It cannot be denied that a significant part of the world's population is living with either a mental or physical disability. While many individuals cannot function on their own without constant care provided by either family or a special facility, there are others who have the ability to be productive, self-determined members of society. Vocational rehabilitation programs are one of the main ways of teaching life and work skills to these disabled, but functioning, individuals.
Vocational rehabilitation, at its core, is a set of services provided to individuals who suffer from mental or physical disorders, but who still have the ability and desire to learn and function productively. These services include education, job training and skills that will be needed to get and keep a job. Vocational rehabilitation services are sometimes offered to those who have undergone an injury, or who have endured a mental disorder to try and retrain them for work again.
There are certain standards that a person must meet in order to be enrolled into a vocational rehabilitation program. Requirements can include a participant's age (usually 16 years old and up), having a disability that is a significant barrier to employment (like a psychotic disorder, learning disorders, etc.), being unemployed or under employed, among others.
Vocational rehabilitation services are most often provided by the state, but oftentimes private organizations wish to provide them as well. To make sure that an organization is offering legitimate vocational rehabilitation services, the government issues operating permits. The organization must show that its facilities, staff, training and services are all on par with the requirements of the local and state governments. Additionally, government officials make regular visits, checking up on the progress and standards of vocational rehabilitation services.
The services offered are tailored to each individual who needs them. For instance, a person who suffers from a learning disability may be assigned a job coach to help them locate a job, and then stay with them until they're comfortable in their position. An individual who suffers from a physical disorder, like a blind person, may need other services, such as technology that reads a computer screen to them so that they have the ability to type.
As with any system, vocational rehabilitation has its share of problems. The programs tend to gear those who are rehabilitated for low-end, low-paying jobs, such as food service or janitorial work. Additionally, it is the decision of the counselor as to whether a person's disorder is too severe to allow them to gain any benefit from rehabilitative services. For those who believe they can do more, or who feel that they're being patronized by the slow pace of vocational rehabilitative services, the system is also likely to discourage them from continuing training.