Document Type

Research Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Telecommunication offers a low cost solution to increasing client and counselor contact during the vocational rehabilitation (VR) process, particularly for clients at a distance from the VR office. Despite the advantage telecommunication provides, however, counselors report using email with fewer rural as compared to urban clients (Ipsen, Rigles, Arnold, & Seekins, 2012). In part, this may relate to counselor perceptions that rural clients have less Internet access than their urban counterparts (Ipsen et al., 2012). This disparity may be diminishing, however. Government incentives and public access in libraries and community centers are improving telecommunication infrastructure across the country, especially in rural places (Banerjee & Hodge, 2007; Federal Communication Commission, 2012). In fact, a recent survey of 225 rural VR clients revealed that 67% could access a computer with Internet on a regular basis (Ipsen, Rigles, Arnold, & Seekins, in press). Further, while 39% of informants used email with their VR counselors, 63% felt it would be an acceptable way to communicate (Ipsen et al., in press). This gap indicates missed opportunities for counselor-client contact, a predictor of successful employment outcomes (Hein, Lustig, & Uruk, 2005). This factsheet describes results from a recent qualitative study that both confirm and expand on our previous telecommunication study findings.


employment and vocational rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation, telecommunication and vocational rehabilitation, rural, disability


© 2012 RTC:Rural

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Our research is supported by grant #H133B080023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of Education.

Project Number