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Vocational Rehabilitation

Businessman in a wheelchair smiling, colleagues in background.

African American businessman smiling, looking off to the side.

young man with Down Syndrome, working at a desk with a cup of coffee next to his keyboard.

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.

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