Page images
PDF
EPUB

9

disabled that were placed last year. Could you give us those figures again?

Mr. RAMSPECK. I should be glad to furnish them to the committee, Mr. Chairman. I do not have them with me today.

Mr. KELLEY. I wish you would. Mr. RAMSPECK. I should be glad to give the committee a report of what happened during the week last year.

Mr. KELLEY. That will be inserted in the record, without objection.

(The information requested was subsequently supplied by Mr. Ramspeck, and is as follows:)

AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA,

Washington D. C., July 20, 1949. Hon. AUGUSTINE B. KELLEY,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: When I appeared before your subcommittee last week, you asked for figures in regard to the employment of handicapped persons.

I find that the United States Employment Service reports that during 1948 approximately 226,000 handicapped workers were placed in jobs. Their report reveals that more persons were placed during the month of October than at any other time, which indicates that the campaign carried out in connection with the congressional resolution for the observance of the first week in October has been effective. With best wishes, I am, Sincerely yours,

ROBERT RAMSPECK,

Executive Vice President. Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Ramspeck, there is one point in your presentation that appealed to me particularly, coming as it did so soon after the testimony of the representative of the Federal Security Agency. The Congressman from Minnesota here asked one of the gentlemen who appeared with Mr. Ewing for some information concerning the blind in the city of Minneapolis. He was utterly unable even to give an estimate. He did say that he could approximate the number in the State of Minnesota. Apparently one of the weaknesses of the whole program is in not knowing the problem actually confronting them in that they do not have definite statistics as to the number of these people.

Do you not think that information is of sufficient importance to amend our present census laws so as to require that that item be included in the census data ?.

Mr. RAMSPECK. I certainly do, Mr. Bailey.

Mr. BAILEY. Certainly it would be far more important than some of the items on which they do get information.

Mr. RAMSPECK. Yes. It certainly is a tragic thing that our Federal Government does not know how many people are handicapped and to what extent they are handicapped. We are more or less dealing with a problem blindly.

Mr. BAILEY. And whether they are being rehabilitated or not being rehabilitated.

Mr. RAMSPECK. That is right.

Mr. BAILEY. It seems to me that that information would be of great importance to whatever agency is administering this rehabilitation program.

Mr. RAMSPECK. I certainly think so. I think you have put your finger on one of the weaknesses of our whole effort to deal with this problem. We are dealing with it more or less blindly, because we do not know the extent of it. You can get estimates that vary as much as 10,000,000 of the number in this country who are handicapped. And there are very few figures on how many are handicapped in any particular category.

Mr. KELLEY. I might add here that in the Subcommittee on Aid to the Physically Handicapped in the Seventy-eighth and Seventy-ninth Congresses, which held hearings over a period of 21/2 years, we repeatedly tried to get funds sufficient to take a census in the United States of the physically handicapped and the degree of their handicaps and the types, but we were unable to do so because it involved a very large sum of money. I think the estimate was around a million dollars, or something like that, and Congress was not in the mood to appropriate that much money to the committee to do that work. But it was one of the most essential things for the committee to know that, for the purposes of its work. We find that it was a detriment to the

work of the committee because we did not know. Estimates ran anywhere from 10,000,000 to 40,000,000.

Mr. RAMSPECK. That is right, Mr. Chairman. Nobody knows what the correct figure is or what percentage of that figure are capable of being rehabilitated.

Mr. BAILEY. It is my thought that the information could be obtained without great expense as a routine item to be inquired into by whoever takes the census.

Mr. RAMSPECK. I should think so and, as you suggested, Mr. Bailey, I think it is certainly of equal importance with other questions that are going to be asked, and probably more important than many of them.

Mr. BAILEY. That is all.

Mr. KELLEY. If there are no further questions, thank you very much, Mr. Ramspeck.

Mr. RAMSPECK. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. KELLEY. The next witness is Mr. Sherer. Mr. Sherer, you may proceed.

