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Introduction to Vocational Rehabilitation

"Vocational rehabilitation is about getting a job. You do want to work, don't you?"

An experienced VR counselor laughs as she tells us that is the first thing she tells consumers now. She goes on to explain that, when she started her job she just assumed that every unemployed person with a disability really wanted a job, "And then I found out that some people really don't. They are satisfied to live on Social Security, or with family or friends. Sometimes people have a disability due to an accident or overdose caused by a problem with alcohol or drugs. And guess what? Having a disability didn't make that problem disappear. So, the first thing I do is ask a person, "Do you want to work?" Sometimes, the answer is, "No, I don't."

Vocational rehabilitation: Helping people with disabilities get and keep jobs.

You have that person who is willing to go to work - now what? As Irene Bear Runner says, it is often difficult to explain exactly what a VR counselor does, the job entails so many different tasks for different clients. Vocational rehabilitation counselors help people prepare for job interviews, complete applications, provide job supports, perform job analysis, job coaching.

A VR counselor may come up with some unusual creative solutions. For example, one counselor who was working with an individual with a severe speech impairment convinced an employer to let the person perform several of the job tasks in front of him, instead of asking standard interview questions. The employer was impressed that the person could obviously do the job and hired him. Often, VR services may be as simple as giving a person a purchase order to buy clothes to interview for a job, or for gas to get to work for the first two weeks until her first paycheck.


The next few pages include links to documents that can give you a lot of information about the basics of vocational rehabilitation. Irene Bear Runner describes how she worked with a young woman with mental retardation whose career goal was to become a nurse. Willie Davis talks about how he insures that everyone who comes to see him leaves better off. The Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation newsletter, reprinted with permission of the Spirit Lake VR Project, provides such basic information as "Yes, you can get services even if you are enrolled on a reservation different from where you are living now, " and "No, if the only reason you lost your job is that you stayed out all night partying and didn't go into work, you do not qualify for our services."

newspaper turning pages on its ownDecember, 2006 article by Irene Bear Runner in Miniwakan Waonspekiye newsletter

Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation newsletter describes the most basic VR service examples

Next page, services vocational rehabilitation provides

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
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