More efforts to include consumers in the service process are emerging within vocational rehabilitation. In response to this trend, service providers have implemented a variety of innovative approaches, which offer opportunities for persons with disabilities to assume a more active role in goal setting, enacting choices, and self-directing employment plans. However, rehabilitation professionals report that including consumers in partnership or leadership roles is a challenging process. Thus, a better understanding of the issues that hamper or enable consumer participation in vocational rehabilitation practice is needed. Therefore, a qualitative investigation was undertaken to examine service provider experiences in a consumer-driven program where consumer participation was expected. Fourteen service providers shared their views in focus groups on factors integral to consumer involvement. Data from service providers suggest that determinants of consumer participation coalesce around three basic components; consumer competencies for self-management responsibilities, service provider strategies for empowering others, and compatibility of resources at the system, agency and community levels. Implications for enhancing greater involvement of consumers in the vocational rehabilitation process are discussed.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/drlynn/27/