The Vocational Rehabilitation program, previously known as the Texas Department of Assistive Rehabilitative Services (DARS), helps people with disabilities prepare for, find or retain employment and helps youth and students prepare for post-secondary opportunities. The program, in partnership with Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Workforce Solutions and WSP also helps businesses and employers recruit, retain and accommodate employees with disabilities.
Start My VR
If you have a mental or physical impairment that has impacted your ability to find or keep a job, Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS) may be able to assist you.
Together with Workforce Solutions Panhandle, TWS-VRS provides Texans with disabilities an array of workforce and support services that help you prepare for, find, retain and advance in employment. The newly launched Start My VR is an online self-referral form that offers a convenient way for Texans with disabilities to take the first step toward employment by meeting with VR staff to learn about Vocational Rehabilitation Services and meet with a VR Counselor. Get started today by visiting Start My VR and completing three easy steps.
- Go to the “Start My VR” secure web portal & enter your contact information.
- Receive a Request Number confirming receipt.
- A VR team member will contact you to share how VR services may benefit you.
ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES
Disability doesn’t have to mean inability to work. When a disability causes a substantial barrier to gaining employment, Vocational Rehabilitation works with the individual to overcome the barrier.
Vocational Counseling & Guidance
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors provide guidance in many areas including:
- helps the customer understand his or her strengths and limitations in relation to his or her disability and impediments to employment;
- explores with the customer transferable skills and how they might be applied to overcome impediments to employment;
- helps the customer select and/or maintain a competitive integrated employment goal by providing information that allows the customer to make appropriate informed choices;
- maximizes the customer’s self-awareness regarding barriers to productivity and possible reasonable accommodations at the customer’s place of employment;
- helps the customer develop the self-advocacy skills needed for taking responsibility for continued career success; and
- provides the customer with information about relevant support services and facilitates access to those services for continued success in employment.
Self – Advocacy Assistance
VR staff and their Employment Services providers provide self-advocacy assistance. The goal is to ensure individuals are equipped to communicate their strengths, abilities, and interests. Another vital component is understanding the who, when and how of disability disclosure when interviewing with potential employers and how to effectively request reasonable accommodations. Ultimately, strong self-advocacy skills ensure individuals can represent themselves and make confident decisions that affect their lives while improving their self-esteem.
Training & Education Assistance
A full range of reasonable and necessary training services is available to eligible vocational rehabilitation (VR) customers when these services are necessary to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain the employment goal that is identified on the customer’s individualized plan for employment.
In conjunction with any available financial aid, vocational counselors will decide with the customer what types of training are necessary to build or advance in a career.
- Academic training
- Vocational training and technical training
- Credential specific training
- Work Readiness
- Apprenticeship opportunities
- Work Experience
- Project Search
- Adult Basic Education
- Texas Confidence Builders
Training environments available for consideration:
- Community colleges
- State colleges
- Technical colleges
- Public universities
- Health-related institutions
- Private postsecondary institutions
- On-the-job and registered apprenticeship sites
- Specialized training providers that are approved by Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWC VR)
- Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center – specific to the needs of our customers experiencing significant visual impairments
When necessary to support vocational goals, counselors work with assistive technology specialists to determine the individualized needs of customers. Potential services to support employment may include:
- Vehicle Modifications
- Jobsite / Home Modifications
- Hearing Aids
- Braille and Reader Services
- Computer & Adaptive Equipment
Employer Assistant Specialist
The goal of the employment assistance specialist (EAS) is to increase the quantity and enhance the quality of employment outcomes for VR customers who have a primary disability of vision loss. The EAS works in partnership with employers, the VR team, and customers with vision loss to provide specialized support to meet the customer’s assistive technology needs and reach employment goals.
Specific services include, but are not limited to, assistive technology purchase planning, baseline computer skills assessment, equipment and software installation and troubleshooting, equipment refurbishing and loans, job retention and basic consultation services.
Need on-going assistance? Supported Employment, and referrals to Business Enterprises of Texas Program and Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center are available upon request and evaluation.
YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES
Vocational Rehabilitation recognizes the unique needs young people and their families face when preparing to leave high school. Several services are available to assist with decision-making as to how to prepare for the world of work after high school graduation.
These services are geared to students between the ages of 14 and 22.
Project SEARCH is an international initiative that supports partnerships among businesses (employers), local school districts, vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, and other entities that serve individuals with disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. Project SEARCH promotes the successful long-term employment of VR customers in jobs that are stable, meaningful, integrated, and competitively compensated.
The program takes place in a business setting where total immersion in the workplace facilitates teaching and learning and enables enrolled VR customers to develop marketable work skills and increase their employability. Each customer has the opportunity to participate in three internships to explore a variety of career paths. The customer works with a team that includes the customer’s family and partnering agencies. The team helps the customer create an employment goal and supports the customer during the transition from school to work.
Vocational Rehabilitation offers this program in collaboration with the Amarillo Independent School District our host business, Northwest Texas hospital, and Quest Employment Services. Amarillo is 1 of 29 Project Search sites across the state. During July 2021, Project Search conference, the success of the students, staff, and the program was acknowledged as Amarillo received an award for Excellent Employment Outcomes – only one of four awarded throughout the state. The Amarillo program exceeded 90% of its participants becoming employed and resulting in a successful employment outcome.
