Missouri’s Rehabilitation Services for the Blind Taps Docusign to Empower the Visually Impaired

  • Accessibility for clients
  • Turnaround time for receiving completed documents

Accelerated turnaround times, reduced costs and newfound efficiencies are often touted when it comes to the benefits of digital transformation. But the move away from paper-based forms and workflows takes on a completely different significance when, like Missouri’s Rehabilitation Services for the Blind (RSB), you work with the visually impaired.

A unit of the state’s Department of Social Services, RSB connects blind and visually impaired Missourians with the services and resources they need to achieve personal and occupational success. Historically, RSB has bridged the gulf between paper forms and its blind or visually impaired constituents through in-person contact. “We typically meet our clients either in their homes or in the communities where they live or work,” said Ellen Clapper, RSB’s Policy Development Coordinator. “We prepare our documents beforehand and get signatures while we're face-to-face with them.”

That high-touch model was challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We thought we'd be shut down for two or three weeks and everybody would come back,” said Clapper. “But after it became apparent that this was going to be more of a long-term thing, we started looking into e-signature options.” Needing a quick, reliable solution that meets HIPAA, ADA, and WCAG accessibility standards, RSB selected Docusign eSignature to digitize client-facing forms and keep services flowing.

Getting an enterprise-class implementation up and running quickly with Docusign Professional Services

As is the case in many governmental agencies, Clapper had to review RSB’s specific needs and establish a solid business case for eSignature before the state would green-light the expenditure. Most notably, she had to compare the capabilities of Docusign against a more limited e-signature feature set that was already available to the agency. “What’s available in our case management system just wasn’t going to be acceptable,” Clapper said. “And I really appreciated the approach that Docusign takes in supporting its customers.”

RSB engaged Docusign Professional Services for the implementation process and was matched with a Customer Success Architect who proved invaluable to Clapper and her team. “Our CSA provided a lot of support and was always available if we had questions,” she explained. “It was a really good partnership.” Working in close collaboration, the team configured RSB’s agreement templates for optimal accessibility and went live with eSignature in just over two months.

Facilitating client independence through accessibility

RSB’s mix of client-facing documents includes an assortment of applications for services, health assessments, disclosure and release forms, and individualized plans for vocational rehabilitation. With Docusign eSignature, RSB gives clients the freedom to sign these applications without needing to find someone to help read pages or acquire a separate braille version.

Key to this capability is eSignature’s support for common screen readers, high contrast tools and keyboard-only input. “You just click a button, and Docusign makes the entire packet of information available to the screen reader so it can read it aloud,” said Margy Repp, Program Specialist. “I was very happy when I discovered this feature.”

Any time we have more options for our clients—and provide ways they can do things independently—it's always something that we get very positive feedback about.
Kayla Cole
Deputy Director Assistant
Missouri Department of Social Services, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind

Reaping the benefits of eSignature in a post-pandemic world

While the transition to e-signature was largely driven by the pandemic, the efficiency gains RSB has reaped from Docusign will have a lasting impact on the agency’s processes. “Even after we go back to meeting folks face-to-face, there are still some processes—especially in the vocational rehabilitation program—where things move really fast—and enabling a quick turnaround time is really going to be beneficial for us,” said Clapper.

In addition to the freedom of choice that e-signature provides to clients who may prefer doing things on their own, Docusign gives RSB the agility to respond quickly to whatever unexpected turns may later complicate its operations. “The future is still pretty unknown for everybody, but at least we know how to handle it,” Cole said. “No matter what comes, we can continue to serve our clients to the best of our abilities and provide all the services they need.”