Vocational Rehabilitation and Empowerment of People with Disabilities for Employment
Work contributes to a person’s identity from multiple standpoints. Someone’s job impacts how they are viewed in society, by their family or friends, and also plays a part in forming personal identity. A disability or onset injury could complicate an individual’s ability to work and thus, adversely impact how they view themselves or how others view them.
Because of this, people with disabilities are also more likely than those without to face employment challenges. This includes facing discrimination when looking for a job, having to make a career transition due to disability, or even navigating physical accessibility issues while on the job or looking for new roles.
Over the last two decades, there has been legislation geared towards individuals with disabilities to ensure equal employment opportunities and to improve accessibility to work.
First, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 ensured equal rights were provided to individuals with disabilities and expanded access to greater labor market opportunities. The ADA prohibited job-related discrimination against disabled individuals and required employers to provide reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified applicants.
Another step forward for individuals with disabilities was the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). This developed local and statewide workforce investment systems to increase individual’s participation in training as a way to obtain and maintain employment. WIA resulted in the development of one-stop career centers, which provided job development services to all populations, allowed individuals to select services based on their needs, and provided evaluative means to ensure measurable outcomes.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law in 2015 to replace WIA. This legislation was designed to provide training opportunities to individuals beyond those of WIA. The goal of this new legislation was to increase diversity in job training programs and strengthen the public workforce system in order to help individuals with significant barriers to employment, such as those with disabilities.
These are just a few of the many laws developed to ensure equal rights for disabled individuals and to ensure accessibility to employment opportunities and community support.
Similar to these pieces of legislation, vocational rehabilitation also allows individuals with disabilities access to resources that help them return to the workforce. By providing services such as assessments to pinpoint an individual’s inherent skills and vocational needs, vocational counseling and guidance, job coaching or placement, as well as skills training, participants are better equipped in their career search.
In particular, vocational rehabilitation participants are more knowledgeable about what types of positions to pursue and how to go about obtaining these position in a skilled fashion.
With legislation eliminating employment barriers and providing access to resources, individuals with disabilities have less employment challenges to face, are better equipped to conquer those barriers that do still exist, and have access to better employment opportunities than ever before.
Although there is still plenty to improve upon, individuals facing life-long or onset disability can better pursue opportunities that positively contribute to their sense of identity in the world.
About the Author:
Rebecca Hanna, CRC is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor at Vocamotive, Inc. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Bradley University and Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at Northern Illinois University. Her areas of career interests include vocational rehabilitation, transition and disability services, and career counseling and placement.
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Last Updated on November 28, 2017 by Voca_GC