As of 10/1/2017, this manual has been retired. For current policies, procedures, and standards for the Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division, please refer to the following manuals:

In this manual, references to DARS now refer to TWC. The manual includes both links to public content and links to content available only to staff.

Chapter 11: Technology Services

11.1 Rehabilitation Technology Devices and Services

11.1.1 Overview of Rehabilitation Technology Devices and Services

*Rehabilitation technology is the systematic application of technologies, engineering methodologies, or scientific principles to meet the needs of and address the barriers confronted by people who have disabilities in areas that include

The term includes rehabilitation engineering, assistive technology devices, and assistive technology services.*

*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.5(b)(45)

11.1.2 The Scope of Rehabilitation Technology Services

(Revised 10/10)

DRS sponsors

You may use rehabilitation technology services at any time during the case, as necessary, to

Consultation is available from the

See Rehabilitation Technology Resource Center (RTRC) for guidance on the services available. For services specific to consumers who work on farms or ranches, see Texas AgrAbility Project guidance.

11.1.3 Rehabilitation Engineering Services

(Revised 02/11)

Only licensed professional engineers may provide rehabilitation engineering services. Consider using an engineer's services when the service includes design or modification of a product.

Before you commit DRS funds, it is important to reach an understanding with the provider about price and delivery. For rehabilitation engineering services provided before plan development, use the following specification levels:

Level 1—Evaluation Services
Level 2—Other Evaluation Services
Level 3—Other Evaluation Services
Level 4—Other Evaluation Services.

Consult with the PSRT for

11.1.4 Assistive Technology Services

(Revised 02/11)

Professionals other than rehabilitation engineers may provide assistive technology services.

11.1.5 The Consumer's Participation in the Cost of Services

Rehabilitation technology services are subject to the policies in Chapter 4: Assessing and Planning, 4.6 Consumer Participation in Cost of Services.

11.1.6 Using Comparable Services and Benefits

*Although not mandated by law, use readily available comparable services and benefits before you use DRS funds, unless doing so would delay needed services.*

*Based on 34 CFR Section 361.53(b)(5)

11.2 Vehicle Modification and Services

(Revised 07/16)

Key Terms

Several key terms used throughout this chapter are listed below. For additional terms related to vehicle modification, refer to DRS Standards for Providers, Chapter 4, Standards for Vehicle Modification, 4.1.4 Definitions.

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS)—Specially trained people who can conduct evaluations of consumers' physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities to drive and who can determine what, if any, adaptive equipment would be necessary for a consumer to drive or travel in a vehicle safely.

Driver Training— Training that helps to determine a consumer's mobility prescription, and, if necessary, teach the consumer how to use the prescribed adaptive equipment in his or her vehicle.

Vehicle Modification—A mechanical or structural alteration of a passenger car or other motor vehicle that permits a person with a disability to safely drive the vehicle with adaptations or equipment.

11.2.1 Overview

Vehicle modification services can enable consumers to achieve employment outcomes by removing barriers to transportation with the use of a personal vehicle. The vehicle modification process includes evaluation, training, and installation of modifications. Given the length of time required for each of these steps, vehicle modification services can take up to 12 months and should be addressed as early in the rehabilitation process as possible. This chapter provides direction for assisting eligible consumers with purchasing and processing vehicle modifications services.

Note: You may authorize purchasing hand controls if an assessment to determine eligibility for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services is necessary. All other vehicle modification and related supports cannot be considered until you have determined the consumer eligible for VR services.

The Counselor's Role in Vehicle Modification

The consumer should not purchase a vehicle before getting authorization from the counselor.

Your role in vehicle modification is to:

DRS Requirements for Vehicle Modification

Some vehicles cannot be modified to meet DRS technical requirements. You and the consumer should begin planning for the vehicle modification process before buying the vehicle.

All modifications must meet the requirements outlined in DRS Standards for Providers, Chapter 4, Standards for Vehicle Modification. Contact the program specialist for rehabilitation technology (PSRT) for information about whether the equipment or modifications meet these technical specifications.

11.2.2 Purchasing a Modified Vehicle or Vehicle for Modification

Vehicle modifications are considered only after every other transportation option has been explored and only after it has been determined that provision of an accessible vehicle is the most cost efficient and appropriate approach for the consumer.

Help the consumer purchase a modified vehicle or vehicle for modification only when it is necessary in order for the consumer to participate in other planned services, such as vocational training and job-related services, or for employment. Plan carefully whenever you consider offering this assistance.

