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    Archived pages: 423 . Archive date: 2013-08.

  • Title: Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
    Descriptive info: .. Skip to Content.. |.. Agencies.. Governor.. Search Virginia.. Gov.. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.. WWRC.. Partners.. Contact Us.. Site Tools.. Home.. Search This Site.. About Us.. Welcome to.. DARS.. Commissioner's Hello.. Find an Office.. Details Maps.. Calendar.. Public Events.. Job Openings at.. Come work with us.. Services.. Our Services.. How we can Help.. Boards Councils.. Related Agencies.. Job Seekers.. Learn More.. About.. VR.. Ready to Apply?.. Get started here.. Success Stories.. Clients share.. Career Library.. Links more.. Employers.. Business Services.. Services to Employers.. CWN.. Program.. Reach Candidates.. DARS Business News.. Stay up to Date.. More Resources.. Find Qualified Staff.. Publications.. Annual Reports.. Brochures.. Public.. Docs.. Policy.. Forms Files.. Newsroom.. News Releases.. Latest Updates.. PR.. Contacts.. for Media Marketing.. Virginia Links.. Text Size.. Default.. Medium.. Larger.. Page Tools.. E-Mail This Page.. Print This Page.. Translations.. Connect Share.. Latest News.. What's New?.. News Room.. Social Media.. Facebook.. YouTube.. Welcome to DARS.. Supporting Virginians efforts to secure independence and employment.. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in collaboration with community partners, provides and advocates for resources and services to improve the employment, quality of life, security, and independence of older Virginians, Virginians with disabilities, and their families.. DARS was created by merging the former Department of Rehabilitative Services and Department for the Aging in 2012 to help older Virginians and those with disabilities to maximize and secure their employment, independence and full inclusion into society and guide the Commonwealth in preparing for an.. aging population.. In July, the.. adult services unit.. from Virginia's Department of Social Services joined DARS as its Adult Protective Services Division.. Read Commissioner Rothrock's message on the agency s new mission statement.. More news from DARS.. Commonwealth and business leaders challenged to turn into action Executive  ...   position to coordinate Virginia's dementia services.. Charlotte Arbogast is joining the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services as the Commonwealth's first dementia services coordinator.. As coordinator, Ms.. Arbogast she will review existing programs and work with agencies to more effectively deliver services to Virginians with dementia and identify gaps and reduce duplication in those services.. Learn more about this important new position.. NGA Chair Announces Year-long Initiative: A Better Bottom Line.. The new chair of the National Governors Association, Delaware Gov.. Jack Markell has unveiled the initiative,.. A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities.. , which aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities.. The initiative will focus on the employment challenges that affect individuals with intellectual and other significant disabilities and the role that state governments and business can play in facilitating and advancing opportunities for these individuals to be gainfully employed in the competitive labor market.. Virginia s Blueprint for Livable Communities.. The goal of this initiative is to bring together area leaders to focus on accessible and affordable transportation, housing, and wrap-around support services to help Virginians of all ages and abilities live integrated lives in their communities.. Find out more.. Video Spotlight.. More Stories.. Damon Anderson.. Matt Shelor.. Elizabeth Alcazar-Zepeda.. More Video.. The Appointment.. NewWell Fund.. Virginia Currents.. Contact Information.. Contacting DARS is easy:.. Toll Free Phone.. : 800-552-5019.. Toll Free TTY.. : 800-464-9950.. E-mail.. :.. Front Desk.. Webmaster.. Visit.. Policies.. Learn more about our policies on gathering information, plug-ins and more.. Use.. :.. Web Use.. Accessibility.. Acts.. ADA.. FOIA.. Web Standards.. At a minimum, this web site meets.. Section 508.. and at least Level A Conformance to.. WCAG.. 1.. 0.. Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.. , Commonwealth of Virginia.. Start of Page.. Start of Content..

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  • Title: Partners - The Disability Services Agencies (DSA)
    Descriptive info: Partners - The Disability Services Agencies (DSA).. The Virginia Disability Services Agencies.. The DSA is a group of related agencies and other groups that serve people with disabilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.. The VADSA.. org web site provides links in the categories of Communication, Community Living, Devices and Equipment, Education, Financial Assistance, Job Seekers, Rights and Advocacy, and Transportation.. Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority.. Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority is low interest loan program that assists Virginians with disabilities to get the assistive technology they need for work, play, education, and daily life.. The Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority also provides Telework loans for individuals who need equipment for their home-based business.. The Fund makes many loans for adaptive vans and modified vehicles, home modifications, hearing aids, and more.. Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD).. The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities serves as the Commonwealth's Disabilities Planning Council to address the needs of people with developmental disabilities (DD).. The Board advocates for services that are consumer and family centered, and works to ensure that individuals with DD can exercise self-determination to achieve independence, productivity, and full inclusion in community life.. Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB).. Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB) is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for persons who are blind by providing opportunities for career development.. Established over eight decades ago as a not-for-profit organization offering vocational rehabilitation for blind Virginians, VIB is a self-funded division of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).. Virginia  ...   Keys to Communication, works to reduce the communication barriers between persons who are deaf or hard of hearing and those who are hearing, including family members, service providers, and the general public.. The foundation of all programs at VDDHH is communication both as a service (through interpreters, technology, and other modes) and as a means of sharing information for public awareness (through training and education).. Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services collaborates with the public and private sectors to provide and advocate for the highest quality services that empower individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment, independence, and full inclusion into society.. DARS is the state vocational rehabilitation agency which assists people who have disabilities that are a barrier to employment and independent living.. DARS also has the.. Community Based Services Division.. which offers non-vocational assistance to individuals with the most severe disabilities, particularly those with physical and sensory disabilities.. Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy(VOPA).. VOPA helps with disability-related problems like abuse, neglect, and discrimination.. VOPA also helps people with disabilities obtain services and treatment.. All callers will receive some form of assistance; individuals with problems that are targeted in our program priorities may also receive advocacy services and/or legal representation.. Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC).. The Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center is the first state-owned and operated comprehensive rehabilitation center in the country.. WWRC provides comprehensive medical, assistive technology and vocational rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities to help them gain increased independence and employment..