STATEMENT OF P. G. SHERER, PRESIDENT, STATES' VOCATIONAL

REHABILITATION COUNCIL

Mr. SHERER. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name of P. G. Sherer. I am State director of the division of vocational rehabilitation in South Carolina and president of the States' Vocational Rehabilitation Council. This council, organized in 1939, is composed of the directors of the 87 State and Territorial agencies that provide vocational rehabilitation services to the disabled.

Mr. BAILEY. May I interrupt there to ask concerning the figure of 87 which has been mentioned here repeatedly. Why is it necessary to have 87 instead of a number equaling the number of States?

Mr. SHERER. It is because of the fact, Congressman, that in some of the States, as has already been brought out this morning, they have two programs—one for the blind. and one for the otherwise handicapped. That is true in South Carolina. For that reason, you have 87 State and Territorial agencies. Mr. BAILEY. Thank you

for the information. Mr. SHERER. The States' council functions in an official advisory capacity to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the formulation

[ocr errors]

of Federal policies and standards applicable to the administration of rehabilitation services to the disabled. Many of these activities are carried out through committee assignments whereby State and Federal personnel cooperatively direct their efforts toward the solution of problems which are of mutual concern.

It is my understanding that you have before you three major categories of legislation: H. R. 3095 and identical measures, H. R. 5370, H. R. 5485, and H. R. 5577. The States' council is in complete accord and sympathy with the objectives of these various proposals-proposals which have as their purpose improving the welfare and economic well-being of our handicapped men and women.

As you know, the program of vocational rehabilitation is financed jointly by the State and Federal Governments. The actual administration of rehabilitation services to the handcapped men and women, however, is the sole responsibility of the States. Since we of the State agencies are in daily contact with thousands of disabled persons, we feel that we are intimately familiar with their problems and needs. We, therefore, approciate the opportunity of making such facts and information available to the subcommittee as will be of assistance in evaluating the proposals which are before you. We are confident that full discussion and consideration of these proposals will clearly show the need for strengthening and expansion of the present basic StateFederal program of vocational rehabilitation of the disabled, and sincerely hope that favorable action to this end will be taken by the Congress.

Fundamental to a discussion of the vocational rehabilitation program is a common understanding of the magnitude of the problem. Reference is frequently made to estimates that range from 2 to 55 million physically handicapped persons in the United States. It is likewise implied from time to time that upward of 25,000,000 disabled men and women are in need of vocational rehabilitation. As has been indicated by Dr. Henry Kessler, eminent international authority on orthopedic surgery and vocational rehabilitation, these figures, baldly stated, are altogether unreliable. He further points out that such figures are not only untrustworthy; they are dangerous. In an attempt to dramatize the problem of the physically handicapped, distortion only excites suspicion and distrust. Furthermore, according to Dr. Kessler, if the size of the problem is distorted to such magnitude, it may create a sense of hopelessness and futility. It is probably true that more than 28,000,000 people have physical defects of one sort or another. But it is not true that all of these persons have defects of such a character as to interfere with working capacity. It should be remembered that in vocational rehabilitation we are concerned only with those instances where a disability causes a definite impairment of working capacity or which excites social prejudice and restricts employment opportunities. On the basis of data secured from Selective Service, the National Health Survey, National Safety Council, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we believe that there are between 112 and 2 million persons who are disabled to the extent of requiring vocational rehabilitation services to establish or restore their work capacity. Furthermore, in spite of advances in safety practices and medical science, each year about 250,000 persons come to need rehabilitation because of accidents, disease, or defects with which they were born. These data we believe are sufficiently reliable to warrant public respect and confidence and to provide a sound basis for determining the financial support necessary for an adequate program of vocational rehabilitation for the disabled.

In considering H. R. 3095 and identical measures which provide for the establishment of an independent Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped, the subcommittee will no doubt be interested to know that since the enactment of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act in 1920 the program has actually operated under several types of Federal administrative organization. From 1920 to 1933 the vocational rehabilitation program was administered at the Federal level by an independent agency-namely, the Federal Board for Vocational Education. It was this same agency that administered, for a brief period, the World War I vocational rehabilitation program for veterans. The inability of this independent agency to coordinate adequately the medical and compensation benefits administered through other units of the Federal Government was the major reason for transferring the soldiers' rehabilitation program to another agency, now known as the Veterans Administration, which administered other health, education, and welfare services. This was a decision arrived at by the Congress in 1921 following a comprehensive investigation, the findings of which are a matter of record.

