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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals

TX SenseAbilities Spring/Summer 2017

By Cheryl Fuller, Director of Rehabilitation Services Division & Interim Director of Blind Services Division, Texas Workforce Commission

Abstract: In this article, Mrs. Fuller provides information about the transition of certain programs from the Department of Assistive Services and Rehabilitative Services to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Key Words: disability, Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program, Independent Living, Texas Workforce Commission, Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, Texas Workforce Solutions, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

On September 1, 2016, vocational rehabilitation (VR) services and staff were transferred to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) from the former Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). These services, which help Texans with visual and other disabilities prepare for, obtain, retain and advance in competitive employment, were transferred as the result of legislation passed during the 84th Texas Legislative Session.

Staff from TWC and DARS worked together to ensure a smooth transfer of services for VR customers. Texas Workforce Solutions network is made up of TWC, 28 workforce development boards and service-providing partners. The addition of VR services to Texas Workforce Solutions will benefit Texans with disabilities. Benefits include access to more employment related training, education and support services, and expanded employment opportunities and initiatives.

TWC’s Texas HireAbility campaign (see http://www.twc.state.tx.us/partners/texas-hireability) is one of these new initiatives. Launched in October in partnership with the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and the Texas Workforce Solutions network, the campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and highlight their contributions in the workplace through educational materials.

TWC’s VR and Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind programs continue to coordinate with the former DARS programs that transitioned to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). These programs include the Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program and the Independent Living (IL) Services program. The two agencies are developing additional strategies to ensure consistent and ongoing collaboration between the programs. The strategies will include opportunities for the agencies to receive feedback and suggestions from customers and other stakeholders.

Stay up-to-date about the VR transition by visiting the DARS Program Transition webpage at http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/department-assistive-rehabilitative-services-program-transition.

For questions about VR services, visit the Vocational Rehabilitation Services webpage (see http://www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/vocational-rehabilitation-services) or contact a customer service representative at 800-628-5115 or .