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Empowerment: a rejoinder to Vash's and Hahn's reactions.

When discussing with Dr. Leung the idea of having reactions to my "An Empowerment Philosophy..." article, I immediately and specifically thought of Dr. Vash and Dr. Hahn. Not only did I predict that in their own unique and individual ways they would meaningfully enrich, enhance and augment our appreciation of the construct of empowerment, I also anticipated that collectively they would ignite further, extensional thoughts and considerations. They exceeded my expectations.

Fourteen of Dr. Vash's 18 references are from her own writings over the past 11 years--we could not have a more credible validation of the importance of empowerment in the field of rehabilitation. I, too, Carolyn, have been fortunate to have experienced self-empowerment in my life. Thirty years ago the New Jersey Rehabilitation Commission and my rehabilitation counselor provided critical tangibles and intangibles which facilitated my continuing development as a self-empowered person. Now I am even bold enough to write about it. By your sharing your ideas and especially yourself, Carolyn, your being has an empowering influence on others. I humbly thank you.

Dr. Hahn very respectfully acknowledges the importance of engendering a more holistic empowerment philosophy throughout the field of rehabilitation as it currently exists. He poignantly and accurately identifies the dangers of remaining restricted and delimited to rehabilitation systems, professionals, and persons with disabilities and their families. Harlan, I am truly appreciative of your courageous way of standing up in the boat and telling us that we need to move beyond the minority group model and inculcate a more encompassing paradigmic conceptualization of disability and rehabilitation. I sense, however, that we are not only in the same tree--we may even be on similar limbs. Thank-you for challenging me and inviting me, in an empowering way, to move a little further away from the trunk.

Individuals with disabilities and their families, rehabilitation counselors, agency directors, and even rehabilitation researchers and scholars, occasionally tend to be restricted and constricted by their own experiences. Yet, as citizens, as people, we yearn for and strive for freedom, an enhanced quality of life, and a sense of meaning, purpose and importance in the essence as well as the existence of our lives. It would appear that we agree more on where we want to be headed and where we want to wind up, than on what we should be doing with the limited resources we have in the process of getting there.

Fortunatley, in the field of rehabilitation, we have many self-empowered people in leadership positions who are themselves energizing and freeing, and they unerringly have empowering influences on others around, and beyond, themselves.

In our rehabilitation education programs in colleges and universities, in our counseling sessions with individuals with disabilities and their families, in our agencies' and facilities' policies, and in our state and federal legislative doctrines, we have a common mission. Indeed, it is important for all of us to synergistically and cooperatively work together toward our common mission. And even on cloudy days such as these (e.g., in view of current socio-economic and macro-political realities), I remain ever so excited about our future.
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Title Annotation:Empowerment for People with Disabilities; response to Carolyn L. Vash, Harlan Hahn, 57 Journal of Rehabilitation 13, 17, 1991
Author:Emener, William G.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:More thoughts on empowerment.
Next Article:A response to Satcher and Dooley-Dickey's "Helping college bound clients with learning disabilities".

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