Center for Disability Research and Service Receives Grant Funding

August 1, 2014

For the fifth consecutive year, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Service has collaborated with the Center for Disability Research and Services at Auburn University (CDRS) to conduct the Vocational Rehabilitation Consumer Satisfaction Survey for the general population. Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) is responsible for commissioning this survey and for the continued funding of this study. The award amount is $130,612.00.

As in previous years, the survey will include consumers who were closed successfully (i.e., with an employment outcome of 90 days or longer at closure), as well as consumers closed unsuccessfully (i.e., without an employment outcome after services had been provided). The satisfaction of both groups is necessary to understand multiple perspectives on individual experiences.  The survey will assess the current work status of consumers as well as three components of consumer satisfaction:  (1) satisfaction with VR counselors; (2) satisfaction with services provided; and (3) satisfaction with the level of consumer choice in rehabilitation planning.

The Commissioner of ADRS, Dr. Cary Boswell, has remained committed to conducting a comprehensive analysis of the services VR provides. CDRS consults with a research methodologist, Dr. Marie Kraska, Professor in Auburn’s Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology, to ensure that the sample selection is obtained properly, the survey instrument is sound, and the administration is consistent. ADRS administrators and the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) also provided guidance and feedback throughout the process.

All VR agencies are required to gather a multitude of data when individuals’ cases are closed. Examining the combination of data from surveys and administrative records can play a vital role in developing evidence-based arguments for VR policy changes and program planning. Analyzed together, these data will provide a multilayered perspective on outcome measures and consumers’ VR experience.

The mission of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) is to enable Alabama’s children and adults with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential. The ADRS provides a continuum of services to assist Alabamians with disabilities at home, in school, and on the job. Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR) is the largest of the four divisions within ADRS. During fiscal year 2012 (FY2012), VR served 31,383 individuals who were in various stages of their rehabilitation program.

Within the broad mission of ADRS, VR focuses on assisting eligible people to achieve independence through employment.  The counseling relationship is at the heart of the VR process. The counselor and the individual with the disability collaborate to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), amend it as necessary, and follow it through to completion. Counselors develop rapport with their clients from the initial meeting and application for services and work to maintain this relationship throughout the individuals’ rehabilitation process. It is integral to assess the effectiveness of this relationship from the individuals’ perspectives. Gathering data to determine the effectiveness of the counseling relationship and the efficacy of the rehabilitation services is critical to ensure people with significant disabilities receive quality services from qualified counselors that lead to enhanced competitive employment outcomes in integrated settings.