MRC's Vocational Rehabilitation Program assists individuals with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program helps individuals with physical, psychiatric and/or learning disabilities face the challenges of the modern workplace. This may include identifying job goals based on individual interests and aptitudes, providing funds for college and vocational training, assessing worksite accommodations, educating an employer about the Americans With Disabilities Act, or assisting an individual returning to work after adjusting to a new disabling condition. Vocational rehabilitation services can often reduce or remove barriers to employment. Priority is given to those individuals who have the most severe disabilities in areas such as communication, mobility, work tolerance and work skills.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program is mandated and regulated by the federal government while being administered through state government. Find out more information about the VR Program's federal parent agency, the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Below is information from the RSA website.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, authorizes the allocation of Federal funds on a formula basis of State and Federal dollars for the administration and operation of a vocational rehabilitation (VR) program to assist individuals with disabilities in preparing for and engaging in gainful employment. The VR program provides a wide range of services and job training to people with disabilities who want to work. At present, the VR system has more than one million eligible individuals, two-thirds of them are severely disabled. Priority is given to people with the most severe disabilities.

To be eligible for VR services from a State VR agency, a person must have a physical or mental impairment that is a substantial impediment to employment; be able to benefit from VR services in terms of employment; and require VR services to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain employment.

The State VR agencies assist persons with disabilities to locate employment by developing and maintaining close relationships with local businesses. Furthermore, they assist persons served to become tax paying citizens and to reduce their reliance on entitlement programs.

According to a 1994 Harris poll, there are approximately 43 million Americans with disabilities. Approximately 66 percent of those individuals of working age are unemployed, whereas, only 20 percent of non-disabled persons are unemployed. According to the poll, 60 percent of those who rate their impairments as "slight" are working, but only 8 percent of those with "very severe" disabilities are working.

To help the population of unemployed persons with disabilities join the workforce, State VR agencies must provide comprehensive rehabilitation services that go way beyond those found in routine job training programs. This frequently includes work evaluation and adjustment services; assessment for and provision of assistive technology, such as customized computer interfaces for persons with physical or sensory disabilities; job counseling services, and medical and therapeutic services.

The first VR Act was signed into law on June 20, 1920. Since then, the program has continually been authorized and expended with bipartisan support, having demonstrated a constant and impressive record of effectiveness. Specifically: Nine million persons with disabilities have been assisted in acquiring employment. Each recent year, more than 200,000 persons with disabilities enter or return to the labor market or become self-employed; and approximately 77 percent of the persons who achieve an employment outcome each year report that their own income is their primary source of support (as opposed to entitlement or through personal relationships).

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.