Every state has a federally funded agency that administers vocational rehabilitation (VR), supported employment, and independent living services. Some states have separate vocational rehabilitation programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and a few states have separate programs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. State VR programs provide services that enable individuals with disabilities to pursue meaningful employment that corresponds with their abilities and interests.
Although VR is considered an adult service agency, VR counselors can join the transition team and attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning meetings before a student leaves high school. State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies offer important programs that can be of service to students with disabilities who may be leaving high school without employment skills, or who are already out of school and finding it difficult to find or keep a job without additional training.
VR counselors first assess a student's eligibility for VR services. Once it is determined that a young person is eligible to receive VR services, a counselor is assigned to work with them. Together, students and their counselors will develop an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) that identifies needed VR services. Family members can participate in this process — although youth who have reached their state's legal age of adulthood must give their written permission for parents to be involved.
The services available through VR programs vary widely depending upon the state. They can include assessment to determine the extent of your son's or daughter's disability; vocational evaluation, counseling and guidance; referral to services from other agencies; vocational and other types of post-secondary education and training (including self-determination and self-advocacy training); interpreter and reader services; rehabilitation technology services and other job accommodations; placement in suitable employment; employer education on disability issues — such as the ADA and job accommodations; post-employment services; services to family members; and other goods or services necessary to achieve rehabilitation objectives identified in the IPE.
Vocational Rehabilitation Links
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Can It Help You?
Training Module from the HEATH Resource Center
- Adult Services: What Are They? Where Are They?
A resource page from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities web site, provides information on VR and other adult services
- State Vocational Rehabilitation Programs
- Client Assistance Programs (CAPs) - A National Network of Advocacy in Rehabilitation
CAP agencies provide information and assistance to individuals seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act
- Getting the Most from the Public Vocational Rehabilitation System
A 2004 publication from the Institute for Community Inclusion Boston: (Tools for Inclusion, December 2004, Order #TO19)
- Promising Practices for Basic VR Agencies Helping Transition Age Youth
Project summaries on the U.S. Department of Education website.
- Using Social Security or Vocational Rehabilitation for International Exchange Opportunities
- The Family as a Critical Partner in the Achievement of a Successful Employment Outcome
A 2002 report prepared for the 26th Institute of Rehabilitation Issues
- Integrating Service Systems at the Point of Transition for Youth with Significant Disabilities
A 2002 Information Brief from the National Center on Secondary Education Transition
- National Longitudinal Transition Study 2
- Providing supports to youth with disabilities transitioning to adulthood: Case descriptions from the Youth Transition Demonstration
A 2009 article published in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
- The Rehabilitation Act: Outcomes for Transition-Age Youth
A 2008 report from the National Council on Disability