U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1208

Tennessee
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Tennessee
2 International Plaza; Suite 825
{Empty}
Nashville
Tennessee
37217
615-298-1080
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
Additional Information
Lisa Primm
Anna Bass
615-298-1080 ext 176
annab@disabiiltyrightstn.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
0
6
0
0
1
7
14
B. Training Activities
18
554
In FY2021, Disability Rights Tennessee’s (DRT) Client Assistance Program (CAP) capitalized on the prevalence of virtual trainings and meetings to provided a total of 18 virtual trainings to 554 individuals. Trainings were provided for staff from Vocational Rehabilitation, Community Rehabilitation Programs, Benefits to Work programs, a Center for Independent Living, and a local behavioral health facility. The CAP team provided training to all Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) staff during the course of the year, by providing training at three sessions. A total of 91 staff, including new VR staff, received training about DRT and CAP as part of their general staff training. Following completion of these sessions, VR requested the CAP team also participate in the newly revamped VR training program for all veteran VR staff. This resulted in the CAP team providing five training presentations to 238 VR staff, as well as, two sessions with 96 VR staff at the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center, the state’s comprehensive rehabilitation center. The CAP team members also participated in three regional VR meetings to provide additional training information to 46 VR staff in those regions.

In addition to providing training to VR personnel, CAP training was also provided to two groups of community rehabilitation providers, totaling 55 individuals trained through collaboration with the entity which provides professional development and certification training to these staff throughout the year. CAP also had the opportunity to provide training regarding our services to 9 team members who serve on the two Benefits to Work teams in Tennessee, including the Community Work Incentive Coordinators. One of these groups also included 7 additional staff from one of the state’s Centers for Independent Living. A final training regarding CAP services was provided to 6 staff of a behavioral health facility and the parents of 6 individuals receiving services at this facility. The CAP training included information about reasonable accommodations in the workplace, taught self-advocacy skills, explained deadlines for filing complaints, and emphasized the value of pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS). Parent and students were also provided with CAP information of how we can help and how to contact the program.
C. Agency Outreach
In FY2021, CAP’s outreach activities continued to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the suspension of in-person activities and health and safety restrictions and guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, the team focused efforts on creating an outreach plan that would provide information to the community despite these barriers utilizing alternative means of reaching the community.

DRT conducts ongoing outreach to the community through various methods including social media and the DRT website; participation in community groups; visits to organizations; and participation in information fairs or conference exhibit booths. In this last year, 54% of the outreach activities undertaken were targeted at underserved or un-served populations including Tennesseans who are deaf or hard of hearing; community resources that work primarily with African American youth; economically disadvantaged communities including rural communities; and individuals with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, and autism.

In FY2021, DRT has continued its intentional focus on conducting outreach efforts to the Hispanic/Latino communities, which together are the second largest minority group in Tennessee. Current census information shows the population to now be 5.7% of the total state population. As part of this effort, DRT has translated a number of materials into Spanish as well as networked with other agencies that serve the Hispanic/Latino community. This fiscal year, DRT continued to allocate dedicated staff time to increase outreach efforts to Spanish speaking communities, including school age children and youth and their families, translate for DRT/CAP clients who receive services in Spanish, and assist with access to CAP services. These efforts will directly assist DRT/CAP in its set goals to reach previously un-served and underserved populations, as this population includes youth who could benefit from available Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). In Tennessee, only 34.5 % of working-age people with disabilities are employed according to Cornell University’s 2018 Disability Status Report. This is in stark contrast to the 79% of work-age Tennesseans without disabilities who are employed.

DRT’s outreach activities enabled us to solidify our referral network with other organizations who serve customers of the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Beneficiaries of Social Security (BSS) to inform them of our advocacy services that help them on their employment journey. DRT conducted outreach to 9 organizations and 2 individuals through 11 outreaches. A total of 95 individuals received information on DRT’s Client Assistance Program (CAP) and the services DRT provides. As a result of these outreach activities, DRT has already identified training opportunities for FY22.