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  • Title: Contact Us
    Descriptive info: Central Office.. Mailing Address.. Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.. Street Location: 8004 Franklin Farms Drive.. Henrico, VA 23229-5019.. Voice: 804.. 662.. 7000.. Fax: 804.. 9532.. Toll Free Number:800.. 552.. 5019.. Toll Free TTY: 800.. 464.. 9950.. E-mail:.. dars@dars.. virginia.. gov.. Community Offices.. Visit the.. DARS Community Offices Page.. for more contact information.. Directions / Map.. The link below will  ...   content on any google page.. We are offering the link purely for planning purposes:.. Get Directions.. Public Relations and Marketing Contacts.. Public Relations Director.. A.. J.. Hostetler.. 8004 Franklin Farms Drive.. Henrico, VA 23229-5019.. aj.. hostetler@dars.. gov.. 804.. 7372 (o).. 420.. 7187 (c).. 9478 (fax).. Marketing Public Relations Specialist.. Betsy C.. McElfresh.. Henrico, VA.. betsy.. mcelfresh@dars.. 7532 (o).. 9478 (fax)..

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  • Title: About Us: The Commissioner's Message
    Descriptive info: About Us: The Commissioner's Message.. Welcome to the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.. Our Commonwealth now benefits from a new agency, DARS.. The agency was created by merging the former Department of Rehabilitative Services and Department for the Aging.. In 2013, the adult services units from Virginia s Department of Social Services will become part of DARS.. DARS merger was proposed by Gov.. McDonnell and took effect July 1 to provide and advocate for the highest quality of services to help older Virginians and those with disabilities to maximize and secure their employment, independence and full inclusion into society and guide the Commonwealth in preparing for an aging population.. At the state level, this new agency will work with its community partners to be more effective in strategic planning, budgeting, program monitoring and evaluation and training and technical support.. The agency will be at the center of the Commonwealth's response to two critical emerging issues.. First, many Virginians who are often referred  ...   who are transitioning from institutions to community settings or those who wish to live and work with long-term supports and services.. DARS will also be there in support of their new choices.. In just two decades, one in five Virginians will be over age 65.. Today at least one in every 100 adults age 60 or older lives with a lifelong disability, totaling more than 10,000 people in the Commonwealth a number expected to triple in the next decade.. Recognizing the coming Age Wave, the VDA and its partners updated Virginia s.. Four-Year Plan for Aging Services.. Another initiative,.. The Blueprint for Livable Communities.. , focuses on accessible and affordable transportation, housing and other support services to facilitate independence and helping Virginians regardless of their age or abilities stay in their communities.. Your new agency, DARS, will work with these individuals and their families to realize this vision of increased options for adults and a true Commonwealth of Opportunity for all.. Jim Rothrock, Commissioner..