For more information, please contact 806-350-7149 or 806-350-7155
Vocational counselors and / or Employment Service Providers offer guidance on exploring post-secondary as an option. This service may include information on course offerings, career options, the types of academic and occupational training needed to succeed in the workplace, and postsecondary opportunities associated with career fields or pathways. Counseling may include advising students and parents or representatives on academic curricula, college application and admissions processes, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and providing information on or access to resources that may support a student’s success in education and training, including support services for students with disabilities.
Work Readiness Services are offered by the vocational rehabilitation counselor or are purchased from an Employment Service Provider when a customer needs more assistance than VR staff members can provide directly. Work Readiness Services support customers in achieving an individualized level of work readiness as related to disability issues, interpersonal skills training, daily living skills, and issues that interfere with participation in obtaining or maintaining employment. Work Readiness Services allow a customer to develop the competencies and essential skills necessary to be successful on the job and in the community. When customers are ready to enter the world of competitive integrated employment, Vocational Rehabilitation offers a variety of job placement services.
Work readiness services include:
- Training on the purpose of the employment data sheet
- Locating suitable job leads and interpreting job posting
- Employment application completion
- Resume building
- Interview Preparation
For customers who are in need of additional supports, vocational rehabilitation counselors’ partner with Employment Service Providers to provide hands-on assistance with locating their employment opportunity.
Job Skills Training is also a service option when a customer needs more training and support than that provided by the employer. The employer, customer, Job Skills Trainer, and VR counselor are involved in the training plan and monitor the customer’s performance. All Job Skills Training is goal-focused on and in-line with the customer’s goals and abilities. The purpose of this training:
- teaches skills;
- reinforces skills; and
- develops or sets up accommodations and/or compensatory techniques to increase the customer’s independence and ability to meet employer expectations.
Vocational counselors and our vocational adjustment trainers are skilled in assisting students with exploring various careers. Using a variety of tools such as O*Net, CareerOneStop, Texas Careers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, or other similar tools to complete career exploration activities customers are introduced to a variety of occupations by identifying:
- a description or video of the occupations;
- job duties and responsibilities required of workers;
- work environments for volunteering, job shadowing, paid work experience, or paid employment
- the knowledge, skills, and abilities related to occupation;
- the education and training requirements;
- pay and projection for occupational growth in various labor markets
- similar occupations.
Apprenticeships & Training
VR counselors and can explore TWC apprenticeship opportunities with the customer. TWC registered apprenticeships offer opportunities for employment and ongoing training to become proficient in a skilled trade or craft.
Customers pursuing apprenticeships must be job-ready and meet the qualifications of an offered apprenticeship position before applying. Customers must be able to contact the employers themselves and participate in a panel interview to successfully compete for an apprenticeship position.
Work Readiness & Work Experience Services
Work Readiness Services prepare customers to find work and stay employed by learning and adjusting to the daily workplace routine. The goal is to help customers develop competencies and strategies to succeed in a competitive, integrated workplace. These services allow a customer to achieve an individualized level of work readiness related to disability issues, interpersonal skills training, daily living skills, and issues that interfere with his or her participation in obtaining or maintaining employment. The purpose of Work Readiness Services is to help the customer develop the competencies and essential skills that are necessary to function successfully on the job and in the community. Work Readiness Services benefit customers who have never worked, who have been unemployed for a long time, or who have a sporadic work history.
Work Experience services include Work Experience Placement and Work Experience Training. These services allow a customer to be placed within a business or organization in the community to complete short-term (12 weeks or fewer), part-time work experience to learn skills that are transferable to future long-term competitive integrated employment. A customer’s work experience can be in a volunteer position, internship, or temporary short-term employment in which wages are paid by the employer or purchased by Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) via Wage Services
EMPLOYERS ASSISTING INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
The employment of individuals with disabilities is directly related to the level of awareness that the business community has of the skills and abilities that individuals with disabilities possess, their ability to function in a specific job, and the possible accommodations that may be needed so they can perform essential job functions.
Vocational Rehabilitation has a dual customer approach – meeting the employment needs of the customers and ensuring the employer’s business needs are met to form a true partnership.
In conjunction with local vocational rehabilitation staff and workforce solutions center staff, the Business Relations Unit and their coordinators’ goal is to connect with local business communities to learn about their hiring needs and share general information about VR services and customers as this is often an untapped applicant pool.
Business Relations Coordinators are responsible for:
- networking and marketing activities;
- worksite assessments, job analysis, and accommodations recommendations;
- providing Information on workplace incentives and comparable benefits
- disability awareness training
- recruitment, job matching, and job retention services
- providing guidance on compliance issues, affirmative action, and/or diversity strategy planning
- coordinating career fairs
CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION
Phone: 806-350-7171 Office or 806-418-0124 cell
TWC Vocational Rehabilitation Rapid Engagement Team
TWC Vocational Rehabilitation Inquiries