- Massachusetts Office on Disability
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Independent Living (IL) programs support Massachusetts residents with disabilities with their employment and independent living-related goals. VR and IL services can help people with disabilities find jobs, move out of an institution and into the community, and much more. The Massachusetts Office on Disability’s (MOD’s) Client Assistance Program (CAP) provides support and advocacy for people who are interested in or are currently accessing these services.
Client Assistance Program (CAP) at the Massachusetts Office on Disability
CAP provides information and advocacy to applicants and consumers of VR and IL services. At a minimum, CAP can explain how VR and IL services work and offer guidance on navigating these systems in light of applicable regulations and policies. CAP can also offer direct assistance to individuals who are seeking to resolve concerns about their services and interactions with VR agencies and Centers for Independent Living (CILs). Depending on the circumstances, assistance may include informal advocacy, attending meetings, or representing a consumer in appealing a decision. All CAP services are free and confidential. We do not discuss anything about clients without their consent. CAP is independent of the VR and IL agencies.
What is vocational rehabilitation (VR)?
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services are provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), and they help job seekers with disabilities prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, and regain employment. Consumers of VR services work with counselors to determine an employment goal that is documented in an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Each consumer’s IPE must be consistent with their unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. Each service the consumer needs to reach their goal is also documented in the IPE.
VR services through MRC or MCB may include career counseling and guidance, job development, placement, and follow-up, adaptive technology or equipment assessment or provision, and more. In some cases, VR may provide funding for education or training and other services necessary for an individual to reach and maintain a specific employment goal.
What are independent living (IL) services?
Independent Living (IL) services are provided by Centers for Independent Living (CILs) located across Massachusetts. CILs were established by people with disabilities who wanted to live alongside their peers in the community.
CILs know that people with disabilities are the best sources of information about their personal goals and needs. They provide five core services: (1) Independent Living Skills Training, (2) Peer Support, (3) Advocacy, (4) Transitional services, and (5) Information and Referral. Services are self-driven with the goal of teaching consumers with a wide range of disabilities practical skills and confidence to make choices that promote their right to meet their independent living goals in the community. To learn more read Centers for Independent Living.
CAP offers workshops for clients and families entering the VR system at various stages, including people transitioning out of high school. At these workshops, CAP answers questions about transition and the VR system.
CAP also provides technical guidance around federal and state laws regarding employment rights. In our free and interactive three-part workshop series, we work with you to navigate disability in the employment context, including things to consider when disclosing your disability at different stages of the employment process, best practices for requesting a reasonable accommodation, and recognizing and addressing disability discrimination in the workplace. These workshops are open to employees and job seekers with disabilities and their advocates.
If you have questions about getting VR or IL services or if you have concerns with your services, contact the CAP team by calling MOD’s intake line at 800-322-2020 or emailing email@example.com