Program Highlights

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.
  1. Vocational Rehabilitation
  2. Home Services Program
  3. Educational Services
  4. Transition Program and the Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP)
  5. Blind Services
  6. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
  7. Independent Living
  8. Disability Determination Services
  9. Client Assistance Program (CAP)
  10. Hispanic/Latino Services
  11. Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program
  12. Illinois Assistive Technology Program

Vocational Rehabilitation

FY2011 Update

Illinois continues to be recognized as a national leader in VR with 38,264 DRS customers entering competitive employment in the last seven years.

  • Each VR customer who became employed in FY 2011 is expected to earn approximately $12,253.19 more per year after receiving DRS services.
  • Based on this estimate, DRS customers who became employed in FY 2011 can expect to earn $54.9 million more in the next year than their level of earnings prior to coming to DRS.
  • The tax revenue generated by this $54.9 million will be approximately $4.9 million per year.
  • The average hourly wage of VR customers increased more than 21 percent since 2003, from an average of $8.36 per hour in FY 2003 to $10.18 in FY 2011.
  • The percentage of DRS customers who receive employer-provided health insurance is at 24.5 percent in FY 2011.

As part of DRS' effort to assist customers who receive home services in obtaining quality employment, DRS served 1,303 customers as dual cases in FY 2011.

Home Services Program

DRS' Home Services Program (HSP) promotes independence by offering an individualized, family-centered approach for individuals with the most significant disabilities. Our HSP customers are able to stay in their homes, be actively involved in their communities, and retain control over the services they receive.

HSP provides an array of services to customers who are otherwise eligible for nursing home placement. These services include personal assistant services, homemaker services, home health, electronic home response, home delivered meals, adult day care, assistive equipment, environmental modification, and respite care.

DRS' Money Follows the Person/Community Reintegration Program helps people with disabilities, ages 18-59, transition from nursing homes into the community. This program not only offers our customers freedom to enjoy their lives, it also saves the state of Illinois millions of dollars in nursing home costs.

DRS partners with staff from 23 Centers for Independent Living (CILs) who collaborate with customers and HSP staff to locate housing and develop service plans for community reintegration.

Funds pay for start-up essentials, such as first month's rent, furniture, cooking equipment, and household supplies.

The average community reintegration customer is 52 years of age, has resided in a nursing facility for 22 months prior to reintegration, and requires approximately $4,300 in direct costs to transition to independent living.

  • 33,401 people were served by HSP in FY2011 at a cost of $541 million.
  • The average monthly cost of providing HSP services was $1,554 per person. HSP results in significant cost savings and dramatically improves the quality of life for people with disabilities.
  • Through FY2011, more than 2,050 customers have transitioned from nursing homes into the community through the Money Follows the Person and/or Community Reintegration Programs.

Educational Services

Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI)

The Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI), established in 1849, is a residential/day school for students who are Blind and Visually Impaired. Located in Jacksonville, ISVI provides accredited educational and related support services for children from birth to three years of age through preschool, elementary, junior and senior high school as well as a fifth year senior program.

All educational and related services programs are designed to prepare students for successful living as independent, self-supporting citizens. ISVI also offers extra curricular activities, including sports, cheerleading, forensics, student council, national honor society, choir, etc.

  • ISVI enrolled 113 students in FY 2011.

Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD)

Established in 1839, the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD), also located in Jacksonville, offers a residential/day program for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. ISD provides comprehensive, accredited programs including a birth to three year old program as well as preschool, elementary, junior and senior high school programs.

ISD offers strong academic programming, many recreational activities and programs designed to prepare high school students to transition into the world of work or post-secondary education after graduation. ISD also offers extra curricular activities including sports, cheerleading, drama club, academic bowl, national honor society, student government, etc.

  • ISD enrolled 287 students in FY 2011.

Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt (ICRE-R)

The Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt (ICRE-R), located in Chicago, offers a transition-based program for students ages 14-22 who are severely physically disabled or health impaired. ICRE-R students attend Chicago Public Schools for their academic education, while ICRE-R staff provide the in-depth related services as well as a transition-focused accredited curriculum after the regular school day. Services include independent living and daily living skills, development training, orientation and mobility training, how to hire and manage a personal care attendant, accessing public transportation, managing personal health-care issues, employability skills training, etc.

  • ICRE-R enrolled 46 students in FY 2011.

