Staff Training

Staff Training

Staff Education and Continuing Education 

Best Practices :

Each professional staff person will have an individualized plan, consistent with his or her job duties, for continuing education and maintaining certification or licensure that includes a periodic behavioral demonstration of competencies. Professional qualifications will include education and experience working with persons with visual impairments and working with older populations. Agency resources will be committed to supporting employees in achieving the goals in their individualized plans. 

Acceptable Practices

Uncertified staff enrolled in educational programs, internships, or mentoring programs leading to certification/licensure may provide services under the direct supervision of an appropriately certified or licensed professional. Uncertified staff will have established benchmarks and timelines for achieving certification/licensure or necessary experience. Staff with experience or training working with younger age groups will be supervised or mentored until they demonstrate behavioral competency working with older populations. 

Any agency that does not implement best practices will have a plan in place to move toward best practices that includes an expeditious timetable and benchmarks. 

Unacceptable Practices

Service delivery by the following are unacceptable without supervision of a certified professional: (a) uncertified/unlicensed persons, regardless of whether they have personal or professional experience in the field, or (b) certified/licensed persons who lack experience working with older populations or with persons with visual impairments. It is unacceptable for the agency to fail to support staff efforts to attain or maintain appropriate certification or licensure. 

Clarifying Comments

Because service providers must assess consumer needs or skills, in addition to planning, implementing, and evaluating services, these services must be provided by skilled, experienced professionals with the appropriate certification or licensure. Staff who are not certified or licensed must be supervised by an appropriately certified or licensed professional. When certified or licensed staff lack experience working with older populations or persons with vision loss, those staff must receive experiential training, with supervision, until they demonstrate competencies in appropriate service areas.  

Performance based assessments will be used to evaluate staff competency in tasks associated with their professional practice areas. Administrators will assist staff in acquiring continuing education, documenting it, and sharing knowledge and information with other staff. 

Cultural Competency 

Best Practices:

OIB program managers will facilitate ongoing disability and cultural sensitivity training for staff. Cultural sensitivity training will include, but not be limited to, (a) providing consumer services in a culturally competent way; (b) handling emergency or health situations in ways that are sensitive to diversity issues; (c) considering how the culture influences aging and disability, e.g., definition of independence; (d) responding to the region’s specific cultural diversity, including current and emerging trends; (e) using culture/language specific materials; (f) respecting distinct cultural issues of people who are deaf/deafblind; and (g) providing qualified/certified staff for translator/interpreter services.  

When appropriate, a cultural liaison/paraprofessional will facilitate access to the community and collaborate with community-based cultural centers. Demographic information about local areas can be obtained from the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and accessed at

Acceptable Practices

Any agency that does not implement best practices will have a plan in place to move toward best practices that includes an expeditious timetable and benchmarks.  

Unacceptable Practices

The following are examples of unacceptable practices: (a) not providing services to a person or population due to lack of understanding/training in cultural issues, (b) forcing cultural values on others, (c) being culturally insensitive, (d) not having an interpreter/translator, or (e) using family members as interpreters. 

Clarifying Comments

Staff must be sensitive to other disabilities and to diversity. Agencies will have guidelines regarding culturally sensitive procedures in responding to safety, health, or emergencies. Cultural sensitivity training for staff and volunteers is imperative. Staff must use professional interpreter services (for persons who are deaf, use certified ASL interpreters), not family members, and have materials in multiple languages. Certified ASL interpreters working with people who are deafblind must have training or experience interpreting for that population.  

Community groups, clubs, churches, etc. may be able to provide assistance with interpreters or information to promote cultural competence. Training regarding how to work with persons who have hearing loss must be included in diversity training. Competencies and performance in diversity will be assessed regularly by program managers, and plans for promoting cultural competence will be included in staff development plans. 


Staff Training Resources

Case Note Checklist


Did you pay close attention to grammar, punctuation and spelling?  

Did you spell out acronyms the first time you used them?  

Double-check your document to make sure you did not use any texting abbreviations. 

Does the content of the document reflect that it was written by a professional service provider?  

Did you use the correct medical terminology?

Did you use words with few interpretations? 

Did you keep in mind that others will be reading your report? 


Always remember this document provides basic information for another direct service provider taking over your case. 

Does it include demographic and background information, self-reported limitations, other medical conditions that may impact services, referral sources, etc.   

Does your intake narrative list the skill areas in which training will be provided? 


Was the Report of Service completed immediately after the lesson?  

Does the consumer's ability or in ability to function seem to be the theme of the report. 

Does the report summarize training? Does it outline each training goal that has or has not been met?

Are all measurements quantitative not qualitative? 

Does the documentation place emphasis on skills taught, rather than equipment issued?  

Is the report more about what the consumer did than what you did?

Does each ROS build on the previous report? 

Does the report include coordination of services with other professionals? 


Does your closure narrative summarize progress related to goals?  

Does your closure narrative outline the goals that have been met?  

Does it list what the consumer can do now that they could not do before training? 

Is the consumer better able to function now, than prior to training? 

Does the report reflect that the training was conducted by a skilled service provider? 


Sample Policy on Appropriate Touch

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
633 17th Street, Suite 1500
Denver, CO 80202-3660 | (303) 318-8000 |

Appropriate Touch Procedure Guidance for BLVS Staff

This guidance is for Blind and Low Vision (BLVS) Training - staff regarding appropriate physical touch with persons we serve (PWS). This guidance outlines why physical touch may be needed to participate in PAT services, identifying appropriate and inappropriate forms of touch, procedures for facilitating conversations and training regarding appropriate touch, and procedures for reporting and documenting inappropriate (or perceived inappropriate) touch.
Individuals receiving training services through BLVS have a visual impairment and/or legal blindness which poses challenges to training and learning necessary skills to achieve successful employment outcomes. A common practice during such training involves the use of physical touch when meeting in-person to facilitate tactile learning and/or proper body alignment or positioning.

