Since the creation of vocational rehabilitation in 1920 and through the current Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, employment assistance and follow-up of division consumers have been integral parts of the rehabilitation process. The responsibility for establishing an employment goal and providing the services related to it, including satisfactory employment, is contained in regulations. The regulations also require that vocational rehabilitation programs implement these functions.
Employment assistance includes two basic components:
Employment assistance from the consumer’s point of view includes
The goal is to help the consumer become a qualified applicant for his or her chosen career. Success depends on selectively matching the qualifications of an applicant with the requirements of the business. Such efforts increase the chances that a person who is blind or visually impaired will function successfully on the job. This is a step-by-step approach to employment assistance that addresses the following:
Note: For more information, see 14.11 Exhibit F—Summary of Employment Assistance Services.
The Division for Blind Services (DBS) maintains the philosophy that the rehabilitation process is not complete until a consumer has achieved an employment goal commensurate with his or her abilities, aptitudes, interests, aspirations, and limitations. An employment goal is rarely achieved without a close working relationship with business. The VR staff works with both consumers and businesses (the dual customer) to identify their needs, and then matches the abilities of a consumer with the needs of a business.
All VR staff members are encouraged to read about the dual customer and "one company" approach in working with business as outlined in the 32nd Institute of Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) publication titled "The VR-Business Network: Charting Your Course".
DBS strives to provide vocational rehabilitation services and assistance that enable consumers to realize full, independent, and meaningful lives. For most people, employment provides social acceptance, self-realization, and the ability to meet the materialistic needs and desires dictated by each person's values.
Employment, then, becomes not an end in itself, but a means through which a broader goal is achieved. Work that holds no promise, provides no personal satisfaction, creates frustration, or demands too much or too little of the worker obstructs the attainment of these broader goals and will likely prevent the person from successfully maintaining and progressing in employment.
A successful employment assistance program stresses the delivery of effective employment assistance services and the development of employment resources.
Building and maintaining strong, mutually beneficial relationships with business partners is an important part of this strategy.
Employment assistance begins with the consumer's application for VR services and continues through each step of the rehabilitation process.
The Division for Blind Services asserts that all people in the state of Texas who are blind or visually impaired and need employment assistance may apply for VR services.
DBS is committed to helping find employment consistent with consumers’ aptitudes and interests and developing new areas of employment.
The characteristic that distinguishes the vocational rehabilitation process from other types of counseling is its focus on the realistic achievement of a person’s competitive integrated employment goal. The vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) supervises and coordinates services for all consumers on his or her caseload from referral through employment and follow-up.
The following summarizes the employment assistance responsibilities of the counselor. The degree of consumer participation depends on the consumer's needs, capabilities, and financial resources. The consumer's IPE reflects the mutually agreed-upon delegation of these responsibilities, which include the following.
Note: See Chapter 37: Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher for additional information.
The employment of people who are blind or visually impaired is directly related to the level of awareness in the business community of the skills and abilities of people who are blind in general, the ability of a person who is blind to function in a specific job, and the selection of assistive technology to provide access to essential job tasks.
The principal goal of the EAS is to enhance the quantity of and, more importantly the quality of, employment for consumers of DBS.
In order to achieve that goal, the EAS staff provides the following services.
The EAS staff contacts corporate and administrative level personnel to increase awareness and support communication linkages between potential employers and rehabilitation counselors.
EAS staff members consult with the business, consumer, and counselor about modifying or restructuring a job so that a person who is blind or visually impaired can perform successfully. EAS staff members refer more sophisticated rehabilitation engineering situations to the appropriate resources, and try to identify the appropriate technology to meet the job requirements and enhance the quality of employment for people who are blind.
Note: Consumers can adapt to many situations without using a sophisticated device.
EAS staff members share current occupational or vocational information with the division staff, consumers, and businesses as appropriate.
EAS staff members present at in-service training programs for staff and businesses that cover
The field director, field director's designee, or EAS staff member loans available equipment to VR counselors for temporary use by consumers who are working, actively seeking employment, or in vocational training. The following steps apply to the lending of equipment.
EAS services may be requested by all counselors for any consumer, including people who have multiple disabilities. Referral to EAS is done by creating a service record and delegating the service to EAS.
The counselor should contact the EAS for assistance with the following.
The assessment of job readiness involves both counselor and consumer. The job readiness criteria that follow are intended to help the counselor develop the characteristics necessary for successful employment, which are
The job readiness assessment examines the medical, psychological, educational, and socioeconomic aspects of the consumer and their impact on job readiness, and includes counselor observations.
Throughout each phase of the VR process, the counselor helps the consumer understand the implications of assessments, focuses on the strengths noted in the assessment while minimizing any weaknesses, and helps the consumer understand the relationship between assessment findings and the employment goal.
Job readiness assessments measure the employability of an individual, help define the assets and limitations of the consumer, and are used throughout the entire rehabilitation process. At any point in the rehabilitation process, the criteria can be used to assess whether services are meeting the consumer's needs.
