Blind Services Assisting Texans to Secure Employment

The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program and services are transferring to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) on September 1, 2016. VR services will be administered under the new program name Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services at TWC.

The program promotes independent and productive lives for adults and youth with disabilities by helping them  prepare for, find and advance in employment. This program serves individuals with a variety of disabilities and is currently administered through two divisions at DARS—one for individuals who are blind, the other for all other disabilities. The legislation that transferred the program to TWC also requires that the two divisions merge into one division that will serve all disabilities by October 1, 2017.

VR services for  people who are blind or visually impaired are specifically designed to help them prepare for and obtain or retain high quality careers.  To accomplish this, individuals who are blind and visually impaired are provided  training to live independently, and to be successful in school and beyond.  Some of these services include:

  • Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC)
    • CCRC is a comprehensive, residential training facility located in Austin, Texas, that works in partnership with VR consumers with visual impairments to help them achieve their employment and independent living goals. CCRC offers training in core skills such as orientation and mobility, Braille, daily living skills and career development.
  • Transition Services
    • Transitions services, a subset of  services in the VR program, partner with  students and youth with vision loss, and those who may have additional disabilities, to assist with making an effective transition from school to adulthood and the workforce.  Through career exploration and guidance, educational support at school, peer supports and mentors, work-based learning opportunities, and the provision of a wide variety of activities that also promote independent living and travel skills, these services help consumers prepare for and make informed decisions about their future goals related to employment, post-secondary training, and post-school life.
  • Deafblind Services
    • Deafblind services are provided by a specialized unit that serves VR consumers who experience a combination of deafness and blindness. Deafblind services help VR consumers prepare for and find employment by providing assistive technology, education, training, and other needed resources.

In addition, TWC will administer the Business Enterprises of Texas (BET) program. The VR program works closely with BET by collaborating to identify individuals with visual impairments who are suitable to complete training to become licensed food service and vending management professionals. BET managers earn their personal income from profits produced by their businesses, which are located on state and federal properties.

Information related to the transition of DARS programs to TWC can be found on the TWC Transition webpage and the DARS Transition webpage.

For information about programs transferring to HHSC, visit the HHSC Transformation webpage.