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  • Title: Offices Listing
    Descriptive info: Offices Listing.. Office Listing.. Field Offices.. Regional Offices.. Statewide Administrative Offices.. Office Name.. Phone.. Email.. City.. Abingdon Office.. (276) 676-5565.. James Harris.. Abingdon.. Alexandria Office.. (703) 960-3411.. Teresa Bertsch.. Alexandria.. Blue Ridge Rehab Engineering Shop.. (540) 857-8910.. Joann Willis.. Roanoke.. Central Regional Office.. (804) 588-3322.. Dale Batten.. Richmond.. Charlottesville Office.. (434) 296-5621.. Naomi Aitken.. Charlottesville.. Chesterfield Office.. (804) 714-2021.. Lynn Harris.. Christiansburg Office.. (540) 381-7122.. Michele Wells.. Christiansburg.. Culpeper Office.. (540) 829-7360.. Culpeper.. Danville Office.. (434) 549-8210.. Tora Terry.. Danville.. DDS Admin.. (804) 662-7000.. Leon Scales.. DDS EST.. (540) 512-1880.. Europai Parker.. DDS Richmond.. (804) 367-4700.. Jay Windsor.. Eastern Shore Office.. (757) 787-5992.. Susan Green.. Belle Haven.. Fairfax Office.. (703) 359-1124.. Thomas Smith.. Fairfax.. Farmville Office.. (434) 392-8189.. Farmville.. Fishersville Office.. (540) 332-7700.. Oswald Drummond.. Fishersville.. Franklin Office.. (757) 562-6151.. Anthony Kearney.. Franklin.. Fredericksburg Office.. (540)  ...   Rouse.. Marion.. Martinsville Office.. (276) 634-3633.. Martinsville.. Norton Office.. (276) 679-2262.. Norton.. Petersburg Office.. (804) 863-1625.. Beth Groff.. Petersburg.. Portsmouth Office.. (757) 686-5004.. Portsmouth.. Pounding Mill Office.. (276) 963-1028.. Pounding Mill.. Richmond Fabrication Workshop.. (804) 367-9878.. Richmond Office.. Antoinette Smith.. Roanoke Office and Evaluation Center.. (540) 204-9725.. South Boston Office.. (434) 572-8064.. South Boston.. South Hampton Roads Office.. (757) 451-7101.. Norfolk.. Warsaw Office.. (804) 333-4386.. Warsaw.. Williamsburg Office.. (757) 253-4817.. Williamsburg.. Winchester Office.. (540) 722-3453.. James Hall.. Winchester.. Wytheville Office.. (276) 228-2108.. Wytheville.. DDS Roanoke.. (540) 857-7748.. Mary Stone.. (000) 000-0000.. DDS Fairfax.. (703) 934-7400.. Sharon Gottovi.. DDS Norfolk.. (757) 466-4300.. Cheryl McCall.. Eastern Regional Office.. (757) 686-4988.. Jean Steveson.. Northern Virginia Regional Office.. (703) 277-3562.. Douglas James.. Southwest Regional Office.. Larry Overbay.. Statwide Administrative Offices.. DARS Central Office.. James Rothrock.. Henrico.. (540) 332-7000.. Richard Sizemore..

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  • Title: Event Listing
    Descriptive info: Event Listing.. Search and Sort Current and Upcoming Events.. Current View.. : Listing |.. Optional.. 30 Day Calendar.. Title.. Starts.. Ends.. Contact.. SRC Committee Meeting.. 08/12/2013.. barbara.. tyson@drs.. Assistive Technology Advisory Council Mtg.. 09/12/2013.. Barclay.. Shepard@DARS.. Virginia.. Commonwealth Neurotrama Initiative Trust Fund Advisory Board Meeting.. 09/13/2013.. kristie.. chamberlain@dars.. Virginia Brain Injury Council Quarterly Business Meeting.. 10/25/2013.. 11/18/2013.. SRC Retreat.. 11/19/2013.. Community Integration Advisory Commission.. 11/20/2013.. catherine.. harrison@drs.. 12/06/2013..

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  • Title: Our Services - Services to People with Disabilities
    Descriptive info: Services for the Aging.. Aging Services.. Aging Services help Virginians find the information and services they need to lead healthy and independent lives as they grow older.. Our mission is to foster the dignity, independence, and security of older Virginians by promoting partnerships with families and communities.. The.. Virginia Division for the Aging (VDA).. works with 25 local.. Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs).. as well as various other public and private organizations to help older Virginians, their families and loved ones find the.. services.. and information they need.. The division is a central point of contact for information and services.. The Division for the Aging is designated by the federal government as the agency to oversee all state programs using funds provided by the federal Older Americans Act and the Virginia General Assembly.. Area Agencies on Aging contract with the division to provide services for older Virginians and their families in communities throughout Virginia.. Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.. oversees the Commonwealth's advocates for older persons receiving long term care services, whether the care is provided in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or through community-based services to assist persons still living at home.. It provides older Virginians, their families and the public with information, advocacy, and assistance to help resolve care problems.. Adult Protective Services Division.. investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults 60 years of age or older and incapacitated adults age 18 or older.. If protective services are needed and accepted by the individual, local family services specialists may arrange for a wide variety of health, housing, social and legal services to stop the mistreatment or prevent further mistreatment.. Services for People with Disabilities.. Respite Services.. The Virginia Lifespan Respite Voucher Program is funded through a federal grant awarded to the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging Home and Community Based Services.. The Virginia Lifespan Respite Voucher Program was created to provide reimbursement vouchers to home-based family caregivers for the cost of temporary, short-term respite care provided to their family members with disabilities (children and adults, including elderly persons).. As of April 2013, the Virginia Lifespan Respite Voucher program application is no longer available due to the funds having been exhausted.. If you have already applied and your application has been approved, the forms for reimbursement are available in Microsoft Word or PDF via Adobe Reader.. To download the most recent version of Adobe Reader for free go to.. http://get.. adobe.. com/reader/.. This project is supported by a grant, number 90LR002801, from the Administration on Aging, Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20201.. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions.. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration on Aging Policy.. Virginia Lifespan Respite  ...   