Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services
Our mission is real jobs with real wages. We maximize the potential for Montanans with disabilities to prepare for, obtain, retain, and advance in the same high-quality jobs and high demand careers as persons without disabilities. We deliver employment services consistent with an individual's strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.
Youth and adults with disabilities face many barriers to employment. Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services eliminates employment barriers through the belief that disability is natural, that society should maintain high expectations for people with disabilities, and that our services change lives. Our services build upon the civil rights of citizens with disabilities. Informed choice and the priority to serve those with the most significant disabilities drive everything we do. Our staff members are guiders, not deciders. The locus of control rests with the individual with a disability. The bulk of our service centers on getting people with disabilities to believe in themselves and to set vocational goals and plans consistent with basic civil and human rights. We refrain from paternalistic practices and medical modeled services in which professionals dictate services. Our services insist on the rights and responsibilities of each participant. The people we serve have skin in the game, doing for themselves the things they can do for themselves. Our participants take personal responsibility to maximize their career dreams. Moreover, Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services champions competitive integrated employment, that is, real jobs in the community for real pay of livable wages. In addition, Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services cultivates many partnerships including those with Community Rehabilitation Programs, Centers for Independent Living, high schools, colleges, and workforce development programs. Our primary partner is the State Rehabilitation Council. And last but not least, Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services serves employers and Montana’s business community. We apply the latest labor and management information along with business objectives to inform people with disabilities so that they can make choices based on job-driven information. Workers with disabilities contribute a great deal to Montana’s workforce, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services enthusiastically supports business as one of our primary customers.
Individuals with disabilities seeking employment and their employers comprise our two primary customers. However, all of society benefits when its citizens with disabilities are employed in their communities and earning livable wages.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services combines the general and the blind vocational rehabilitation programs in a single unit. Montana state law allows the combined approach, and it also requires separate services for blind and visually impaired clients. Follow the link to Blind and Low Vision Services on this page to find out more about that part of our program. Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services is part of the Disability Employment and Transitions Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The Administrator of Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services as well as Disability Employment and Transitions is Jim Marks. Jim may be reached via the contact links below.
Our Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Instructors must hold a master’s degree and the ability to sit for certification in order to be qualified for their jobs. These professionals are supported by other professionals including administrative support, specialists, program managers, supervisors, and trainees. All engage continuous improvement and personal development to hone their skills to a keen leading edge.
Our Central Office administrative staff is located in Helena.
111 North Last Chance Gulch, Suite 4C
PO Box 4210
Helena, MT 59604-4210
1 (877) 296-1197 (toll-free consumer line)
(406) 444-2590 (voice/TTY)
(406) 444-3632 (fax)
If you wish to contact us, please e-mail us or contact your local office.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services presents the following video to introduce our services. The four links below play different versions of the same video. Choose the standard link to play the video without reasonable accommodations. If you require open captioning, sign language interpreting, or audio description, click on the corresponding link to play the video with reasonable accommodations.
Signer for the Deaf
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA)
The WIOA sets a whole new course for vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and other disability services. The changes are so significant that Montana and the rest of the nation will split its views of these public programs in two parts: Before WIOA and after WIOA. In other words, our WIOA services are not those your parents or grandparents knew. According to Janet LaBreck, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the US Department of Education, WIOA changes 100 items in WIOA’s Title IV, the part of the WIOA formerly known as the Rehabilitation Act. That’s a lot by any measure. To put a finer point on it, many of those changes require sweeping departures from past practices. So, in the spirit of the WIOA, welcome to the new Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services. We will serve Montana differently than we have in the past. WIOA reinvigorates what we do well and raises the bar for service. Montanans with disabilities, supported by the innovations and opportunities of the services we provide, live the lives they choose, just like any Montanan expects and demands. Here is to a new day in services for people with disabilities in our nation and state!
To meet WIOA, Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services will accomplish the following three changes:
•Emphasize services to youth with disabilities.
•Champion competitive integrated employment.
•Align VRBS with workforce development programs.
For more information about how the WIOA affects the public vocational rehabilitation program, check out the Rehabilitation Services Administration page on WIOA.
For more information about how the WIOA affects the public independent living, assistive technology, and disability research programs; check out the Administration on Community Living’s page.
For more information about how the WIOA affects workforce development programs, check out The US Department of Labor’s page on employment and training.