The primary objective of this vehicle purchasing assistance is to defray initial costs the consumer must pay to take possession of the vehicle to be modified, such as the

Criteria for Assistance

Consider offering assistance with a vehicle purchase only when all the following conditions are met.

As a result of the disability, the consumer requires a modified vehicle, and accessible transportation is not otherwise available.

No comparable services or benefits are available to meet this consumer's transportation needs.

Relocation to an area with accessible transportation is not feasible.

The consumer has enough income, or the planned employment goal will result in enough income, to cover future payments, insurance premiums, gasoline, and routine maintenance costs.

The justification for the purchase of any vehicle purchase or modifications must be documented in a case note. All vehicle modifications purchased after eligibility (any modification services except hand controls), must be included as a planned service in the consumer's Individualized Plan for Employment.

Vehicle modifications can range from under $1,000 for simple hand controls to many thousands of dollars for van conversions with complex driving systems. Deciding that vehicle modification is reasonable and necessary requires you to carefully consider numerous factors, including at least the following, as documented in the consumer's case notes.

Available transportation alternatives

If community transportation is available, then explain why community transportation is unable to meet employment needs.

If community transportation is not available, analyze options for relocating to where transportation is available.

Compare the cost of modifications to the cost of community transportation. Purchase and installation of hand controls in a consumer's vehicle may be more cost effective than community transportation.

Consider equipping the vehicle for the consumer as a passenger when a driver is readily available or when it is cost effective for the consumer to arrange for a driver.

The more costly the modification, the less cost effective it is over community transportation.

The effect of vehicle selection on the cost of modification

Over the life of the vehicle, minivans may be more cost effective to operate than full sized vans. 

Minivans are more costly to modify than full sized vans because of the cost of the dropped floor.

The cost of the modification

Consider the life of equipment-maintenance costs and the consumer's ability to maintain both the vehicle and the installed adaptive equipment. Get estimated lifetime maintenance costs from the modification provider.

The more costly the modification, the more critical consumer stability is. You must be able to anticipate that a consumer with a progressive disability will be able to drive, without major changes, over the life of the equipment.

The more costly the modification, the longer the consumer should expect to drive the vehicle to obtain maximum value.

The complexity of the modification

The more complex the modification, the more critical it is that the consumer properly maintain the equipment in accordance with manufacturer's instructions so that the warranty remains valid.

In addition, complex modifications mean more frequent breakdowns. Evaluate how this will affect employment.

Approval and Assistance Cap

All vehicle modifications that cost more than $2,500 require the area manager's approval.

DRS assistance with the initial purchase of a vehicle is a maximum of $4,000, based on demonstrated financial need. Payment is in the form of a warrant payable to the consumer, which the consumer signs over to the vehicle dealer.

Payment Procedure

All payments are made directly to the consumer in a warrant mailed to the field office.

A DARS staff member should hand-deliver the warrant to the consumer at the vehicle-dealer's location and witness the consumer signing over the warrant to the dealer as the vehicle down payment.

11.2.3 Van Modifications, Lowered-Floor Minivans, and Limitations on Vehicle Modification Services

Van Modifications

Vehicle modification may range from a minor modification to a passenger car, such as installing hand controls, to modifying a van in order to:

Van modification is:

Lowered-Floor Minivans

Not all new minivans are suitable for lowered-floor conversions. Manufacturers' standard electronic configurations are often not compatible with lowered-floor conversions. Because of this, manufacturers offer lowered-floor vans which are universally accessible vehicles that have been manufactured specifically for the mobility industry. A vehicle such as a lowered-floor conversion would not ordinarily be readily available from traditional automobile dealerships. However, mobility providers are located around the state and specialize in this type of vehicle. Refer to the TTI-DARS website for information about provider locations.

You should strongly encourage consumers to purchase such a converted or lowered-floor vehicle whenever possible, and DRS is permitted to for the conversion cost on an already converted vehicle.

If a converted vehicle is not available, and since a lowered floor is a major structural modification, DRS authorizes this modification only on new vehicles, or on some used or pre-owned vehicles that:

Note: Consumers or their representatives should not purchase vehicles to be modified until the counselor and area manager approve of the purchase.

Limitations on Vehicle Modification Services

DRS does not sponsor modification or purchase equipment available from the vehicle manufacturer or dealer:

Examples of items that DRS does not sponsor are air-conditioners, automatic transmissions, power steering, power windows, power brakes, navigation systems, side-assist monitors, and back-up cameras.

