About ED OFFICES


OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
   Current Section
RSA

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About RSA

  1. What programs exist to help people with disabilities become employed?

  2. Who is eligible for the vocational rehabilitation program?

  3. If I am eligible for the vocational rehabilitation program, do I automatically receive services?

  4. How do I apply for services?

  5. What services can the vocational rehabilitation program provide?

  6. Are there grants or scholarships available for people with disabilities who want to go to college?

  7. What can the vocational rehabilitation program do to help people with disabilities start their own businesses?

  8. Where can I get more information on how the vocational rehabilitation program can work with me to start my own business?

  9. How do I contact the vocational rehabilitation agency in my state?

  10. How successful is the vocational rehabilitation program?

  11. If I am not satisfied with my experience with the vocational rehabilitation program, what can I do?

  12. I am a student looking for financial assistance to help me become a rehabilitation professional. Do you have a scholarship program that can help me?

  13. Can you direct me to information on training grant opportunities?

  14. I am a rehabilitation professional and would like information on continuing education opportunities. Can you lead me to an appropriate resource?

  15. I work in a state vocational rehabilitation agency. I am not clear on the requirements referred to as the "CSPD" requirements relating to staff qualifications. Do you have any resources that can assist me?

  16. What programs are available to help individuals with disabilities get assistive technology devices and services?
dotted line
  1. What programs exist to help people with disabilities become employed?

    While several programs exist to assist individuals with disabilities to become employed, the primary one overseen by the Department of Education is the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program. Under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act), states receive federal grants to operate a comprehensive VR program. These funds are awarded to designated state VR agencies within each state. This state-operated program is designed to assess, plan, develop and provide VR services to eligible individuals with disabilities, consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice. By providing services in this way, the VR program enables individuals with disabilities to prepare for and engage in employment.

    Top

  2. Who is eligible for the vocational rehabilitation program?

    According to section 102(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended (Act), in order to be eligible for VR services, an individual must:

    • Be an "individual with a disability," meaning a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment for the individual; and (2) can benefit from VR services to achieve an employment outcome.

    • Require VR services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment.

    Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are presumed to be eligible for VR services leading to employment, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that they are too significantly disabled to benefit from VR services.

    Top

  3. If I am eligible for the vocational rehabilitation program, do I automatically receive services?

    Not all individuals who are eligible will receive VR services. The Act requires the VR program to serve individuals with the most significant disabilities first when there are not enough resources to serve everyone who is eligible for VR services. This means that individuals with the most significant disabilities are given a priority over those with less significant disabilities. This process is called an "order of selection."

    Top

  4. How do I apply for services?

    To apply for services, an individual may submit a written application. An individual will be considered to have "submitted an application" when he/she "requests" VR services and provides sufficient information for the VR agency to determine eligibility. Eligibility is to be determined within 60 days of application unless the VR counselor and individual agree to an extension.

    Top

  5. What services can the vocational rehabilitation program provide?

    According to Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act), VR services are those services that an eligible individual may need in order to achieve his/her employment outcome. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • an assessment for determining eligibility and VR needs;

    • vocational counseling, guidance and referral services;

    • physical and mental restoration services;

    • vocational and other training, including on-the-job training;

    • maintenance for additional costs incurred while the individual is receiving certain VR services;

    • transportation related to other VR services;

    • interpreter services for individuals who are deaf;

    • reader services for individuals who are blind;

    • services to assist students with disabilities to transition from school to work;

    • personal assistance services (including training in managing, supervising and directing personal assistance services) while an individual is receiving VR services;

    • rehabilitation technology services and devices;

    • supported employment services; and

    • job placement services.

    Top

  6. Are there grants or scholarships available for people with disabilities who want to go to college?

    Policies for providing financial assistance to persons with disabilities who are attending school vary among state VR agencies, depending in part on the resources available to the state VR agency. In many cases, even the most generous of financial assistance provided by VR agencies will not cover all of a student's expected expenses, leaving a need for additional family contributions or loans.

