Printer Friendly

The Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association.

A Historical Perspective

The Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association (VEWAA) can trace its association's history to a chronological beginning in the mid to late 1960s. Yet, this point in history would not reflect the thoughts, reflections, and seminal work which preceded the actual formation of the association. The interested observer needs to reach back further in the past decades of this century to determine where the seeds were sown for the formation of such an association.

Some would suggest that the emergence of Fredrick Winslow Taylor (1903) in the first decade of this century might be a beginning. It was, after all, his observations of pig iron workers which was the forerunner of the job analysis as we know it. While his methods were somewhat crude compared with our technology of this day, he did begin what we call scientific management. He was the originator of time and motion studies and breaking down a job into its elemental tasks. Then, there was the development of psychological tests which was tremendously impacted by the onset of World War I. This development was continued after the war and was enhanced by World War II and the Office of Strategic Services. In the civilian sector, the Institute for the Crippled and Disabled in New York City responded to the need for evaluation services promoted by rehabilitation legislation. This legislation was enacted for the rehabilitation of soldiers returning from World War I who needed help for ultimate placement into the civilian workforce.

Fairness in selecting employees, determining job differences and similarities, tasks differences in selection of personnel, tests as alternatives to interviews, affirmative action, adverse impact, accommodations and modifications, legislative mandates, and a host of others played some role in the solidification of a number of people to look for some common thread to weave into an organization. This organization would have as its beginning thrust the bringing together of those individuals who were working in vocational evaluation to determine functions of persons with disabilities for use in projecting an appropriate placement in the world of work or in suggesting training components.

Davis' masterpiece (1986) on the history of VEWAA starts with the year 1965. Actually as early as 1962 Bernard Rosenberg of the Institute for Crippled and Disabled (ICD) had a dream about the formation of an evaluation division within NRA (Coffey, 1991). From that dream, a small group of interested individuals met in a rehabilitation facility in Warm Springs, Georgia. The original name selected to designate this group was the American Association of Work Evaluators (AAWE). The usual trappings of an organization began to appear, namely, officers to run the organization, a constitution with by-laws was formulated, and committees were formed.

Since the AAWE was generally composed of evaluators with roots in rehabilitation facilities, the natural gravitation for recognition toward a national organization would be to a group concerned with like concepts and philosophies. The National Rehabilitation Association seemed a much more likely vehicle to help with national recognition in working with people with disabilities than other groups as schools, vocational organizations, and businesses. A committee was formed to determine the feasibility of such a relationship. After more than a year of arduous work the AAWE was absorbed into the National Rehabilitation Association (NRA) in 1967 on a provisional status. It was during the annual NRA conference in New Orleans in 1968 that full status was granted to the AAWE as a professional organization within NRA.

The AAWE upon its acceptance as a provisional division in NRA in 1967 began to habilitate itself into the Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association. The reason for the name change and linkage with work adjustment was the result of a survey conducted earlier. The results indicated that (1) work evaluation and work adjustment were very closely linked, (2) the same practitioners were providing both evaluation and adjustment services, and (3) exclusivity in membership would diminish rather than enhance the number of probable members.

Many inquiries have been made regarding the logo/symbol of the organization. Davis (1986) wrote that "VEWAA opted to adopt as its symbol the one which had been used by the AAWE with the exception of using the name `Hephaestus,' from the Greek mythology rather than the name `Vulcan,' from the Roman mythology as had been previously used. This was done because literary research suggested that Hephaestus represented a more suitable god for a symbol for workers with a disability."


The organization dictated its purpose as shown in its ByLaws, "The purpose of the Association is to improve and advance the field of vocational evaluation and work adjustment training in accordance with the Association's charter." This is further enlarged upon in the VEWAA's Operations and Procedures Manual which urges members to increase the opportunities for persons with disabilities for rehabilitation by the use of simulated and/or real work. The organization also promotes professional standards which, in turn, encourages the development of the professionals within the organization. Other efforts espoused publicly by the organization are: increasing public awareness of vocational evaluation and work adjustment as an integral process in working with persons with disabilities; collaborating with other professional organizations whether at the state, regional or national level; creating new opportunities for professional growth through a variety of means; and promoting practical as well as theoretical research for increasing the base of knowledge in the field.