Transition Program and the Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP)

DRS helps high school students with disabilities plan for their future with services provided through the Transition Program and the Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP). Our counselors work closely with STEP Counselors in the local DRS offices, Transition Specialists housed in high schools, staff in individual schools and school districts, and community partners to help students achieve their employment, post-secondary education, and independent living goals. DRS Transition/STEP has been recognized by its federal partner, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), as a model program that they recommend other states across the nation review. RSA was impressed with the collaborative efforts between the State Board of Education, local school districts and Vocational Rehabilitation in Illinois and the way transition services are provided to students across the state.

DRS facilitates the enhancement of local transition services by supporting Transition Planning Committees (TPCs). These TPCs identify existing resources and unmet needs, facilitate an ongoing exchange of information, and develop local customer training programs.

DRS joins with many partners to offer a wide variety of transition outreach activities throughout the year. With the collaboration of numerous state-wide agencies, the 2011 Transition Conference offered 573 participants (vocational rehabilitation staff, educators, health-care providers, youth, families, and community representatives) the opportunity to explore transition options that support positive post-school outcomes for youth with disabilities. It is these collaborative efforts that enhance opportunities for students and their families and better prepare them to make appropriate and sound vocational choices.

  • 17,956 transition students were served in FY 2011, including 15,710 STEP and 2,246 Transition students. DRS caseloads for transition-aged youth total 41 percent of the Division's served population.
  • In FY 2011, DRS provided 165 STEP contracts serving approximately 615 high schools.
  • In FY 2011, 42 active TPCs served 98 Illinois counties. STEP/Transition served all of Illinois' 102 counties. There were 32 projects and activities funded for local TPCs that made provision for websites, resource materials, public awareness flyers, and resource/transition fairs.

DRS collaborated with other agencies to host the First Governor's Post Secondary Education Summit that was attended by 105 representatives from post-secondary institutions, Transition Planning Committee members and secondary school staff.

DRS Hosted a Transition Leadership Academy for 46 local transition planning committee leaders.

Developed a statewide Transition web site. Visit us at

Blind Services

DRS' Bureau of Blind Services (BBS) provides specialized VR services to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired in obtaining or maintaining employment.

The Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Wood (ICRE-Wood) provides a concentrated, short-term residential program for adults who are newly blind or visually impaired. In the 14-week course, participants receive training in mobility, orientation, and activities of daily living. ICRE-Wood also offers activities tailored to meet participants' needs, including computer skills training, GED preparation, vocational counseling, wellness and recreational activities.

The Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEPB) will be expanding to all correctional facilities within the state. Public Law 2421 has opened the opportunity for the BEPB to enter into working relationships and to provide all of the vending services in these facilities.

The Older Blind Program offers independent living services to older individuals who are blind. Rehabilitation Instructors completed independent living training with 311 Older Blind customers in SFY2011.

  • In FY 2011, a total of 3,939 customers received VR services from BBS staff with a rehabilitation success rate of 73.8 percent - 18 percent above the RSA minimum standard of 55.8 percent.
  • BBS assisted 234 customers in obtaining competitive employment in FY 2011.
  • The average hourly wage of BBS customers is $12.40 in FY 2011.
  • BBS counselors and instructors took 1, 009 new applications and developed 714 new service plans in FY 2011.
  • BEPB operated 92 primary locations and 352 satellite locations during FY 2011. Total gross revenue was approximately $14.2 million.

TransVision's "Summer in the City," conducted at ICRE-Wood in Chicago, continues to be a popular and well attended transition program for high school students from throughout the state. The 2011 event had a strong emphasis on orientation & mobility where students built on their skills in planning routes, navigating the city and executing trips on multiple forms of public transit -- including the water taxi. Expanded partnerships with several venues in Chicago allowed for unique experiences for the teens in the areas of art (Art Institute and Museum of Private Art Collectors), science and teamwork (Museum of Science & Industry), and animal behavior studies (Lincoln Park Zoo), among many others.

 In FY 2011, 297 customers were served at ICRE-Wood.

 In FY 2011, 333 customers were served through the Low Vision Clinic at ICRE-Wood.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

DRS provides specialized services to people with hearing loss, including individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened or deafblind.