Carefully weigh the specific modification against:

See Functional Considerations for Modifications for examples.

11.2.4 Evaluating the Driver

Whenever possible, use the services of a certified driving rehabilitation specialist (CDRS).

The consumer must complete driver training with the appropriate equipment if the consumer has

The consumer must have a valid driver's license with appropriate restrictions before a vehicle modification begins.

In some circumstances, however, the consumer may not have a driver's license and cannot obtain one until the modified vehicle is available. If you have reasonable assurance that the consumer can operate a modified vehicle safely, an instruction permit (valid for one year) may suffice. In this case, complete only those modifications that will allow the consumer to take the DPS driving test. Complete the remaining modifications after the consumer has a driver's license.

11.2.5 Evaluating Used or Pre-Owned Vehicles

You and the consumer must consider first the purchase of a reliable used or pre-owned vehicle, including a used vehicle which has already been modified. In addition to the steps below, verify all applicable items such as the vehicle's reliability and serviceability, age, mileage, and insurance coverage.

Whenever necessary, have a certified mechanic independent of the modifier evaluate any used (pre-owned) vehicle before it is modified.

A certified mechanic must evaluate the vehicle to ensure the sound mechanical condition of all major components when

DRS may pay for the cost of the evaluation (see DARS3494, Mechanic's Evaluation - Used Vehicle).

Salvaged vehicles are not accepted for any type of modifications.

11.2.6 Reviewing the Modification Plan before the Vehicle Is Purchased

(Revised 10/10)

Before the consumer purchases a vehicle, you must request a pricing review of the plan for modifications that cost more than $1,500 with Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).

Ensure that

Reviews by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and/or the program specialist for rehabilitation technology (PSRT) before you purchase a modification can provide you and the consumer valuable information about the proposed modification.

Submit all modifications under $1,500 to TTI for pricing review through the TTI-DRS website at no cost. For reviews over $1,500, the TTI review addresses whether the

TTI follows up by email to resolve issues and to give confirmation to proceed with the modifications. TTI reviews that are submitted electronically through the TTI-DRS website are immediately acknowledged by TTI via email to the person or counselor submitting the review. The process can take up to 10 working days after receipt of all appropriate documents submitted electronically through the TTI-DRS website. TTI addresses pricing issues with the providers and sends the corrected form to the person submitting the DARS3408.

Before issuing the modification service authorization, refer to the

11.2.7 Obtaining the Modification Proposal

You and the consumer together select an approved service provider. Give the consumer a list of approved service providers in the consumer's geographical area. If the consumer has no preference, consult the management support specialist (MSS) before selecting a service provider.

At no cost to DRS, the mobility provider prepares a proposal for the modification using DARS3408, Vehicle Modification Evaluation. Before completing and or submitting the proposal, the service provider must confer with the consumer to obtain pertinent information from the consumer, (that is, the type of mobility required, the consumer's weight and height while in or on the mobility device) as well as getting to know the consumer and review the technology that will be installed in the vehicle. The mobility provider must meet with the consumer before completing the DARS3408.

After you receive the proposal, decide with the consumer which modifications are reasonable and necessary for achieving the planned employment goal. Consult with the subject matter expert or certified driving rehabilitation as needed.

After the receipt of the proposal and completion review by Texas Technology Institute, a service authorization must be issued before the mobility provider begins the vehicle modification process.

11.2.8 Determining the Required Documentation for Modifications

(Revised 10/10)

The DARS3417, Vehicle Modification, Express Waiver of Right to DRS Equipment, requests that the lien holder expressly disclaim, in writing, any interest in the installed equipment. If you must make minor changes in the agreement, consult DARS Legal Services.

If the lien holder agrees and later reclaims the vehicle for any reason, DRS may

If the lien holder will not sign the disclaimer, contact the program specialist for rehabilitation technology or the subject matter expert for guidance.

Provide a copy of the DARS3417 to the consumer and to the mobility provider for them to sign and return.

11.2.9 Completing Inspections of the Modified Vehicle

(Revised 06/09 , 10/10, 02/11)

The DRS subject matter expert must inspect all vehicle modifications that cost less than $9,000

Place a completed copy of DARS3474, Vehicle Modification Acceptance, in the case file and give a copy to the consumer.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) of the Texas A&M University System must inspect all modifications that cost more than $9,000. TTI may inspect a modification that costs less than $9,000 at the counselor's request.

