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Free services across Virginia to help people with disabilities

The services are free for anyone 18 and up, through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Services

People with disabilities are much less likely to be employed than those with no disabilities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fishersville, Va. – People with disabilities are much less likely to be employed than those with no disabilities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2020, about 18-percent of persons with a disability were employed compared to about 62-percent for persons without a disability.

We’re working for you to break down the free services in Virginia to help.

Students are busy inside the newly renovated Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center.

“Our whole goal is employment. And so, we help the students work on their emotional, social, academic, to able to be a productive member of society,” said James Hall, Manager for the Career and Workforce Development Division at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center.

The services are free for anyone 18 and up, through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Services (DARS).

“Think of us as the community college for DARS, and we’re the only one in the entire state,” said Hall. “If you have a 504 or IEP coming from the school system or higher ed, you usually qualify for DARS, but also DARS has even more of expansive eligibility. It may be work stamina, it may be work pace, and so you may have an emotional need, and so those are some of the invisible disabilities that you would be eligible for.”

When someone first comes in to the WWRC in Fishersville, there’s a four day evaluation that then leads to the best program for you.

“They’re looking at your skills, your abilities, your aptitudes, and what you can do. We can assess in different job families, we can assess in trades, we can assess in services, we can assess in humanitarian, and there’s different occupations,” said Hall.

There are eight training programs including manufacturing technology, information technology, business, health occupations, auto mechanics, materials handling, food services and community-based training.

These can lead to a variety of careers like being an auto mechanic, work in logistics, food service or carpentry.

Students also have access to other supports.

“We have occupational therapy, physical therapy, we also have behavioral support, psych services,” said Hall, who says without these services, life would be tough. “They’d be living lives of poverty because they wouldn’t have access possibly to employment, they wouldn’t have access to the education because they may have graduated high school and they don’t qualify for special ed. services anymore, and they may not go to their local community college. And so, usually it’s the cycle of poverty.”

After the programs, Hall says people have worked Roanoke County Public Schools, Walmart, Advance Auto Parts, Carilion, Oak Hall Cap and Gown, Marvin Windows, and Chris’ Coffee and Custard.

There’s a DARS office in every community where you can find out what you qualify for. Here’s the link to find more.

You can also find more information on the WWRC here. The Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center recently completed a two-phase renovation of its R.N. Anderson vocational training facility. The $23.7 million project encompassed 100,000 sq. ft. of renovation and 12,500 sq. ft. of new construction. The improvements provide an enhanced training environment for eligible students with disabilities including state-of-the-art instructional technology, teaching materials and labs. Its purposeful design of layout, lighting, acoustics and color scheme especially help accommodate individuals with sensory and information processing issues.


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