Step 1: Applying for VR services
Any person with a disability may apply for services from Vocational Rehabilitation or Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To contact the office nearest to you, telephone our toll-free hotline at 800-487-4042, or telephone or TTY the DRS State Office toll free at 800-845-8476. Spanish speaking individuals may call 800-523-1565. You may consult the state government pages in the local telephone book. Tribal members may also apply with their tribal VR program.
The staff will arrange for you to make an application and meet with a vocational rehabilitation counselor so you can provide the information needed for VR/SBVI to determine if you are eligible for services. You can speed up the application process by bringing current medical, psychological and educational records or other information about your disability with you to the appointment.
During the first interview, the counselor will explain the rehabilitation process and gather information about you. You may also register to vote or change your voter registration information when applying for or receiving services from a VR/SBVI office.
Step 2: Evaluating your disability
VR/SBVI must evaluate your disability to find out if you are eligible. You may be asked to help get medical or other records. If additional tests are needed, VR/SBVI will pay for the tests required to determine your eligibility. The purposes of the evaluation are to gather diagnostic information and explore your background, abilities, disability-related barriers to employment and rehabilitation needs.
All information is confidential and will be used only for vocational rehabilitation, unless you have signed a release form giving written consent, or in situations where the law requires VR/SBVI to release the information.
Step 3: Determining your eligibility
VR/SBVI has 60 days from the time you apply to determine whether or not you are eligible for services unless you and your counselor agree to a specific extension.
If you are eligible, you will be assigned to a priority group based on the significance of your disability. When services are restricted during an order of selection, applicants in priority groups whose disabilities are less significant barriers to employment may have to wait until funds are available to pay for their services. Those who have completed an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) before an order of selection begins will continue to receive services under the IPE. If there is an order of selection when you apply for services, your counselor will explain it to you.
Even when you are not eligible for VR/SBVI services or when you are placed on a waiting list, VR/SBVI will provide vocational rehabilitation information and referral assistance to help you obtain services from other sources. VR/SBVI counselors will refer you to other federal or state programs which may help with your employment needs, including those located at Workforce Oklahoma career centers.
Step 4: Planning your services
If you are eligible, your VR/SBVI counselor will provide information about choices you have for developing an Individualized Plan for Employment. This is a plan of VR/SBVI services that you will follow to get or keep suitable employment in an appropriate career. Your IPE is based on your strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice, and must be approved by DRS according to Rehabilitation Act requirements.
You may write the plan yourself, work with your VR/SBVI counselor or use the assistance of someone else who is willing to help. The plan must be in writing. If you decide to write the IPE yourself, your counselor will explain what items should be included and what assistance is available to help you. Your plan must be completed within 90 days of the determination of eligibility unless you and your counselor agree to a specific extension.
Information will be provided to you about types and costs of services, length of time services are expected to last, who is available to provide services and qualifications of service providers.
As part of the planning process, you will have the opportunity, with the help of your counselor, to choose an appropriate employment goal, the VR/SBVI services to be provided under your plan, the businesses or companies that will provide the services and the methods for providing those services. You may be required to participate in assessment activities to help gather the information needed to identify your interests, capabilities, strengths and rehabilitation needs.
Your counselor will do a financial status determination based on your income and financial resources before any services are provided. The purpose is to find out if you will need to share the cost of some services. However, some services are available to all eligible individuals without charges — for example, evaluations or other diagnostic assessments used to determine eligibility and rehabilitation needs; vocational counseling and guidance; information and referral to other sources; job search; on-the-job training and placement. Your counselor can provide a list of other services available to you at no charge.
After you and your counselor sign the IPE, you will get a copy. The plan will be provided in large print, Braille, electronic file, CD, or audio tape at your request. To the maximum extent possible, the plan will be provided in your native language or method of communication, or that of your family member or other person representing you.
At least once each year, you and your counselor will review your financial status and the IPE to be sure it is still the best plan for you. If your needs change while you are in vocational rehabilitation, your plan may need to be changed. You may ask for a review of your plan at any time.
The IPE is like a road map of VR services to help you prepare for, obtain, keep or return to suitable employment in a career based on your interests, strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities and capabilities. Please feel free to ask questions. Your participation in planning and carrying out your VR program is critical to your success.
Step 5: Receiving VR/SBVI services
Many different services are available to help consumers reach their employment goals. Your VR/SBVI services will probably be different from those received by other consumers because the services outlined in IPEs are based on individual needs and goals.
- Medical and psychological assessments are used to determine eligibility and review consumers' backgrounds, abilities, disability-related barriers to employment and rehabilitation needs.
- Vocational evaluation, counseling and career planning guidance are provided by counselors to consumers throughout the rehabilitation process.
- Information and referral help individuals get appropriate services from other agencies.
- Employment services, including job search, placement and follow-up services, help consumers obtain and keep suitable employment in their chosen careers.
- Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system used to maintain or improve the ability of people with disabilities to prepare for employment and function more effectively in the workplace, or any service that assists individuals in selecting, obtaining or using an assistive technology device.
- Training includes vocational, post-secondary, on-the-job, personal and vocational adjustment training, job search skills development and job coaching.
- Diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental disabilities may be provided to enhance consumers' employment opportunities when services are not available through health insurance or other benefits.
- Maintenance helps pay for expenses, beyond a person's normal living expenses, that are necessary to enable the person to participate in vocational rehabilitation assessments or services.
- Transportation, including training in the use of public transportation, is provided in connection with other services needed to reach employment 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.
- Personal assistance services are intended to help an individual with a disability perform daily living activities on or off the job. These services can be provided when necessary to enable a person to participate in vocational rehabilitation services and achieve an employment outcome.
- Transition School-to-Work services help high school students with disabilities prepare for and reach employment and other post-school goals.
- Supported employment assists individuals with significant physical, emotional, mental or multiple disabilities with employment in the community.
- Post-employment services help consumers get, keep or move ahead in their jobs.
- Specialized programs assist consumers who are blind, Deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-blind and individuals with speech impairments, significant disabilities and those who require independent living services.
Step 6: Getting a job
Your VR/SBVI counselor will assist you in finding a job. We also have employment specialists who work with counselors and potential employers to match qualified consumers with suitable employment.
Please let your counselor know when you start working at a new job. It's a good idea to keep in touch so your counselor can help with any problems. Generally, your VR/VS case will be closed after you have worked successfully for 90 days.
Step 7: Using post-employment services
If your situation changes so that you lose or may have trouble keeping your job, you may go back to VR/SBVI for more help after your case is closed. You may be eligible for post-employment services to help keep your job, get your job back, move ahead on your job or move to a better job. If you need a lot of assistance, you may be asked to reapply for services.
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