special need in order to provide temporary relief to the family caregiver of that child or adult.. Respite services may be provided in a variety of settings, on a temporary basis, including the family home, adult day centers, respite centers or residential care facilities.. Respite is a key component of family support and home and community based long-term services and supports.. Respite services strengthen family systems while protecting the health and well-being of both caregivers and care recipients.. *Definition from ARCH National Respite Network Resource Center.. To have the forms mailed to you or for questions on the application process, please contact Kristie Chamberlain, Toll Free: 1.. Respite/Caregiver Resources.. ABCs of Respite, ARCH, 2010.. (14 pages).. AMA Caregiver Stress Inventory.. (2 pages).. Making the Most of Respite.. (1 page).. Practical Guide to Respite for Your Family, VCU/Partnership, 1996.. (63 pages).. Respite Services: Enhancing Quality of Life for Caregivers, Dale Lund, 2010.. (16 pages).. Respite/Caregiver Resource Websites.. Virginia Navigator.. National Alliance for Caregiving.. ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center.. Employment Services.. Employment Services help people with disabilities get ready for, find, and keep a job.. We have a residential training and medical rehabilitation center known as.. Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center.. , as well as.. Offices.. located across Virginia.. The Agency also partners with a network of community rehabilitation providers, also known as.. Employment Services Organizations (ESOs).. These organizations provide.. Employment and Vocational Services.. throughout the state.. For students with disabilities moving from high school to further education, work or independence, DARS collaborates with schools in providing.. Transition Services.. DARS also works with federally funded One Stop Centers to provide workforce services to persons with disabilities.. In partnership with the Virginia Community College Workforce Development Services, DARS supports this effort with the.. Disability Employment (DEI) and Program Navigator (DPN) Initiatives.. Community Based Services.. The DARS Community Based Services Division administers several programs that support individuals with significant disabilities to maximize their independence, employment, and full inclusion into society.. Individuals do not have to be recipients of Vocational Rehabilitation services to be eligible for the CBS Division programs which include Brain Injury Services Coordination; Community Rehabilitation Case Management Services; Independent Living Services, Personal Assistance Services.. Assistive Technology / Devices and Equipment.. Assistive Technology Services directly assist individuals with disabilities in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.. An assistive technology device is defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.. Disability Determination.. Disability Determination Services process disability claims for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Disability Programs.. Services for Employers.. DARS Business Services.. DARS Business Services is dedicated to helping companies increase their competitive advantage through promoting diversity in the workplace.. Find out how the workforce of the future can work for you!..

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  • Title: Boards and Councils
    Descriptive info: Boards and Councils.. Programs Offered by the Disability Services Agencies.. NewWell Fund/ATLFA.. (.. External Site.. ).. The NewWell Fund/ATLFA makes loans and loan guarantees to people with disabilities for equipment and technology that increase independence, quality of life and employment opportunities.. Commonwealth Neurotrauma Initiative.. Through the creation of the Commonwealth Neurotrauma Initiative (CNI) Trust Fund, the Commonwealth makes available to Virginia-based organizations, institutions and researchers, funds to address the need to improve the treatment and care of Virginians with traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries.. Disability Services Council.. The Disability Services Council develops guidelines for Disability Services Board establishment, needs assessment reports, and the Rehabilitative Services Incentive Fund (RSIF).. State Rehabilitation Council.. The State Rehabilitation Council provides advice to the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services regarding vocational services provided pursuant to Title I and Title  ...   and Vision Impaired to increase the impact of independent living services in Virginia.. The SILC is composed of gubernatorial appointees who represent people with significant disabilities across the state and the interests of Centers for Independent Living, and monitor the provision of independent living services, as defined by the Federal Rehabilitation Act.. Virginia Brain Injury Council.. The Virginia Brain Injury Council (VBIC) is a statewide, interagency advisory council comprised of consumers (i.. e.. , survivors of brain injury and family members, caretakers, and representatives of survivors); healthcare professionals; service providers; state agency representatives; and other ad hoc advisory members.. The mission of the Council is to promote accessible, affordable, and appropriate services for Virginians with brain injury and their families by advising the lead state agency for brain injury, the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services..

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  • Title: Job Seekers: Learn More
    Descriptive info: Job Seekers: Learn More.. I'm Ready to Apply.. Forms.. What is the DARS Consumer Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program?.. The Consumer Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program helps people with disabilities get ready for, find, and keep a job.. It helps to increase their ability to live independently in their communities.. The Consumer VR program works with individuals with every type  ...   training, and job placement.. Can the Consumer VR program help you?.. Do you have a disability?.. Do you want to work?.. Are you having trouble getting or keeping a job because of your disability?.. If you answered Yes to these questions, the Consumer.. VR.. program may be able to help.. Read more when you are ready to apply..

