Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services

VRBS logo. Ready, Willing, and Able.

Vision

Montana values people with disabilities in our workforce and our communities.

Mission 

Montana Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services promotes opportunities for Montanans with disabilities to have rewarding careers and achieve maximum personal potential.

Core Values

  1. We value informed choice; our staff guide, and the people we serve decide.
  2. We presume all people with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, can work in competitive integrated settings with advancement opportunities. 
  3. We believe work provides a sense of purpose.
  4. Our services promote the civil rights of each participant.
  5. We respect and value diversity.
  6. We value our ethical foundations of autonomy, beneficence, fidelity, justice, non-maleficence, and veracity.
  7. We promote healthy interdependence, independent living, and community integration.
  8. Collaborating with partners makes us stronger and more effective.
  9. We continually innovate and provide state of the art services

Customers

Individuals with disabilities seeking employment and their employers comprise our two primary customers. However, all society benefits when its citizens with disabilities are employed in their communities and earning livable wages.

Structure

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 Acting Administrator of Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services as well as Disability Employment and Transitions is Chanda Hermanson-Dudley.  Chanda may be reached via the contact links below.

Staff Members

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.

Vocational Rehabilitation
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)
Email: vrinfo@mt.gov

If you wish to contact us, please email us or contact your local office.

Introductory Video

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.

Standard

Closed Caption

Signer for the Deaf

Descriptive Audio

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.

Order of Selection

VRBS is currently operating under an Order of Selection with suspension of all new entries into Disability Level Order Categories 3 and 2 and 1. As always, our goal is to responsibly and diligently serve clients throughout Montana in a fiscally responsible manner. In order to continue to provide services to clients who are currently being served in all three categories, and to ensure the fiscal integrity of our ability to serve future clients, the Division has most recently suspended new entries into Category 1 as of March 9, 2017. Anyone not already receiving needed services under an individualized plan for employment must be placed on the wait list for services.

The Order is the legally mandated method of rationing services when our resources cannot keep up with the demand.  Resources include funding as well as staff time. The WIOA requires the Order to assure the priority to serve those with the most significant disabilities first. 

We refer those on the wait list to other workforce development programs and programs such as Financial Aid for college. When VRBS has enough resources to meet demand, we will reopen Categories and serve those on the wait list starting with highest priority categories first and on a first come, first served basis within each Category. 

Please note that the Order is fluid and subject to changes as resources and demands allow. 

For more information on the Order, please consult with your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.