The Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Independence Bound

Administration for Community Living

Editor’s Note: This blog was cross-posted from the Administration for Community Living’s blog.

By Bob Williams, Deputy Commissioner, Administration on Disabilities, and Director, Independent Living Administration

The original Rehabilitation Act became law just for the First World War and little change was made to it over the next five decades. In contrast, the landmark legislation that passed in 1973 altered the course of history in fundamental ways. When the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 became law, I was just starting my freshman year in high school. My parents and I worked hard for years to win the right, or at least the chance, for me to attend the same school and classes as every other kid in my town. This chance, coupled with the passage of the ’73 Act, opened up doors of opportunities for hundreds of thousands baby boomers with significant disabilities like me and successive generations in ways that seemed like the stuff of fiction 40 years ago.

The Act itself was the subject of intense debate and compromise on the part of Congress and the President. Earlier versions of the bill were vetoed by President Nixon in October 1972 and again in March 1973 because he believed the legislation, though well intended, would lead to unintended consequences both for government and people with disabilities it was intended to assist. This sparked protests led by young disability activists like Judy Heumann and others who took to Madison Avenue in New York City to demand legislation be passed. Months later, when he signed the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 into law, the President hailed it as creating “expanded job opportunities and further(ing) steps toward independence” as well as demonstrating the good that can come from “executive-legislative cooperation.”

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New SNAP Pilot Provides Grocery Delivery for Homebound Disabled, Elderly

Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

By Guest Blogger Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

Your neighborhood grocer may be conveniently located just a few short blocks away. But for many persons with disabilities and the elderly participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the store might as well be on the other side of the world.

It’s a difficult problem that USDA’s new homebound food delivery pilot aims to alleviate, not just for the more than 4 million nonelderly adults with disabilities participating in SNAP, but also for the nearly 5 million seniors, who often face similar challenges and who may face disabilities, as well.

USDA recently announced the food purchasing and delivery firms selected to take part in the one-year pilot, which will be conducted in locations nationwide, perhaps at a location near you. Firms selected include Denver Food Rescue (Denver, Colo.), Lutheran Social Services of Nevada (Las Vegas, N.V.), Many Infinities, Inc. (Alabaster, Ala.), Senior Services of Alexandria (Alexandria, Va.), and Store to Door (Roseville, Minn.).

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Spotlight On: Cancer and Careers

Cancer and Careers

By Guest Blogger Sarah Goodell, Manager of Programs, Cancer and Careers

One of the things that we hear all too frequently at Cancer and Careers is “I wish I’d known that your organization existed sooner”, and we are working to change this every day. 1.66 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. As of 2014, there are more than 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. As the number of cancer survivors in the U.S. continues to grow, there is an increasing need for resources and support to help them get back to everyday life and work after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer and Careers was born 15 years ago to address this need. Our mission is to empower and educate people with cancer to thrive in their workplace, by providing expert advice, interactive tools and educational events.

We do this in a number of ways, including:

  • A comprehensive website in English and Spanish
  • Publications in English and Spanish
  • Job Search Tools and Resume Review Service
  • Professional Development Micro-Grants
  • Accredited Programs for Healthcare Professionals
  • Community Events
  • National and Regional Conferences
  • Balancing Work & Cancer Webinars

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A New School Year and New Opportunities

A colorful map of the United States. Click on "Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) or Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC)" in the blog post to find a center near you.

By Guest Bloggers Carmen Sánchez, Education Program Specialist, Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education and Debra Jennings, Executive Co-Director, SPAN

A new school year is a new opportunity to build the relationships that strengthen the foundations of support that are so important for our students with disabilities. As one parent engagement professional stated, “Parents and schools should reach out and open lines of communication in a time of peace before that first poor grade or behavior issue. Find out how people would like to be addressed and their preferred method of communication.”

But how does a parent start the conversation in a way that is focused on strengths just as much as need? A Positive Student Profile is a great way to introduce a child to teachers at the beginning of the school year. Here’s an example of one way to introduce the profile, which can be customized to fit your student:

Dear Mr. Rogers,

Alex and I are excited about this new school year! I am writing to share some things I believe will help make this successful year for him. You likely received Alex’s individualized education program and are thinking about how to implement the supports and accommodations listed in his IEP. But while the IEP does a good job of describing Alex’s learning and needs, it doesn’t fully describe him or who he is. I am including a profile ( that Alex prepared that tells about his interests, his strengths, and what works best for him to help him learn.   

Our family has high expectations for Alex, just as we have for his sister. And we know that he requires some supports and accommodations to meet these expectations. We are always looking for information about Alex’s abilities and challenges. We have come across several resources that have really helped us and Alex’s teachers work together to help Alex learn. Here are some that might be of interest…

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Why We Need Stronger Public Efforts to Prevent Work Disability

The logo for the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy Collaborative - S@W/R2W

By Guest Bloggers Jennifer Christian MD, President, Webility Corporation, and Yonatan Ben-Shalom, PhD, Senior Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research

Despite a difficult childhood, Pete had made a good life for himself. He had a wife, two sons, and a landscaping job for a school in a Sun Belt state. Then an accident left him with severe back pain. His employer didn’t want him back until he was “100 percent.”  Spine fusion surgery did not help. Pete lost his job. He believed his neurosurgeon’s unfortunate advice: “Don’t even bother looking for another job.”

The only thing Pete’s doctors did offer was opioid pain relievers. His new life was spent in a recliner, taking pills. Pete grieved the loss of his ability to be a good husband, father, and provider. He didn’t know what else was possible or where to turn.

Pete’s life didn’t need to turn out that way but, sadly, his story is not unusual. Millions of workers lose their jobs each year due to injury or illness. Understandably, most hard-working Americans don’t know the best way to respond when life is turned upside down because they can’t work. Some, like Pete, get both inadequate care and bad advice. Many who might continue to work end up leaving the workforce forever because practical help is not available at a critical time.

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