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State rehabilitation services, community college system streamline access to credentials for in-demand jobs

February 21, 2024

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the state’s public community and technical colleges are streamlining access to in-demand credentials and jobs for residents with disabilities.

“People with disabilities remain disproportionately unemployed or underemployed in comparison to the general population,” said ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw. “The goal of the vocational rehabilitation program is to support the business community and the individuals we serve by reducing barriers that keep otherwise qualified candidates on the sideline.”

“ADRS helps people in this special population obtain employment while also helping Alabama businesses fill needed vacancies by hiring and retaining highly skilled and highly motivated employees who come through the VRS program,” she said.

The department’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service (VRS) college training policy has eliminated most income-based eligibility requirements for individuals participating in the VRS programs and who are eligible through ADRS to access educational services at Alabama’s public community and technical colleges. Services include financial assistance with tuition, fees, books and supplies for training in associate degree programs as well as technical, certificate or short-term certificate programs.

Residents with disabilities train often at Alabama’s two-year colleges for in-demand careers such as truck driving, healthcare, and business management. In addition to training in college programs, the ACCS Innovation Center’s no-cost, rapid Skills for Success training programs are also available.

In the spring of 2021, LBW Community College established the Alabama RISE Program, which focuses on connecting individuals with disabilities and local businesses.

RISE Program student, Austin Ingram, participated in a paid internship with Andalusia Distributing Company, Inc. (ADC), and has been employed there full-time.

“Due to a declining labor pool coupled with excessive turnover, we were struggling to identify individuals who were actually interested in working,” said Chace Sauls, ADC Accounting and Office Manager.

“It has been personally and professionally rewarding to be a part of RISE because we’ve been able to witness the growth in confidence as the students realize their potential for the workforce.”

The Alabama Community College System partnership with ADRS will enhance and strengthen the goals of LBW’s RISE Program.

In addition to financial assistance for qualifying VRS participants who attend Alabama’s two-year colleges, ADRS assists colleges with much-needed accommodations to help ADRS participants successfully achieve in the classroom.

“It is imperative that individuals with disabilities are a focus in our efforts to meet the workforce needs in our communities throughout the state,” said Dr. Brock Kelley, President of LBW Community College.

“As of right now, approximately 70% of individuals are not in the labor force and it’s not because of ability or willingness to work. Creating awareness of the resources to help employers identify barriers and determine ways to remove those are essential to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in the workforce. We are committed to providing support and training for all.”

Alabama residents interested in learning more about services through the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services can call 1-800-441-7607 or visit TTY users can dial 711 or visit for more information.