Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

DVR can play a significant role in funding supported employment

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR or VR) is a state and federally sponsored program whose missions is to assist people with disabilities to prepare for, get, and keep PAID employment. DVR can provide or fund a number of services including guidance and counseling, vocational assessment, job preparation, and job placement. It can also play a critical role in funding supported employment services, including paying for the services of a supported employment vendor. When supported employment is part of a client’s plan, DVR will typically pay for costs associated with initial placement and training before closing a case. This can include assessment, job development, placement, training and short term support. It will not pay for long term support on the job. Before agreeing to be a funding partner for a person with long term support needs, DVR often needs to have assurances that there will be funding for on-going or follow along support to help ensure the success of the placement.

Questions regarding eligibility and other services provided by DVR can be answered at the following web site: http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/dvr/ Much of the information below is borrowed from the DVR web site and other DVR publications.


Individuals are eligible for services if they want to work (paid employment) and have a disability that makes it difficult to get or keep a job. To receive DVR services, a client must:

1. Have a physical or mental disability that makes it difficult to get a job or keep a job that matches their skills, potential, and interest. (see functional limitations below)

2. Need services and support, such as counseling, training, or assistance with a job search, in order to get or keep a job.

Note: Individuals receiving SSI are automatically eligible for DVR services.

Waiting Lists and Order of Selection

Frequently, DVR does not have adequate funding to provide services to all who might be eligible. As a result, it often needs to establish waiting lists using a process called “order of selection.” Using order of selection, DVR will prioritize potential clients based upon the severity of disability or more specifically, the “functional limitations” they experience that significantly impact their ability to secure and maintain paid employment. The length of these waiting lists varies from year to year, making it difficult to establish a standard timeline for applying for services. It is recommended that students check with their IEP provider and/or local DVR office 2 years before their expected date of graduation re: the most current suggestions for starting the formal application process.

DVR assigns transition liaisons to high schools. These liaisons are a helpful resource in making the determination re: when to formally apply. These liaisons are also available to consult with IEP and transition teams before students apply for DVR services, especially in challenging situations.

What are “Functional Limitations?”

DVR counselors will need to determine whether a potential client has significant functional limitations or losses that are disability related. S/he will conduct interviews and gather information from other sources (e.g., evaluations/assessments done by special education and/or other professionals) to document specific areas in which a disability impacts a client’s ability to get and/or keep a job. When applying for DVR services, it is important to be prepared to answer questions and provide documentation related to possible functional limitations in the following areas:

Mobility. DVR will look at an individual’s ability to get to and move around within a work environment. This could include the ability to stand, walk, or maintain balance; use public transportation; obtain a driver’s license and use a private vehicle (with or without adaptive equipment); adjust to changes in travel routes or methods; etc.

Work Tolerance. DVR will also look at an individual’s ability to meet the physical, environmental, scheduling, etc., demands of a work setting. This could include the ability to adjust to environmental conditions in work settings; physical limitations or conditions that require job significant modifications, accommodations, or adaptive technology; the ability to maintain speed, accuracy, productivity and work quality over the course of a work shift; the need for significant adjustments in work schedules; etc.

Communication. Additionally, DVR will look at an individual’s ability to effectively communicate in work settings. This could include the ability to engage in appropriate verbal discussions, use the telephone, speak clearly, read and write; the ability to interpret tone and inflection in verbal communication; the ability to understand significant environmental cues such as fire alarms, sirens, or warning lights/signs; other impediments to communication such as talking excessively, rambling, interrupting others inappropriately, or conversation that is halting, weak, pressured, illogical, irrelevant, or obscure.

Self Care. DVR will also consider an individual’s ability to accomplish activities of daily living and maintain personal safety. This could include the ability to manage personal care needs (e.g., eating, dressing, hygiene, health care, etc.), money (cash, checkbook, banking, etc.), and exercise judgment re: personal safety, etc.

Interpersonal Skills. DVR as well will look at an individual’s ability to establish and maintain effective relationships with family, friends, coworkers, supervisors, and others. This could include issues related to cooperativeness and other behaviors related to getting along with others (e.g., withdrawal, anger, aggression, frequent conflict, etc.)

Self Direction. In addition, DVR will consider an individual’s ability to independently accomplish tasks, monitor his/her own behavior, and/or make decisions. This could include the ability to plan and carry out daily activities, make adjustments to routines, follow instructions, concentrate, remember and complete assigned tasks, analyze and/or solve problems, as well as make decisions.

Work Skills. Finally, DVR will look at an individual’s ability to learn new tasks and maintain skills without specialized instruction, intensive supervision, and/or significant modifications, adaptations, or accommodations.

What Services Can DVR Provide?

As mentioned earlier, the mission of DVR is to assist individuals prepare, find, and maintain paid employment. DVR staff will help clients get the information they need to make good decisions about the type of work they want and design and carry out a plan to reach their employment goals. DVR offers a variety of services to assist people with disabilities to prepare for, get, and keep jobs. Services depend on individual needs and circumstances and can include:

Assessment services to measure strengths, capabilities, work skills and interests. These services assist in selecting a job goal, as well as the DVR services needed to reach that goal.

Counseling and guidance services provided throughout the rehabilitation process to help clients make good decisions about how to reach goals.

Independent living services help clients understand and deal with disability issues that prevent them from working; these include, but are not limited to training in self-care, money management, using community transportation

Assistive technology services assist with communication or doing tasks by using devices such as, hearing aids, visual aids, special computer software, etc.

Training services provide specialized instruction/training in work skills needed to achieve employment goals.

Job placement services, including:

  1. Assistance completing applications, developing a resume, practicing interview skills
  2. Identifying job leads, and most importantly
  3. Working with an employment “vendor” or agency for assessment, job development, placement, training, and short term support. DVR can play a big role helping fund supported employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities.