How can vocational rehabilitation services help students with disabilities with their career goals?

Date Updated

All U.S. states have Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR or VR) offices, which offer services intended to help some people with disabilities gain the skills and qualifications to enter or reenter the workforce. Anthony R. Candela, who is with California's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, elaborates on how students can benefit from vocational rehabilitation (VR) services:

"Vocational Rehabilitation services can offer a great deal to students with disabilities to help them explore, choose, prepare for, and enter a career. First, many VR services are available to high school students to help them transition from school to higher education, work, and independent living. Generally, state VR agencies do not provide a great deal of service to students until they are about to enter college, but there are several examples around the country of agencies providing summer work experiences, basic adjustment skills training, and precollege preparation programs.

"Many private agencies contract with VR to provide career exploration and work-readiness services-all to prepare students to choose suitable careers and to get ready for job training. College, if one chooses an appropriate course of study, is an excellent form of career preparation.

College students can request assistance from VR to secure summer jobs or, in the case of on-campus employment, to provide technical support so a student with a disability can perform the duties of the on-campus or work-study job. VR assists qualified students with job placement services after graduation. These services typically begin during the student's final semester so they can take full advantage of on-campus recruitment opportunities. Finally, VR may provide assistive technology and related training during and after school to make it possible for students with disabilities to compete on an equal footing with their nondisabled peers."

VR services, which vary by state, may include specialized independent living skills training, financial aid for college or vocational school, job hunt skills training, and even placement services. Job Accommodation Network maintains a list of state Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies.