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Welcome to Indiana Disability Rights New Monthly Blog Series!

IDR's Monthly Blog Series is written by our staff each month. The blog posts discuss different initiatives, cases, or information related to disability rights.

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Learn more about the Client Assistance Program (CAP)


March 11, 2019

By Emily Munson, Staff Attorney

Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR) can provide fantastic services and supports to individuals with disabilities who want to be employed. Occasionally, though, the VR process can go fantastically awry. Fortunately, the Client Assistance Program (CAP) is here to help.

You do not need to be a VR participant to request help from CAP. For example, you can request assistance if you applied for VR services and disagree with your Order of Selection severity categorization or functional limitations identified by VR. You can also request our services if you believe VR violated your rights during the application process. Examples include being denied reasonable accommodations or having to participate in a trial work experience, despite evidence that you are capable of benefiting from services.

If you have completed VR’s application process and are placed in Priority Category 1, you and your VR counselor must next develop your Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). During this process, you and your VR counselor select your employment outcome, or the position you hope to obtain. Based upon this employment outcome and your disability-related needs, you and your VR counselor will determine necessary supports and services. This information is included in your IPE, as are your rights and responsibilities. Sometimes, VR participants and their counselors disagree about IPE components. This is another area in which CAP can help. For example, one of our advocates could attend meeting and help explain why you need a particular service your VR counselor has denied.

IPE-related disputes may also occur after initial development. You may want to amend your IPE, either during its annual review or before, and your VR counselor may disagree. Alternatively, your VR counselor may want you to participate in a service that you believe is unnecessary. Again, CAP can informally advocate for your needs, in an effort to amicably resolve the conflict.

Unfortunately, sometimes conflicts cannot be informally resolved. You may find that your situation can only be fixed through mediation or the appeal process. In these situations, too, CAP may be able to help. If CAP confirms that VR violated your rights and advocacy will not likely help, CAP can provide legal representation during the mediation process or your administrative hearing. This assistance includes letting you know what to expect from the mediator or administrative law judge; determining your best legal arguments and presenting of your case; and helping identify and prepare exhibits and witnesses. CAP will also let you know your appeal rights, if any, at the conclusion of each stage of representation.

If you are experiencing difficulty obtaining VR services, consider contacting CAP for assistance. You may reach us at www.IndianaDisabiltyRights.org or email us at Intake@indianadisabilityrights.org.

Deciding for Yourself


February 4, 2019

 By Melissa Keyes, Legal Director

We all make decisions every day. And whether we realize it or not, every decision we make follows a similar process - we are presented with an issue, we think about the potential options and consequences, we plan a course of action, and we communicate or follow through with our choice. Sometimes this process might be quick and we don't even realize we are doing it - for example when we are deciding what to wear that day. Other times, especially with more complex choices like choosing a place to live, we take our time - we are more deliberate. We may ask for someone's advice, we may research our options, but regardless of what tools we use, we are generally empowered to make our own choices and have those choices respected.

But what happens if you need help making decisions? Historically, you could appoint someone to help make decisions for you through a Power of Attorney or you might have someone appointed by a court to make decisions for you under guardianship.  Now there is another option – Supported Decision-Making (SDM).

SDM, in its simplest understanding, is a way to help or accommodate you through the decision-making process so that you still get to make the final decision. Whether it’s explaining complex information in a way you can understand, helping you determine what information to consider, or understanding the pros and cons of possible consequences, there are many ways to help support or accommodate the decision-making process so that you can make the final decision.

Using support to make a decision isn’t a new concept – it is how many of us make decisions every day. The formalization of it – writing down what help you need in a Supported Decision-Making Agreement is a new concept.  Having a written agreement allows for you and your supporters to be on the same page about what help you need.  A written document could also be used to let people like doctors or service providers know that you have made a decision with support.

To learn more about SDM and other options for adulthood, please click here to visit Indiana Disability Rights' website dedicated to SDM.