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  • Title: Job Seekers: Success Stories
    Descriptive info: Job Seekers - I'm Ready to Apply.. Frequently Asked Questions.. How Vocational Rehabilitation Works.. Before you Apply, Learn More.. This page helps potential consumers learn what to do before applying for servives with the agency.. Please check our answers to.. frequently asked questions.. If you can't find the answer there, please.. contact us.. for assistance.. What is a Referral?.. A referral tells a DARS counselor know that you, or someone you know, would like to become a consumer of the DARS program.. Anyone may refer a person with a disability who wants to work.. Referrals come from social workers, doctors, mental health professionals, high school teachers, family, employers, hospitals and many others.. If you are a person with a disability, you may refer yourself.. Before you refer someone, please make sure that person knows about and agrees to being referred.. Give referral information to your local DARS office by:.. Mail or visit your.. local office.. Phone: 1-800-552-5019 (TTY 1-800-464-9950).. E-Mail:.. drs@drs.. Who May Apply?.. You may apply for the DARS vocational rehabilitation program if:.. You have a physical, mental, or emotional disability,.. The disability keeps you from finding or keeping a job,.. You are willing and able to work and you think our services can help you, and.. You are in the state (living in, working  ...   any new information needed to decide if you are eligible and how we might help you with employment.. We will ask you to sign a release so we can get your records.. We may suggest (at no cost to you) vocational testing and other assessments.. Some information we may ask you for:.. What your disability is and how you feel about it.. Your job plans;.. What records (medical, mental health, alcohol or substance abuse, special education, employee, social security disability, etc.. ) might help us understand your disability;.. Names and addresses of schools you attended;.. Names and addresses of any doctors you have seen recently;.. places you have worked and when, type of job, skills, salary, and why you left;.. type of medical insurance you have;.. transportation issues.. your Social Security number.. If you do not have this information, do not let that stop you.. We will help you get it.. How does the VR program work?.. Our vocational rehabilitation (VR) program offers services to empower individuals with disabilities to enter the work force or return to work.. Visit the "How VR Works" page.. to learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, common terminology, and a complete description of the steps you can take to help ensure that you have a successful vocational rehabilitation..

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  • Title: Job Seekers: Success Stories
    Descriptive info: Job Seekers - Success Stories.. Damon Anderson s interest in physics and computer science had him reaching for the stars in pursuing postsecondary education and a related career.. When he is determined, he works hard and doesn t mess around, he says.. As Damon, who has muscular dystrophy, transitioned from high school to college, he worked with DARS to explore his options for higher education.. After considering Virginia Tech, University of Virginia and University of Richmond, he decided to attend the University of Mary Washington.. At UMW, he majored in computer science and physics and made the Dean s List for two semesters.. The University of Mary Washington was very accommodating and responsive to his wheelchair accessibility and mobility needs, Damon says.. The school refurbished the bathroom in his dorm and made sure entry into classrooms, elevators and other buildings were suitable.. Through the ACCESS program (Achieving Competence in Computing, Engineering, and Space Science) conducted by NASA in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Damon completed an internship at.. NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center.. in August 2007 and received a Certificate of Achievement.. During the program he worked on an X-ray polarimeter, using the results to study the internal structure of astronomical objects such as black holes.. Damon enhanced a simulator for the instrument, to be used with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.. After graduating in 2010 in a tough economy, Damon worked with a job coach through DARS and widened his job pursuit to include information technology jobs.. For many years, my counselor and DARS have been there for me as I ve tried to become more independent, Damon remarks.. His grandmother, a teacher, put him in contact with a computer specialist whose company, Manus Dei, provides IT work for many Catholic schools and churches.. Damon interviewed and was hired as a technology specialist at Manus Dei, working on computer servers and developing web pages.. He telecommutes from home, where he lives with his grandmother.. In September, Damon took the driver evaluation at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center and was recommended for adaptive driver training.. He says he is determined to obtain his driver s license and buy an accessible van so he can pursue greater opportunities in his career and life.. If it hadn t been for the help of DARS, I wouldn t have been able to go to college, proclaims Matt Shelor.. Matt first met with a rehabilitation counselor at DARS while in high school.. She suggested he attend Patrick Henry Community College to get his feet wet in a more challenging environment.. He then applied to Radford University, where he received a bachelor s degree in political science and a master s in counseling and human development.. As an undergraduate student, Matt was active in student government and was elected student body president in 2008.. That experience taught me the value of human service and gave me the drive and motivation to pursue my master s degree.. As a graduate student, Matt had two graduate assistantships one in the Office of the Dean of Students and the other in the Disability Resource Office.. He was required to complete 600 hours of internships.. After graduate school, Matt worked with his vocational counselor to update his resume and participated in mock job interviews to prepare to enter the workforce.. He gives much of the credit for his educational success to his rehabilitation counselor.. She played a big role in helping me get my goals in line.. He originally sought a job involving student affairs or administration in higher education.. He responded to a posting for a position as an independent living coordinator at the Blue Ridge Independent Living Center and was hired in January 2012.. Now he works with others who face similar challenges.. Matt often hears clients say, I don t know if I can do this.. He tells them that when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, the doctor told his parents he would be lucky to walk and talk.. He says, Don