Our highly trained Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf (RCDs) assist customers and individuals with varying degrees of hearing loss to achieve their goals in the areas of employment, education, and independent living by providing counseling and guidance, assistance with training and technology, information and referral, and job placement services and follow up.

The Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit (SDHH) provides technical assistance to counselors and community partners. SDHH has staff with expertise in deafblindness, hard of hearing issues and employment issues related to hearing loss. SDHH staff serve as resources to professionals, state agencies, community organizations and the public. SDHH co-sponsors Deaf Awareness Day to recognize the contributions of the Deaf community.

  • 28 Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf (RCDs) provided specialized services throughout the state in FY 2011.
  • In FY 2011, 2, 659 deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened and deafblind customers received VR services.
  • 413 customers obtained competitive employment with the assistance of RCDs in FY 2011.
  • In FY 2011, the average hourly wage of a deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened or deafblind individual was $11.51 an hour.
  • Customers entering competitive employment through services provided by RCDs worked an average of 39.7 hours per week in FY 2011.
  • 40 percent of customers entering competitive employment in FY 2011 received employer-provided health insurance.

Independent Living

DRS fully embraces the independent living philosophy of the Disability Rights Movement which is based on the belief that independent living means people with disabilities have control of their lives by making informed choices that enable them to realize their dreams.

Through the Independent Living Program, DRS funds a network of 23 Centers for Independent Living (CILs) statewide that provide accessible programs and services designed to help all people with disabilities live more independently.

Each CIL offers: peer counseling, advocacy, information and referral, independent living skills training, and may also provide other services to meet the needs of people in their communities. These services may include community reintegration programs, personal assistance programs, housing services, accessibility services, job readiness training, and youth programs.

CILs offer community-based services for people with all disabilities. In contrast to more traditional medical models in which the "client" or "patient" is highly dependent on "experts," a CIL's emphasis is on consumer self-direction and control. CILs promote a positive self-image, which is important to developing significant peer relationships.

Because the most difficult barrier for people with disabilities to overcome is societal attitudes, CILs advocate for changes in legislation, provide disability awareness training, develop technical assistance initiatives regarding the ADA, and promote a strong community presence. Clearly, CILs are not social service agencies, but agents for social change.

  • CILs provided an array of direct services and programs to more than 8,980 persons with disabilities in FY 2011.
  • In FY 2011, CILs responded to over 50,270 Information & Referral requests.
  • Illinois' 23 CILs serve individuals in 93 of the state's 102 counties.

Disability Determination Services

DRS' Bureau of Disability Determination Services (BDDS) determines the eligibility of Illinois citizens to receive benefits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The BDDS has been a national leader in providing quality customer service in an expeditious manner, making the correct decision as early in the process as possible. The BDDS has continued to increase its use of technology in order to request and receive medical evidence electronically.

BDDS processed 168,057 cases in Federal FY 2011.

Client Assistance Program (CAP)

The Client Assistance Program (CAP) provides information and advocacy for clients or applicants of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), including the Vocational Rehabilitation and Home Services programs, and for consumers of Centers for Independent Living.

CAP's primary goal is to work with clients to answer questions, or resolve problems as quickly as possible at the lowest possible level. This prevents delays in services, enhances their opportunity for a successful outcome, and usually eliminates the process of having to go through an appeal.

Clients are eligible for CAP services if they are applying for or receiving services from DRS or Centers for Independent Living. The types of services CAP can provide are:

  • Information and referral services
  • Advice and interpretation of the rules and federal regulations
  • Negotiation to resolve problems
  • Advocacy and representation at informal reviews, formal hearings, and in court
  • Presentations to groups about CAP services

The CAP was established by Section 112 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Each State and Territory of the United States has a CAP to help individuals with disabilities obtain the services they need from programs funded under the Act (Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living). All DRS clients/applicants are to be informed of their right to appeal decisions they do not agree with, and how to contact CAP. All CAP services are free and confidential.

  • In Federal Fiscal Year 2011, CAP advocates assisted 132 Vocational Rehabilitation customers and 540 Home Service customers by answering questions or resolving problems with services.
  • CAP responded to over 2100 requests for information and referral.
  • CAP provided informational outreach to approximately 650 individuals.

To contact CAP call: 1-800-641-3929 (Voice/TTY) or write to:

Client Assistance Program
100 North Street, 1st Floor West
Springfield, IL 62702-5197

Hispanic/Latino Services

In FY2011 310 Hispanic/Latino customers entered competitive employment

Average monthly earnings for employed Hispanic/Latino customers increased from $1,116 in FY2000 to $1,182 in FY2011.