Exception: Minivan conversions that lower the floor for passenger use only do not require TTI inspection.

For each modification inspection,

11.2.10 Insuring the Vehicle

When DRS provides vehicle modification services, the consumer must obtain, at the consumer's expense, insurance that covers the replacement cost of the sponsored modifications. The consumer is required to carry full comprehensive coverage on the vehicle and adaptive equipment, or to have a rider on the equipment and technology itself.

Obtain and file a copy of

11.2.11 Helping the Consumer with Payments for a Modified Vehicle

DRS may help make the consumer's vehicle payments on modified vehicles, up to the full monthly payment for up to six consecutive months. Provide this assistance only when

All payments are made directly to the consumer.

The area manager and regional director must approve vehicle payment assistance before it is included on an individual plan for employment (IPE) or IPE amendment for the consumer to sign.

11.2.12 Purchasing Equipment and Modification Repairs

You may sponsor repairs to adaptive equipment and vehicle modifications.

You may sponsor repairs to vehicles in certain circumstances. See Chapter 13: Supplementary Services, 13.3.7 Vehicle Repair for additional information.

To sponsor equipment repairs,

  1. obtain a price quote;
  2. submit a repair pricing review electronically to Texas Technology Institute (TTI) (see the TTI-DARS site);
  3. obtain area manager approval if the repairs are more than $2,500, as estimated by the returned TTI pricing review;
  4. ensure the safety of the modification (for example, provision of tie-downs); and
  5. issue a service authorization to a service provider on the list of approved providers and authorized by the manufacturer to repair the equipment.

Upon completion of the repair work or modifications, the subject matter expert (SME) must inspect the work before the vehicle is released to the consumer. The SME inspecting the vehicle must review the driver's evaluation recommendations before releasing the vehicle and be sure that additional behind-the-wheel training is not recommended. If additional driver training is recommended, do not release the vehicle. Contact the driver's trainer to arrange for the additional behind-the-wheel training before releasing the vehicle to the consumer.

Note: DRS does not reclaim equipment that is broken, outdated, or no longer under warranty. If in doubt, contact the program specialist for rehabilitation technology.

Refer to the Check List for Vehicle Modification to ensure that you completed all required steps for sponsoring a vehicle modification.

If DRS participated in the cost of the vehicle modifications and a consumer's vehicle is involved in a collision, or in the event of a consumer's death, follow the steps as indicated in the Check List for Vehicle Modification.

11.3 Job-Site and Home Modification Services

11.3.1 Overview

Provide a job-site or home modification when changes to a consumer's physical environment are needed for the consumer to perform

The process begins with a full assessment of needs, followed by consideration of accommodation alternatives, including the need for consumer training and/or education regarding the use of rehabilitation technology.

Informed consumer choice in meeting technology needs involves considering

11.3.2 Obtaining an Assessment of the Job Site or Home

(Revised 10/10)

Before changing the consumer's job site or home, purchase an assessment from a licensed occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist (PT), or professional engineer (PE) specializing in assistive technology. Assessment services identify options that will allow the consumer to

For assessments specific to farm or ranch employment, consider purchasing services from the Texas AgrAbility Project

Procedure for Obtaining an Assessment

(Revised 10/10)

Use the following procedure to obtain the assessment of potential modifications to the consumer's job site or home.

  1. as needed, review information in
  2. complete
  3. negotiate rates using the following guidelines:
    • for OT and PT services, negotiate a rate for assessment consistent with MAPS;
    • for PE services, negotiate a rate consistent with prevailing community rates and include travel costs as necessary; and
  4. pay upon receipt of assessment report, which is usually provided within 10 days of service.

If applicable, ensure that the consumer signs the release on DARS3394, with a copy to you, specifying what consumer information the OT, PT, or PE may provide to the employer.

For services provided by the Texas AgrAbility Project, follow procedures described in the related guidance.

Exceptions to Obtaining an Assessment

The area manager may grant an exception to the requirement to have an OT, PT, or PE assessment of the job-site or home modification when

11.3.3 Approvals and Other Requirements for Job-Site or Home Modifications

Before committing to job-site or home modification on the IPE, you must ensure you meet the following requirements.

Service

Approvals

Other Requirements

Job-site modification

All job-site modifications require area manager approval.

DRS-sponsored modifications are limited to adding items or equipment that can be removed without permanent damage to the employer's property should the consumer terminate employment, change job assignments, etc.

Before considering DRS sponsorship, review the employer's responsibility under the ADA.