t let your circumstances dictate what you do in life.. Matt s job is to make the New River region accessible for people with disabilities.. He may make house calls to see what home modifications are needed, get approval and schedule contractors.. He also serves as a work incentive specialist to help individuals who are ready to work, but need to learn how it will impact their disability benefits.. He shows them how their situation will improve when they go to work.. Elizabeth Alcazar-Zepeda did not let her deafness stop her from achieving her goals of attending college and securing a successful career in accounting.. While a student at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton, Elizabeth worked with DARS for transition planning and services.. The agency provided Elizabeth and her family with guidance and counseling for college admissions and assisted her in applying for financial aid, scholarships and grants.. In fall 2005, Elizabeth entered Gallaudet University in Washington, majoring in accounting.. There were very great people at DARS who helped support my attendance at Gallaudet University, says Elizabeth.. At Gallaudet, Elizabeth was involved in a student organization,.. Keeping the Promise of Educating Latino Students.. While raising a daughter, she maintained high academic standards, earning recognition as a President s Cum Laude Scholar, an honor reserved for undergraduate students whose cumulative degree grade point averages are 3.. 4 or above for the preceding semesters and who have earned at least 15 degree credits at Gallaudet, as well as Outstanding Academic Achievement for Summa Cum Laude.. In 2011, she graduated at the top of her class.. Elizabeth credits much of her job search success to her collaborative efforts with her rehabilitation counselor.. She provided consistent support, direction and encouragement along the way.. All of the experiences combined assisted in my effort to master the skills needed to ace my job interviews, says Elizabeth.. Elizabeth obtained a paid internship in the Gallaudet Department of Business Interpreting Service, commuting every work day from home while continuing to meet with her counselor and other DARS staff to work toward securing a full time position with benefits.. During this time, Elizabeth says, I learned networking was my best friend.. In June, she was interviewed and offered a job as an accounting assistant with Deaf-REACH (also known as the National Health Care Foundation for the Deaf), in Washington.. I love my job and I am enjoying the challenges involved.. I am eager to learn more.. Sylvia Melendez.. Sylvia Melendez was referred to DARS for vocational rehabilitation services in 2009.. The military veteran had multiple disabilities, including physical disabilities.. Although she had been out of the workforce since 1997, she was studying business administration at Strayer University.. She received her bachelor s degree, graduating magna cum laude, in 2010.. After her graduation, her DARS placement counselor, in collaboration with a veterans representative from the Virginia Employment Commission, worked with Sylvia to draft a federal resume and to improve her interviewing skills.. Sylvia also received assistance with guidance and counseling services, a clothing allowance to help purchase job interviewing suits and transportation costs.. Sylvia developed a very active job search plan.. She participated in a national disability hiring fair conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, attended a federal job fair and met with hiring coordinators from the.. Veterans Employment Coordination Services.. , the VA s lead office to attract, recruit, hire, and retain veterans, particularly severely injured veterans returning from the Global War on Terror.. In June 2010, she was offered a position as a Program Specialist, GS Series 301, at a Grade 9, step 1, with the U.. Department of Veterans Affairs.. Shortly afterwards, she was offered career conditional status, thanks to her professionalism and positive attitude, and was recognized with an outstanding annual performance rating in her duties.. Sylvia continues to gain recognition for her efforts at her current position with the.. VA for Vets.. program.. In September 2011, she was promoted to a Program Analyst position at a Grade 11.. The following month, DARS CommissionerJim Rothrock presented her with the Virginia Serving as a Model by Progressing through Career Achievement award at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collaborative s Disability Workforce Consortium Federal Employment Champions Event, held in Washington, D.. C.. She has since graduated from the yearlong federal Aspiring Leadership Program.. DARS made life much easier during my transition to federal employment, thank you all, she says.. Kalyn Hutson.. Kalyn Hutson had a bubbling personality and plenty of enthusiasm, but her quest for employment was hampered by autism spectrum disorder and speech impediment.. Nevertheless, Kalyn had a dream: to one day work at Bon Secours St.. Mary s Hospital in Henrico County.. Kalyn, 20, was accepted into Project SEARCH, a national research study partially funded by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.. During the 2010-11 school year, Kalyn rotated through three 10-week internships at St.. Mary s.. Her first was in the Ambulatory Services division, where her duties included sorting and assembling surgery trays.. After her third day of internship, she was left alone for an hour and to her supervisor s amazement, Kalyn completed the work independently.. She also worked in the Main Operating Room where she stocked supplies, replenished equipment and turned over patient rooms.. Her final internship was in Central Sterile, sorting, scanning, bagging and wrapping equipment.. When employment specialists at St.. Mary s spoke with Kalyn s internship supervisors about the possibility of her being hired, the response was overwhelming.. Two supervisors vied to have Kalyn assigned to their departments, and ultimately, she was hired in June 2011 as a PRN Surgical Care Technician in the Main Operating Room at St.. She worked 30 hours a week, earning well above minimum wage.. After just a few months on the job, Kalyn achieved her dream: she accepted the offer of a full-time job in the Bon Secours St.. Mary s Main Operating Room.. Read more about Kalyn and her intern class at St.. Mary s at.. http://bit.. ly/suNfbc.. Duraun Druitt.. DuRaun Druitt, a young man with a learning disability, began a Project SEARCH internship at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center in September 2010.. He first worked as an outpatient rehab technician, assisting therapists with patients.. His duties included helping patients with their exercises in the rehab room and pool, and checking and cleaning equipment.. At first, DuRaun was very shy, but became more outgoing and assertive, even getting in the pool to help patients though he could not swim.. After a rotation as a floor technician