Telecom Toolbox is a website dedicated to helping people with disabilities find employment using online career development tools. It has resources for individuals working to find employment on their own and for service providers who help people develop the necessary skills for finding and maintaining employment.

Telecom Toolbox is the product of years of research at the Research and Training Center on Disabilities in Rural Communities (RTC: Rural) dedicated to exploring how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies serve their rural consumers. Telecommunications was identified as an important strategy for increasing counselor-consumer contact and improving employment outcomes. Initial research efforts have expanded to include online job development methods and social media to help in job search efforts. Through this ongoing line of research and conversations with partners at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), we learned that many VR counselors do not feel prepared to use telecommunication methods with their VR consumers.  We developed Telecom Toolbox to help address this gap.

To learn more about our research please visit:



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Catherine Ipsen

Catherine is the Associate Director of the Rural Institute on Inclusive Communities (RIIC) and Director of Employment Research for the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural).  Her research focuses on effective service delivery models for people with disabilities living in rural locations. Her interest in telecommunications began with research exploring online counseling as a strategy to overcome rural barriers to accessing services. Since that time, her interests have expanded to using social media as a tactic to improve job search outcomes for both rural and urban people with disabilities.


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Rebecca Goe

Rebecca is a Research Associate and Project Director for the Rural Research and Training Center (RTC:Rural). She has worked on several research projects that explore how technology can improve the lives of people with disabilities. She helped facilitate a weight loss intervention program for women with mobility impairments in the virtual world of Second Life and explored how distance technologies could be used to improve vocational rehabilitation outcomes in rural areas.  Recently, her interests have focused on how social media and other online career development tools can be used to mitigate the high rates of unemployment and underemployment of people with disabilities.



Stacey Bliss

Stacey is the NIRS Data and Outreach Coordinator at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) at the University of Montana.  Stacey helped administer a social media intervention study for Vocational Rehabilitation professionals and she works with Catherine and Rebecca on research projects that focus on employment.



Kristen Jacoway Beasley

Kristen J. Beasley is a senior vocational rehabilitation counselor, national speaker, and published author of the book, ‘I’m in a Job Search–Now What???’ Her interest in job search came during the recession when her former husband faced a company offshoring and subsequently worked at another company that closed. At that time, social media was in the infancy of becoming a formidable force in the job search and sparked her research that led to the writing and publication of her first book. She speaks to government agencies, universities/colleges, and private companies nationally about how to incorporate social media into a job search as well as practical tips on building a stellar online reputation to enhance employability.