This project pilot tests a state-of-the art, accessible, online, and mentored training program with students and mentors in state and private agencies for the blind and those with visual impairments around the nation. Lighthouse International's VRA-Net development initiative is based on the successes of previous projects involving the development of both comprehensive curricula and an accessible online training program for Vision Rehabilitation Assistants. The overall goal is to address a severe shortage of trained vision rehabilitation personnel, while increasing the availability of specialized vision rehabilitation services to meet the burgeoning population of adults with visual impairment in the U.S. The major objectives of the evaluation effort of the project are  to assess the effectiveness of the training program in terms of students' knowledge and competencies as well as students' and mentors' perceived benefits and disadvantages  to gather information on how to refine the online training modules in terms of ease of use, user-friendliness, and clarity of content, and  to test the impact of VRAs on service provision.
Students and mentors of the training program are being interviewed before, during (mid-point surveys), and after the completion of the training program to gather above outlined evaluation related information.
Pre, mid, and post-interviews with Group I students and mentors and pre-interviews with Group II students and mentors have been completed.
Investigators: Karen Seidman, MPA, Principal Investigator
Carol Sussman-Skalka, LMSW, MBA, Project Director
Verena Cimarolli, PhD, Evaluation Associate
Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
Project Period: October 2005- September 2008