The Public Mandate: A Federal Overview Module 1: History of Vocational Rehabilitation

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1 The Public Mandate: A Federal Overview Module 1: History of Vocational Rehabilitation Roots of Public Rehab Roots Go Back to World War I More injured soldiers survived than ever before More disabled soldiers coming home than ever before World War One Soldiers Rehabilitation Act of 1918 Disabled soldiers could not go back to old jobs and lives Provided training for new jobs matching new abilities A new concept in disability support for veterans World War One Possible new careers included Drafting and Pharmacy, among other things Early Public VR Program Initially for Veterans only Popular with the public Matched similar state programs for injured workers Expanded in 1920 to include anyone with a physical disability Early Public VR Program Program Was Good But Limited To Qualify, Physical Disability Had to Meet Certain Requirements Only Limited Types of VR Services Available Examples Chair Caning (making wicker backs & seats for chairs) Making Rugs

2 Early Public VR Program Many Disabilities Not Included Seizures, Mental Retardation, others, These people continued living on charity from family, church, strangers, or in state institutions VR Expanded by Labor Shortage Millions of men went off to fight Millions of women entered workforce to fill vacancies Still left many unskilled jobs empty 1943 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act VR services expanded to include people with mental illness and mental retardation Gradually doubled number of VR consumers These workers began changing common stereotypes about what people with disabilities could do 1943 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act In response to public comments, added new kinds of VR services Cataract surgery Bone surgery Hearing aids Wheelchairs Other supports 1943 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act Also allowed states to create separate VR agencies for people with blindness and low vision 1954 Amendments Decades After WWII Economy grew and changed Doctors learned to treat more disabilities

3 Process of VR became more complicated 1954 Amendments Funded Scientific Research Eventually led to National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Also increased funding for public VR system Postwar VR VR Was Politically Popular Helped thousands find work Clearly defined target group People with disabilities who could return to work with help Measurable results showed consistent profit for government On average, VR consumers returned $7 in taxes for every $1 spent on training them President Johnson Recruited VR into Great Society Program VR had been so successful, it would now help even more people Disability redefined to include drug abuse, alcoholism, repeated jail sentences, behavior disorders, public assistance, and other nonmedical conditions President Johnson Recruited VR into Great Society Program VR opened offices in prisons, welfare offices, storefronts, etc. Where VR had once served thousands of people, it now served tens of thousands VR Had to Streamline the Process Huge numbers of new applicants threatened to overwhelm the system Applicants processed & evaluated quickly Training choices more limited Services less individualized and flexible

4 Rehabilitation was now mass production People with Most Significant Disabilities Got Lost in the Shuffle They needed the flexibility and individualized services of earlier years Had to go back to doing without Disability Rights Movement People With Disabilities, Advocates, & Family Members Learned From The Civil Rights Movement Began Lobbying and Protesting About the Streamlining and Other Issues 1973 Rehab Act Congress Responded to the Demands with a New Rehab Act President Nixon signed it in to law 1973 Rehab Act Under The New Act VR to Primarily Serve People With Significant Disabilities Counselors & Consumers Work in Close Partnership to Individualize Services Use Formal Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program Disability Rights Movement Disability Advocates Continued Started the radical De-institutionalization Movement of 1960s Moved people into group homes in local communities Without supports for residents, these often became mini-institutions People who had lived passively in institutions for years had trouble building ties to local communities

5 Disability Rights Movement Activists Worked for Community Inclusion, Consumer Choice Concepts integrated into 1986 Amendments to the Rehab Act 1986 Amendments For People with Most Significant Disabilities Shifted VR focus away from protected job settings like sheltered workshops Focus now on providing supports leading to typical jobs in local community 1992 Amendments VR Continues Working Closely with Disability Community and Integrating Emerging Concepts 1992 Amendments: Created New Front Section in The Act of Definitions and Principles Created State Rehab Councils Increased Role of Consumer Mandated Standards & Indicators, Minimum Training Standards for Counselors Speeded Up Eligibility Process 1992 Amendments Agencies Must Presume Everyone With a Disability Can Benefit From Services Cannot deny services because disability is very significant 1998 Amendments Increased Informed Consumer Choice Streamlined Administrative Requirements Increased Consumer Options for High Quality Jobs

6 1998 Amendments Required a Partnership Between Public VR System and Other State/Federal Agencies Providing Employment-Related Services Requires local cooperative agreements Rehab Act became Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act Still maintains integrity of the Public Rehabilitation System Flexible, individualized services to people with disabilities needing more than other jobs programs provide Guiding Principles Do Not Change Employment and Productivity Lead to Independence Independence is The Right of All American Citizens Produced by RCEP7 Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program, Region 7 University of Missouri Content Advisors: Jerry Abbott, RSA Kathy West-Evans, RSA Janis La Belle, Florida SRC Ray Carroll, CSAVR Producer, Scott Standifer, RCEP7 A product of the RSA National SRC Training Initiative

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