DRS Orientation Video
[MUSIC, DARS Logo flies in Produced by Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, 1-800-628-5115, www.dars.state.tx.us]
[GREG] Hi! My name is Greg. If you’re watching this video, it means you’re applying to DRS—the Division for Rehabilitation Services— or perhaps, you know someone who can benefit from these services. I’m here to tell you about the great Vocational Rehab program they offer. The DRS counselors helped me a lot. In fact, if it hadn’t been for them, I never would have landed a job as a counselor. Here’s something I want you to remember: the VR counselor’s job is to help you find and keep a job. When you meet with your counselor, your job is to help them help you.
The DRS counselors will do more than help you prepare for, find, and keep a job. They’ll also help you figure out the kinds of jobs that are right for you by matching your goals with your interests, skills, and abilities. Be ready to tell your counselor about your disability, how it makes it hard for you to work, and how you think the VR program can help. Working together, you’ll come up with a realistic plan to help you reach your goals. And that is what vocational rehabilitation is all about!
Now, let’s determine if DRS is the right place for you. First, if you receive Social Security disability benefits and you want to work, then you’re presumed to be eligible for VR services.
Okay, here are a few important questions for you:
- Are you in Texas right now?
- Are you legally able to work in the United States?
- Do you have a physical or mental disability that affects your ability to work?
- Do you need assistance to get or keep a job?
- Do you think you’ll be able to get and keep a job if you receive the right services?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then so far, so good. Let’s keep going.
- Is your main disability related to a loss of vision?
If so, tell the counselor now. You may be directed to our other division, DBS, that offers specialized services for people who are blind or visually impaired.
[GRAPHICS: In 2007, DRS helped over 11,000 people in Texas find jobs. –DARS 2007 Annual Report]
[GREG] There are many wonderful services and lots of information that the DRS program can provide to help us work with our disabilities.
In a moment, I’d like to introduce my friend, Cynthia. Like me, she met her DRS counselor when she was in high school. That’s right. DRS can provide services even if you’re still in high school. Our counselors helped both of us explore career options and create a plan to reach our goals. If you’re a high school student, DRS can help you go directly into the work force, or enroll in vocational training, or even help you with college. If you’ve already graduated from or are no longer attending high school, or if you’re changing careers because of a disability, DRS can help you, too.
Here’s Cynthia to tell you more.
[CYNTHIA] Thanks, Greg! And congratulations to you for finding DRS.
I can tell you from personal experience that DARS is an agency that can literally help you change your life. They offer some of the very best counseling and guidance services you’ll find anywhere. The counselors can help you understand and manage your disabilities better because they specialize in working with people with all kinds of disabilities. They helped me a lot when I was in college with information about tuition and fee waivers for persons who are deaf and hard of hearing. And they explained to me all my rights for an equal education. If college or training is a part of your plan, your counselor will tell you about the different types of resources that can help you reach your goals.
DARS counselors can also help you:
- Investigate employment opportunities and options,
- Find ways to work better with your disabilities by reviewing medical and psychological information with you,
- Explore opportunities for college and vocational training, and
- Explore how your interests match up with jobs you might apply for.
In other words, your counselor will be there to advise you about your options and encourage you to make informed choices to reach your goals.
And that’s not all! DARS can help you get special devices and even medical services that will help you get and keep a job! Before I could go to college, I needed an interpreter, hearing aids, and several other things like an alarm clock that vibrates instead of ringing. DARS made it happen. It was amazing!
Now back to Greg with more.
[GREG] Thanks Cynthia. It’s really amazing what DRS can do. They work with providers all over the state of Texas so that you can get the services you need.
And there are other things you need to know. Here’s Karina, a DRS counselor with a few more details about the process.
[KARINA] Thanks, Greg. Here’s something I really want you to understand: we’ve helped thousands of people get and keep a job. How do we do this? By helping each consumer manage his or her disability in a real work environment. Believe me, though you may face unique challenges, it won’t stop you from getting and keeping a satisfying job. That’s precisely why we’re here.
Here’s how the process works. First, contact the DRS office nearest you. They’ll ask you some basic questions like what type of services you are requesting. If you aren’t seen that day, you’ll receive a letter in the mail explaining what you need to bring with you to the appointment.
As a reminder, here’s what you’ll need. There’s a lot to remember so pay close attention.
Some of this information is easy to remember:
- your name, address, social security card and driver’s license or a state issued ID;
- two people who know you and always know how to contact you and their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
There are some of things you might have to dig for, like your medical records and history, such as
- medical treatments you’ve had or will have for your disability;
- who treated you;
- dates of treatments and whether you’re released to work by your doctor;
- school and training records, including any problems experienced during school;
- any past work experience;
- specific job duties;
- special skills and training you might have;
- proof of income, including marital status, family status living arrangements and other information, such as rent or mortgage payments.
Stay with me now. There’s just a few more bits of information we need.
- Your reason for requesting services;
- insurance information and information about any other resources you have such as food stamps, disability benefits, Workers’ Compensation, Medicaid, or Medicare;
- proof of social security benefits, if applicable; and finally,
- any interests and specific employment goals you may have.
[GREG] Thanks, Karina. That’s a lot of stuff to keep in mind! If you don’t have everything with you today, that’s okay. We can go ahead and start the application process anyway.