In addition to these efforts, DRT CAP utilizes several committees and groups to further outreach to the community about CAP services and the value of competitive integrated employment. Below are highlights from two of those group outreach efforts: DRT participated in monthly Employment Consortium meetings in East Tennessee and the DRT representative served as the vice chair of the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) during FY2021 and served on the program committee which focused on Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) activities. DRT also participated in quarterly meetings of the Tennessee Employment Consortium (TEC), a statewide group initiated by the employment team of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD). The primary focus of each consortium is to increase the number of individuals with disabilities who are employed in competitive integrated settings. Each consortium consists of representatives of state agencies, area community rehabilitation providers, American Job Centers and other stakeholders. DRT serves as a resource to consortium members seeking information regarding the Rehabilitation Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KAEC was not able to hold the annual event in observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October 2020 but the group is in the final stages of preparation for the October 2021 virtual NDEAM event as COVID still prevents the group from hosting the annual in-person event. DRT is very involved in the planning and organization of this event. While KAEC works in collaboration with the City of Knoxville to celebrate disability mentoring day during NDEAM, the October 2020 event was not able to occur due to COVID and once again the 2021 event has been cancelled for the same reasons. KAEC served in its eighth year as the coordinating entity for recruiting, interviewing and assisting in selection of interns to participate in the two adult model Project SEARCH programs which focus on increasing competitive integrated employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Both programs were interrupted for a few months in FY2021 due to COVID and experienced a decrease in the number of participants completing the programs but the groups were able to host graduation events on a delayed schedule for 11 individuals who returned to the programs following COVID-related closures. New groups of interns began at both adult model Project SEARCH programs on a delayed basis and a total of 11 individuals are in their third and final internship rotations at the host employer sites. Both programs are in the process of recruiting and for new interns to begin the programs in January 2022 and DRT participated in the recent Project SEARCH Information Night activity for potential interns and their families. In addition to the two adult model Project SEARCH programs, KAEC is also involved in a new school-based program with Knox County Schools. The program, in its second year, has served a total of 22 school-age youth in acquiring workplace skills to prepare for future competitive integrated employment. DRT will continue to play an instrumental role in the consortium meetings to ensure continued focus on competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. This year DRT also hosted its 7th Annual Disability Employment Awareness Luncheon (DEAL) virtually in April 2021. The event was streamed live, recorded, and made available on demand for later viewing. DRT’s DEAL event also brought together over 300 stakeholders who had shared interest and commitment to diversifying employment in the State of Tennessee. Bringing awareness to the need and benefit of competitive integrated employment in Tennessee, will impact Tennesseans with disabilities and help change the culture to be more inclusive and equitable in our state.


D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
1
1029
0
1
In FY2021, Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) has created a publication to educate transition age youth about the services that are available through the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and Beneficiaries of Social Security (BSS) programs. The publication is presently ready to be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for their approval before it can be disseminated. Upon SSA approval, DRT will engage its plan to disseminate this document statewide to transition age youth and the entities and individuals which provide services to these populations (e.g. schools). This document will be used to educate youth and their families about DRT’s CAP in underserved and unserved areas to assist youth in transitioning from high school to post-high school endeavors.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
A large urban school district in Tennessee, a prominent Tennessee disability employment blog, and a prominent Middle Tennessee radio station all featured the agency’s disability employment awareness virtual event which hosted information from a national keynote speaker, a diversity and inclusion expert, employees directly implementing disability employment in their workplaces, employees sharing their experiences at work, and CAP staff sharing information about DRT services.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
4
30
34
0
5
B. Problem areas
2
4
16
6
0
5
1
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
15
0
13
0
2
0
30
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
17
6
3
0
0
4
0
0
0
0
0
0
N/A
E. Results achieved for individuals
10
0
2
0
11
4
0
0
0
2
Individual withdrew request for services before results could be achieved.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
2
7
8
15
2
34
B. Gender
20
14
34
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
3
1
0
8
0
22
0
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
1
3
0
0
0
3
6
0
2
1
0
0
2
2
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
0
0
2
2
2
0
0
0
3
0
0
0
1
34
E. Types of Individuals Served
4
0
28
0
2
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
13
In FY 2021, CAP achieved its goal of seeking resolution to systemic issues that impact our mutual clients and their pursuit of employment. CAP achieved its goal primarily through quarterly meetings with VR leadership. At the meetings, VR’s leadership team responds to CAP inquiries and concerns and shares updates about changes that are occurring at VR. DRT’s employment team gathers its concerns and inquiries from systemic issues it sees while working individual cases and at VR events it attends throughout the state.

