Division of Visual Services
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)
The Division of Visual Services (VS), helps Oklahomans who are blind or visually impaired. The primary vocational rehabilitation services are counseling and guidance with job placement. However, other services may also be provided as needed for an individual to compensate for, correct or prevent disability-based barriers to employment. AT is provided if determined necessary to meet the goals outlined in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
Paul Adams, Interim Administrator, Division of Visual Services
Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
3535 NW 58th St., Ste 500
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
(405) 951-3400 (TDD)
(800) 845-8476 (TDD)
FAX: (405) 951-3529
William Ginn, Director Client Assistance Program (CAP)
Office of Disability Concerns
2401 NW 23rd, Ste 90
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
(405) 521-3756 (OKC, V)
(405) 522-6706 (TDD)
(800) 522-8224 (V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 522-6695
See Appendix B for Visual Services Field Offices.
- An individual:
- must have a physical or mental impairment, which constitutes or results in an impediment to employment;
- can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from VS services;and
- requires VS services to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain gainful employment.
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998, stipulates that an individual, who has a disability or is blind and is a Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) beneficiary or a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient, is presumed to meet eligibility criteria if that individual intends to achieve an employment outcome.
- Legal blindness occurs when visual acuity with best correction is 20/200 or less or when side vision results in a central field restriction of 20 degrees or less.
AT SERVICES PROVIDED/COVERED
- Assessments & Evaluations
- Information & Referral
- Case Management
- Locating Alternate Funding
- Fabrication of Devices
- Maintenance & Repairs
- Supporting Software
- Training for Consumer & Family
AT DEVICES PROVIDED/COVERED
- Aids for Daily Living
- Speech Communication
- Aids for Hearing Impaired
- Environmental Adaptations
- Aids for Vision Impaired
- Mobility/Seating & Positioning
- Computers & Related
- Individuals are considered applicants when they:
- have completed and signed an application form or have otherwise requested services (including, but not limited to requests made verbally, by telephone, in writing, by facsimile, etc.
- have provided information necessary to initiate an assessment to determine eligibility and priority for service; and
- are available to complete the assessment process as soon as the counselor has a document signed by the individual requesting VS services. This may be a formal application or a letter signed by the applicant, applicant’s parent, guardian, or other representative which provides the minimum basic information and request VS services.
- In application status, the counselor will secure sufficient information to make a determination of eligibility or ineligibility for VS services, determine a priority group assignment, or make a decision to put the client into extended evaluation. The information needed by the counselor may include the results of a physical examination, an assistive technology evaluation, or an extended evaluation of vocational potential to determine potential for gainful employment.
- If a person is determined to be eligible for services based on evaluation information, the counselor and the individual will develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) that is designed to promote competitive employment for the individual.
- Unless extended evaluation/trial work is required, the counselor will make the eligibility determination decision within 60 days of application.
- Consumers who disagree with a VR Program decision are encouraged to contact the local District Supervisor to attempt an effective resolution of the issue. In the event of a reduction, suspension or cessation of VR services, individuals have a right to a case review by an impartial hearing officer, mediation, and/or assistance from the Client Assistance Program (CAP).
- A request for a fair hearing should be made in writing to your VR Counselor or the hearing coordinator within 30 days of DRS informing you of the decision with which you disagree. The fair hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer within 60 days of the written “Request for a Fair Hearing” by the consumer.
- Individuals filing a “Request for a Fair Hearing” may request a confidential mediation session to resolve grievances. In the event mediation sessions do not resolve the grievance, individuals retain their right to a fair hearing.
- After filing a “Request for a Fair Hearing,” the administrative review must be conducted by the district supervisor and concluded within the same 60 days, with the results of the review provided in a written letter. If the review resolves the grievance, the “Withdrawal of Request for Hearing” form must be completed; otherwise, the hearing will continue.
- The written decision of the hearing officer including findings and grounds for the decision will be made to the consumer and hearings coordinator within 30 days of the completion of the hearing.
- Individuals may request a review of the hearing officer’s decision by the Governor or Governor’s designee within 20 days of the decision.
- In the event an individual brings civil action regarding the decision, the final decision either by the hearing officer or the Governor or Governor’s designee will be implemented pending court review.
ASSISTANCE PROVIDED FOR APPEALS
- The Client Assistance Program (CAP) assists persons with disabilities who are seeking or receiving services from any program funded by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. CAP can:
- advise clients of their rights and responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act;
- assist clients in communicating their concerns to DRS; and
- represent the individual in the fair hearing process when appropriate and/or needed.
- Additional information concerning vocational rehabilitation and the appeals process can be obtained from the CAP at (405) 521-3756 or (800) 522-8224 statewide.
- All DRS clients should receive a CAP brochure at the time their case is activated.
PIECES OF THE PUZZLE
- Under the rehabilitation counseling and employment program, consumers and counselors work together to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
- The IPE is an individualized program of services based around a core of comprehensive evaluation, vocational counseling, and job placement that are needed to assist the person in attaining his or her employment goal. Any AT that the person needs for employment must be included in this plan. However, AT devices and services may be essential to help the person demonstrate vocational capabilities and are an essential part of the comprehensive evaluation.
- Once a decision has been made to supply an eligible client with AT, it may be possible to provide a wide range of devices if they are vocationally relevant. However, DRS cannot buy devices that other sources can buy or that ADA requires other sources to provide.
- The cost of some services, such as medical examinations to determine if a person is eligible for vocational rehabilitation, counseling and job placement, are provided at no charge to the client. For some other services, a client may have to share in the cost, depending on his or her income and resources.
- The DRS State Plan has provisions, during times of limited resources, to serve clients under an order of selection which means some eligible applicants may be placed on waiting lists until funds are available to pay for services. Consumers are encouraged to apply for services during an order of selection because those on waiting lists will be served on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Visual Services provides a wide array of rehabilitation programs that include: rehabilitation counseling, employment, independent living services, Older Blind Program (page 55) business enterprise operations, special library services (page 54) and information access via telephone.
- Independent living services include rehabilitation teachers and mobility specialists that can provide adjustment counseling; instruction in personal and home management; communications; recreation or leisure activities; the community; and use of the white cane.
- The business enterprise program trains and assists people who are blind in establishing and operating food service businesses in public and private facilities across the state.
- NEWSLINE® For the Blind gives free telephone access throughout the state to local and national newspapers for persons whose disabilities limit access to printed information. Visual Services also operates a telephone service, which provides community and job information.
- VS partners with Oklahoma ABLE Tech to provide an assistive technology device demonstration center and short-term equipment loan program. The demonstration center can assist a person or small group of individuals the opportunity to explore one or more assistive technology devices to assist in the decision making process about device purchase or utilization. The short-term loan program allows a person to “try before you buy” an assistive technology device. For more information on the devices available contact the AT Lab in Oklahoma City by calling (405) 522-3418 or VS Center in Tulsa at (918) 551-4933.