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
In 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.
On-the-job supports for employee and employer alike
With a 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 workplace culture
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 disabilities.
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:
If you are an employer looking to connect with VR services, check out these resources:
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.