The biggest systemic change VR made in response to CAP’s concerns this fiscal year was getting VR to make significant and regular updates to its fee schedule amounts. These overdue increases will allot more funding for crucial VR services such as driver’s ed training, service animals, and tutoring. CAP noticed that many of these recommended numbers hadn’t changed in years and were out of date. We presented research to VR showing that many of the services listed on the fee schedule could not be obtained for the amounts that the fee schedule was proposing. VR agreed with CAP’s research and reasoning and, in addition to making significant updates, promised to look at the numbers regularly to ensure that they never become so out of date and restrictive again. At this year’s quarterly meetings, CAP also began to push harder against long-term shortcomings that VR has had with relinquishing federal funds and providing self-employment services to its customers. In response, VR was forthcoming with CAP about its failures in these areas and have tasked internal teams with fixing and making improvements to them.

In addition to productive quarterly meetings with VR, CAP/DRT also provided public written comments on a major overhaul to VR’s Program Services Manual. The comments submitted by the DRT have achieved major systemic benefits for all VR customers. They include: requiring VR counselors (VRCs) to make customers aware of available post-employment services; enacting specific time limits for VRCs to respond to VR customers; reversing limitations that auxiliary aids used for work would be subject to Financial Need if they are also used for personal needs; clarifying that there are no absolute dollar limits for VR services; clarifying that self-employment income requirements are relative to experience and the age of the business; clarifying that leasing requirements for postsecondary AT equipment only apply if leasing is a viable option from the postsecondary institution; removing the requirement for VR consulting with professors before tutoring services are approved; and fixing reversals of recent changes that CAP advocated for that ensured increased neutrality over administrative reviews, the ability to obtain vehicle modifications as a job retention service, and the ability to obtain funding for advanced degrees without specific positions being outlawed. The overhaul to VR’s Program Services Manual is still ongoing and CAP anticipates that its continued involvement in the process will lead to further beneficial changes for VR customers with disabilities. However, these were not the only systemic changes that CAP achieved in FY 2021. The following activities all demonstrate the results of the positive working relationship that CAP has developed with VR’s leadership team. Due to CAP’s efforts to establish this relationship, we are now able to share concerns and ideas which result in changes for our clients, as well as others.

During FY 2021, CAP was once again represented on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). The SRC met quarterly during the year to conduct committee work. The DRT CAP representative to the SRC was highly involved in leading the SRC through its role in providing public written comments on a major overhaul to VR’s Program Services Manual. The comments submitted by the SRC have achieved major systemic benefits for all VR customers. The SRC is committed to continuing its collaborative path with VR to not only improve the VR program for clients of Tennessee but to give them their voice.

