Vocational Futures Planning and Support Overview

The Vocational Futures Planning and Support, developed by Employment Resources, Inc. (ERI) in Madison, Wisconsin, is a process that provides support to individuals with severe physical disabilities who want to become employed or maintain current employment.


The Vocational Futures Planning and Support (VFPS) process offers strategies for individuals with disabilities to explore their options for employment. The process is designed to address barriers to employment, which include but are not limited to:

  • Benefits Questions:  Concern with loss of benefits; lack of awareness about Social Security Administration work incentives programs
  • Employment Planning Services:  Confusion about comprehensive, coordinated and specialized vocational services specific to people with physical disabilities, e.g. career planning, education, job development/placement,  and training
  • Attitudes and Perceptions:  Negative attitudes on the part of employers, rehabilitation professionals, policy makers and the public at large; the perception that people with physical disabilities either cannot or do not want to work
  • Transportation: Challenges in identifying adequate and reliable transportation
  • Funding:  Inadequate funding for personal assistants as well as other services and supports
  • Coordination:  Lack of coordination among the various parts of the service system, e.g. Social Security, DVR, Long-Term Support, Independent Living Services,  Transportation, Housing, etc.

The VFPS process is a team-based process, getting all of the appropriate people together to examine barriers and explore solutions. The process is consumer-driven and consumer-directed.  The individual takes an active role, working with the employment specialist as well as service providers, advocates, mentors and others on their team.  But it is also a flexible process and should be molded and shaped to meet the needs and desires of a particular individual.

VFPS Strategies

The participant may use any of these and other strategies during the process to reach the employment goal:

  • Benefits Analysis: A thorough analysis of the benefits, entitlements, subsidies and services and the impact that earned income will have on payment and eligibility; ongoing support with using work incentives and managing changes in benefits.
  • Career Exploration and Goal Validation: Discussion of interests, hobbies, strengths, and exploration of potential job fields.  Vocational/educational assessments, networking, informational interviews, job shadowing, mentoring, business advisory group, and work experiences are some of the strategies used during this step.
  • Assistive Technology: Identification of adaptive equipment, software, etc. needed to perform essential functions of the job.
  • Job Seeking Preparation: Developing a plan of action, resume/cover letter, interview skills training.
  • Guided Job Search: Employment specialist assists in whatever way the individual desires, including contacting employers, helping with resume development, providing interview skills training, negotiating accommodations, providing sensitivity training to employers, etc.

The VFPS process starts with the participant and includes identifying Barriers and Assets with the help of a resource team.  The process employs strategies the are individualized to meet the need of the participant and lead to a career.


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