What Should I Know About Vocational Rehabilitation?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 January 2019
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Vocational rehabilitation (VR) is the name for three different types of program. Vocational rehabilitation is, on the one hand, a set of services aimed at helping people with disabilities to become or stay employed. Such programs are mandated by the Federal legislation called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which authorizes help specifically for disabled individuals. The program is administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

A second type of vocational rehabilitation involves worker retraining after the worker has suffered an injury in order to help him or her resume employment. The third type of vocational rehabilitation is a program of assistance to people who are underemployed or unemployed, and are still striving towards their employment potential.

Students who need vocational rehabilitation may receive services as part of their Individual Education Program (IEP). Graduating students usually have a transition team to help them move on to the next step of vocational rehabilitation, should they still need services.

Adults who need services can find help from either government agencies or non-profit organizations. One non-profit with a long-term commitment to vocational rehabilitation is Goodwill Industries of America. Goodwill helps people who are unemployed, whether they have disabilities, insufficient job training or experience, or other vocational impediments. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) helps match individuals with organizations that provide vocational rehabilitation.


State offices and programs may also be located by calling your state government, each of which has at minimum a vocational rehabilitation office for people with disabilities. States offer a variety of services that may include assessment of needs, vocational counseling, training, transportation, school-to-work transition assistance, interpreter services, and job placement. States often have a dedicated office for the blind and visually impaired. Certain states have unique initiatives, like the Iowa program called Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program, which has the goal of helping people with disabilities to start and run their own businesses.



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