Continuing our recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we are taking a look at how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies can support people who do the hiring: employers, hiring managers, and human resources (HR) departments.
People with disabilities who are entering or returning to
the workforce often connect with their local VR office for services and support
during their job search. VR counselors can help with resume building, job
searching, interview practice, and other supports. Once a person finds a job,
VR counselors can help with job coaching, transportation planning,
accommodations, and other on-the-job supports. But did you know that VR
agencies can also assist employers and hiring managers to build an inclusive workforce?
Here are a few examples:
Finding the right people for the job
today’s tight labor market, a VR office can help hiring managers identify a
pool of candidates with the right qualifications for a position. According to
the NIDILRR-funded Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project
on Demand Side Employment Placement Models “VR’s ability to provide pre-screened,
job-ready applicants can save employers time and money during their recruitment
processes.” A VR counselor can also work with the HR team to ensure their
hiring process is inclusive, from accessible job applications to understanding
an employer’s obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other
civil rights laws.
for employee and employer alike
new hire in place, VR counselors can assist with identifying workplace
accommodations to support job success, from simple ergonomic adjustments to
technology solutions. VR counselors can help address concerns
that a person’s disability might interfere with job duties. They can also assist
employers, managers, and employees in addressing issues in performance due to
new or age-related changes in disability status.
Building an inclusive
VR’s business outreach teams support inclusive workplaces
through education and training. This can include disability awareness training,
skill-building training to help employees respond to differences in the work
environment, and training employees who work with customers or patrons with
In addition to these direct supports, VR teams can connect
employers to incentive programs like tax credits for small businesses and
programs that may cover training costs for some employees with disabilities.
To learn more about how VR and business can work together to
improve access to and success in employment for people with disabilities, check
out these resources from the NIDILRR grantee community:
Explore VR offers an Employer
Support Toolkit for VR agencies. This toolkit provides information on ways
VR agencies can provide support for businesses that have employees with
disabilities. The kit includes examples of employer support functions,
resources for working with community providers such as ADA Regional Centers and
assistive technology projects, and competencies and skills needed to provide
effective employer supports. Explore VR also offers a Business
Engagement Toolkit. This toolkit covers business relationships,
competencies and skills, and information management, among other topics
The Rehabilitation Research and training Center (RRTC) on
Employment for Individuals with Blindness or Low Vision has many resources for VR
professionals and employers. These include an orientation packet for VR professionals
who are new to working with blind clients, an HR guide for working with
employees experiencing vision loss, and much more!
The RRTC for
Vocational Rehabilitation and Developing Strategies to Meet Employer Needs in
Changing Economic Environments conducted research and training to help VR
agencies improve their responsiveness to employer needs.
We covered this topic in two Research In Focus articles:
Who Have Relationships with Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies May Be More
Likely to Hire People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
and Vocational Rehabilitation Can Build Partnerships for Employment Success
If you are an employer looking to connect with VR services,
check out these resources:
Connect with the Career
One Stop or Vocational
Rehabilitation Office for help in hiring, training, and retaining employees
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) from the Department of Veterans Affairs also works to match Veterans with and without disabilities with employers for successful careers and offers incentives to employers who hire Vets.
Are you interested in research in this area? Explore
articles, books, and reports indexed in our REHABDATA database on vocational
rehabilitation and employers.