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VRA Canada 2021 Virtual Conference
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Reconnect-reignite

November 3-4, 2021

Reconnect with your community and reignite your passion.

The Conference Committee is excited to bring a two-day, virtual conference to VRA members this Fall.

VRA’s annual conference brings together members to Connect, Learn, and Share with fantastic speakers and from each other. It is always a time to Reconnect and this year we will also Re-ignite our passion for what we do and why we do it.

This year’s conference will be held on the virtual event platform, PheedLoop, offering members exciting features such as:

The CareerConnect Job Fair

Chat Rooms

Private Video Calls

Exhibitor Booths

Gamification

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Schedule at a glance

Day 1 - November 3

Time
12 Noon

Track 1, Track 2: Exhibitor Hall, Networking, Photobooth

12:30 - 2:00 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Welcome to Day 1 – President Tracey Kibble
Keynote Speaker - Danielle Campo (Journey to Joy)

2:00 - 2:30 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Networking Break

2:30 - 4:00 PM

Track 1: Creating Safe Spaces for Transgender/Non-Binary Folx (Dana Cea)
Track 2:
CAVEWAS The Ethics of Working in a Risky Business (Stephen Sligar)
Social/Other Ongoing Events:
Photo Booth

4:00 - 4:15 PM

Track 1, Track 2:  Break

4:15 - 5:45 PM

Track 1: Approaches to the rehabilitation of individuals with health and mental health conditions (Dr.Mick Sullivan)
Track 2: CAVEWAS Vocational EvaluationDuring a Pandemic. Now what?! (Lisa Blakeney and Shawn Zimmerman)
Social/Other Ongoing Events: Gamification - Contests

Plenary – end of day wrap up (Tracey Kibble). We  encourage people to network and visit exhibitors until 6:30

Time
Track 1
Track 2
Social/Other Ongoing Events
12 Noon EST
Exhibitor Hall, Networking, Photobooth
12:30 - 2:00 PM EST
Welcome to Day 1 – President Tracey Kibble
Keynote Speaker- Kevin McShan
Job Fair
2:00 - 2:30 PM EST
Networking Break
Exhibitor/Sponsor Hall
2:30 - 4:00 PM EST
Creating Safe Spaces for Transgender/Non-Binary Folx (Dr. Dana Cea)
CAVEWAS The Ethics of Working in a Risky Business (Steven Sligar)
Photo Booth
4:00 - 4:15 PM EST
Break
4:15 - 5:45 PM EST
Approaches to the rehabilitation of individuals with health and mental health conditions (Dr.Mick Sullivan)
CAVEWAS Vocational Evaluation During a Pandemic. Now what?! (Lisa Blakeney and Shawn Zimmerman)
Gamification - Contests
Plenary – end of day wrap up (Tracey Kibble). We encourage people to network and visit exhibitors until 6:30

Day 2 - November 4

Time
11:00 AM

Track 1, Track 2: Exhibitor Hall, Networking

12:30 - 12:45 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Special Meeting
Social/Other Ongoing Events: Exhibitor/Sponsor Hall

12:45 - 1:00 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Networking Break
Social/Other Ongoing Events: Photo Booth

1:00 - 2:30 PM

Track 1: PTSD (Dr.Gouws)
Track 2:
CAVEWAS Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment in the 21st Century (Fran Smith)
Social/Other Ongoing Events:
Gamification - Contests

2:30 - 2:45 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Break

2:45 - 4:15 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Working Towards a New Goal (Ewa Rambally and Dr.John Connors)

4:15 - 4:30 PM

Track 1, Track 2: Break

Timeline Review (Val Lougheed) and Plenary End of Day Wrap-Up (Tracey Kibble). We encourage people to network and visit exhibitors until 5:30

Time
Track 1
Track 2
Social/Other Ongoing Events
11:00 AM EST
Exhibitor Hall, Networking
12:00 - 12:45 PM EST
Special Meeting (Tracey Kibble)
Exhibitor/Sponsor Hall
12:45 - 1:00 PM EST
Networking Break
Photo Booth
1:00 - 2:30 PM EST
Dilemmas in the Vocational Assessment Process: The impact of PTSD on a Person’s Employability (Dr. Jacques Gouws)
CAVEWAS Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment in the 21st Century (Dr. Fran Smith)
Gamification - Contests
2:30 - 2:45 PM EST
Break
2:45 - 4:15 PM EST
Working Towards a New Goal (Dr.John Connors)
4:15 4:30 PM EST
Break
Timeline Review (Val Lougheed) and Plenary End of Day Wrap-Up (Tracey Kibble). We encourage people to network and visit exhibitors until 5:30

Conference sessions

Day 1 - November 3

Session
Speaker
Time

Keynote Speaker - Paving The Pathway Towards Inclusive Victory

Kevin McShan

12:30 - 2:00 PM EST

Businesses experience a 72% Higher retention rate among persons with disability when they incorporate them into the workforce says the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  Which lends more credence to the notion: inclusion is the gateway to independence.  For motivational speaker and journalist Kevin McShan, fostering an inclusive and diversified workforce has been a longstanding and favourite passion of his.  