in the Environmental Services department, DuRaun was hired as a full-time employee, making well over minimum wage and earning full benefits.. He requested to work night shift and now works on the emergency room floor.. His supervisor said of DuRaun, I wish I had 100 more employees just like him.. An administrator at the hospital acknowledged that staff was initially hesitant about working with the Project SEARCH interns.. But after the first semester, he said, there was a waiting list of managers who wanted to work with these special students.. Students in Project SEARCH like DuRaun have proven that people with disabilities can be productive and valuable employees.. Max Holk.. Max Holk was, in many ways, an enigma.. His school records show that he had various educational labels placed on him, including learning disabled.. Max had difficulties with social adjustment and academic progress within a traditional school setting.. Max held a special education diploma from an alternative school, and at age 19, entered the Project SEARCH program because he desired to continue his education and obtain work skills.. He began an internship at the Carilion Clinic s New River Valley Medical Center in Christiansburg, where he worked in the maintenance  ...   Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Mark received support through an entire team of staff consisting of a Vocational Counselor, Placement Counselor, Program Support Technician, Rehabilitation Engineers, and others to help him accomplish his goals.. He was referred to the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center for 10 weeks where he received physical and occupational therapy, including a wheelchair evaluation, driver assessment, and training.. Assistance from DARS Consumer Services Fund enabled him to purchase a van and driver modifications.. Moreover, DARS completed yard modifications to allow egress at home.. At this time, Mark enrolled at Virginia Western Community College to obtain a certificate to become an architectural and civil engineering aid.. He worked as a Master Electrician prior to his paralysis, and felt that this would give him new marketable skills that would increase his opportunities for employment.. By May of 2008, Mark interviewed and was ultimately hired as an Electrical Drafter for Hurd and Obenchain in Roanoke, Virginia.. DARS purchased the appropriate computer system for his training and installed a proper work station to meet his ergonomic needs.. Mark is a consummate professional who is well respected and well liked by his coworkers, says DARS Business Development Manager Rochelle Betsch.. He is a great asset to our community.. Kimball Bosma.. Kimball Bosma had been a resident at Western State Hospital for twenty-seven years when DARS Counselor Sherry DeMoss first met with him.. Despite his medical condition which included hypertension, chronic respiratory problems, coronary artery disease, lupus and other disabilities he was successfully employed at Vector Industries for several years.. Unfortunately, he wasn t earning minimum wage or working competitively.. Furthermore, he had lived at Western State for so long that he became complacent to the structure and safety of that environment.. Through continuous support and encouragement by DARS and hospital staff, Kimball finally began to consider transitioning back into the community.. He eventually agreed to an assessment at Goodwill Industries and was offered a job earning above minimum wage.. This experience, however, posed substantial anxiety for Kimball and he accepted a part-time position at Goodwill in order to continue working at Vector.. Consequently, he grew to love his new job and after a couple of months, he was ready to completely transition to Goodwill where he has been working successfully for the last four years performing several duties including stocking and general cleaning.. Goodwill staff describe him as a friendly, dependable, and hard-working employee.. Kimball has also taken Driver s Education classes through the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC) to obtain his Driver s License.. He has since purchased a vehicle and is able to transport himself to and from work, as well as around the community.. Most importantly, Kimball finally moved out of Western State Hospital and into an apartment in Staunton.. He lives on his own and says he fully enjoys his new independence.. Bill Crawford.. Bill, a farmer from Buena Vista, Virginia, was referred to DARS in November 2005, by the state s AgrAbility program for assistance in maintaining his farming operation.. Due to a progressive neurological disease that affects his mobility, range of motion and strength, it became increasingly difficult for Bill to perform simple activities of daily living, let alone maintain the physical demands of the farm.. Through DARS and WWRC, Bill received multiple services including occupational/physical therapy, assistive technology, and rehab engineering.. Initially, the plan was to make adaptations to his farming equipment.. But given the nature of his disability, it became necessary to shift more of his work responsibilities to the business side of the farming operation (management, accounting, customer relations, etc.. ), while leaving the physical aspects of the business to his wife.. Home and vehicle assessments and consultation from DARS rehab engineers and occupational therapists led to Bill receiving vehicle accommodations, computer work station adaptations, and equipment fabrication.. Changes to his home office were also recommended to enable him to function at maximum work capacity.. His desk was modified and raised with wooden blocks; the existing ergonomic arm pads and microphone were repositioned to better meet his needs; and the center drawer and supports were cut and removed to allow his wheelchair to roll under the desk.. Additionally, brackets for a new arm sling were installed on Bill s wheelchair to allow him to feed himself.. Bill says he has been very pleased with the multitude of services and assistance that has allowed him to remain in self-employment.. Bill continues to receive agency support with his employment plan and his outlook for maintaining his farming operation is positive.. Branden Milbourne.. Branden attended the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC).. After having enrolled in a plumbing class at Valley Vocational and Technical Center, he was referred to WWRC s Assistive Computer Technology (ACT) team for an assistive technology (AT) evaluation to aid him in his class and his vocational pursuits.. Prior to the evaluation, Branden was provided an audio version of his text book as an accommodation.. The ACT team determined, however, that this was not the best AT approach for him, as the textbook also contained pictures of tools, pipes, joint connections, and diagrams that were vital for his passing the class.. Due to Branden s reading disability, he was unable to follow the text from and correlate the pictorial references