ANNCR: Vocational rehabilitation is an employment program for Oklahomans with disabilities. If you have a disability and want to get or keep a job, VR could be the right choice for you. We call this video “What You Need to Know About Oklahoma Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services.” It will tell you how the VR program works what we will do to help you find or keep a job and what you should do to reach your own career goals.
How does the VR program work? The name of our agency is the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services or DRS. Two DRS’ divisions provide vocational rehabilitation and employment services. Visual Services helps Oklahomans with vision impairments or diabetes. Vocational Rehabilitation helps those with physical or mental disabilities.
Having a disability does not always mean you are eligible for services. You are eligible if your disability makes it difficult to get or keep a job and you need VR services to prepare for, get, keep or return to work. There must be a chance you can benefit from VR services in terms of an employment outcome. You must be able and willing to go to work after receiving VR services. If not, other agencies may have services that can better meet your needs. Your counselor will give you information, whenever possible, about those programs.
There are seven steps in the VR process: Application, Evaluation, Eligibility, Planning, Services, Employment and Post-Employment Services.
Step one: Application.
First, complete the VR application and a health checklist form. Our staff can help if you need assistance. Meet with your counselor about your background and employment goals. Please bring your medical, psychological and education records if you can. You may get records from a doctor, psychologist or others who have useful information. All your information is kept private and not released without your permission. If you can’t get to our office, call to ask about other options. The application is also available online. You can bring someone with you to the meeting with your counselor.
Your counselor will ask for information about your disability, work experience, medical history, education or training and employment goals. The counselor needs the names of doctors or therapists and any medications you are taking. You may be asked to sign a release form so that others can provide information about you to Vocational Rehabilitation or Visual Services.
The counselor will ask for information about your financial situation. Some services such as evaluation, counseling and job placement are provided at no charge. You may be asked to pay for other services, depending on your income and financial resources. The cost of services and who will pay for them will be written down in your Individualized Plan for Employment or IPE.
Step 2: Evaluation.
Visual Services or Vocational Rehabilitation will evaluate your disability to find out if you are eligible for services. Your counselor will use the records you bring or help you get information from your doctor, school or other agency. If new tests are needed to find out if you are eligible, your counselor will arrange an appointment at no charge to you with a physician, psychologist or other health care professional. Vocational evaluations may be needed at any point in the rehabilitation process. Your evaluation could be done in the beginning to find out if vocational rehabilitation is the right program to help you go to work.
Step 3: Eligibility.
You can expect to be told within 60 days or less whether you qualify for vocational rehabilitation services. If you are eligible, you will make decisions about your career choice, what services are needed for you to go to work and who will provide those services. Your counselor will provide information and resources that will help you make these important decisions together. We call your decisions “informed choice” because you will have the information needed to make the right decisions about your career.
Step 4: Planning.
Once you are eligible, you will develop an Individualized Plan for Employment based on your specific needs. Your IPE will list the services needed to help you find or keep the job you have chosen. The purpose of the IPE is to get you ready for work. The counselor will work with you or you can choose someone else to help you write your IPE. Either way, the counselor must approve the plan. You and your counselor will sign the IPE. You will get a copy. If your needs change while you’re in vocational rehabilitation, your plan may be changed. It is important that you are involved in planning and following through on your IPE so that you can reach your employment goal.
Step 5: VR Services.
VR services help people with disabilities prepare for and find jobs. Each service is based on your disability and what is needed to overcome your barriers to employment and increase your ability to go to work. You and your counselor will decide what services are needed to reach your employment goal. Counselors provide vocational evaluation, counseling and career planning guidance throughout the rehabilitation process.We give you information and sometimes refer you to other agencies for services we don't provide. Please remember to keep your counselor informed of changes to your phone or address so we can continue to work together. Employment services, including job search, placement and follow-up services, help consumers go to work. Assistive Technology is any item, equipment, system or service that helps people with disabilities prepare for employment and function more effectively in the workplace, Training includes vocational, post-secondary, on-the-job, job search skills development and job coaching. Treatment of physical and mental disabilities may be provided to help consumers go to work. Transition School-to-Work services help high school students with disabilities prepare for and reach employment and other post-school goals. Instructional services, such as rehabilitation teaching and orientation and mobility services, assist individuals who are blind. Self-employment programs help individuals who want to work for themselves or operate their own businesses. Supported employment helps individuals with significant physical, emotional, mental or multiple disabilities work successfully in the community. Specialized programs assist consumers with vision, hearing or speech disabilities and those with significant disabilities.
Step 6: Employment.
Getting or keeping your job is the GOAL of the vocational rehabilitation program. When you go to work, you become a self-sufficient taxpayer, reducing or eliminating your need for disability benefits or social services. Contact your counselor as soon as you accept a job. Once you start working, your VR counselor will follow up to be sure everything is going well. After you work 90 days successfully you and your counselor will close your vocational rehabilitation case.
Step 7: Post-Employment Services
Even after your case is closed, you may be eligible for post-employment services to keep your job, get your job back or move to a better job. If your situation changes, you can call your counselor to find out about post-employment services.
If you are not satisfied with a decision about your case or have another problem, you can talk with your counselor at any time. Working together to solve the problems is usually the best approach. If you are not satisfied, ask the staff at your Visual Services or Vocational Rehabilitation office to schedule an appointment with your counselor’s supervisor. If you are still having problems, you can ask for a Fair Hearing or use mediation to find a workable solution. You can also bring a civil action asking a state or district court to review the decision. You can also ask an advocate from the Client Assistance Program to help you at any time. CAP will help with the appeals process and talk to the Department of Rehabilitation Services on your behalf. Your counselor will give you a “Rights and Responsibilities” handbook when you apply and when you enter the vocational rehabilitation program. There is more information about your appeals rights and the vocational rehabilitation program. The handbook is available in accessible formats, such as Braille, large print, audio CD or cassette or your other preferred format, to the maximum extent possible. Thank you taking time to learn about the vocational rehabilitation program. If you are ready to go to work at a job that is right for you, take the next step. Apply for vocational rehabilitation and employment services.
Opening doors to opportunity. That’s the mission of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. DRS counselors and staff will open the door to employment success, but you must walk through it to achieve your dreams. To find the nearest Visual Services or Vocational Rehabilitation office, call 1-800-487-4042. Call the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services at 1-800-845-8476. Or visit DRS on the Web at www.okdrs.gov.
Copyright 2010 Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services.