Rather than revisit what was superbly written in a former article, the organizational structure as outlined by Davis (1986) is suggested reading. It is sufficient to remind the reader that the VEWAA organization is not unlike other organizations within the NRA umbrella as regards its structure and operating procedure. Emphasis will be placed on outcomes in the organization since its acceptance into NRA.

The growth of the organization began in earnest in the early 1970s. State chapters were formed as per the rules and regulations set down by the parent organization, NRA. Today there are 64 chapters representing each of the fifty states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Canada, territories in the Pacific, and foreign chapters. Included in this number are multiple chapters in California, New York, and Washington state. These chapters are grouped into eight regions each with a representative to the VEWAA Board.

The state chapters are the backbone of the VEWAA organization. It is within these state chapters that almost all of the day-to-day work of the organization is accomplished. Many of the state chapters provide a variety of in-service training to their members and to other interested professionals as an outreach situation with recruitment for members as a secondary goal. As an example, the Alabama and Georgia VEWAA state chapters recently presented a two-day program on Learning Disabilities. The Florida chapter provides two-day training sessions two times a year for vocational evaluators. It is from these grass root activities that individuals are recognized as leaders and are encouraged to step up to the national level within the VEWAA organization. A tertiary goal is to relate, relax, and have fun whenever members get together. This can be walking the main street of Biloxi at 1:00 a.m. with a group of VEWAA members at the Southeast Regional NRA. Or it can be massing together in a restaurant during the evening after a long day of training at a VEWAA Forum.

The membership of the organization has been around 1600 for the past several years. There are, however, ten or twelve times that number who practice as vocational evaluators (Weldon, 1987). At the present time over thousands have been certified as vocational evaluators and approximately half have maintained their certification. To gather into one organization all these persons who practice vocational evaluation would be a grand goal.


Some of the more significant highlights of the past 26 years would include the following. No survey was conducted on this but are the result of paging through materials associated with the organization and contact with a number of notables such as Robert Couch, Stephen Thomas, and Darrell Coffey.

The creation of the VEWA`4 Bulletin certainly has to be a milestone as it would be in any professional organization. From its simple beginnings this publication has withstood the test of time and is now recognized as a journal for vocational evaluators and work adjustment professionals. It is distributed nationally and internationally to all members of the organization. In addition libraries, agencies, and businesses subscribe to the Bulletin on a worldwide basis. The Bulletin recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special anniversary edition. The Bulletin has gone through changes and undoubtedly will go through more. The editors of the Bulletin have served with distinction, namely, G. Krantz, J. Nadolsky, F. Mercer-Baker and H. Sawyer, R. Baker, W. Crimnado, D. Cothrell, and D. Coffey.

No less of importance is the VEWAA Newsletter which is the manner in which timely news of the organization is distributed to its members. The format of the newsletter has changed over the years and is currently comparable to other professional organization newsletters. Lee Stroud is the current editor with the immediate past editor being Clarence Brown.

The VEWAA Forum is a nationally recognized meeting of professionals for the purpose of disseminating current trends, ideas, and philosophies in the area of vocational evaluation and work adjustment. This Forum convened first in Atlanta in 1984 and has convened about every 18 months or two years since then in cities around the country. While VEWAA is the host organization the Interdisciplinary Council (a group of organizations which use vocational evaluation as a tool) helped with the programming for the 6th Forum held in Virginia. Thus, vocational evaluators not only from VEWAA but from other organizations participate in this activity of VEWAA as well as other professionals closely aligned to the purpose and philosophy of VEWAA. Proceedings from the Forum are published by the Materials Development Center. The contents cover the entire range of vocational evaluation and work adjustment. The next VEWAA Forum was held in Louisville in March 1995. The Forums have been incredibly successful and have been guided ably by Randy McDaniel, Gary Sigmon, Ron Fry, and, most recently, Joe Ashley.