During the Paving The Pathway Towards Inclusive Victory Session, McShan will share his personal journey towards gainful employment, his experience working in the field of inclusive employment and tangible action steps employers and vocational professionals can take to foster an inclusive, collaborative and accepting workforce for all people of all abilities.

Kevin, who has lived with Cerebral Palsy his whole life struggled for years after graduation to find employment. With the help of Vocational Rehabilitation experts, he was able to find a career in the journalism industry. He has an extensive history of promoting employment equality for individuals with disabilities and is passionate about helping others reach their fullest potential by maximizing their productivity in life, work and play.

CAVEWAS The Ethics of Working in a Risky Business

Steven R. Sligar

2:30 - 4:00 PM EST

Steven R. Sligar, EdD, CVE, PVE, serves as professor and coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Vocational Evaluation at East Carolina University in North Carolina, USA. He has over 48 years’ experience in vocational rehabilitation. He has 52 publications, conducted over 300 international, national, state, and local presentations in the areas of vocational evaluation, deafness, administration, and ethics. At present, he is co-editor of the Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Journal and on three editorial review boards. Currently, he is the President of the NC chapter of the Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association and serves on the Board of the NC Rehabilitation Association.

Since 2014, he has served as an expert panelist and advisory council member for the project to Improve Vocational Rehabilitation Services by Developing VR Assessment Tools in American Sign Language for a federally funded research initiative through The Substance Abuse Resources and Disability Issues Program in the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University (WSU).

Creating Safe Spaces for Transgender/Non-Binary Folx

Dr. Dana Cea

2:30 - 4:00 PM EST

Dana M. Cea, pronouns she/her or they/them, is a volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a mental health professional, a survivor of suicide loss, and an adjunct professor. She enjoys working with LGBTQ+ misfits, parents/partners/families of LGBTQ+ loved ones.

When we create safe spaces for transgender/gender nonbinary folx, we create safe spaces for everyone. As we shift back to in-person rooms and keep some virtual rooms, we want to address how to best support transgender/gender nonbinary clients. These areas may include during assessments, on applications, for interviews, and in general conversation. This presentation will focus on terminology applicable to the transgender/gender nonbinary community, critical steps to take (e.g. sharing pronouns).

Approaches to the Rehabilitation of Individuals with Health and Mental Health Conditions

Dr. Michael Sullivan

4:15 - 5:45 PM EST

Dr. Michael Sullivan is a clinical psychologist who is currently Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University, where he also holds a Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Health.

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Sullivan has worked as an educator, clinician, clinic director, and department chair. He has served as a consultant to numerous health and safety organizations, veterans’ administration organizations, insurance groups as well as social policy and research institutes. In 2011, he received the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology by the Canadian Psychological Association. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Health. Dr Sullivan is best known for his research on psychosocial risk factors for pain and disability, and for the development of risk-targeted interventions designed to foster occupational re-engagement following injury. One such intervention, the Progressive Goal Attainment Program (PGAP), has been included in the Official Disability Guidelines (Work Loss Data Institute) as an evidenced-based approach to the management of work-disability.

Dr. Sullivan also developed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), the Injustice Experiences Questionnaire (IEQ) and the Perceived Deficits Questionnaire (PDQ). Dr. Sullivan has published more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 3 books and 27 book chapters.

Vocational Evaluation During a Pandemic- Now What?!

Lisa Blakeney And Shawn Zimmerman

4:15 - 5:45 PM EST

When the pandemic hit the States, vocational evaluators had to regroup, revise and improvise on the fly in an attempt to meet our clients’ needs and to continue to provide our services virtually. For some evaluators, this was an easy and welcomed transition, but others had to become tech-savvy and alter their way of envisioning how the assessment or evaluation process would look, and how these services could be delivered very quickly. We also had to consider the needs of the clients we serve, as always, by determining if this would be the best or most effective method for them if the client would have the equipment and knowledge to participate virtually if there would be undue influence from significant others since they would be participating from home, what would our referral sources or employers approve to be provided and how would compensation be affected, and how we would maintain our code of ethics through this alternative process. This presentation will address the effects of the pandemic on vocational evaluation and career assessment services provided by a private and state vocational rehabilitation evaluator, and the approaches utilized, that includes assessments available online or from an evaluator’s "toolbox" that can be used in a virtual environment.

Lisa Blakeney is a Certified Vocational Evaluator (orig) and International Certified Vocational Evaluator in private practice. She possesses over 40 years of experience providing vocational evaluation and related services to individuals with a variety of disabilities.

Shawn L. Zimmerman is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Certified Vocational Evaluator (orig) for the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DARS of VA). Shawn has worked in the field as a Certified Vocational Evaluator for 15 years starting as a Community Based Evaluator then moving into the State Agency evaluations serving individuals with disabilities.