The following definitions are provided by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH):
● Hand-Under-Hand Technique: “When you use the hand-under-hand technique, your hands perform the activity while your student’s hands rest on top of yours—in this way, they can feel what your hands are doing. If the activity is new to your student, they’ll be able to focus their energy on feeling the movements of your hands. They may also feel more comfortable and in control because they can freely remove their hands if they want to. As you perform the activity, verbally describe what you are doing with your hands.”
● Hand-Over-Hand Technique: “When you use the hand-over-hand technique to help your student do an activity, you place your hands over their hands. Your student is the one who is touching the materials, and your hands guide them as they manipulate the materials to complete the activity. As you find they are able to do small parts of the activity, you can lessen the support your hands are providing by either pulling your hands away or moving them to their wrist or arm. This way, your hands are ready to come back and lend support if they need assistance.”

Areas of the body that may need to be touched during training include:
● Shoulders and/or upper back
○ To facilitate proper orientation and/or body alignment or facilitate Human Guide (for example, during O&M training, to position the person facing the proper direction).
○ In emergencies (for example, during Orientation and Mobility training, if the person steps into the street during a dangerous or incorrect time, the PAT Staff may touch their shoulders and pull them back to prevent them from an accident).
● Hands
○ To facilitate proper skills via Hand-Over-Hand or Hand-Under-Hand Techniques (for example, typing position on a keyboard, use of adaptive equipment, proper grip on a white cane, etc). ○ The back of the hand, and/or with fingers tucked under, is considered proper etiquette when reaching out to locate something (such as another person’s hand to shake, a physical item, etc). This also reduces the opportunity for injury to the fingers.
● Forearms, wrists, and/or elbows
○ Used when providing or teaching Human Guide.
○ To direct someone to an object (for example, directing the person to take a seat, find an object, etc).

Addressing Appropriate Touch with the Persons We Serve
During the first appointment prior to the start of training (with BLVS staff or a vendor):
The BLVS staff agrees to explain the potential need for physical touch during in-person interactions with the PWS, utilizing the definitions above, when participating in training services.
The BLVS staff agrees to discuss with the PWS the potential for unintended and/or accidental touch during in-person interactions related to training services (bumping into each other, accidentally touching during a lesson, etc) that can occur due to the nature of the person’s vision loss. This can be compounded when both the PWS and the staff have vision loss. The BLVS staff shall explain that the PWS has the ability to offer and rescind consent at any instance.
The BLVS staff agrees to remind the PWS of DVR’s Appeal Rights that were provided during the intake appointment by the Rehabilitation Counselor. If requested, the BLVS staff can provide an additional copy of this document. The BLVS staff will explain that at any time, should the person have any concern regarding inappropriate touch (or perceived inappropriate touch), they are encouraged to follow the processes outlined in the Appeal Rights. This conversation and subsequent consent by the PWS shall be documented via a case note in the PWS’ file.

During the duration of training services:
The BLVS staff will gain consent prior to touching the person we serve prior to each instance of physical touch. This should be accompanied by a clear, direct announcement stating the location of the reach and the intent/purpose of the touch. Auditory cues may be utilized to localize the position of the person’s reach, if necessary.
Coaching and training on appropriate touch is routinely provided and facilitated by the BLVS training staff to the person we serve as a part of training services, and is tailored to their unique training needs, questions, and other instances that may arise. This may include items such as teaching the Hines Break during Orientation and Mobility training, discussing how to appropriately exchange handshakes at a job interview, training on how to find physical items such as door handles, signage in public areas, dropped objects, and much more.
The PWS always reserves the right to decline consent for physical touch, at any moment, and this shall be respected and adhered to by PAT staff.

Identifying and Reporting Inappropriate Touch during Training
Inappropriate touch may include, but is not limited to:
● Touch that lingers past the necessary duration of time and purpose (as outlined above)
● Any touch that is not necessary for engaging in training services (as outlined above)
● Touch to any other area of the body not outlined above
● Any other touch that is perceived to be inappropriate or uncomfortable by either the PWS or the BLVS staff.
The BLVS staff agrees to report to their direct supervisor, any possible or perceived inappropriate touch, whether the touch occurred to the BLVS staff or to the PWS. The BLVS staff will additionally document the situation via a case note in the PWS’ case file and notify any other necessary parties.

Staff Name: _______________________________
Staff Signature: ____________________________ Date: _____________
Supervisor Name: __________________________
Supervisor Signature: _______________________ Date: _____________

View as a document

Understanding Disabilities in Native Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Here is a link to resources from the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) including the toolkit Understanding Disabilities in Native Indian and Alaska Native Communities. 

Resources to support staff who instruct JAWS, smart phones, and other assistive technology

Help direct service staff quickly learn what they need to know: 

Assistive Technology changes constantly! Professionals who provide instruction on screen readers, smartphones, video magnification, smart speakers, and other devices need support to stay up to date so that consumers are provided with the highest quality of assessment and training for devices. 

Learn the basics or hear more on the latest hot topic in assistive technology. 

Listen to in-depth product reviews and gain advanced knowledge from expert users. 





Continuing Education

Visit our Continuing Education page for information on continuing education, webinars, and conferences.