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 1: Protection of Legal Rights

1.1 Introduction

The guidelines and procedures in this section are to serve as general policy. Specific legal questions not covered herein may be referred to the director of blind services through appropriate supervisory channels.

1.2 Basic Rights

Applicants for and individuals receiving services provided by the Division for Blind Services are afforded certain basic rights, which include:

  1. The right to be informed in writing of their rights;
  2. The right to services that are nondiscriminatory;
  3. The right to protection of personal information contained in the division's records, and
  4. The right to appeal decisions regarding their planned services or their eligibility for such services.

1.2.1 Notification of Rights

Applicant and consumer rights applicable to each division program are summarized in a brochure entitled "Vocational Rehabilitation Appeal Procedures - Can We Talk?" A copy of the brochure is to be provided, at a minimum:

A more detailed description of the appeals process is also available upon request and is routinely sent when an appeal is filed.

1.3 Nondiscrimination Policy

The Division for Blind Services administers its programs in such a manner that no person in Texas will be denied services on the basis of age, gender, race, color, creed, or national origin.

1.3.1 Section 504 Compliance

The Division for Blind Services administers its programs in such a manner that no person in Texas, who is otherwise qualified, will be denied services on the basis of disability.

1.4 Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information

(Revised 10/06)

See DARS Business Procedures Manual Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information.

1.4.1 Confidentiality of HIV Status

(Added 07/08, revised 02/13)

You can file a medical report that includes HIV status information in the case file. However, you are bound to safeguard the confidentiality of a consumer's HIV status at all times and from any source.

Do not share HIV status information with anyone without a signed release (DARS1517-2, Authorization for Release of Confidential Consumer Records and Information or DARS5061, Notice and Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information) that makes specific reference to HIV status. If you do not have a signed release, a doctor or the consumer will have to provide HIV status information to all other parties.

Make no reference to HIV status in any case note.

1.5 Release of Information for Research Purposes

(Revised 10/06)

See DARS Business Procedures Manual Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information, 20.24 Release to an Individual or Organization for Audit, Research, or Evaluation.

Reporting Allegations of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

(Revised 05/08, 07/13)

1.6.1 Documenting the Report

See the Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 36: Incident Reporting, 36.7.3 Allegations of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation for information on

1.6.2 Consumer Records

(Revised 05/15)

For information on policy when a consumer's record is requested for a case of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, see DARS Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20.21: Release in Certain Investigative and Emergency Circumstances..

1.6.3 Reporting in a Facility

(Revised 05/15)

For consumers residing in a facility, the incident is reported to the authority having responsibility for the facility. See the Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 36: Incident Reporting, 36.7.3 Allegations of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation for guidance on responsible authorities for DARS facilities.

1.6.4 Confidentiality

(Revised 10/06)

See DARS Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information.

1.7 Responding to Subpoenas for Consumer Records

(Revised 10/06)

See DARS Business Procedures Manual Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information, 20.25 Release of Consumer Records Pursuant to a Subpoena.

1.8 Preparing Consumer Records for Release

(Revised 10/06)

See DARS Business Procedures Manual Chapter 20: Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Records and Information.

1.9 VR and ILS-OIB Right of Appeal and Hearing Procedure

(Revised 11/08)

1.9.1 Overview

The Division for Blind Services aims, within policy and fiscal constraints, for consumer satisfaction in providing vocational rehabilitation (VR) and Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind (ILS-OIB). In situations where an issue is not resolved after discussion between the applicant or consumer and the counselor, an appeal process is available to provide an applicant or consumer an opportunity to remedy any dissatisfaction with respect to

1.9.2 Notification of Applicant and Consumer Rights and the Appeal Procedures

(Revised 10/06)

An applicant and/or a consumer must be informed of his or her rights and of the DARS appeal procedures in a timely manner.

The pamphlet, "Vocational Rehabilitation Appeal Procedures – Can We Talk?" is provided to applicants and consumers

Note: You must document in the case file (on a form such as the VR or ILS-OIB Application, IPE or ILS-OIB Plan, letter, or in a case note) any time you provide "Vocational Rehabilitation Appeal Procedures - Can We Talk?" to an applicant or a consumer.

1.9.3 Applicant and Consumer Review Options

An applicant or a consumer may request a formal hearing and/or mediation.

1.9.4 Appeals and Hearings Policy for VR and ILS-OIB

See DARS Business Procedures Manual, Chapter 21: Common DARS Consumer Service Policies, 21.2 Appeals and Hearings.

1.10 Consumer Assistance Number

(Revised 11/08)

Applicants and consumers may call the DARS toll-free Consumer Assistance Line (1-800-628-5115) or the Client Assistance Program (1-800-252-9108) for more information about their rights.