DBVI Youth and Transition Services
The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services offers a variety of services for youth. In addition to the lifelong services DBVI provides to those with blindness and visual impairments, BRS offers Vocational Rehabilitation Services to assist youth with blindness and visual impairments in preparing for the transition from school to work.
What Is Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)?
The Vocational Rehabilitation, also known as "VR", is a Bureau of Rehabilitation program that has a primary goal of assisting interested individuals who have disabilities to get and keep a job. VR can assist students with disabilities in coordinating information and resources as they transition from high school to adult life.
This is a time-limited program. Generally speaking, once an individual is employed for at least 90 days in a job agreed upon by the individual and the VR counselor, services are ended.
A young adul may continue to receive other services from DBVI after their VR case has been closed.
At What Age Should A Student Apply For Services?
We encourage schools and others, such as medical specialists, counselors, other state agencies, parents and students themselves, to make starting at age 14. A referral of a student while in high school allows time for students and their VR counselors to start working towards the students’ employment goals.
Who Is Eligible For VR Services?
To be eligible for VR, a student must first apply for services. The basic standards an applicant must meet to become eligible include:
- having a documented disability that creates a barrier to getting or keeping a job, and
- VR services are required for the individual to find or keep a job.
The documentation can usually be provided by high school and medical records. If further evaluation is needed to document a disability, VR may provide the evaluation as a service to determine eligibility. Eligibility is usually completed within 60 days, though an extension to get further documentation or assessment may be necessary.
How Do Students Apply?
A signed application for VR services must be completed and returned to BRS with release of information forms signed by the client (if over 18 years old) or guardian. To apply for services, please call or visit your local VR office.
How Do Students Reach Their Employment Goals?
The key to success is good planning. The Vocational Rehabilitation counselor will work with the student and other people involved with the student’s planning to assist the student through the process of making informed choices about future jobs and careers.
Good planning includes: consideration of the skills and abilities a person has, the types of jobs an individual wants to consider, where the student is willing to work and live, and what transportation is available. The more flexible the individual can be, the more likely he or she is to become employed. The student and the VR counselor need to work together to develop a plan that will lead to a job.
What Services Does VR Provide?
VR assists in exploring different career opportunities by using the interest and aptitude evaluations, which most high schools provide. As careers are identified as possible goals, VR can provide information about the skills, abilities, and training needed to qualify for employment in a specific career field.
DBVI, as a Division within the Department of Labor, have access to labor market information, which can help a person see what type of work is available in their geographic area. If further training is required, counselors can assist in locating or developing specific training programs with special accommodations as required to achieve an employment goal.
The plan can include assistance in the purchase of tools, uniforms or basic equipment needed to start work at a particular job. Assistive technology, vehicle modifications and medical devices, such as hearing aids, may also be considered. Under certain circumstances, VR can assist with payment for some medical/psychological services.
Some students receive the assistance of a Job Developer in the process of seeking work; others may receive Job Coaching services where a coach provides close supervision and support on the job until the individual learns the required skills.
What About Education After High School?
For students who have the academic skills and abilities, we encourage the pursuit of higher education when it is required to achieve the planned employment goal. The VR counselor works with the student and schools to ensure that the specific supports needed to succeed are in place. Financial aid is available through most colleges and students are required to apply for financial aid. If you are considering higher education, ask your counselor for more information on students and Vocational Rehabilitation.
Every student’s rehabilitation plan is different since every student has different needs. VR will consider providing any service that is required to achieve the agreed upon vocational goal.
For more information about the way VR works and the services is can provide, see:
Other transition resources
- Safeteen is a Maine Department of Labor program “designed to help Maine employers and teen workers understand the responsibilities and requirements of workplace safety.” Free kits and information are available.
- DHHS Cognitive and Physical Disability Services; offering information on case management services, guardianship, housing and dayhabilitation services
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