If help is needed in assessing the nature and extent of planned modification, contact the PSRT.

Home modification

All home modifications costing more than $1,000 require area manager approval and documentation in the case folder.

Adaptive equipment may require installation, but usually does not result in permanent structural changes. Household equipment may be specially designed, selected, or altered to enable the consumer to perform homemaker duties despite his or her functional limitations.

Modifications are limited to equipment that can be removed from the residence without permanent damage to the property should the consumer move, fail to cooperate in achieving the planned objective, etc.

11.3.4 Procedure for Purchasing a Job-Site Modification

Use the following procedure when purchasing a modification to the consumer's job-site.

Service Description

Procedure

The services includes

  • evaluating the worksite to design or re-design a workstation in order to prevent injury or re-injury;
  • providing training in ergonomic positioning and movement; and
  • recommending technology, furniture, or positioning that prevents injury or improves functioning at work.
  1. consult with the Central Office PSRT as needed.

If the modification costs more than $700

  1. obtain from the employer a written agreement using the format and language in DARS3404, Employer Job Site Modification Agreement, before beginning the modification.

If the modification costs more than $1,000

  1. purchase a lien examination service from either a title insurance company or other source such as a law office; and
  2. if no lien is found, file a copy of the results in the case file.

If there is a lien,

  1. provide a copy of the DRS-employer agreement to the lien holder; and
  2. request that the lien holder expressly disclaim in writing any interest in the equipment installed at the job site by DRS using DARS3426, Residence or Job Site Modification, Express Waiver of Right to DRS Equipment.

If the lien holder will not sign the disclaimer,

  1. contact DARS Legal Services through the chain of command for guidance.

When circumstances require minor changes in the agreement, contact Legal Services for guidance.

Provide one copy of DARS3404, Employer Job Site Modification Agreement to the employer.

File the original DARS3404 in the case file.

11.3.5 Procedure for Purchasing a Home Modification

Use the following procedure when purchasing a modification to the consumer's home.

Service Description

Procedure

Creating or enhancing access to the house or apartment, or making residential features more accessible (that is, those features critical to participation in job preparation services or necessary for the consumer's employment).

May include construction of ramps, adaptive equipment such as stair glides and lifts, and household equipment.

  1. consult with the Central Office PSRT as needed to ensure that the most practical modification equipment is used; and
  2. when equipment such as a porch or ramp is attached (for example, bolted or nailed) to the property, obtain a written agreement using the format and language in DARS3403, Consumer Residence Modification Agreement, from the property owner.

If the modification costs more than $700

  1. clearly justify that the modification supports the consumer's planned employment outcome.

If the modification costs more than $1,000

  1. obtain the area manager's approval; and
  2. purchase a lien examination from either a title insurance company or other source such as a law office.

If there is a lien,

  1. provide a copy of DARS3403 to the lien holder, and request that the lien holder expressly disclaim in writing any interest in the equipment installed in the residence or job site by DRS using DARS3426, Residence or Job Site Modification, Express Waiver of Right to DRS Equipment.

If the lien holder will not sign the disclaimer,

  1. contact DARS Legal Services for guidance.

When circumstances require minor changes in the agreement, contact Legal Services for guidance whether the property is owned by the consumer or another person.

Provide one copy of DARS3403 to the property owner. Keep the original DARS3403 in the case file.

11.4 Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP)

The DARS Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) operate the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) for people whose disabilities interfere with their ability to effectively access the telephone network.

Through the STAP program, DHHS provides qualified people who have disabilities with a voucher to purchase basic specialized telecommunications equipment. For a list of the program's acceptable telecommunication devices and the value of the voucher for each device, see DHHS Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) Web page.

People who have disabilities and who have not used a DHHS STAP voucher in the past five years may apply for help through DHHS.

DHHS does not purchase the device for the consumer. The consumer pays all costs above the STAP voucher amount.

For a STAP application, contact one of the following:

When submitting the application, include a copy of a valid proof of residency as listed on the application.

You may certify the consumer's STAP application on the basis of disability and program criteria. You should verify the consumer's identification information, ensuring that the Social Security number is listed and the proof of residency is documented before you sign the application.

Mail the completed application with confirmation of identity and proof of residency to

DHHS STAP
P.O. Box 12607
Austin, Texas 78711

DHHS does not accept applications by fax or email.

Once DHHS approves the application,

For a list of registered vendors, see Registered Vendors (PUC).

For questions concerning STAP, contact DHHS at