumer get free telecommunication equipment. However, within the program there is a rule that states that if there is another state run program exists that can provide the same equipment that program must be used to provide the equipment that you want to recommend. For example your state VR program may also be able to provide a braille display for your consumer.
Meaning you would have to ask that agency if they meet their eligibility requirements. If so they would provide that piece of equipment rather than the National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program. However the NDBEDP might be abe to provide the consumer with other accessories that voc rehab would not provide them with. By using multiple agencies and programs you can meet all of the consumers needs. If the consumer is unaware of how to use a computer, this program wouldn’t be able to provide them with training to learn how to use a computer. In this case you want to contact partner organizations to see if they would provide them with that training. Once trained, they might be eligible to receive equipment through the program. There’s a huge benefit to knowing what resources are available and partnering with agencies in the area so that you can best meet the needs of the consumer.
When you meet your consumer you may notice several things. That individual might have never met another individual from your program or agency. This makes you the first point of contact. You might notice that they asked for a braille Display but they don’t have the skills necessary to read braille. In this case you would want to find a partner organization that can provide them with the training to be able to read braille fluently. Once they have received this training they would then be eligible to receive a braille display from your program. If you notice that they need help in an area and not related to communication or technology you can still serve as a point of contact or referral for them. Say you notice that they need help using a cane. You can contact the state rehabilitation agency and refer them for orientation and mobility training. Again you’re serving as an advocate and a source of information for that consumer. Referrals also work in both directions and the consumer will be able to receive more services by you working together. Helen Keller national center has a list of partner organizations and resources throughout the country. Feel free to contact them to receive that list. Remember, before you contact another agency to discuss consumer’s case you must ask for permission and authorization from the consumer. They have a right to privacy and the right to decide with whom their information is shared.
The time has come. You’ve done your homework, you found the best equipment for your consumer, and you conducted your assessment. Now it’s time to put together your final recommendation and your report. Each report should include four parts. The first part is the answers to the formal questions that you asked in your beginning interview. The second part is the narrative, which is where you describe the consumer. The third are your recommendations for equipment and the fourth part is your training plan proposal. This report is of the utmost importance because it will serve as the foundation for every decision made there on out. All stakeholders moving forward will use this report as a basis for their approval or denial of equipment, services, and training. That’s it is important to make your report as comprehensive as possible.
In the formal questions section of your report he sure to notate their answers to the frozen set of questions provided by your program. The answers to these questions are aggregated and the data is used to justify the funds for the program. The government uses this statistical data to decide on the efficacy of the Equipment Distribution Program. If your program is not collecting this data it is in jeopardy of being shut down.
Every consumer is unique. In the narrative section you get to tell your supervisor and other stakeholders why this individual deserves the equipment and training that can be provided by your program. Make sure in this section that your readers get a sense of who this individual is, make it as personal as possible. Make sure to include information about their personality, their challenges, and their triumphs.
Here’s an example, suppose my narrative read like this: Jane Smith is a deaf blind woman who is low vision. She is the single mother of a 5-year-old daughter. She commutes to her job via the city bus. She works every day from 4 AM to 10 AM. While out of the house she has access to a cell phone. Unfortunately the text on the screen is too small for her to read. This means she’s unable to be in contact with her daughter’s babysitter.
As you can see in this example she’s very relatable. And the nature of her story will make your supervisor more inclined to approve the request for a equipment and training.
It’s now time to make your recommendations for equipment. In your report you need to separate each piece of equipment onto its own line. In addition each piece of equipment needs its own justification, or explanation as to why that piece of equipment is needed for that consumer. Sometimes your justifications will need to be extremely detailed.
For example: you might want to provide your consumer with screen magnification software. And the ones that you’re recommending might be more expensive than others that are available. But you know that the one you’re recommending has the features that will meet the consumer’s needs. Be sure to mention that the other cheaper software’s do not have the same features. Take another example. Suppose you would like to buy a consumer an external keyboard that could connect with their tablet. In your justification make sure to mention the consumer is not able to see the on-screen keyboard and needs the tactile support of an external keyboard. The more thorough your justification the easier it will be approved.
Training Plan Proposal
Similar to your equipment recommendations, each request for training must have a justification. When you meet the consumer you must assess their current skill level in a multitude of areas. Use their current skill level as the basis for future training. Remember that each area of training will occupy its own line and require its own justification. Your justifications will serve as the rationale for providing or not providing training to the consumer. Your proposal will also serve as a jumping off point for the trainer to make their lesson plan that is customized to that consumer.
Review Recommendations With Consumer
If possible, It’s always best to review your report with your consumer before you send it off,. This will save you a lot of time in the long run. After you’ve made your equipment recommendations send them back to the consumer to verify that the order is correct. You might have written down that they want an AT&T cell phone, however when you check in with the consumer they let you know the they’d really like cell phone serviced by Verizon. Finding this out before you submit your report will save you a lot of time in the long run. By not reviewing your recommendations with the consumer you are potentially delaying receipt of their equipment and training. Don’t forget to also review their training plan, ensuring that they agree to every aspect of the plan.
You’ve done it. You’ve made the perfect report. I’m sure by now you realize how important it was to be meticulous at every step of the process. By meeting with the consumer, consulting experts, and finally putting all the pieces of the puzzle into one final report you’ve done your part in ensuring that the consumer receives the equipment and training that will serve them best. All your work will surely pay off. We’ll be sure to include templates at the end of this video. So, what’s left to do? Hit send. And now you’re done.