The Vocational Rehabilitation Program serves persons who are legally blind, and certain qualifying individuals with significant visual impairments. The program helps persons to become employed in ways that are appropriate to each individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. The Commission ranks at or near the top in the nation for the quality of employment outcomes achieved by our consumers. Four-hundred forty-three persons received vocational rehabilitation services during the course of the year.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Standards and Indicators data, New Mexico ranked at or near the top in the three primary indicators used to measure the performance of vocational rehabilitation programs.
Primary Indicator 1.3: The Commission ranks second for the percentage of consumers with employment outcomes who were competitively employed. According to the ranking, 98.8% of our consumers earned at least minimum wage.
Primary Indicator 1.4: The Commission ranks first for the percent of Individuals with significant disabilities who had employment outcomes, with 100% of individuals having significant disabilities.
Primary Indicator 1.5: The Commission ranks fourth for the average starting wage of consumers compared to the average state wage. Our consumers' starting wage of $14.81 was 79.9% of the average New Mexico wage of $18.54.
Indicator 1.6: The Commission ranks first for the comparison of consumers who on exiting the program rely on their earnings as their primary source of income compared to those who relied on their earnings as their primary source of income when entering the program. The difference in New Mexico was 61.9%, compared to Virginia at 55.7%, Nebraska at 51.3%, and Washington at 41.2%.
The Commission works diligently to provide transition services for blind children and young adults, with the goal of enhancing the quantity and quality of their employment outcomes. The Commission has Memoranda of Understanding with the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Public Education Department, and the Department of Health, all of which are designed to enhance transition services. Reflecting the importance the Commission places on the education of all blind children, the Executive Director served on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) State Advisory Panel. In addition, a Commission Deputy Director served on the State Transition Coordinating Council.