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Rehab reauthorized.

The long-awaited reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is now complete. Through an unprecedented process of consensus building, the reauthorization culminated during the waning days of the 101st Congress and was put to bed in late September. As with most legislation, there is bad news and good news.

The bad news is that we are still a long way from the consumer-driven system we set out to build. Systems as large and entrenched as the rehabilitation system are difficult to change. Well-meaning people often view the world in completely different ways, and the world of rehabilitation is no exception.

The good news is that a lot of positive consumer-supportive mechanisms have been built into the bill, such as the formation of a statewide, consumer-based advisory committee with sweeping new abilities for input and the placement of assistive technology front and center throughout the bill. Most importantly, persons with disabilities, their parents and family members now have a real presence in the bill. Title VIII of the new bill itemizes a series of new training initiatives. Among them is the training of persons with disabilities, their parents, family members, advocates and other authorized representatives. Training can cover a variety of content areas, including the details of the new act itself. When such training occurs, it must be delivered by or through the close cooperation of the appropriate parent training and information center in that state, region or city.

Funding for Title VIII remains a problem. Currently, there are no funds appropriated for these activities because of the limits of the budget agreement of 1990. The first opportunity for the appropriation of new monies will be the next appropriation cycle that will probably heat up next summer. If any meaningful activities are to result, parents will need to focus on these appropriations with an intensity not yet brought to bear on this act.

NPND thanks and commends all of the parents who responded to the Legislative Alerts sent out during the reauthorization process of the Rehabilitation Act. NPND will be releasing a detailed analysis of the act in a Legislative Update to members in November.
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Title Annotation:Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Networking: Information from the National Parent Network on Disabilities
Author:Searcy, Larry
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Visions of the future.
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