- European Cultural Heritage
- Attitudes and Behaviors Inherited
- The Start of the Independent Living Movement
- Federal Laws Supporting the Independent Living Paradigm
- TitleVII of the Rehabilitation Act - 1986 and 1992 Amendments
Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act - 1986 and 1992 Amendments
by Maggie Shreve
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended in 1986, includes the following parts:
- Title VII Part A funds services for independent living rehabilitation (oxymoron) to individuals determined "eligible" for such services; parallels Title I (vocational rehabilitation program); based upon the medical/rehabilitation paradigm
- Title VII Part B was written to establish centers which operated with the IL philosophy, basin programs on the independent living paradigm; however, Part B grants have gone to single disability organizations, state agency operated centers, rehabilitation hospitals, and developmental disability group home operators- none of which operate under the IL philosophy or paradigm
- Title VII Part C funds programs of service for older blind adults - a contradiction of the cross disability focus of the movement
- Title VII Part D (unfunded until 1990) provides funds for "protection and advocacy of individual rights," but denies CILs access to these funds because they are recipients of Title VII funds - even though consumers of CIL services are already "protected" by the mandated client assistance project (CAP) for any grievances against a specific center or center service. These funds could have been used by centers to buy "protection and advocacy" (or legal) services for CIL consumers by allowing the CIL to hire an attorney on staff or to contract with a local law firm
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1992 dramatically changed the structure and flow of Title VII money to the states for centers and for services. Included in the current draft are the following critical changes:
- Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILC) - There will be new statewide independent living councils which will have broader responsibilities, such as:
- co-sign off authority for the state plan
- members will be appointed by the governor
- one member must be the executive director of a CIL who is selected by other center directors within the state
- others on the council will include representatives of appropriate state agencies, including vocational rehabilitation and blind agencies, but they will be non-voting members
- it will be consumer controlled, with at least 51% of the members being people with disabilities (not counting the center director or the non-voting state agency representatives, even if they have disabilities)
- last, but by no means least, it will have staff to carry out it duties, including its own executive director
- System Change - The Senate version contains a section that is considerably different than the past Title VII Part A. It is a new Part B and will be used to demonstrate new ways to expand and improve independent living services. The state vocational rehabilitation agency and the statewide independent living council will jointly develop a plan for such projects. For example, these projects could include demonstrations on how independent living services can be delivered in an under served portion of the state. Typical services for individuals such as the purchase of a wheelchair, could be provided for a person who fits the parameters of the demonstration (in this example, a person who lives in an under served portion of the state). In addition to this new Part B, there is a new Part C under Title I which permits similar "system change" projects. This means that people who need wheelchairs who do not fit the demonstration parameters under the new Title VII Part B might fit the parameters of a project under Title I Part C. Or, of course, the purchase could be made through other parts of Title I if the consumer has a vocation goal or through a center, if funds to centers are increased accordingly.
- Centers for Independent Living - One significant change in the new amendments is that organizations receiving CIL funds must meet the National Council on Disability (NCD) standards for a center. Key definitions, standards and assurances are all spelled out in the new Title VII and have been altered slightly to fit the philosophical and experimental base the movement now has. Funding for CILs comes from the Senate version's new Title VII Part C (replacing the old Part B). Centers currently receiving Title VII Part B funds who can meet the NCD standards will continue to receive funds under the new law. As long as the centers meet standards, the will continue to receive funds. If a center does not meet standards after the first year, the Feds or states can pull their funds with only 90 day notice!
- Methods of Funding - In the Senate's version, how a center gets its money depends upon the level of state funding going into center operations. If a state contributes an amount equal to or greater than its current Title VII Part B allotment, then the state could continue to receive the federal dollars for distribution to centers. If the state is not contributing an equal amount, then funding goes directly from RSA to the centers in that state. Even if a state is contributing more than the Feds, it could elect to allow the CIL funding to go directly from RSA to the CILs by not applying for the money itself.
Senate staff are leaning towards a minimum of $500,000 per state with funds available on a formula basis through grants rather than contracts. Some states are receiving more than their "fair share" according to the formula (based upon past grant mechanisms) so they will be "held harmless" against any losses in funding. In other words, the state will continue to receive what it is currently getting under Title VII Part B, but may have to wait for appropriation increases until all states have reached their appropriate formula percentage of the total amount available.
- Oversight of Title VII - As the Senate version now stands, oversight responsibility for the "system change" (new Part B) activities resides with the designated state agency. Oversight for the CILs is tricky to explain: either it will belong to the designated state agency or it will belong to RSA, depending upon which entity contributes the most to CIL operations. In states like California, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, the state contributes more funds to CILs than does RSA. In other states, RSA contributes more. So, whichever entity contributes more to CIL operations has oversight responsibility, including compliance reviews to ensure that CILs meet standards.
- Employability - Many independent living advocates wanted emplolyment feasibiliyt criterai removed from the Act altogether, but recognized that this could set up the rehabilitation system as a funding source for individuals who have no intent of pursuing a vocational goal. This could have meant that people could use its funds inconsistent with the Act's basic purpose. For example, someone with a terminal illness could apply for funds to cover surgical expenses. But significant changes were made to the "employment feasibility" issue in other ways.
One significant change involves who is responsible for proving that an individual with a disability is employable or can benefit from vocational rehabilitation services. In the Senate version, the burden to prove that an individual cannot benefit from VR services is not placed on the VR couselor. The counselor must have "clear and convincing evidence" that a person cannont benefit - this is the highest civil standard in the law. If there is confusion or doubt about eligibility because of the severity of an individual's disability, then the consumer can receive services through an extended evaluation period for up to 18 months, with an evaluation every three months to determine progress. Also, a counselor must determine eligibility in a "reasonable amount of time," but no longer than 60 days.
- IWRP - In the present Act, the individualized written rehabilitation plan is developed "jointly' with the consumer. In the Senate version, it is "jointly" developed, agreed upon and signed" by the couselor and the consumer. An innovation here - the IWRP must include a statement by the consumer, in his/her own words (or the words of a legal parent or guardian), describing how he/she was informed of options and how goals and objectives for the plan were selected.
- State Rehabilitation Advisory Councils - This is new. A consumer advisory council is established to be involved in the decision-making process, including helping to select impartial hearing officers. The council will be appointed by the governor and composed of the chair of the statewide independent living council as well as representatives of other public and private organizations involved in rehabilitation.
The Rehabilitation Act needs radical reform if the IL paradigm is to be retained and reinforced in pursuit of equal access and equal opportunity. The Act of 1992 is a major beginning. It says, in law, that CILs must:
- Establish themselves as private, not-for-profit organizations governed by an independent board of directors
- Be community-based and community responsive
- Maintain a majority of people with disabilities on their boards of directors and on their staff
- Truly represent different disability groups; be cross-disability in approach and composition
- Provide services, including the "core services: I&R, advocacy, independent living skills training, and peer counseling", which are directed by "consumers" themselves, and
- Advocate for system change, laws, regulations, policies and procedures which create and maintain equal access for people with disabilities who want to live independently in the communities of their choice.
Information provided by: Maggie Shreve, Consultant, 1523 W. Edgewater, Chicago, IL 60660, Voice/TTY: (312) 989-4385, Fax: (312) 989-8268