The creation of the Home Office is relatively new to the organization. This was done to meet a need unmet by the NRA office located in Virginia. Any individual who wishes to contact a particular evaluator can do so by calling the Home Office in Colorado and obtaining the needed information. The Home Office is used to market the organization on a national level and to broaden the appeal of the organization to a wider range of clientele. Information about evaluation, whether general or specific, can be obtained by retrieving members' addresses and phone numbers and contacting them. The guiding force behind this concept was Geri Harrand.

Recently, VEWAA has contracted with an individual in Washington to be the eyes and ears on Capitol Hill for the organization in regard to matters specific to the evaluation of individuals, particularly persons with disabilities. This is most important to VEWAA members since critical legislation of late, e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act, IDEA, and Rehabilitation Act Amendments, has specifically dealt with issues of vocational evaluation without due notice to and proper input by VEWAA. This individual in Washington fills a critical void for the VEWAA organization.

Members of the VEWAA organization realized very soon that a type of certification would place their members in good standing in the professional world. They wanted a certification which would be appropriate for all the varied types of vocational evaluators. After the results of two surveys, VEWAA set up their own entity yet it couldn't be connected with VEWAA or the broadness of the concept would have been defeated. VEWAA contacted the Commission on Certification of Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCC) in 1979 to determine if they would act as a type of management company for this new entity which would be called the Commission on Certification of Work Adjustment and Vocational Evaluation Specialists (CCWAVES). CCWAVES was officially formed in 1982 and is now located in Bethesda, Maryland. At the present time only vocational evaluators are being certified (CVE). Certifying exams in vocational evaluation are given two times per year, in April and October. Some states require that a person possess a CVE before applying for provider status to provide vocational evaluations for Workers' Compensation clients. Certain facilities suggest that a CVE is highly regarded in the selection process for evaluators. Approximately ten universities offer programs which lead to specialty degrees in vocational evaluation.

Another tangential situation to VEWAA, but which seems to be an invaluable segment, is the Materials Development Center (MDC). For years the MDC has been the major and, at times, only publisher and conveyor of strictly vocational evaluation and work adjustment materials. Under the watchful and prudent guidance of Ron Fry the MDC has provided critically important materials at very reasonable prices to professionals in the field. This undertaking has only enhanced the standing of the organization. At the beginning of 1995 the MDC ceased to exist but a new entity took its place which is The Rehabilitation Resource. This new business is at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie with Ron Fry as director. Only the name has changed. Products in the field of vocational evaluation continue to be marketed.

The Glossary of Terminology for Vocational Assessment, Evaluation, and Work Adjustment, edited by Lynn Dowd (1993), is in its second edition. It has been well received as an authoritative work on specific definitions for the field. The first edition has already been supplemented by the current second edition. It has also been published in several foreign languages.

The Interdisciplinary Council was formed in the mid 1980s for organizing a loosely knit group which involved professional organizations whose members might provide vocational evaluations and/or assessments. This Council includes VEWAA, the Division of Career Development (DCD), the National Association of Vocational Assessment in Education (NAVAE), the National Association of Vocational Special Needs Personnel (NAVSNP), and the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA). One focus of this Council is to work with how vocational evaluations and assessments are conducted. Its second focus is concerned with the quality of these assessments and their appropriateness for the consumers involved. The 1994 Winter issue of the VEWAA Bulletin, a special issue, featured articles on the interdisciplinary aspect and approach in VEWAA. The principles involved with this concept from the outset and who worked with great zeal organizing this council were Fran Smith and Dana Schuster.

In the twenty-seven years since its inception VEWAA has continued to work toward a more unified concept of what vocational evaluation and work adjustment comprises. The VEWAA Bulletin has continuously printed articles and editorials regarding the philosophy, ethics, and direction of the organization. In 1973 there was a synthesizing conference held in Atlanta (Crow, 1973) on positions sent in by forums held by practitioners throughout the country. A final report on these positions was published in three special issues of the VEWA Bulletin in 1975 (VEWAA, 1975). To this day these results are still a strong basis for what vocational evaluation is today. A direct outcome of this endeavor was the Standards Committee which formulated standards ultimately adopted by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). A Glossary Committee was also established which has produced a significant publication, as already mentioned.