16.8 percent of employed Hispanic/Latino customers received employer-provided health insurance in FY2011

The number of Hispanic/Latino customers receiving home services increased 114.8 percent from FY2000 to FY2011.

Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program

Division of Rehabilitation Services, in partnership with the Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP), implements the federally funded Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program, which offers informational, hands-on consultation regarding the effect working and earning wages has on social security disability benefits. The requirements are that the person must be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and must be interested in pursuing employment.

Since the founding of the Benefits Planning, Assistance, and Outreach (BPAO) Project in 2001 to the WIPA program, which was started in 2006, direct services have been provided to any individual receiving benefits from SSI and/or SSDI. The intent of the services is to assist persons in pursuing their highest level of self-sufficiency. Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs) counsel and encourage individuals to explore their employment options and provide ongoing case management services that enable them to anticipate and plan for changes that may occur in benefits when they return to work. CWICs also identify work incentives that can be utilized by DRS customers to successfully transition into employment.

The WIPA Program also facilitates Work Incentive Seminar Events (WISE) sponsored by Social Security, as well as additional work incentive presentations to customers and service providers. During these presentations, available services are presented and discussed. They include information and referral, case management, avoidance of SSA over-payments, etc. These events also encourage customers to set up checking and savings accounts to secure higher credit scores for home ownership through better financial practices. WIPA also provides long-term support in work incentives for those pursuing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

For more information on the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program call:

217-558-6326 or
800-807-6962 (Voice)

Illinois Assistive Technology Program

DRS works in partnership with the Illinois Assistive Technology Project (IATP), a not for profit agency that promotes the availability of assistive technology services and programs to provide independence in recreation, education, vocational and daily living activities for people with disabilities.

Conveniently located in downtown Springfield, IATP's Demonstration Center attracts visitors from throughout the state who are interested in learning about assistive technology. The center showcases 9 individual areas, including a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom that are filled with assistive technology. Guided tours provide hands-on demonstrations that allow participants the opportunity to compare the features and benefits of devices.

The Device Loan Program can help determine which technology will or will not work for an individual. The inventory of over 1,500 devices includes categories in communication, activities of daily living, vision and more. Device loans are free, range from four to five weeks, and are available to anyone in Illinois. Borrowers are responsible for the safe return of the equipment.

The ILoan Program provides low interest cash loans to Illinois residents with disabilities and/or their families to purchase assistive technology devices and services and limited home modifications. Loan amounts range from $500 to $25,000 with interest rates ranging from 5.5% to 7.5%. The ILoan Program also provides loans to Illinois residents with disabilities, 18 years and older to purchase equipment, services, and limited home modifications for employment purposes.

IATP currently provides two AT reutilization programs, AT Classifieds and the AT DRS Reutilization. At Classifieds is a web based reuse program that allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to buy, sell, search or give away assistive technology that is not longer being used. Photos, descriptions, contact information and pricing is provided in the listing. Many items are available free of charge. The website is and the link is AT Classifieds.

The Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) AT Reutilization Program was started in 2009 with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding through the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services (DHS/DRS) and provides access to assistive technology for DRS customers. Unused devices are collected from DRS field offices and brought back to IATP where they are sanitized, evaluated and repaired if necessary. Items are then posted on the website at <> and the link is DRS Reutilization. Any items may be requested by DRS Counselors.

IATP's Assistive Technology Specialists (ATS) provide assistive technology evaluation, training and technical support to customers at home, school or in the workplace for DRS Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Blind Services and Home Services Programs.

Services include:

  • assistive technology evaluations
  • individualized training
  • follow-up services
  • recommendations for the most appropriate assistive technology for adults and children with disabilities

The Homeownership Coalition partners with many groups to assist people with disabilities and their families live the American dream of homeownership. Counties served include Sangamon, Logan, Menard, Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin, Cass and Morgan.

For more information, contact:

Illinois Assistive Technology Program
1 West Old State Capitol Plaza, Suite 100
Springfield, Illinois 62701

1-800-852-5110 (Voice/TTY Illinois only)

1-217-522-7985 (Voice)

1-217-522-9966 (TTY)

1-217-522-8067 (Fax)