    There are publications available that enumerate the types of financial assistance for individuals with disabilities. One is the booklet "Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities." It provides an overview of a variety of financial aid resources. Students with disabilities must apply for federal financial assistance from the same financial aid programs available to all students. To receive a copy of this publication or for more information, contact:

    Address:
    The George Washington University
    HEATH Resource Center
    2121 K Street, NW, Suite 220
    Washington, DC 20037

    Telephone:
    (202) 973-0904
    (800) 544-3284
    (202) 973-0904 (TTY)

    Fax:
    (202) 973-0908

    E-mail:
    askheath@heath.gwu.edu

    Web site:
    http://www.heath.gwu.edu/

    For more information on financial aid in general, contact:

    Address:
    Federal Student Information Center
    Box 84
    Washington, DC 20044

    Telephone:
    (800) 433-3243
    (800) 730-8913 (TTY)

    Web site:
    http://studentaid.ed.gov

    Top

  7. What can the vocational rehabilitation program do to help people with disabilities start their own businesses?

    While self-employment has always been a permissible employment outcome under the Rehabilitation Act, as amended (Act), two recent reports, one by the Twenty-Fourth Institute on Rehabilitation Issues (1998) and the other by the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities (November 15, 1998), concluded that self-employment outcomes are an underutilized and potentially productive (given the changing nature of the U.S. workforce) source of employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. These reports found that technological advances, especially in the areas of computers and telecommunications, have removed many of the obstacles that previously hampered individuals with disabilities from successfully entering self-employment.

    The language in the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 regarding self-employment, telecommuting and establishing a small business makes it clear that Congress intends these employment outcomes to be available in assisting individuals with disabilities to obtain employment opportunities consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.

    Top

  8. Where can I get more information on how the vocational rehabilitation program can work with me to start my own business?

    Three recent documents present information on effective methods of providing VR services to individuals with disabilities entering self-employment and establishing small businesses.

    The Twenty-Fourth Institute on Rehabilitation Issues produced a document titled "People With Disabilities Developing Self-employment and Small Business Opportunities" (1998). This document is intended as a tool for VR counselors to assist individuals with disabilities, and a resource for VR consumers who wish to pursue self-employment and small business opportunities. This document also contains references that can provide additional assistance. Copies of this document may be obtained from:

    Region VI Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program
    P.O. Box 1358
    Hot Springs, AK 71902

    Telephone: 501-623-7700

    Fax: 501-624-6250
    Web: Online Order Form

    (Note: The Region VI Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program maintains a Web site on self-employment and entrepreneurship for individuals with disabilities at: www.rcep6.org/resource_center/
    Employment/business_resources.htm
    .)

    The "First Report of the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities" (November 15, 1998) contains the findings of the Work Group on the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Opportunities which provides information on what activities are currently underway to increase self-employment as a viable employment outcome and what actions are necessary to further the use of this employment outcome. This document also provides references that may be useful to state VR agencies in their efforts to more effectively utilize self-employment and the establishment of a small business as employment outcomes.

    "Getting Down to Business: A Blueprint for Creating and Supporting Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities" (April, 2000) addresses the current status of small business and self-employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and offers recommendations for addressing barriers to business ownership. The findings in this report build upon the proceedings of the National Blue Ribbon Panel on Self-employment, Small Business and Disability, convened by the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities in July 1998. This publication contains profiles of successful entrepreneurs, an overview of the business planning process, useful Web sites, and entrepreneurial opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

    Copies of these latter two documents may be obtained from:

    Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities
    Room S2220D
    200 Constitution Avenue, NW
    Washington DC 20210

    Telephone: 202-693-4939 (voice)
        202-693-4290 (TTY)

    Fax:202-693-4929

    Top

  9. How do I contact the vocational rehabilitation agency in my state?

    This link will provide you with a list of state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies nationwide. Contact the one in your state of residence for more information.

