Who is Eligible for DRS Services?

The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) works with people who have a wide range of disabilities including hearing loss.

A student with a disability may be eligible for DRS services if the disability causes problems in preparing for, finding, or keeping a job. A referral should be made to DRS especially in the following situations:

  • Upon his/her exit from high school, the student needs additional skill development (including higher education) in order to succeed in the work force.
  • There is a need for assistance in transitioning to employment.

How Does DRS Work?

Each person who comes to DRS as a customer works with a rehabilitation counselor. Together they follow these four steps:

  1. Decide on an employment goal. The customer selects a job goal that matches his/her aptitudes and interests.
  2. Develop a plan. The customer works with a counselor to develop a plan for employment. The plan identifies the services that will be needed in order to reach the identified goal. It states who will provide the services, and outlines how to determine if the services are beneficial. Some services will be provided by the counselor, while others may be purchased or provided by other agencies.
  3. Follow the plan. The customer receives the services outlined in his/her plan. If a customer is a high school student, some of these services will be provided as part of his/her high school program. The DRS counselor will monitor progress through the school's vocational coordinator, attend staffings, and make arrangements for whatever services will be needed to make the student's transition out of high school as smooth as possible.
  4. Reach the goal. The counselor works with the customer to reach the ulitmate goal of finding the right job. Once the customer is on the job, the counselor follows up for at least 90 days in order to make sure that both the employer and the new employee are satisfied. Sometimes additional services may be needed. When this happens, DRS can begin working with the customer again to make sure he/she is able to stay on the job.

What Kind of Services are Available Through DRS?

DRS collaborates with many partners throughout the state in order to offer a wide range of coordinated thransition services that are designed to help young people with disabilities become productive, self-sufficient adults.

A few of these services include:

  • Job training
  • Placement assistance
  • Training in job-seeking skills
  • Job coaches
  • Support services
  • Tools and equipment
  • Accommodations
  • Assistive technology
  • Prostheses
  • Hearing aids/ALDs

The goal of DRS is to tailor a program to meet the unique needs of each of its customers.

How is a Referral Make to DRS?

If a student is participating in a special education department sponsored school work program, the vocational teacher or coordinator usually makes the initial referral. Ideally, this referral will be make during the student's sophomore year. Otherwise, a student with a disability who is within two years of exit from high school may contact DRS directly to inquire about obtaining services. Referrals may also be made by family members, school staff, mental health professionals, social workers, churches, and other community agencies.

Who Pays for DRS Services?

The following services are provided free of charge by DRS:

  • Disability Assessments
  • Vocational Counseling
  • Job Placement Services
  • Job Follow-Up Services, including Job Coaches
  • Interpreters/CART Providers

Some of these services are purchased from public and private agencies in the community. If financially able, customers are asked to pay for part of the services.

More information and your local branches can be located at the following address: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx


"Under Construction: Building Bright Futures"

March 3-5, 2016

Springfield, IL


 Join us on March 3rd-5th, 2016, for our Illinois Teachers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing 52nd Annual Conference, "Under Construction- Building Bright Futures" at the Hilton Springfield. Come fill up your teaching tool box to build bright futures for your students!



Master Conference Schedule

Conference Breakout Sessions and links to presentations and handouts.


Friday, March 4th, 2016: Heather Costner

Heather Costner
Heather Costner has ten years of experience in the field of deaf education. She received her Bachelors of Science in Deaf Education from Illinois State University. She has her Master's Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, with a focus in Administration & Supervision, from DePaul University. She has worked at the Texas School for the Deaf, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, New Mexico School for the Deaf and now currently works at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center's Kendall Demonstration Elementary School. Her roles in the various settings have been as a classroom teacher, mentor teacher, math specialist, curriculum specialist, and now she serves as an assistant principal. Heather also is a CODA, a part of a multi-generational deaf family, a wife, and a mother.


 Saturday, March 5, 2016- Karen Putz

Karen PutzKaren Putz is a mom of three deaf and hard of hearing teenagers. She is the Co-Coordinatorof Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion at Hands & Voices, past board member of Hands & Voices and co-founder of Illinois Hands & Voices. She is an author, speaker and in her spare time, a barefoot water skier.



See the Sound- Visual Phonics Level One Workshop

Participants in this workshop will learn the handshapes and how to read and write the symbols to represent the sounds of speech.  Participants must attend both the Wednesday evening and Thursday sessions.  Registration for this workshop includes the manual/workbook to take home.  Additional materials will be available for sale. 

Cost: $120 (icludes both Wednesday evening and Thursday sessions and workbook)

Time: 5-8 pm Wednesday, March 2nd and 9am-4pm Thursday, March 3rd (lunch on your own)


Institute for Disability Research and Training

Participants will learn how to use the multimedia tools within the program and ways to utilize those tools both at school and home to privide access to sign media to students.  Participants will receive a one month membership to the MYASLTools site.  Participants must bring a laptop (Chrome is the preferred browser).

Cost: $120

Time: 9am-4pm (lunch on your own) Thursday, March 3rd

 Hearing and Vision Connections- DTH Workshop

Cost: Free

Time: 9am-4pm (lunch on your own) Thursday, March 3rd

EI and CPDU credit

Target Audience: Early Intervention providers working with families of children with a hearing loss

Register through HV/EIO at http://bit.ly/ISD-OutreachEvents

Please contact Tina Childress at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.


Parents, please join us at the 2016 Conference for an opportunity to learn and connect with teachers and other professionals as well as other parents like you!  Please see the link below for more details.



Early Intervention Providers! You can get EI credit while attending the ITDHH Conference! EI credit offerings are outlined on the flyer below.



There are several ways to register. Just download the registration form below and...

Call (800)877‐1478 or (309)438‐2160 with Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express. Hours 8‐4:30 M‐F

Go online and pay with a credit card at: www.conferences.illinoisstate.edu/itdhhconference

Fax (309) 438‐5364

Mail to:

ITDHH- Building Bright Futures
Conference Services
Illinois State University
Campus Box 8610
Normal, IL 61790‐8610



This year’s conference will be taking place at the Hilton- Springfield in Springfield, IL. Please notice that the hotel’s name will change to Wyndham Springfield City Centre as of January 1, 2016. The room rate for ITHI/ITDHH is $105.00 per night. The deadline to receive the group rate is February 9, 2016. To reserve your room, visit:


After January 1, 2016, guests wanting to make reservations by phone should call the hotel directly at 217-789-1530 and select option 1 for reservations or when answered ask for reservations. Please be sure to mention ITDHH/ITHI when reserving your room in order to secure the group rate.


Proceeds from the raffle held during the ITHI Conference are used to fund the Hazel Bothwell Grants and Scholarships. If you would like to help collect donated items for the raffle, please feel free to use the letter below.


Grant and Scholarship applications are now available! Click here to find more information and to download application forms. Deadlines are January 30, 2016 for all awards.


Are you able to see this when logged in? 

ITHI has officially changed our name to ITDHH, Illinois Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  Our members voted at our 50th conference to change our name to include the "D" in our acronym, in order to be more representative of the population of students we serve.  The process to legally change our name has now been completed, so the change is official.  Please look for our new name on conference paperwork and other professional correspondence!