Vocational rehabilitation, also called vocational rehab, is a service typically provided to disabled people, in order to help them secure and sustain steady employment. This process usually includes several stages, such as evaluation, career counseling, training, job placement, and ongoing employment support. Most rehab facilities emphasize individualized treatment for each client.
There are many reasons why people may require vocational rehab services. Some may need it to help them re-enter the workforce after an injury. Young people with disabilities may benefit from rehabilitation when they transition from the school system into the workplace. Others who have suffered from a long-term disability may use new technologies offered by rehab offices to help them manage their work.
Generally, one of the first things to occur when an individual visits a vocational rehab office is a client evaluation by a trained rehab counselor. This evaluation often consists of mental, psychological, and physical testing. Through this, counselors hope to determine whether the client can benefit from a rehabilitation program and what types of services that program should include.
The type of rehabilitation an individual receives usually depends on the type of disability he or she experiences. Most vocational rehab centers offer services to people suffering from physical, mental, learning, or emotional disabilities. Each of these general categories of disability requires a different type of treatment, and some clients suffer from more than one of them.
Most offices serve physically disabled clients with both physical therapy and assistive technology equipment. The physical therapy side of treatment often includes muscle exercises, aquatic therapy, and therapeutic recreation. The goal is usually to help the client increase his or her physical mobility. Also, some vocational rehabilitation facilities offer pain management therapy to clients who suffer from chronic pain.
Some vocational rehab offices help clients acquire assistive technology equipment. This equipment typically allows clients access to the technology essential for their jobs. Examples of this equipment include one-handed keyboards for people who cannot use both hands or modified desks for those in wheelchairs.
Many vocational rehabs assist clients suffering from mental and emotional disabilities to find and maintain steady employment. These services usually include classes in time management, interview skills, and other types of job-readiness training. Courses may also include specialized training on how to cope with a particular disability in the workplace.
In the United States, vocational rehab programs are typically funded by the federal government and run by state governments. The federal agency that oversees these local programs is the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). There is also a vocational rehab program run by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs that is specifically designated for veterans whose military service led to their disabilities.