The VEWAA Employment Exchange has been a part of the organization for almost twenty years now. This service was created to work with individual professionals in the field who were seeking jobs within the area. Many evaluators and adjustment specialists have been aided in this effort. An offshoot of this exchange is a current listing of professionals in the field which becomes available to subscribers throughout the country. This marketing service is certainly a help for those who wish to locate evaluators in a particular section of the country. Special areas of expertise are highlighted in the most recent listing.

What will be... ?

The VEWAA organization has evolved from its roots in the rehabilitation facilities to branching effects into almost all areas where there are vocational evaluations being done. The time that vocational evaluations are limited to persons with disabilities has passed. Many evaluators are joining in the effort to provide meaningful evaluations to people who are not actually prevented from going to work but who wish to find their niche in the world of work. Working with AFDC single parents is beginning to blossom. Creation of evaluation centers in major corporations is an idea which has come to fruition. Offering vocational evaluations to all students in the secondary, even elementary, schools is a concept which is being studied and, in some places, practiced. The time has come when evaluators will fan out of their facilities and testing rooms to provide a plethora of services well within their area of expertise, namely, job analysis, job accommodations and modifications, career exploration, in-service training programs, expert witness testimony, accessibility surveying, labor market surveying, wage analysis, job descriptions (essential functions), and the list can go on.

VEWAA is a vibrant organization which will lead the way in the field into the 21st century. Its leaders are visionary in that they realize that the organization is as strong as the members who belong to it. Create an organization which faithfully works to support its members and that organization will prosper. VEWAA has done just this, continually does this, and will continue to do it. Actually, the dedicated membership will be the spark which continues to ignite and maintain the fires of change.


Coffey, D. (1991). Our history and our future. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 24(2), 39-41.

Crow, S.H. (Ed.). (1973). Atlanta synthesizing conference. Washington: Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association.

Davis, R. (1986). The vocational evaluation and work adjustment association. Journal of Rehabilitation, 52(3), 54-57.

Dowd, L. (1993). Glossary of terminology for vocational assessment, evaluation, and work adjustment. Menomonie, WI: Materials Development Center.

Taylor, F.W. (1903). Shop management. Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 24, 1337-1481.

Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin. (1975). Vocational evaluation project final report (Part 1). Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 8, 66-93.

Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin. (1975). Vocational evaluation project final report (Part 2). Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 8, 2-64

Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association. (1975). Vocational evaluation project final report (Part 3). Vocational Evaluation And Work Adjustment Bulletin, 8(3), 97-165.

Weldon, R. (1987). VEWAA -- back to the future. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 20(4), 131-132.

Ronald J. Spitznagel, Ed.D., CVE, CRC is associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Florida. He is the current editor of the VEWAA Bulletin and is also the Southeast Representative to the National VEWAA Board. He is immediate past President of the Florida Rehabilitation Association and editor of the FRA Newsletter. He is President of the Alpha Eta Honor Society, University of Florida Health Science Center Chapter. He is coordinator of the Vocational Consultation Service in the department where he provides vocational evaluation services to persons from Workers' Comp, Vocational Rehabilitation, Health Science Center Clinics, and personal injury cases. He designed and implemented a vocational evaluation and job placement program for public offenders in the Mentally Retarded Offender Program in The Texas Department of Corrections. He also developed a vocational evaluation and work adjustment center for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Gainesville, Florida. He is a Certified Vocational Evaluator as well as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. He has presented at state, regional, national, and international conferences. He has had a variety of manuals, articles, proceedings, and monographs published.
COPYRIGHT 1995 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Special Anniversary Issue 1925-1995: National Rehabilitation Association
Author:Spitznagel, Ronald J.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Jul 1, 1995
Previous Article:The National Rehabilitation Association of Job Placement and Development.
Next Article:National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns.

Related Articles
Vocational evaluation as a career.
The National Rehabilitation Association.
Leadership role of NRA.
The Switzer Memorial seminars in vocational rehabilitation.
National Association of Service Providers in Private Rehabilitation.
Benefits of affiliation: the National Rehabilitation Association.
Vocational Evaluation in the 21st Century: Diversification and Independence.
The role and function of certified vocational evaluation specialists.
Vocational rehabilitation in South Korea: historical development, present status, and future direction.
Upgrading knowledge of vocational evaluators: a report of one state's efforts.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |