Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community for June 2020

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: What is the purpose of vocational rehabilitation? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss employment for people with physical disabilities; employment and transition-aged youth; a study that explored adulthood employment outcomes for youth with disabilities; VR outcomes that factors associated with a successful return to work; how work experience, education, and support from family may increase VR success; VR and people with schizophrenia or other mental health conditions; a study on a vocational work orientation program; and more. More about Answered Questions.

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation (VR) is a series of services designed to facilitate the entry into or return to work for people with disabilities or people who have acquired an injury or disability. VR services may include a professional evaluation, training, improving general abilities, and refresher courses. The purpose of VR is to help people with disabilities have the best employment outcomes possible so that they can live independently and participate in their communities of their choice. Read NARIC’s FAQ on VR to learn more.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment for People with Physical Disabilities (in English) promotes job retention by persons with physical disabilities by assessing the environment-related barriers and facilitators of job retention after vocational rehabilitation. Outcomes of this project include developing a deeper appreciation of barriers and facilitators to job retention and the strategies to surmount them; identifying strategies and interventions that support employment for people with progressive neurological disorders; and promoting knowledge translation that enhances employment outcomes for people with disabilities and the professionals who work with them.

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities (in English) generates evidence-based interventions to assist youth to enter competitive integrated employment and addresses the need for evidence-based research for youth with disabilities, family members, school personnel, VR counselors, and other stakeholders on information and interventions that can impact the employment outcomes of transition-age youth. This RRTC provides training materials and events (in English) that focus on meeting the needs of people with disabilities and their family, disability service providers, employers, and other stake holders.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article, Youth with disabilities: Are vocational rehabilitation services improving employment outcomes? (en inglés), discusses a study that explored the adulthood employment outcomes of youth with disabilities who received services from vocational rehabilitation (VR) while in high school. The results of this study revealed individual and systemic challenges for VR supporting youth with disabilities transitioning to adulthood. The authors found that three main themes emerged in relation to successful or unsuccessful status: (1) family involvement, (2) resources and opportunities, and (3) systematic barriers. The article also discusses limitations and implications for the practice of and research on VR.

The article, Vocational rehabilitation factors associated with successful return to work outcomes for clients with Parkinson’s disease (in English), discusses a study that looked at the extent to which demographic characteristics, receipt of Social Security Disability benefits, and VR services influence competitive employment outcomes for people with Parkinson’s disease who were unemployed at the time they enrolled in the state-federal VR program. The results of this study indicated that participants who received on-the-job support, job placement, maintenance, and college tuition assistance from the VR program were significantly more likely to achieve competitive employment than participants who did not receive these services. The study also found that the number and type of VR services received had more influence on competitive employment outcomes than did client demographic variables.

Research In Focus:

Work Experience, Education, and Support from Family May Increase VR Success, but Some Challenges May Get in the Way discusses a study from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center: Individual-Level Characteristics Related to Employment Among Individuals with Disabilities (in English) that looked at the factors associated with getting a job and earning higher wages among a sample of VR applicants with disabilities. The researchers wanted to find out which factors were associated with higher rates of exiting the VR system with a job and which factors were associated with higher earnings. The authors found that a person’s motivation to find work, as well as the attitudes of family and friends, may impact that person’s successful engagement with VR services.

To learn more about NIDILRR-funded research on VR, please visit our Research In Focus series.


The article, Efficacy of vocational rehabilitation models and employment support needs in people with schizophrenia (PDF), identifies and evaluates the most effective VR interventions in order to promote the acquiring and maintaining of employment by people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The article discusses two studies and their findings: The findings of Study I suggest that there are various variables that affect employment outcomes for this population; and Study II found four areas of employment support needs for people with schizophrenia: developing skills, VR interventions, support and encouragement, and a supportive work environment. Finally, the article also discusses the limitations of these studies.


The article, Vocational work orientation program for people with disabilities from the IDEAL Foundation (a Colombian occupational guidance/work adaptation entity), discusses a study to optimize the IDEAL Foundation’s vocational guidance program for its beneficiaries with disabilities in order to promote their performance in the Foundation’s workshop program and in their daily lives with the aim to help them enter the labor market. The study found that most participants with disabilities performed their employment related activities well; however, they engaged in poor healthcare habits. The authors suggest that the activities in the workshop program should be diversified and that participants should be encouraged not to adopt practices that endanger their health and put their welfare at risk.


  • Are you an employer looking to hire people with disabilities or a person with disabilities looking to enter the workforce? The ADA National Network (in English) and its 10 Regional Centers (in English) can help you learn about your rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA National Network also has VR-related factsheets, including one on reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation Administration (ARV, acronym in Spanish) at the Department of Labor and Human Resources in Puerto Rico provides VR services to all eligible Puerto Ricans with disabilities so that they can return to work and live as independently as possible. ARV also works with the State Rehabilitation Council and the State Independent Living Council to ensure the representation and participation of all Puerto Ricans with disabilities. Services include training and support of people with disabilities in Puerto Rico.
  • gov provides basic information on vocational readiness and employment (VR&E) for Veterans with disabilities. VR&E is an employment-oriented program that helps transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans with service-connected disabilities and employment disability to prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment.


  • CareerOneStop provides tools and information that people with disabilities can use to start their careers or re-enter the workforce. These tools and information include a searchable database of local jobs, information on and tools to practice interviewing, information on job accommodations, and information on VR.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions

Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. Except for the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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