April 17, 2018


“Advancing to Success” in Developmental Disabilities and Employment Awareness Month (DDEAM)


(CNMI Disability Network Partners) – The CNMI Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD) and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), in collaboration the CNMI Disability Network Partners (DNP), coordinated training conferences on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan last month, in recognition of Developmental Disabilities and Employment Awareness Month (DDEAM). 

DDEAM kicked off with a proclamation ceremony at the Office of the Governor on March 2, 2018.  During the proclamation, Governor Ralph DLG. Torres and Lt. Governor Victor B. Hocog pointed out that “the CNMI is stronger when people of all abilities are included in community life and in the workplace.  When people with developmental and other disabilities are included in the workforce, they have the opportunity to earn a competitive wage and to work as part of a team…and are more likely to give back to their communities.”

First Lady Diann Tudela Torres was the keynote speaker at the DDEAM conferences, having worked 11 years with students with special needs at PSS, and having been very active and passionate about the transition of these students into college and the workforce.  The conferences were attended by over 100 employers and job-seekers, and were held at the NMC Rota Campus on March 7th, the NMC Tinian Campus on March 14th, and the Fiesta Resort Saipan on March 21st.

In her keynote address, the First Lady said, “We know that students with disabilities often leave school early, and the few that make it to graduation end up staying at home.  This means that most end up lacking the qualifications and skills needed to be workforce ready; and in higher education there is a persisting gap between students with and without disabilities.  We should leave no one behind, and we should continue to break down the barriers that divide our communities.”

The goal of the conferences was to build capacity on disability awareness with our local employers, as well as to educate job-seekers with disabilities on their rights and responsibilities.  With the theme of “Advancing to Success,” presentations at the conferences included: “Disability Basics” presented by the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the Northern Marianas College (NMC); “Navigating the DOL/WIA System” presented by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Investment Agency (WIA); “Assistive Technology and the Workplace” presented by the Assistive Technology Program (ATP) at the CDD, “Dress for Success/Mock Interviews” and “Resume Writing” presented by the Special Education Office at the Public School System (PSS). 

In addition to the informative presentations mentioned above, the conferences also included panel discussions with members of the CNMI DNP on the topic of “Reasonable Accommodations.”  During the conference, certain individuals were acknowledged and presented with certificates of appreciation for their accomplishments in the CNMI’s disability community.  Those in attendance were also given the opportunity to comment on the updates/modifications to the CNMI Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified State Plan.  WIOA Core Partners include OVR, WIA, and the Adult Basic Education Program at NMC. 

According to data from the DDEAM Conference Evaluations, over 80% of the employers who attended were satisfied with the effort of the CNMI DNP in helping to increase employers’ knowledge about disabilities employment issues; and 100% of those surveyed said the information presented was very useful.

Other disabilities-related events and activities included a special White Mass for People with Disabilities, Mental Health First Aid Certification Training, and Easter Egg Hunts for children with special needs.



Pam Sablan/Lillian Ada

Council on Developmental Disabilities

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: (670) 664-7003


As some of you may know, we continue to receive intensive technical assistance from the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) in a few areas including Transition and Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). One of the activities included a review of our existing MOU with PSS-SPED, resulting in a revised MOU signed by representatives from both OVR and PSS-SPED on April 2, 2018. The MOU as you know is mandated under IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act, and we believe our amended MOU better reflects the requirements of the laws. The goal of the MOU is for OVR and PSS-SPED to work together to provide more effective services to students/youth with disabilities to facilitate their smooth transition from secondary to post-school activities including employment.

You can find the revised MOU here.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the following individuals for their hard work in this effort:

* Melissa Diehl/WINTAC
* Brenda Simmons/WINTAC
* Christine Johnson/WINTAC
* Dr. Chaz Compton/WINTAC
* Suzanne Lizama/SPED
* Donna Flores/SPED
* Nora Pangelinan/SPED
* Glenn Muna/PSS
* Josephine Tudela/OVR

Thank you for your time and continued partnership!


Arlene Kay A. Yamagata, M.S., CRC
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


This is a working document that is regularly updated as needed. Deadline to submit public comments on the VR State Plan is March 8, 2018

pdfClick to view the Modifications to the VR Portion of the CNMI WIOA Unified State Plan for PYs 2018-2019

The modified plan can be viewed by clicking the link above, and electronic copies can also be emailed upon request. 


The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in partnership with the State Rehabilitation Council invites the public to share comments regarding the updates/modifications to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Office Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Services Portion of the 2016-2020 Unified State Plan.


The CNMI OVR is providing an opportunity for public comment on, and input into, the updates/modification prior to its submission to the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education – Rehabilitation Services Administration. The modified plan can be viewed at the OVR website (ovrgov.net), and electronic copies can also be emailed upon request. All comments regarding the plan should be submitted:


via email to:        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
 Subject: State Plan Public Comments
or mailed to:      Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Atten: USP Coordinator
P.O. Box 501521
Saipan, MP 96950
or faxed to:     (670) 322-6548


To ensure comments are considered, they must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on March 8, 2018. Please contact Elvira Seman with requests for alternate formats at 322- 6537/8.


pdfClick to view USP