Job readiness criteria include, but are not limited to
Note:Other forms of income such as SSI, SSDI, VA, etc., may affect the consumer's motivation. The VRC should refer the consumer to the benefits planner for information about Medicaid Buy-in, PASS plans, etc.
DBS has experienced success with employment outcomes for consumers who are blind or visually impaired as a result of the following:
Extensive training is provided to enable staff members to effectively partner with consumers who are seeking employment. Efforts will continue to enhance existing training programs and to develop new programs that meet changing needs.
Identification of an Account (Pre-Approach)
Before approaching a business, the counselor takes the following steps to prepare:
All business contacts are documented in the business development database, which is maintained by each field office for use by staff in determining previous contacts, contact person, results of contact, and feasibility of follow-up. Business contacts include the following:
Note: For more information, see 14.10 Exhibit A—Business Contact Summary.
Evaluation of Account Potential
At the conclusion of the business contact, the counselor may reassess the employment potential of the account by considering
Note: If an account appears unproductive, the counselor may choose to identify another account or follow up on the account later. However, productive business relationships result from the VR professional’s marketing skills, good ongoing communication, dependable service delivery, and time. Caution should be exercised in deciding that a VR business relationship is unproductive because the judgment may be premature.
Selling the Concept
The principal objective of the initial business contact is to make a potential employer aware of DBS services, the employment assistance process, and the skills and abilities of workers who are blind or visually impaired. It may take several visits to accomplish this objective.
Identification of a Job
The counselor may identify a job before or after the initial business contact. If there is a time lag between initial contact and the identification of a potential job, the counselor should make interim contact to maintain interest and awareness.
This is the most critical component of the job identification process. Only through job analysis can a counselor validate a good match between applicant and job by
Note: The success of the employment assistance process depends on a thorough job analysis. For more guidance on job analysis, DARS1233-1, Business Development and Job Analysis Worksheet.
During a thorough job analysis, the counselor may identify a potential job barrier that present problems for consumers. At this point, a decision must be made about whether rehabilitation engineering could help eliminate the barrier. (Consulting with an EAS specialist is strongly encouraged.) Rehabilitation engineering includes
Note: A combination of these approaches may be necessary to overcome a job barrier.
The following steps can assist the consumer in reaching his or her employment goal.
Comprehensive Assessment or Diagnostics
Comprehensive assessment or diagnostics are a prerequisite to vocational counseling and may include
Interpretation and Evaluation of Assessments or Diagnostics
After assessment or diagnostic information has been obtained and discussed, the counselor and consumer partner to choose an employment goal that is compatible with the consumer's interests and aptitudes. (For more information, see section 14.5.5 Job Readiness Criteria).
Identification of the Consumer’s Service Needs
The consumer's service needs and capabilities are based on the comprehensive assessments or diagnostics and continued observation. The consumer's functional level determines the scope and nature of the employment assistance services provided. Functional levels include
Consumers are encouraged to use resource books from the Texas State Library during the job search and exploration of career choices. Listed below are additional resources that may be helpful in achieving the consumer's employment goal.
Delivery of Services
The counselor and consumer plan appropriate and needed services to fulfill job readiness criteria by
To match a job applicant with a business, take the following steps.
At this point the consumer is job-ready, and the counselor has developed productive relationships with businesses that offer jobs appropriate to the consumer’s needs. It is the counselor’s responsibility to work with a consumer to match him or her to an appropriate job.
When a successful match has been made, the counselor and the consumer must identify any specific pre-job orientation needs. Examples of pre-job needs include
Note: A thorough analysis of a consumer's pre-job needs and acquiring necessary services will minimize the stress of a new job and maximize the chances of success.
Initiation of the Job
The first day on the job is critical because details and issues may arise that were not identified before the start of work. The counselor's presence may be needed so that problems can be addressed and resolved immediately.
The majority of job failures result from poor follow-up. The counselor must inform the business and the consumer that assistance is available upon request. In addition, the counselor should contact the business and consumer periodically so that any problems that arise can be quickly resolved.
DARS1232, Business Relations Worksheet is available, or the counselor may cut and paste the following into a case note.
Employment assistance services include planning and providing services that prepare consumers for work, obtaining competitive integrated employment, and maintaining employment in partnership with DBS counselors and consumers. The following services are available through the Austin-based Employment Assistance Unit and regionally-based employment assistance specialist:
The Employment Assistance Unit also includes the employment assistance field specialist, administrative technician, technical support specialists, technical support technician, and technical support clerk.
Employment Assistance Field Specialist
The employment assistance field specialist
The administrative technician
Assistive Technology Unit
The Assistive Technology Unit
Assistive Technology Support Specialist (accessed through EAS)
The assistive technology support specialist
Technical Support Technician (accessed through EAS)
The technical support technician