Day 2 - November 4

Session
Speaker
Time

Special Meeting

Tracey Kibble

12:00 - 12:45 PM EST

*VRA Members Only* A Special Meeting of Members will take place via the 2021 Virtual Conference. Following the AGM of June 2, 2021, we are pleased to invite VRA Members to attend this meeting for additional elections and ratifications.  Registration is only required for those members who are not attending the Virtual Conference.

Dilemmas in the Vocational Assessment Process: The impact of PTSD on a Person’s Employability

Dr. Jacques Gouws

1:00 - 2:30 PM EST

PTSD is an outcome of traumatic events occurring at work, while commuting, or when at home. Often many of the symptoms associated with PTSD and their impact on a person’s capacity to function in a work setting are not well understood by professionals tasked with the responsibility to assess the employability and potential work settings for person suffering from PTSD. Against this background, Learning Objectives for conference delegates attending this presentation are to:

  1. Recognise the most obvious symptoms associated with PTSD.
  2. Gain an understanding how these obvious PTSD symptoms are a barrier in the Vocational Assessment process.
  3. Apply these insights in the vocational assessment of persons with PTSD.
  4. In the final conclusions on employability, point out the impact of the identified PTSD barriers on the person’s ability to return to competitive employment in identified vocational options.


Dr. Jacques Gouws is a registered psychologist in independent clinical psychological practice in Ontario, Canada. He is also the President and CEO of Human and System Interface Consulting Inc., providing multi-disciplinary integrated mental and physical health status assessment services.

CAVEWAS - Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment in the 21st Century

Dr. Fran Smith

1:00 - 2:30 PM EST

Frances Smith, Ed.D, is an educator and consultant based in Richmond, VA, USA. She has taught as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University since the late 1980’s including coursework in vocational evaluation, report development, work sample design, technology and disabilities and universal design for learning (UDL). Dr. Smith holds an M.A in Collaborative Vocational Evaluation, Ed.S in Transition Special Education, and Ed.D in Higher Education Administration, all from GW University. In 2011, she was selected as one of eight postdoctoral UDL fellows in residence at CAST (http://www.cast.org) and Boston College Lynch School of Education. Dr. Smith is a member of the CAST National Faculty cadre and provides training nationally and internationally on universal design for learning. She is a past Board Member-at-Large and Past-President (2010) of the Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Association (VECAP) and has also held numerous national leadership positions in VEWAA. She was a prior Chair and Commissioner with the former Commission on Certification of Work Adjustment and Vocational Evaluation Specialists and co-founder of the former Interdisciplinary Council on Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment. More details can be found at http://www.recognizingdifferences.com

Vocational evaluators (VEs) know that the assessment process they employ is one that works, involves real and simulated work and, models best practice. As a beginning process utilizing paper and pencil testing approaches, VE’s acknowledged the importance of building hands-on work samples and simulations to expand the authenticity of work evaluation for clients (Nadolsky, 1983). Both the Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals (VECAP) and Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Professionals Association (VEWAA) endorse the importance of including work that is either real or simulated as key to a successful assessment (Dowd, 1993; VECAP, 2016; VEWAA, 2018). Over the decades, harnessing assistive (Reed, 1996) and instructional technologies has also proven to expand opportunities and outcomes for evaluation clients. Adopting frameworks such as universal design for learning (Smith, Leconte & Vitelli, 2012) have provided evaluators with new ways to consider flexible ways to administer assessment tools and approaches, and consider learner (evaluee) variability. Forging into the 21st century and beyond, the role of a comprehensive assessment coupled with innovative practices continues to be of great importance for expanding career opportunities (Castiglione, Leconte, & Smith, 2018; Smith, Leconte, Garner, & Umeasiegbu, 2015).

Working Towards a New Goal

Dr. John Connors

2:45 - 4:15 PM EST


John Connors, PhD is a Registered Psychologist, Professor Emeritus since 2020 and psychology practitioner.


Session:

Injury is a traumatic event. The more serious the injury – the more traumatizing is the stress associated with it. The sudden change in life situation poses as huge stress as the negative event itself. Adults, who experience such events are in many ways no different than athletes experiencing serious injuries. The most important factor in recovery is the mindset. Healthy approach to the care of the psyche of an injured worker is a key step in setting such person for a successful recovery from the injury (to the possible degree) and a successful transition to a workforce. Education plays an important part in the case of some injured workers. It also can have mind healing properties. Learning new things provides a multitude of merits. It allows for gaining confidence through achievement. It is a training ground for the skill of goal setting. It brings new knowledge and skills that can be of value in a new work environment.

Losing a job through injury and uncertainty of the future cause low self-esteem and fear. Gaining the confidence in self is a process which education can play a positive role in, from setting and achieving small goals in day-to-day classes to using education as a stepping stone to achieve the ultimate goal – a new job and a new life. The skill of goal setting is crucial in work towards creating a change. It is important for injured workers to see that the unfortunate event they went through is an opportunity for something new and exciting.  We will discuss the process of goal setting and motivation building techniques from practical perspective.