with the audio recording.. The ACT team recommended the Kurzweil 3000 screen reading software, which utilizes a multi-sensory approach to learning.. The software allowed Branden to see the referenced pictures and charts, while having the text and subtext in the graphics read out loud and highlighted one at a time on the computer screen.. In order for this to work, however, the text book needed to be in electronic (PDF) format to retain the page formatting.. The WWRC ACT team located a company in Roanoke with a high speed scanner to create the PDF and put the file on a CD, along with rebinding the text book.. The ACT Team also coordinated the scanning of the book, provided Branden with a loaner computer with the Kurzweil 3000 software, and trained him in the use of the software, and provided follow-up and support.. Ultimately, Branden passed his plumbing class, stating the Kurzweil really helped him.. Additionally, Branden worked as an intern with WWRC Master Plumber Dan Rocco, and he continues attain his plumber's assistant training.. He is currently working in WWRC s cafeteria to save money to purchase a truck.. Juan Carlos Gascon.. Juan Carlos was involved in a car accident On March 13, 2008 that left him paralyzed from the neck down.. Through assistance from the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DARS), he was able to maintain his employment and reach a new level of independence.. At the time of the accident, Juan Carlos was employed as a minister for Hispanic families in the community of Blackstone, Virginia.. Once Juan began receiving Social Security benefits, however, his employer placed him on volunteer status, thinking that Juan could not receive any income while receiving Social Security.. Juan s DARS counselor spoke to the employer and confirmed that Juan could still be paid for the work he performed, as well as receive housing.. To maximize his mobility, DARS helped obtain a wheelchair for Juan, and enabled him to hire an attendant to assist with his personal care needs and other daily activities.. Use of his wheelchair also prompted modifications to be made to the home, as Juan was unable to roll his wheelchair into the bathroom or comfortably move around the living room and kitchen.. DARS worked with Southside Baptist Association to gain permission to make accommodations to the home, arrange for bids, and ensure that the modifications met Juan s needs.. As a church minister, Juan would prepare for his presentations on his computer.. Due to his injury, however, he required proper computer accommodations and software.. DARS worked with Juan and ultimately recommended Dragon Naturally Speaking Spanish software.. Through on-going practice, Juan has become more efficient with the system.. Juan continues to acquire further gains in his self-care and overall independence.. Prior to the receiving services through DARS, he was having a difficult time coping with his new challenges; but now sees the positives in the things he.. can.. do.. He continues to be an important part of people s lives in the Blackstone area.. Latrice King.. Latrice was referred to DARS in 2005 and participated in the Post Education Rehabilitation Training (PERT) program at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC).. Through career exploration activities in high school and WWRC, Latrice decided she wanted to work in the food service or cleaning industry.. With assistance from the employment specialist at RSVP, Latrice secured a job as a dishwasher for a restaurant in Stafford County.. As a person of very short stature, however, Latrice found difficulty in comfortably reaching the dishwashing machine surrounding countertops.. DARS rehab engineers and fabricators worked to devise a platform that elevated Latrice high enough to reach and maneuver around the dishwasher.. Initially they considered using treated or plastic wood as material, but determined that it was not light enough to handle, as it would need to be moved frequently for cleaning or placed out of the way when not in use.. Ultimately, light gauge aluminum pallet/risers were used, as they were resistant to water, grease, and cleaning agents without rotting or rusting.. The Richmond fabrication shop worked to reconfigure two pallets into a single platform, and the Northern Virginia rehab engineer added rubber matting to provide a slip resistant, cushioned surface.. Latrice was thus able to work in the kitchen without interfering with other workers.. Through continued support and job coach training services, Latrice has been able to learn her job duties and maintain employment.. Both the employer and Latrice are very happy with her work.. Sasha Justine Duke.. Sasha sustained a spinal cord injury in 1998 and was referred to DARS and WWRC for physical rehabilitation, vocational counseling, and other support services.. Over the years, Sasha worked hard to rebuild a life that included independent living, mobility, competitive employment, and raising a family.. To enable pursuit of these goals, she worked with an Assistive Technology (AT) team of occupational/physical therapists and computer technology specialists to obtain a power wheelchair with customized seating to optimize mobility and function within her home, college, community, and work.. Following completion of the WWRC driver s education program, Sasha purchased a van with a power ramp, hand controls, and power lock down system, thereby making it possible to drive independently.. Moreover, home accessibility consultations and adaptive equipment recommendations enabled her to progress from living with assistance in her parent's home, to living independently in her first rental apartment, to ultimately purchasing a new home.. Further support from DARS and WWRC s AT team allowed Sasha to also enroll at Mary Baldwin College and address accessibility needs on campus.. She graduated with a bachelor s degree in Art Management (concentration in Marketing) and, following a work experience program, Sasha landed a full-time job at the Frontier Culture Museum.. Work station modifications including changes to her desk configuration, phone headset, voice input for computer access and adaptive mouse computer accommodations allowed for optimal productivity.. During her pregnancy in 2008, modifications to her power wheelchair seating and shower equipment provided a significant cost savings by deferring the purchase of new equipment for a short-term need; consultation from OT during Sasha s pregnancy facilitated a positive outcome of pregnancy and birth.. Techniques for handling a newborn, which involved a variety of adaptive parenting equipment and modifications to dressing/changing tables and crib, also allowed maximal involvement in caring for her infant daughter.. In an effort to move forward financially and professionally, Sasha has since returned to graduate school to attain a master s degree in mental health counseling; her goal to work with people with disabilities..

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