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.

This website is the product of research at the Research and Training Center on Disabilities in Rural Communities (RTC: Rural) on how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies serve their rural consumers.

Through ongoing research and conversations with partners at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), telecommunications was identified as an important strategy for increasing counselor-consumer contact and improving employment outcomes. We also learned that many VR counselors do not feel prepared to use telecommunication methods with their VR consumers. Over time, our initial research efforts expanded to include online job development methods and social media to help in job search efforts. We developed the telecomtoobox.org to help address these gaps.

To learn more about our research related to Telecom Toolbox, see:

Related Publications


To learn more about RTC:Rural research, please visit the Employment & Vocational Rehabilitation page on the RTC:Rural website.


Catherine Ipsen

Catherine cropped
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.

Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith speaks into a microphone during a presentation at the APRIL 2017 conference
Lauren is the Knowledge Translation Associate for the Rural Research and Training Center (RTC:Rural). To her, Knowledge Translation is taking information written in one language (in this case, the language of researchers), and expressing it in another form. She creates written and graphic content that includes research summaries, toolkits, website content like blog posts and press releases, social media, posters, infographics, fact sheets, and brochures. Among other RTC:Rural projects, she has helped edit and format the content on the Vocational Rehabilitation Self-Employment Guide website and was the lead editor/content creator for the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, which uses improv to introduce and teach advocacy skills to youth 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 Lauren 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.