Working Toward Effective Collaboration: A Panel Discussion with Vocational Rehabilitation Organizations and Disability Services


Thursday, November 2


10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.


Jewls Harris




Students with disabilities enter postsecondary education from a variety of backgrounds with diverse goals. Many however, whether they are transition age or returning to higher education after a hiatus, share long term goals that include employment. In order to facilitate these goals, disability services offices must collaborate effectively with community partners, including vocational rehabilitation agencies. This panel discussion will further collaboration between DS offices and vocational rehabilitation to provide a richer experience for our students and deepen cooperation between all stakeholders. Panelists will include staff from the Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB), Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS), the Veterans’ Administration (VA), and representatives from community college and four-year universities. Each panelist will address the following:

  • Overall policies and procedures of their organization including eligibility determination and supports offered;
  • Recent changes in services especially as they apply to specific areas including transition age students and field placements; and,
  • Ways in which DS offices and these vocational organizations can improve communication and collaboration to further the interests of shared students

Participants in the session will also have the opportunity to meet and network with staff members from their local vocational rehabilitation offices to address concerns specific to their region. In addition, participants will receive a link to a handbook that outlines the policies and procedures of each organization including best practices for communication between entities as well as regional contact information for each office.

Learning Outcomes


Presenter Bio(s)

Jewls Harris, M.A.
Jewls Harris, MA CRC NCC, is an Access Counselor and Consultant at the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at Portland State University (PSU). Jewls received her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from PSU in 2008. Jewls served on the city of Portland Commission on Disability for four years and was Vice Chair for two. She had a private counseling practice with a focus on disability and has also worked extensively with National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Since joining the DRC, she successfully overhauled the classroom assistant program for blind and physically impaired students. The program includes a full day of training with ongoing supervision that ensures balanced support and autonomy while mirroring the mission of the DRC. Jewls serves on the Accessibility Committee at PSU, as a Member-at-Large on the ORAHEAD Board of Directors, and as Co-Chair of AHEAD’s Blind and Visually Impaired SIG. She has presented multiple times at regional and national conferences including AHEAD in 2016.

Collaboration Of Rehabilitation and Education (CORE)
The purpose of the Collaboration Of Rehabilitation and Education (CORE) group is to share information as professionals about each other’s program to enhance collaboration and resources available to individuals with disabilities. The CORE Group consists of University and Community College representatives from each region, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), and Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB).