What, where, how?

How can I contact VR?

VR offices are located in all states with an area office serving one or more counties. There is a toll free phone number generally available for anybody to call. To locate the nearest VR office there are several options.

  1. If you have access to the internet, use any search engines such as Google or Yahoo and enter the term 'vocational rehabilitation' followed by your state name. e.g. vocational rehabilitation, Maryland. This will bring up the link to the website of your state vocational rehabilitation agency. [In Maryland, VR is under Department of Education and is known as DORS – Department of Rehabilitation Services. Most of the websites have either a xx.gov or state.xx.us format where xx stands for the state name or is abbreviation. For example, 'KY' for Kentucky or 'MASS' for Massachusetts or 'Michigan' for Michigan. Some websites have an .org or .com extension but as you webpage comes up, the state government title or logo is clearly displayed. Avoid the mistake of being led to a dubious site.] The website will have an 'office locator' or 'contact us' link where the location, phone number, staff details and email addresses of each of the offices in the state are visibly mentioned.
  2. On the www.agrability.org website, click on the 'resources' link to contact the local AgrAbility staff in your state or a nearby state. AgrAbility staff can help you contact your local VR office.
  3. Check under 'Government' listings in the local phone book.

How do VR services help AgrAbility customers?

VR provides services to customers who meet specific eligibility criteria. In many cases farmers with disabilities are eligible to receive VR services. The services may include evaluation and assistance in purchasing recommended adaptive devices, assistive technology and home, business and/or vehicle modification. VR also provides assistance for vocational training, and short term physical or mental health restoration treatment. Most of the time, the farmer is recognized as a business owner and services are focused on retaining the business and the farmer's subsequent employment. If there is a need to significantly change the business, the services may also include consultation to establish a business plan as well as services related to some start up costs.
In the past AgrAbility customer have received financial support to start and maintain a wide variety of alternative businesses designed to enhance economic independence and stability.

What are some of the problems a client may face obtaining VR services?

Both the farmer with a disability (FWD) and the vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) would like services to occur as quickly as possible. Unfortunately the vocational rehabilitation process is not as fast as one would like. This is due, in part, to the requirement for accuracy and adherence to policy and procedure as well as the size of each VR counselor's case load. The FWD is encouraged to contact the VR counselor with any questions or concerns regarding the status and progress of their case.

VR counselors may not generally be knowledgeable about farming, farm culture and hence may not understand the needs of the farmer to return to farming. In this circumstance it is important for the farmer to be willing to educate the VR counselor of their need and its rationale and relevance in relation to the return to employment.

Limitations in funding may limit availability and timeliness of some services.

In rare instances some disabilities may be considered too severe by VR counselors and hence they may determine the farmer as ineligible for services. It is important for the FWD to know that this determination must be based on objective information and not subjective information. The FWD can appeal an adverse decision and VR will obtain further objective information via extended evaluation.

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state partnership operating in all states of the United States with a mission to provide rehabilitation assistance to eligible individuals with mental or physical disabilities in order to gain, regain or retain employment and to increase independence. VR services are provided through state agencies that are funded by a combination of state and federal funds. The services are geared towards integration of people with disabilities into society so that they can be productive independent citizens to the best of their abilities as per their informed choice.

What makes VR services attractive to people with disabilities?

• No expense to apply or evaluate for eligibility

• Offices available all over the country – easy to contact

• Informed choice of the customer

• Multiple services available – flexibility of services

• Appeal process in place that is standardized and at no cost to the consumer