    Top

  10. How successful is the vocational rehabilitation program?

    In its 80-year history, VR has assisted 10 million eligible individuals with disabilities to become employed. In the last three years, VR has averaged approximately 230,000 employment outcomes per year. In addition, the job retention rate of VR consumers is 85 percent, and, according to a recent study, 76% of VR consumers report that they are satisfied with their experience in the VR program.

    Top

  11. If I am not satisfied with my experience with the vocational rehabilitation program, what can I do?

    Although RSA administers the VR program in each state, our authority to intervene in individual cases is limited. One of our primary roles is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to exercise their rights to due process when they believe their rights have been violated.

    Section 102(c) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act), establishes an appeals process for individuals who are dissatisfied with the services that VR is or is not providing. The Act gives individuals the right to pursue mediation as a means of resolving the complaint against the agency. The Act also establishes a formal hearing process and a judicial review process for individuals. You may utilize any or all of these methods of appeal in order to resolve your concerns.

    The Act also establishes the Client Assistance Program (CAP) to assist individuals in resolving disputes with the VR agency. CAP has the authority to advocate on an individual's behalf in order to resolve a dispute between the individual and the VR agency. You can contact the CAP directly in your state for further advice and assistance regarding your rights to appeal. Please see the link below for the appropriate address and telephone number.

    Finally, the staff of our regional offices are better able to investigate individual complaints. You may contact the regional commissioner for the appropriate regional office for additional information and assistance.

    Top

  12. I am a student looking for financial assistance to help me become a rehabilitation professional. Do you have a scholarship program that can help me?

    Yes. RSA funds universities to provide scholarships to students interested in working as rehabilitation professionals in support of the public rehabilitation program. To find out how the program works and how to apply, visit the scholarship section of the RSA Training Program Web site.

    Top

  13. Can you direct me to information on training grant opportunities?

    Yes. The "grant opportunities" section of the RSA training program website has information that will meet your needs.

    Top

  14. I am a rehabilitation professional and would like information on continuing education opportunities. Can you lead me to an appropriate resource?

    RSA sponsors two types of continuing education centers that might be of interest to you — "general" and "CRP" Regional Continuing Education Programs (RCEPs). General RCEPs focus on providing continuing education to staff of state vocational rehabilitation agencies, and vocational rehabilitation service projects for American Indians with disabilities. They also provide some training for staff of independent living centers sponsored by RSA. CRP RCEPs provide continuing education for staff of community rehabilitation programs that support state vocational rehabilitation agencies, and independent living centers sponsored by RSA. Each RCEP serves a specified geographic region. RSA also funds other specialty programs that may be of interest to you. To find out more about these programs and to locate the RCEPs that serve your location, visit the continuing education page of the RSA Training Program Web site.

    Top

  15. I work in a state vocational rehabilitation agency. I am not clear on the requirements referred to as the "CSPD" requirements relating to staff qualifications. Do you have any resources that can assist me?

    The RSA Training program website includes a section on "CSPD" resources. It offers guidance and a document full of questions and answers to the most common CSPD questions.

    Top

  16. What programs are available to help individuals with disabilities get assistive technology devices and services?

    While many programs exist to assist individuals with disabilities with obtaining assistive technology (AT) devices and services, the programs overseen by the Rehabilitation Services Administration are the Assistive Technology State Grant (ATSG) program, the Alternative Financing Program (AFP), and the Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) program. Under the ATSG program, states receive grants to support comprehensive, statewide programs that make AT devices and services more available and accessible to individuals with disabilities and their families. Under the AFP Program, states receive grants to establish and maintain programs that provide loans for individuals with disabilities to purchase needed AT devices and services. Under the PAAT program, state protection and advocacy systems receive grants to assist in the acquisition, utilization, or maintenance of AT devices or services.

  17. Top

dotted line

 
Print this page Printable view Bookmark  and Share
Last Modified: 07/14/2010