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 14: Employment Assistance

14.1 Overview

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.1.1 Definition

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.1.2 Philosophy

(Revised 09/10)

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".

14.1.3 Employment

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.1.4 Strategy

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.1.5 Purpose of Employment Assistance

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.2 Responsibilities of the Counselor

14.2.1 Introduction

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.2.2 Specific Responsibilities

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.3 Role of the Employment Assistance Specialists in the Rehabilitation Process

14.3.1 Introduction

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.3.2 Goals

(Revised 09/10)

The principal goal of the EAS is to enhance the quantity of and, more importantly the quality of, employment for consumers of DBS.

14.3.3 Activities

(Revised 09/10)

In order to achieve that goal, the EAS staff provides the following services.

Business Contacts

The EAS staff contacts corporate and administrative level personnel to increase awareness and support communication linkages between potential employers and rehabilitation counselors.

Assistive Technology

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.

Information Sharing

EAS staff members share current occupational or vocational information with the division staff, consumers, and businesses as appropriate.

Training

EAS staff members present at in-service training programs for staff and businesses that cover

  • the employment assistance process,
  • applications and implementation of rehabilitation engineering,
  • the use of vocational information, and
  • other information about employment of people who are blind or visually impaired.

14.3.4 Procedures for Borrowing Loaner Equipment

(Revised 09/10)

Temporary Loan Equipment

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.

  1. The VR counselor contacts the person who is responsible for equipment in the region.
  2. If available, the equipment is sent to the VR counselor.
  3. DARS2164-1, Temporary Loan and Receipt of Equipment is completed by the person who is designated by the field director, and signed by VR counselor or EAS Specialist.
  4. The Original DARS2164-1 must be retained by the designated person in the field office (one copy is put in the case folder and one copy is given to the consumer).
  5. All equipment must be returned to the field office by the due date on the DARS2164-1 (unless the field director or designee approves an extension). If extended, the new date is entered on the DARS2164-1 and initialed by the counselor on the case folder copy and by the field director or designee on the original form.
  6. The field director or designee completes the release portion of the DARS2164-1.

14.4 Referral to an Employment Assistance Specialist (EAS)

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.5 Job Readiness Criteria

14.5.1 Introduction

(Revised 09/10)

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

14.5.2 What Does Job Readiness Involve?

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.5.3 Components of Assessment

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.5.4 Purpose

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.5.5 Job Readiness Criteria

(Revised 09/10)

Job readiness criteria include, but are not limited to

14.6 Employment Assistance Process—Overview

14.6.1 Background

(Revised 09/10)

DBS has experienced success with employment outcomes for consumers who are blind or visually impaired as a result of the following:

14.6.2 Staff Training

(Revised 09/10)

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.

14.7 Employment Assistance Process—Business

(Revised 09/10)

14.7.1 Building an Account with a Business

(Revised 10/09, 09/10)

Identification of an Account (Pre-Approach)

Before approaching a business, the counselor takes the following steps to prepare:

  1. Counselor evaluates his or her caseload to identify the kind of jobs that would be appropriate for consumers.
  2. Counselor identifies businesses with jobs that are compatible with the employment needs of consumers. Resources to help identify an account include
    • Internet research,
    • business annual reports,
    • local Chambers of Commerce,
    • Texas Workforce Commission,
    • business development database,
    • the telephone book (yellow pages),
    • VR professional or community networks, and
    • personal and professional networks of the job seeker.

Business Contact

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:

  • Counselor establishes accounts through personal contact with businesses in the community.
  • Counselor identifies appropriate contacts while researching potential accounts.
  • Counselor contacts individuals who have the power to make hiring decisions in a particular company.

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

  • the business’s attitude (or potential to change current attitude) related to blindness, ability to work, and support services available from the agency; and
  • the appropriateness of the work setting, and what type of modification might be needed for the types of jobs that exist in the company.

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.

Job Analysis

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

  • determining the purpose of the job,
  • identifying and analyzing the job tasks,
  • determining the qualifications or skills necessary to perform each job task,
  • evaluating the job environment, and
  • determining if rehabilitation engineering is necessary.

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.

Rehabilitation Engineering

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

  • restructuring a job so that the consumer can perform each individual task,
  • job modification by altering the work site to permit the consumer to execute the tasks in a safe and productive fashion, or
  • identifying an appropriate assistive device or technology that allows a consumer to overcome a barrier.

Note: A combination of these approaches may be necessary to overcome a job barrier.

14.8 Employment Assistance Process—The Job Applicant

(Revised 09/10)

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

  • an eye examination,
  • a general physical,
  • a psychological evaluation,
  • a vocational evaluation,
  • an evaluation from a rehabilitation teacher,
  • a counselor’s observations or evaluation, and
  • a trial work experience.

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

  • basic skills,
  • job-specific skills,
  • credentials,
  • experience,
  • career and self-awareness,
  • job-seeking skills,
  • independent living skills,
  • personal adjustment,
  • resources and support systems, and
  • the consumer's knowledge of assistive devices.

Additional Resources

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.

  • O*Net online,
  • American Foundation for the Blind Career Connect ,
  • What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles,
  • The Complete Job Search Handbook by Howard Figler,
  • The Self-Directed Search by John L. Holland,
  • Who's Hiring Who by Richard Lathrop,
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook,
  • labor market information (http://www.tracer2.com
  • occupational information collected by the counselor, and
  • career searches at a local community college.

Delivery of Services

The counselor and consumer plan appropriate and needed services to fulfill job readiness criteria by

  • evaluating career alternatives,
  • selecting an employment goal,
  • determining and delivering training,
  • periodically evaluating the individual plan for employment (IPE), and
  • continuing vocational counseling.

14.9 Employment Assistance Process—Matching a Job Application with a Job

(Revised 09/10)

To match a job applicant with a business, take the following steps.

The Match

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.

Pre-Job Orientation

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

  • evaluating the accessibility of human resource and staff-training procedures,
  • preparing materials in appropriate media,
  • modifying and/or purchasing accessibility-related equipment,
  • getting oriented to the work environment,
  • attending business or peer awareness presentations, and
  • acquiring training for the use of necessary assistive technology equipment.

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.

Follow-Up

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.

14.10 Exhibit A— Business Contact Summary

(Revised 09/10)

DARS1232, Business Relations Worksheet is available, or the counselor may cut and paste the following into a case note.

Business

14.11 Exhibit F—Summary of Employment Assistance Services

(Revised 09/10, 02/13)

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

Administrative Technician

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