As a result of the activities undertaken through this project, the Tri-State Resource and Advocacy Corporation (TRAC), which is the Independent Living (IL) Center serving 10 primarily rural counties in Southeast Tennessee, has begun to increase their participation in the independent living programs and activities in the State of Tennessee. As a result of prior concerns presented to Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) from the general disability community in Southeast Tennessee and from two individuals who filed complaints with DRT against TRAC, DRT pursued an investigation of the program in FY2020. The investigation led DRT to file two formal complaints in the summer of 2020 with the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Office of Independent Living and with the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Prior to the end of FY2020, both entities confirmed receipt of the complaints and the OIG reported plans to conduct an on-site investigation at the IL center in late August 2020. ACL also reported that staff were taking steps to address the concerns brought by disability stakeholders in Tennessee and will provide an update to DRT when they are prepared to make the information available to the public. Despite efforts by DRT to obtain feedback from the federal entities regarding the outcomes of their investigations, DRT never received such reports. On the local level, it has been noted that TRAC’s website has been significantly upgraded to provide information about their services and it is updated on a regular basis, all of which is a major change from the previously donation-soliciting format of the prior website. TRAC has also relocated to a different area of the community and is now located on the public transportation route, which had previously not been the case. Both of these changes can assist individuals with disabilities in learning about and accessing the services of TRAC. Positive outcomes were also shared by the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), which reported that the Executive Director of TRAC had begun participating in quarterly SILC meetings, which had not happened for several years. TRAC participated in the July 2021 celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with other IL Centers, which had also not occurred in the past. TRAC has also requested to return to participation in the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) when the next opportunity is available for this change to occur when the SPIL is prepared and submitted to the Administration for Community Living again. Based on observed and reported positive changes made in the past year by TRAC, it can be surmised that the filing of formal complaints by DRT related to concerns about TRAC has led to multiple positive changes which can in turn lead to greatly enhanced services for individuals with disabilities residing in the 10-county region who could benefit from IL services.
The 10 county region served by TRAC has a population of 80,852 individuals with disabilities under the age of 65 per 2019 Census Bureau estimates. With a staff of only two full-time employees, TRAC would be able to provide CORE services to a small fraction of that population. It is therefore estimated that the positive changes being made at TRAC could initially have a positive impact on 1% of the total population of individuals with disabilities in this 10-county region. Over time, and with the potential for increased funding, the services could expand to a greater degree and have a wider impact on the region.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Tennessee
No
{Empty}
B. Staff Employed
20 FTE (Advocacy&Legal) -20 employed 100% of year.
2 FTE ( Clerical) - 2 employed 100% of year.
2 PTE (Advocacy&Legal) 2 employed 100% of year.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
An individual received assurances that the concerns she experienced during her psychological evaluation have been addressed with the examiner and that Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) will monitor the evaluation experiences of other VR clients who participate in evaluation services with this examiner in the future. A 63-year-old Hispanic female who resides in an urban area and has an autoimmune disorder contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) and reported that VR was delaying in providing services to her and was not willing to fund the specific course she needed to become re-certified and return to work in her field of IT program management. Prior to her contact with CAP our client had strongly self-advocated for services and VR agreed to provide the financial support for the program during the three days between the time our client contacted CAP and we were able to re-connect with her to discuss her concerns. During that follow-up contact she provided this training update, which CAP later confirmed with VR and reviewed the completed Individualized Plan for Employment. Our client also shared her concerns related to the evaluation experience and inquired if CAP could address this issue with VR. She reported that the examiner had asked probing questions about personal relationships, made comments which she perceived as derogatory toward her ethnicity and stated that he could ask her whatever questions he wanted to ask. As DRT had worked with two previous VR clients several years ago who had negative test reporting experiences with this same examiner and had discussed those issues with VR at that time, DRT once again reached out to VR to discuss the current concerns of our client. The VR Director of Field Services subsequently addressed the issue with the VR regional supervisors in the area and one of those supervisors discussed the concerns with the examiner. VR agreed to monitor the evaluation experiences of VR clients who participate in evaluations with that examiner in the future.

A young female who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorder is completing final preparations to submit her food truck self-employment business plan to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for review. A 27-year-old, African-American female who resides in an urban area of the state contacted CAP and reported that her VR Counselor (VRC) was not maintaining communication with her about her case. She also had not received anticipated updates regarding the business plan she submitted for a dog treat business. CAP assisted our client with reestablishing contact with her VRC and obtained their concerns about her business plan. As a result, CAP discussed the information with our client, who shared she had begun to have concerns about the viability of such a business in light of changes due to COVID-19. Our client contacted her VRC about this concern and the possibility of converting to a food truck business. Her VRC encouraged her to prepare and submit a self-employment business plan for such a business. CAP worked with our client to review information and requirements related to such businesses and reviewed/edited multiple versions of the plan with her. Our client also received self-employment guidance from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and is now finalizing her business plan for final review by the SBDC. Subsequently, she will be prepared to submit her business plan to VR for consideration of financial support.

A nursing student is pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing degree with full sponsorship from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) at a private nursing school. A 45-year-old, Caucasian man with anxiety disorder contacted CAP because VR denied his request for financial support to exceed state rates for his tuition at a private nursing school. Our client’s VR program had included the private school on his Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) from the beginning of his program. However, VR policy only allows VR to pay the state rate. Our client cited several reasons for his request including ineligibility for some of the state school programs, childcare issues and inability to be accepted at some schools due to withdraws from another program not to mention the private school accelerated program would have our client working as a nurse twelve months prior to the state programs. VR denied the request to exceed state rates, which would force our client out of his current program risking not being able to complete his degree at all. Our client filed an appeal, which was never scheduled, although the counselor provided our client with the contact information for the Client Assistance Program (CAP). CAP filed an exception request on our client’s behalf instead of appealing through an informal administrative review. After the review of the request and our client’s file, VR reversed their decision and granted our client full sponsorship at his chosen service provider, the private nursing school. Our client had to take out a student loan at the private school at the beginning of the spring semester in order to stay in the program. Initially, VR would not pay this amount, only the remainder for the term at full rate. DRT followed up with VR management who the exception request was initially filed. VR management reversed this decision as well citing an oversight in the original exception request decision. Our client will complete his BSN in 16 months instead of two years and will seek to enter the workforce at that time.