Your counselor will ask you to sign release forms so she can get any information you may not have. You might also be asked to participate in some evaluation tests to determine your eligibility for services, such as a physical evaluation— how well you walk, lift, stand, bend, and reach, for example— or maybe a psychological evaluation for any mental, emotional, or learning disability. You may also need a special medical assessment. These evaluations will help your counselor understand how your disability might impact your participation in the DRS program.
And all of your records and information are kept strictly confidential.
[COUNSELOR 1] It’s a partnership, you know. And partnership means listening to each other.
[COUNSELOR 2] It doesn’t matter what your disability is. It doesn’t matter what’s gone before. We can take you and talk to you and learn about your strengths because everyone has strengths, everyone has abilities, we can help you know what you can do and you can be successful.
[GREG] So, what do they do with all this information, anyway? Well, the counselor will look over the information to determine if the VR program is the best place for you. If so, you’ll start working with your counselor on a plan of action. If not, you’ll be referred to other DARS programs or community agencies that might be better suited to your needs.
[GRAPHIC] By retirement the average rehabilitation consumer will have repaid the cost of services at least four times through taxes paid.—DARS 2007 Annual Report
[GREG] Now for my favorite part. It’s time to work on your IPE. IPE stands for “Individualized Plan for Employment.” It’s a map that’ll guide you towards your employment goals.
First, you’ll work together with your counselor to figure out what you might want to do. Depending on your goals, you may just need help getting assistive devices like hearing aides or prosthetics. Or you may plan to go to college or vocational school. Or you may go directly into the workforce. There is so much potential and opportunity!
[GRAPHIC: DRS serves people as young as 14 in our Transition Program and some consumers over 65 years of age in our adult VR program. –Based on 34 CFR Section361, 42(5) (c) (2)]
[COUNSELOR 3] We have to get past that perception that we’re a handout to folks. We’re not a handout, we’re a hand up. We’re somebody that’s going to help them get where they want to go and reach their goals, reach their dreams, do what they want to.
[GREG] Now, here’s Lee, another DRS counselor, to tell you a little more about the IPE process.
[LEE] Greg’s right. First you’ll decide what you want to do—your employment goal—then you and your counselor will determine the steps you need to make it happen. Your counselor will help you gain a better understanding of your disability and how to work with it successfully.
Throughout this process, our counselor will also help you understand which DARS services can help you reach your goals. It’s important that you make informed choices when selecting your services; who you’d like to provide them; and how you’ll go about setting them up.
Next, you’ll write down all of the plan’s steps. Then, specific challenges that may affect your ability to complete your IPE will be identified. For instance, you may need to help pay for some of the costs of the services that will be provided. The DARS counselor will talk to you about this. Then, you and your counselor will figure out how you can gain the skills, abilities, and services you need to reach your goals. Together, you’ll decide on the progress points and when you’ll talk to your counselor again.
[GREG] Thanks, Lee. Now remember, it’s important for you to own your plan, to make it yours. No one else can do your job for you, and no one else can take these very important steps towards independence for you. Most importantly, you need to stay in close contact with your counselor and keep him up to date on the progress you’re making on your plan. And absolutely let your counselor know if you decide to change your goals or if you’re having trouble with any particular step.
Working together, you can achieve your goal of getting and keeping a job. And once you’re employed, have been on the job for a while, and are happy and performing well, you’ll have successfully completed the DRS program!
I hope this video has helped you understand the DRS process a little better. Your counselor will be with you every step of the way helping you prepare for, find, and keep a job. But don’t forget, ultimately, your success depends on you.
And by the way, a lot of the people appearing in this video have a disability. So if they can do it, you can, too.
[COUNSELOR 4] My best day on the job is having a consumer I used to work with call me and say, “Thank you so much for the services that you have provided me. I did not know where to go but you were so encouraging. When I felt like giving up, you said something to inspire me to go on and today, I’ve achieved my goal. My family is happy, I’m happy, I’m working again, and it’s all because of you and what DARS was able to provide for me.”
[COUNSELOR 5] I help change people’s lives every day and that’s an awesome feeling.
[COUNSELOR 3] The people that are in this job, they’re in this field because it’s in their heart. It’s part of who we are, in terms of trying to help you become who you want to be.
[PAULA] I’m Paula and I happily completed the DRS program.
[GREG] I’m Greg and I’ve successfully completed the DRS Vocational Rehabilitation program.
[CYNTHIA] I’m not just a DARS consumer, I now work with DARS helping people like you and me get and keep the jobs that they want. Now, let’s get busy!
[CREDITS] Cast: Greg Mason, Lee Moore, Karina Prolinski, Les Young, Cynthia Quinones, Ted Candler, Paula Long, Suzanna Hamilos, Veranda Escobar
Project Team: Brown Chapman, Mary Davenport, Linda Lyons, Michelle McCall, Maria Nava, Suzanne Redder
Subject Matter Experts: Ted Candler, Suzanne Hamilos, Richard Hopkins, Paul Nixon
Special Thanks to: Texas DRS Leadership Academy, Cohort II, Jeanne Miller, M.A., University of Arkansas Currents
DARS Logo flies in
Produced by: Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, 1-800-628-5115, www.dars.state.tx.us