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The Rehabilitation Act: Outcomes for Transition-Age Youth.

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The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, together with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, set in motion policy changes that have allowed many thousands of children and youth with disabilities in the United States the opportunity to gain the educational and vocational skills needed to transition to living, working, and participating as adults in community life. The debate continues as to whether these laws have gone far enough in making the changes needed to enable youth with disabilities to leave high school, attain postsecondary education and training, and achieve employment rates and levels of wages comparable to their peers without disabilities. In providing services to transition-age youth with disabilities who are still in secondary education, vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies collaborate with state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), and institutions of higher education (IHEs). The collaboration that occurs is based on meeting statutory requirements governing the vocational rehabilitation (VR) services program, the methods of ensuring services and transition services requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the implementation of specific agency operations or initiatives. This report is a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the Rehabilitation Act on the employment and postsecondary education outcomes of eligible transition-age youth. The purpose of this study is to synthesize both quantitative and qualitative data on the impact that the Rehabilitation Act has had on the employment and postsecondary education outcomes of eligible transition-age youth. The study examines the extent to which VR's existing federal/state structure promotes the delivery of effective transition services to adolescents and young adults with disabilities, the long-term results of VR's investment in postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities, and the effectiveness of collaborative efforts among vocational rehabilitation, secondary and postsecondary education, and other service systems in the planning and delivery of transition services. The 11 recommendations that emanate from the study are directed to the U.S. Congress and to the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) within the U.S. Department of Education. Seven recommendations address changes to current service delivery practices that are designed to improve transition outcomes for youth with disabilities. These recommendations are derived directly from data collected through the series of structured interviews and review of promising practices and are consistent with the quantitative data reported above. In addition, four recommendations are offered to guide future research in a way that will lead to sound data that can be used to assess the success of further services, validate evidence-based practices, and create new service delivery approaches. Appended are: (1) Comparison of the Organization of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998; (2) Titles and Sections of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 that Address Programs and Services Applicable to Transition-Age Youth; (3) Panel of Experts; and (4) Mission of the National Council on Disability. (Contains 18 tables and 3 endnotes.)
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Publication:ERIC: Reports
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 28, 2008
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