A young man who has Autism has resumed working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and with a new provider to again pursue employment in his long-term interest area of film and video editing. The mother of a 27-year-old Caucasian male who resides in an urban area of the state contacted Disability Rights Tennessee’s (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) and reported that staff from VR and the provider agency unexpectedly met with her son the day before during his workday to change his employment objective to match the production job in which he was working and explained to him the plan to close his case with VR as he was successfully employed. A few years ago our client completed an associate degree program and obtained multiple certifications related to his interest in film and video editing. Since that time he worked with various VR service providers to seek employment in his chosen field and participated in internships but had not yet attained his employment goal. He obtained a job as a production worker simply to earn money and to work to build some work history but he and his parents consistently reported to VR and the service provider that he wanted to continue to work with VR and the provider toward achieving his true employment objective of film and video editing. Our client and his mother explained to VR that they had contacted CAP after VR tried to close his case and VR agreed to maintain an open case. VR subsequently assigned our client to a different VR Counselor (VRC) and met with our client, his mother and CAP to discuss service provider options. Our client’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) was amended to return to his chosen employment objective and to work with a different service provider to acquire job readiness skills and to receive job placement services. As VR had rather abruptly taken steps to close our client’s VR case even though he was employed in a job which did not match with his chosen employment objective, CAP met with the VR regional supervisor to discuss these concerns. CAP reviewed the importance of VR ensuring that individuals’ cases are not closed merely because they have obtained employment if it is not aligned with their chosen employment objective. The importance of customer-centered practices was reviewed and it was agreed that individual VR customers must receive the opportunity to fully discuss their options with VR and service provider staff in order to make a fully informed choice regarding their employment and the appropriate closure of their VR case.

A high school senior with autism is finally connected to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and is receiving Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). The mother of a 17-year-old male contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) to obtain contact information of her son’s high school Pre-ETS counselor. She stated she had looked everywhere on-line, but she could not find the information. CAP contacted the Middle TN Pre-ETS Coordinator for VR and acquired the information, which CAP passed on to our client’s mother. She attempted to contact the counselor to no avail. So, CAP facilitated the communication by emailing the counselor, the Pre-ETS Coordinator and VR’s Transition Coordinator. After CAP’s facilitation of this communication, our client is now receiving these transition services that will provide him with skills that will prepare for him for future employment.

A man with mental illness and who is a Social Security beneficiary is once again receiving job placement assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). Our client is a 56-year-old Caucasian man with impulsive explosive disorder and depression. He wants to work near his home and not have to drive far to go to work. He has worked with VR in the past and he stated that VR keeps sending him to apply for jobs that are very far from his home. He also has not received contact from VR since last year. Our client said he needed to find employment and VR was doing nothing to help him. Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) contacted VR and learned VR had closed his case the year before. CAP explained our clients concerns to VR and they immediately met with us to discuss taking our client’s application. VR scheduled a meeting with our client for this purpose and began the eligibility process. Our client has signed his Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with VR and was referred to a community rehabilitation provider. As a result, he will now have access to services that will assist him with obtaining gainful employment near his home.

An individual has filed her application with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), been determined eligible for services, and is beginning the process of working with VR to pursue her employment objective. A 49-year-old Caucasian female who sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a sequestered disc contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) regarding concerns with VR. She reported that she had been attempting to make contact with the VR office in her rural area of the state for almost one year in order to file an application for services. She had previously lived in another state where she had worked with the VR program to pursue her bachelor’s degree. At the time of her move to Tennessee she had only one semester of courses to complete in her online education program and wished to work with Tennessee's VR program to complete her degree. CAP contacted a supervisor in the VR program, and he immediately initiated contact with our client and scheduled for her to hold a call with a VR counselor within a few days. Our client has completed her application with VR, was determined eligible for services, and begun the next steps toward completing her educational program to prepare her to become an instructor in an online radiology technology program.

