GLOSSARY AND DEFINITIONS
The following terms are used throughout this advocacy tools series. They are provided here for the user’s convenience and reference.
Administrative Review – The first level of several appeal processes through which an individual with disabilities can contest a determination by the VR Agency. Sometimes called an Informal Hearing, Administrative Review is a meeting with the VR Counselor’s supervisor and/or VR Program Manager to resolve the issue.
Client Assistance Program (CAP) – Client Assistance Programs (CAPs) are federally funded agencies in each US state and territory that help people with disabilities get appropriate services from their state’s VR Agency. They provide information, advice, and advocacy to help people with disabilities secure and solve problems related to VR Services.
Comparable Service and Benefits – Services and benefits that are:
- Provided or paid for, in whole or in part, by other federal, state, or local public agencies, by health insurance, or by employee benefits;
- Available to the individual at the time needed to ensure the progress of the individual toward achieving the employment outcome in the person’s Individualized Plan for Employment; and
- Commensurate to the services that the individual would otherwise receive from the designated state vocational rehabilitation agency.
Comparable benefits do not include awards and scholarships based on merit.
Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities – Grant-funded initiative created under the Higher Education Act of 2008 reauthorization to create or expand model programs designed to help postsecondary students with intellectual disabilities to continue academic, career and technical, and independent living instruction in order to prepare for employment.
Fair Hearing – The third level of several appeal processes by which an individual with disabilities can contest a determination by the VR Agency. Fair Hearing is a formal appeal process where the case is presented in front of an impartial administrative law judge/hearing officer.
Financial Participation – The process by which a state VR agency considers the financial need of eligible individuals or individuals who are receiving VR services, and may require VR service recipients to share in the cost of services. Under certain circumstances and for some specific VR Services, the VR agency may not apply a financial needs test or require the financial participation of the individual.
Higher Education Act of 2008 – Reauthorization of a Federal Law originally enacted as the Higher Education Act of 1965 to “strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary education.” The 2008 reauthorization included new access to financial aid to students with intellectual disability attending college programs that meet the requirements of a “Comprehensive Transition Program” (CTP). The legislation did not mandate that colleges offer such programs.
IDEA – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures students with disabilities are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. The goal of IDEA is to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.
Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) – The Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is a personalized written plan outlining an individual’s vocational goal and the services to be provided by the VR Agency to reach that goal. It is written on the basis of the program assessment that is conducted by the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor after eligibility for VR Services is established by the VR Agency.
Informed Choice – Informed Choice is a guiding principle in the provision of VR Services. Informed Choice is generally defined as the process by which individuals participating in VR Programs make decisions about their vocational goals, the services and service providers that are necessary to reach those goals, and how those services will be procured. The decision-making process takes into account the individual’s values and characteristics, the availability of resources and alternatives, and general economic conditions.
Lawsuit – The highest and final appeal process by which an individual with disabilities can contest a determination by the VR Agency. Such a lawsuit is a civil legal action filed in federal or state court and requires representation by a licensed attorney.
Mediation – The second level of several appeal processes through which an individual with disabilities can contest a determination by the VR Agency. Mediation involves meeting with VR and an impartial and qualified mediator (not an employee of the VR Agency) to try to resolve the dispute.
Order of Selection – The process by which state VR Agencies prioritize and meter the provision of VR Services when the needs of eligible individuals exceed the state’s available resources. Under federal law, states are allowed but not required to prioritize service provision to individuals with the greatest need.
Post-Employment VR Services – A subset of VR Services that VR Agencies may provide after a person has achieved an employment outcome, which are necessary for the individual “to maintain, regain, or advance in employment.”
Pre-employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) – Transition services provided by VR Agencies in collaboration with local school districts to support a student’s vocational goals. There are five prescribed Pre-ETS services available to students while still in high school. Student are NOT required to be determined eligible for VR services or have developed an IPE in order to receive these services. See section 2 of this guide for more information.
Secondary Transition – Secondary Transition is the process of preparing students for adult life after they leave high school. This guide focuses on the role of Vocational Rehabilitation Services that may be available while the student is still in high school. These services are designed to be provided though collaboration between the school and VR Agencies, and can include assistance with transition planning, developing post-secondary goals, job exploration counseling, career exploration counseling, developing appropriate VR referrals, work-based learning experiences, instruction in self-advocacy, and more.
Section 504 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a disability civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance. Section 504 works together with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to protect children and adults with disabilities from exclusion and unequal treatment in schools, jobs, and the community.
State Official Reviewing Officer – An additional level of appeal that may be established by state VR Agencies through which an individual with disabilities can contest a determination by the VR Agency. The reviewing officer must be the chief official of the state VR agency or an official from the office of the Governor.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) – The federal law extending and revising the provision of grants to states for vocational rehabilitation services, with special emphasis on services to those with the most severe disabilities. The Rehab Act also expands special Federal responsibilities and research and training programs with respect to individuals with disabilities. Sections of the Rehab Act created and extended civil rights for children and adults with disabilities in education, employment, and various other settings.
VR Agency – VR agencies operated by individual states were created by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) and funded by the US Rehabilitation Services Agency (RSA). These state agencies provide Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR Services) to persons with disabilities in each state and US territory.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR Services) – VR Services are a broad range of services and benefits provided to individuals with disabilities to help them prepare for, secure, regain, or retain employment. VR Services are individually developed and designed to reduce or remove barriers to employment.
If at any time the client needs information or assistance regarding VR services or their rights under these programs, tell them to contact their state’s Client Assistance Program (CAP). More information is available about CAP in Section 6 of this guide series.
For more legal analysis, see Work, Assistive Technology and State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies: The Vocational Rehabilitation Agency’s Obligation to Fund AT to Support Employment Preparation; Ronald M. Hager, Esq., September 2018; National Disability Rights Network. raisecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/VR-Funding-of-AT-2018.pdf
For Additional or General Support:
Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) | There are nearly 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the US and Territories. To find a state’s Parent Center, visit the CPIR website: parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center.
RAISE Center | The National Resources for Advocacy, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center works with the seven (7) Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA)-funded Parent Training & Information Centers (PTIs) to develop and disseminate information and resources that increase their capacity to serve youth and young adults with disabilities and their families. Visit the RAISE Center website: raisecenter.org.
RAISE and its products are funded through a grant from US Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).