Bill Miller is a Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor in the Provo District Office. Bill has worked for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) for 8 years, primarily serving individuals who are blind or who have visual impairments. In his personal life, he is a husband and devoted father of six children.
What brought you into the profession?
I chose to go into VR because having a disability myself, I wanted to give something back and be able to help other individuals with disabilities find employment. I was born with retinoblastoma which is a form of eye cancer. It was officially diagnosed when I was two months old. There were not a lot of treatments for retinoblastoma in the late '60s. This was a very difficult time for my parents. My eyes were removed when I was three months old and I have had prosthetic eyes since that time.
When I was five years old, I attended the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind. My parents felt it was important for me to learn Braille and other skills that would help me become independent and have as many opportunities as possible for an education. I will always remember my first day attending the School for the Blind. I thought that I would be able to go home like everyone else, but this was not the case. I lived in Grantsville at the time and I had to stay in the dorm during the week and come home on weekends. I did not realize this until the end of the day after my parents had dropped me off at the school. The first night at the dorm was one of the loneliest times of my life. I did not know what to expect. The staff at the School for the Blind tried to do all they could to comfort me, but it was not working. It took me a while to adjust to my new environment, but I was able to overcome a lot of the trials and difficulties that I was going through.
Looking back on this, I feel this event forever changed me as a person because I had to learn to take care of myself and learn all of the skills that I could. I attended the School for the Blind for eight years and I felt that I had gained all of the skills that I needed to be able to attend public school. I later received my high school diploma and went on to college and eventually obtained my master's degree. This eventually led to me to start a career with VR where I help individuals that have disabilities be successful. Because of my experience I felt that I could help them along that path by being understanding and hopefully making it so their experiences are not so traumatic.
Where do you get your inspiration to help your clients in VR?
My inspiration usually comes from my clients. I like talking with them about their job interests and ways they can overcome their disabilities. A lot of times my clients know what job they want to pursue and are very positive and believe they can succeed in obtaining employment. I also draw upon my experiences as a person who is blind to help my clients be successful. When counseling with clients, I let them know that I care about them and I want them to become successful. Having been a client of VR and now a VR Counselor, I feel that I have an understanding of both perspectives and this helps in the counselor/client relationship. I feel there is an unspoken understanding between the client and myself that things will work out and they will get through struggles and find success.
Why do you think VR is important?
VR is important because it is an essential program for individuals with disabilities. VR provides clients services to help address their disabilities which allows them to receive the necessary training to obtain employment. As a VR counselor I feel that we have a great impact on the client’s life and their families lives as well by helping them along the path to employment.