An individual who has autism and mental illness has obtained and successfully maintained employment as a courtesy clerk in a grocery store after having not been employed for 14 years. The mother of a 40-year-old Hispanic female who resides in a large metropolitan area contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) and reported that her daughter had experienced delays in receiving supported employment services through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and the community rehabilitation provider (CRP). It was learned that the delays had been primarily caused by places of employment not agreeing to have a job coach on site with an employee, due to COVID-19 concerns. Soon thereafter, the CRP contacted our client and her mother about her future job and they discussed with her the requirements for a job coach as well as the number of hours which VR expects an individual to work per week. Our client’s mother expressed concerns about the information provided. CAP reviewed VR policy with our client and her mother to clarify the information they had received and explained the option to request an exception to the number of hours worked per week, provided the hours would meet the needs of the employer. CAP also reviewed this information with the VR Counselor on client's behalf. After three weeks of on-the job training with her job coach from the CRP, the CRP determined that our client had successfully learned her job duties and was determined as stabilized in her employment. Per our client’s request, and with approval from the CRP and VR, her personal assistant began serving as her job coach to assist her as needed to maintain employment. At the time of her case closure with CAP, our client had maintained her employment for over five weeks and worked 12 hours per week. While she reported that she would like to have the opportunity to bag groceries more often, she reported that she enjoyed her new job.

With the provisions of appropriate accommodations from his school, an individual who is deaf can now stay in school with VR sponsorship to pursue his employment goal. A 20-year-old Caucasian man who is deaf accepted a partial sports scholarship to a private college as a member of their bowling team and received Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) sponsorship and other public funding. Due to his school not providing an interpreter for him until well into his second semester, his grades suffered, and he was placed on probation by both the school and VR. CAP advocated for VR to change his status at the end of his spring semester to be on probation then and not suspension because he was not provided the accommodations his first semester in school. VR agreed and discussed our client’s accommodations further with the school, so our client receives CART services going forward since this accommodation works best for him. Due to CAP’s advocacy efforts, our client is able to remain in school. Our client took classes in the summer session and successfully achieved the GPA needed to keep his VR sponsorship of his training program. However, our client could not get his grades to his counselor prior to the Fall semester start. Because of a loss of internet services when taking his final exams of the summer session, our client was permitted to complete that exam the next school day, which happened to be the first day of the fall semester. For this reason, VR did not receive his grades on time and his counselor pulled VR sponsorship because she did not receive our client’s grades on time. Our client and his family contacted CAP for help. CAP escalated this issue to VR management, who in turn reached out to the counselor’s supervisor. VR then overturned our client’s counselor’s decision and provided the funding for our client to remain in school.

A young woman’s concerns about her training program receiving payment from VR for her training were resolved. A 24-year-old Caucasian woman with autism obtained Vocational Rehabilitation’s (VR) agreement for her to attend an out-of-state school that was actually close to her Tennessee home. Our client had completed college and she needed to learn some social skills to help her become more employable and the program also provided job placement services. The program had not received payment from VR even though our client had almost completed her training. Disability Rights Tennessee’s (DRT), Client Assistance Program (CAP) contacted VR to notify them of the problem. VR reported due to a computer system change and delays that occurred from that change, the check had been sent later than usual. VR worked with the training program vendor to assure CAP and our client that the training program had received payment.

A transition age youth who has attention deficit disorder and optic nerve hypoplasia received information to assist her in working with her Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor to identify an appropriate employment goal and to receive services to assist her in achieving this goal. The mother of a 19-year-old Caucasian female who resides in an urban area of the state contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and reported that her daughter had applied for VR services four months prior and had since been shuffled between VR divisions without having yet been determined eligible for services. CAP shared information regarding the eligibility determination process and associated timelines as well as the process for priority category (PC) determination. Shortly thereafter, our client received news from VR that her case had been transferred back to the original VR Counselor (VRC) with whom she had applied, and she had been determined eligible for services at the PC 1 service level. As our client and her mother had expressed concerns about delays in receiving a vocational assessment and information about driver education training through VR, CAP provided information regarding options for the vocational assessment services and shared VR policy information related to driver education services. Our client is now prepared to begin the process of working with VR to receive the services necessary to explore her career interests and abilities and to achieve employment in her chosen field.


Certification
Approved
Lisa Primm
Executive Director
2022-01-13
OMB Notice

OMB Control Number: 1820-0528, approved for use through 07/31/2023

According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless such collection displays a valid OMB control number. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 16 hours per response, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The obligation to respond to this collection is required to obtain or retain a benefit (Section 13 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended). Send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202-4537 or email ICDocketMgr@ed.gov and reference the OMB Control Number 1820-0528. Note: Please do not return the completed form to this address.