VR agencies are under increased pressure to provide services more efficiently as budget constraints, growing caseloads, and rising operating costs create barriers to effective service delivery. Rural areas are particularly susceptible to these economic constraints, where transportation barriers limit counselor and client travel. One strategy to deliver services in a more economical manner is to use telecommunication for counselor-client interactions.
The Telecommunication Project explored factors related to using telecommunication in VR practice, including client, counselor, and agency characteristics. The project included two studies, one targeting VR counselors (n = 1,187) and one focused on rural VR clients (n = 225). From the counselor survey, we learned that counselors serving rural clients used telecommunication less than counselors serving urban clients, and had fewer interactions with rural clients overall, including both face-to-face and telecommunication meetings. Counselors who received training in telecommunication strategies (18%), however, reported significantly higher rates of email communication with both their rural and urban clients.
From the client survey, we learned that 37% of rural clients had trouble attending in-person meetings due to transportation barriers and that the majority of respondents (64%) felt it was fair to provide more services via phone and email in rural areas. Additionally, while 63% of respondents reported that email was an acceptable way to communicate with their counselors, only 37% reported communicating in this manner.
- Project dates: 2008-2013
- Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant No. H133B080023
- Principal staff: Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D., Bethany Rigles, M.A., Becca Goe, M.A., Nancy Arnold, Ph.D.
- Related projects: