Funding for Work
For people who are legally blind
Massachusetts Commission for the Blind: Vocational Rehabilitation
State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies are a major funding source for assistive technology (AT) for working-age individuals with disabilities. Read more.
State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies are a major funding source for assistive technology (AT) for working-age individuals with disabilities. In Massachusetts, VR services are available through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (which serves individuals with most physical and mental disabilities) and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (which serves individuals who are legally blind). College AT needs may also be provided if classes are a clear part of an individual's vocational goals.
In order to be eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation's (VR) services at MCB:
- the person must be legally blind, and this disability must constitute or results in a substantial impediment to employment;
- the person must require vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment;
- there must be a determination that the person can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from vocational rehabilitation services.
Federal law requires that state VR agencies presume that a person with a disability is able to work, regardless of the severity of the disability, unless the VR counselor can clearly demonstrate otherwise. A counselor must exhaust all options, including AT intervention, before denying eligibility on the basis of a person's inability to work.
This same law exempts AT purchases from vocational rehabilitation agencies' customary "comparable services and benefits" regulations. This means that VR beneficiaries do not have to endure delays in obtaining AT while the counselor searches for other funding sources.
Upon entry into MCB's VR program, an applicant works with a counselor to determine which services may be needed. After the client's needs are evaluated, an Individual Plan of Employment (IPE, formerly an Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program or IWRP) is developed. The IPE should document any needed AT devices or services. Thereafter, the individual's counselor arranges for an evaluation for the necessary AT or services through referral to MCB's Technology for the Blind program. At times, the VR agency will combine its resources with those of other public and private agencies (particularly employers) in order to maximize its ability to obtain AT for clients.
What AT Services are Provided?
At the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), the Technology for the Blind Program may, depending on the assessment of the individual's needs, provide closed circuit television systems; computer adaptations for large print, speech reading, or Braille; talking and large-print calculators; Braille writers, four-track tape recorders, note-takers, and other specialized adaptive devices for use in the workplace or classroom. In addition, MCB offers adaptive equipment and technical consulting to consumers and employers, as well as training on many forms of adaptive equipment and software.
Boston MCB Office
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Telephone: (617) 727-5550
VOICE (800) 392-6450 (MASS. ONLY)
VOICE (800) 392-6556 (MASS. ONLY)
TDD Fax: (617) 626-7685
Worcester MCB Office
390 Main Street Suite 620
Worcester, Ma 01608-2111
(508) 754-1148 VOICE
(800) 263-6944 (MASS ONLY) VOICE
Fax: (508) 752-7832
Springfield MCB Office
436 Dwight Street Room
109 Springfield, Ma 01103
(413) 781-1290 VOICE
(800) 332-2772 (MASS. ONLY) VOICE
Fax: (413) 746-8570
New Bedford MCB Office
800 Purchase Street Suite 290
New Bedford, Ma. 02740-6344
(508) 993-6140 VOICE
(800) 989-4411 (MASS. ONLY) VOICE
Fax: (508) 992-4147