OVR Information

Recent changes to the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) have provided a unique opportunity for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) and their ability to join the postsecondary environment.  The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the Human Development Institute (HDI) formed a partnership to explore the possibility of students being able to work as well as attend college with the help of an education and/or job coach.

This pilot is not a way of creating a special education program for college students.  It is meant to be a fully integrated college experience combining on-the-job training in an educational environment with the intended outcome being gainful employment at completion.

The idea is to use supported employment providers to deliver services to these students.  The types of services can range from tutoring to time management. The individuals who deliver services will serve much in the same capacity as a job coach would in a supported employment environment with the exception being that services will take place not only on a job site, but also on a fully integrated college campus.

As rehabilitation counselors this pilot is another tool to utilize for training consumers with significant intellectual disabilities.  This may be used as an alternative to the Community-Based Work Transition Program for students who need the support, but want to explore the possibility of postsecondary education before entering the workforce. Students can work as well as pursue an education much the same as any traditional college student.

OVR transition director Vickey Riley can provide more information and help you determine if one of your consumers meets the criteria for this pilot.

The program is currently serving six students with the goal of 10 more by the end of 2012. For more information contact Vickey at VictoriaJ.Reilly@ky.gov .

Below you find a synopsis of the pilot project. It is our hope that you will consider this when you have a student with intellectual disabilities who could benefit from this added service.


In 2010, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation agreed to pilot a program jointly with the Postsecondary Inclusion Partnership aimed at supporting nine OVR clients with intellectual disabilities in pursuing postsecondary educational goals.  The Supported Higher Education Project proposed to include this pilot program as part of their federally funded model demonstration grant.   The expected outcome for clients participating in the project would be twofold, in that they would (1) gain valuable campus experience and exposure to functional skills/materials that would then (2) lead to a greater likelihood of gainful employment in a field that is interesting and meaningful to the client.  The proposed name for the project was the College to Career Mentoring Program.

In early discussions, the OVR/SHEP team agreed that we would support students in the following settings:  Northern Kentucky University (NKU); Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) and Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC). 

A fee schedule was approved for the pilot.  However, there is concern that the rate is too low to entice providers to participate, especially given the recent increase in the Supported Employment rate through the Supports for Community Living Waiver.  This should be addressed as possible so that we can identify Supported Employment providers to work with. 

SHEP staff will meet with and train the Supported Employment provider(s) as identified in the role of the “Supported Education Provider” (or “College to Career Coordinator”). 

The main responsibilities identified for this person were: (1) facilitate the development of five to six learning objectives for the student related to their internship (or work study); (2) document student progress toward the stated objectives; and (3) “fill in the gaps” where disability support services through the IHE is not sufficient.  In addition to the initial training, the Supported Education provider would also meet with the OVR counselor three times per semester (beginning, middle and end) to address any concerns that come up along the way. 

Pilot staff should provide training/assistance to OVR counselors in areas such as identifying students appropriate for the program.  Potential participants would include clients who list a career goal that would require some level of postsecondary education as their desired outcome.

Clients should also have an already-present support team (i.e., family, community support, waiver supports, etc.) in order to be considered as this will be an important factor in the student’s overall level of success.  Additionally, counselors should be reassured that they do not feel pressure to “close the case” quickly, but rather to document progress over a number of years with the end goal being a meaningful career.

It was proposed that students follow the following “path” while being supported through OVR: 

  1. 1.       The potential student utilizes his/her junior year of high school for Community Based Work Transition (CBWT) exploration (*note:  students who are not participating in CBWTP are also eligible to participate in Supported Education, if it is a necessary component of their career choice)
  2. Entering the student’s senior year of high school, he/she could choose to:
    1. Continue with CBWTP, leading to a goal of employment in the first year out of school;
    2. Do a Supported Employment consult with a “direct employ” outcome, leading to a goal of working with Supported Employment training the first year out of school;
    3. Receive postsecondary training in the student’s chosen field and receive Supported Education training, leading to career development through postsecondary education in the first year out of school. 

At each “next step” point in the path, an OVR counselor would assist the client with making and facilitating the next choice.