Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

        Overview and Information on the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)

The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, or OVR, provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. OVR provides services to eligible individuals with disabilities, both directly and through a network of approved vendors. Services are provided on an individualized basis. The OVR counselor, during face-to-face interviews, assists customers in selecting their choice of vocational goals, services and service providers. An Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is developed, outlining a vocational objective, services, providers and responsibilities. Certain services are subject to a Financial Needs Test (FNT) and may require financial participation by the customer. Counseling and guidance, diagnostic services, assessments, information and referral, job development and placement, and personal services such as readers or sign language interpreters are provided at no cost to the individual. Also, by law OVR customers receiving Social Security benefits for their disability (SSI, SSDI) are exempt from OVR’s Financial Needs Test.
Statewide there are 21 District Offices staffed with trained, professional Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors which serve Pennsylvania in all 67 counties. The Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown provides vocational training and comprehensive rehabilitation services to people from across the state. OVR’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services also provides specialized services to blind and visually impaired individuals. These services are designed to increase an individual’s independence and employability. OVR's central administrative offices in Harrisburg provide technical assistance to local district offices in order to improve service delivery.

Types of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

OVR provides a wide range of services to eligible applicants. Some services can help you overcome or lessen your disability; others can directly help you prepare for a career. The services you receive will be arranged to meet your individual needs. Not everyone will need every service. OVR services include: 

Diagnostic Services: Medical, psychological, and audiological examinations and tests used to better understand your disability and your needs for specific types of services. 

Vocational Evaluation: Aptitude, interest, general ability, academic exams, work tolerance, and "hands-on" job experience used to understand your vocational potential.

Counseling: Vocational counseling will help you to better understand your potential, to rely on your abilities, to set realistic vocational goals, to change them when necessary, to develop successful work habits, and to begin a satisfying career. Counseling is available throughout your rehabilitation program.

Training: Education to prepare you for a job including, but not limited to, basic academic, vocational/technical, college, on-the-job training, independent living skills, and personal and work adjustment training.

Restoration Services: Medical services and equipment such as physical and occupational therapy, wheelchairs, and automobile hand controls can be provided to enable you to pursue and achieve employment.

Placement Assistance: Counseling, job-seeking programs, job clubs, and job development used to increase your ability to get a job. You will receive ideas, practice, and advise on finding job leads, filling out applications, getting interviews for a job, and on how to interview. Your counselor may also give you job leads or contact employers about available tax credits and hiring incentives. The more contacts with employers you make, the better your chances are of finding a job. For more details, go to our Services for Job Seekers page.

Assistive Technology: Assistive technology includes a wide range of devices and services that can empower persons with disabilities to maximize employment, independence and integration into society. OVR can assist an individual with a disability in effectively selecting and acquiring appropriate assistive technology. OVR can arrange for a consultant to evaluate your situation and to make appropriate recommendations. OVR also operates and maintains our own Center for Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology (CART) at the Hiram G. Andrews Center. There is no charge for evaluation and vocational counseling services through OVR. Based upon your financial needs, you may have to contribute to the cost of assistive technology devices and services. For more details, visit our Assistive Technology page

Support Services: Other services are provided for eligible persons if they are necessary for you to start and maintain employment. Such services may include:
• Room, board, and transportation costs during an evaluation or while completing a rehabilitation program.
• Occupational tools, licenses, or equipment.
• Home modifications, adaptive or special household equipment in order to help you get ready to go to and be on time for your job.Van or car modifications, including special driving devices or lifting devices to enable you to travel to your job.
• Personal care assistance provided to help you with your daily needs in order to enable you to participate in a vocational rehabilitation program.
• Job site modifications that will enable you to get and keep a job. Independent living training to provide the means for you to become more self-sufficient and thereby make it possible for you to participate in employment.
• Text Telephone (TT), signaling devices, hearing aids, and interpreters services may be provided to help you communicate.
• Specialized services such as Rehabilitation Teaching, and Orientation and Mobility Training for persons who are blind or visually impaired.

What if I have Questions or Complaints?
OVR will facilitate your rehabilitation program. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything. You are entitled to the best service that OVR can give you. Your comments, suggestions, and criticisms are important. 

If you are an applicant or a customer of OVR and are dissatisfied with a determination or service OVR is providing, you may file an appeal.

Appeal Procedures: A written request for a hearing must be made within thirty (30) days. This request must be mailed to or filed with the Director:

Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
1521 North Sixth Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

An impartial hearing officer will be assigned to hear and decide your case. You will be given the opportunity for an informal administrative review prior to the impartial hearing. At any time during your program you may contact the Client Assistance Program for help.

OVR Individualized Employment Services
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation provides individualized services to assist people with disabilities to pursue, obtain, and maintain satisfactory employment. An OVR counselor can help you select an employment goal and develop a comprehensive strategy so that you can find the type of job that meets your needs. OVR placement services are provided at no cost to eligible individuals with disabilities.
• An Overview of OVR Individualized Services
• Eligibility Requirements
• On-the-Job Training
• Tax Incentive Programs that Work
• About Job Accommodation and Assistive Technology

An Overview of OVR Individualized Services
An OVR Counselor can assist you in planning your job search. You will receive ideas, practice, and advice on finding job leads, filling out job applications, getting interviews for a job, and how to interview for a job. Your counselor may also give you job leads or contact employers to explain available tax credits and other hiring incentives. The more contacts with employers you make, the better your chances are of finding a job. Your Counselor can help you explore employment trends, your capabilities, and possible job accommodations, so that you are better prepared to make informed vocational decisions and effectively look for a job.

Eligibility Requirements

You will be eligible for OVR services if:

You have a disability that is, a physical, mental, or emotional impairment which results in a substantial impediment to employment, and you can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from services provided, and, Vocational Rehabilitation services are required for you to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain gainful employment.

Assistive Technology
The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation provides Assistive Technology devices and services to eligible individuals with disabilities, if needed to get or keep a job. Assistive Technology devices include any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of an individual with a disability.
• LOW END TECHNOLOGY...reachers, canes, bending straws, rubber grippers, jigs, wrist rests, etc..
• HIGH END TECHNOLOGY...communication devices, specialized computer access, customized mobility aids, work station designs, etc.

A broad range of services may be provided to enable individuals with severe disabilities to function in school, home and the workplace. Assistive Technology services directly assist an individual in the selection, acquisition or use of any Assistive Technology device, including:
• Evaluation / Coordination
• Selection, Designing and Customizing Devices
• Repair and/or Replacement
• Training

There are many information resources and providers of Assistive Technology devices and services in Pennsylvania. OVR can help consumers connect with these resources.