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Serving Rural Clients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) : VR Counselors – Factsheet

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Key Facts:

Fact 1:

Rural residents with MS have the additional barriers of disability combined with the traditional barriers associated with rural vocational rehabilitation.

Fact 2:

MS is generally a progressive illness that impedes career development, with only 25% of people with MS still employed 15 years following diagnosis.

Fact 3:

40% of rural residents with MS who remain in the workforce have received workplace accommodations.
Rehabilitation professionals working with rural residents with MS need to remind these individuals that they have easier access than ever before to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protections to guard against retaliation from employers. - Rumrill et al., 2019, p.29

Fact 4:

The most common workplace accommodations for rural employees with MS are changes in work schedules, changes in certain duties, accessibility improvements at work stations, and the ability to work from home for certain hours.

Fact 5:

Rural residents with MS indicate a need to better understand insurance provisions and protections within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fact 6:

VR has a significant role to play in counseling rural MS residents about approaches to discussing workplace accommodations with employers.

Recommended Readings:

  • Rumrill, P.D., Strauser, D.R., Li, J., Roessler, R.T., Chan, F., Bishop, M.L., Leslie, M., & Frain, M. (2019). Priority employment concerns identified by Americans with MS residing in rural areas: Results of a national survey. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 51, 21-31.

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