Vocational rehabilitation

Teaching a high school computer course

Stacy teaches computer classes at Greenbrier East High School. She received educational assistance from DRS that helped her to launch her teaching career.

The Division of Rehabilitation Services is West Virginia's primary vocational rehabilitation resource for people with disabilities who want to work. DRS helps many West Virginians prepare for careers consistent with their interests, needs and abilities. DRS helps many more to maintain their current employment if a disability is making it difficult to continue working.

Vocational rehabilitation provides direct, personalized services. During the vocational rehabilitation process, a counselor will work with you one-on-one to plan an individualized program that leads to paid employment.

You will actively participate in planning your services, and how those services will be delivered. Services may include evaluation, restoration, vocational training, occupational tools and equipment, assistive technology and job placement assistance. Work-related counseling is the most essential service offered by DRS. A trained counselor will be available throughout the rehabilitation process to answer questions, help with problems and offer guidance toward achievement of your rehabilitation goals. A successful rehabilitation may take anywhere from several months to several years.

Are you eligible?

Eligibility is based on three factors:

  • you have a physical or mental condition that interferes with your ability to get or keep a job;
  • you can benefit from services in terms of an employment outcome; and
  • you need vocational rehabilitation services to get or keep a job.

To determine your eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services, an initial interview is set up between you and a rehabilitation counselor. If you wish, a friend or family member may accompany you. Your counselor will talk with you about your career plans and the services you feel are necessary to reach an employment goal. The counselor will ask about your work history, education and disability.

If possible, bring any reports (medical, psychological, etc.) from people who have previously provided services to you. You should also bring your work history. This will help your counselor more quickly determine your eligibility for DRS services.

DRS is required by law to maintain your confidentiality. All personal information provided by you or any other source is strictly confidential and won't be released to anyone (other than your legal guardian, if applicable) without your written consent.

Making a plan

After you have been determined eligible for services, the next step will be to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with your counselor. The IPE is an agreement between you and DRS that describes the services that will be provided for you to meet your employment goal.

Evaluation, counseling, job development and placement services are provided at no cost to you. You may be required to share the cost of some services, but your rehabilitation counselor will talk to you about any costs before services start.

Basic services may include:

  • Work-related counseling and guidance
  • Evaluation services may include vocational, medical, psychological or educational evaluations
  • Information and referral services
  • Accessibility and worksite evaluations and accommodations
  • Assistive technology
  • Restoration services may include treatment of medical or psychological conditions; orthotic and prosthetic devices; or physical, occupational, speech, or hearing therapy
  • Vocational training may include vocational school, college, technical or business school or on-the-job or supported employment training
  • Employment services may include resumé writing and interview skills development, job search and placement

Your right to appeal

Your rehabilitation counselor will explain your rights at various times during the vocational rehabilitation process. If you have been denied services and you disagree with that decision, you can file an appeal. If you need help preparing the appeal, you can call the Client Assistance Program (CAP) operated by Disability Rights of West Virginia You may contact a CAP representative directly through the Disability Rights of West Virginia at 1-800-950-5250 (V/TDD). This is a toll-free call within West Virginia.

Apply for services

If you are interested in applying for services, you may contact a DRS office near you or submit a request online.