In 1943, when the vocational rehabilitation amendments were under consideration by Congress, the Federal Security Administrator consulted the States' Council, as well as many other organizations and authorities in public administration, in order to determine the type of administrative organization at the Federal level which would result in rendering the greatest possible service to the maximum number of handicapped men and women. Following this investigation the Administrator established the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation as a constituent unit of the Federal Security Agency to administer

It is likewise significant that the action which resulted in the establishment of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation as a constituent unit of the Federal Security Agency has been confirmed on a number of occasions during the past 6 years by various groups, including the organization of State directors which I represent.

The States' Vocational Rehabilitation Council is, for the reasons given above, unalterably opposed to any change in the Federal administrative organization for the vocational rehabilitation of the disabled.

The increased benefits which have accrued to the disabled following the expansion of the program authorized by congressional action in 1943 and the establishment of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation are a matter of record. Within the brief period from July 1943 through June 1948, 219,039 disabled men and women were rehabilitated by the State-Federal program. This number compares with a total for the preceding 23 years of 210,125. It is estimated that the increased earnings of the 219,000 disabled persons has increased the Nation's purchasing power by more than $900,000,000. These are large and impressive numbers but they don't always tell the entire story. I would like to describe just a few cases which are illustrative of those whom we serve.

The first illustration is that of a young man in South Carolina who at the age of 16 was attempting to help haul logs for a lumber concern. This young man, while standing by the side of a loaded

this program:

a

truck, was injured; the chains holding the logs broke and three of the logs fell across him. He was so badly injured that his family physician advised him and the family that it was only a matter of time with him. In the course of a few months four practitioners examined him and advised him the same way. After suffering intensely for

21/2 years, having to use a tube in the side for eliminative purposes, Rehabilitation was urged at least to interview the young man and determine whether or not rehabilitation services could be provided.

The young man was carried to a noted physician in Charleston, S.C.; to be exact, Dr. Smithy, a doctor who had achieved a reputation for heart surgery and who died afterward of a heart attack. He examined the young man and advised that something could be done. He was admitted to the hospital by the Rehabilitation Division and in 16 days was dismissed from the hospital with an excellent condition and with excellent possibilities of being able to carry on normally.

In previous contacts with our rehabilitation counselor, we had discovered through tests, certain mechanical interests and aptitudes. The young man was immediately placed in an automobile shop for apprentice training. He completed the training and is now employed gainfully and has a wonderful future and is soon to be married. That illustrates the service provided in one of the cases in South Carolina.

Another case is that of a man of more mature age, who was engaged in farming on a very small scale, trying to eke out a living for himself and his family. While working at a sawmill to supplement his earnings on his farm, he lost his right arm above the elbow. Two years later he lost his left hand. At that time he was referred to the Rehabilitation Division.

After much study he was equipped with two artificial hooks. He had a limited education and a wife and children to support; no training seemed feasible for this man.

I have a picture of this man in our monthly publication holding his plow handle and plowing. He is not holding the plow handle simply for the picture, but as a means of earning a living for himself, and this is what he says:

I thought I was lost and that there was nothing left for me. But now that the vocational rehabilitation supervisor has fitted me with artificial appliances I have discovered I can do nearly anything I want to do.

His one complaint was that the hooks were constantly wearing out his plow handle.

The next and the last case to which I wish to refer is that of a paraplegic, a young lady who, after having graduated from college, entered a teaching career. While home for the Christmas holidays, and on her trip to the home community for the purpose of Christmas shopping, she met with a serious automobile accident, and became completely paralyzed from her waist down.

She spent quite some time, nearly 2 years to be exact, in the local hospital, undergoing treatments of various kinds. She was called upon to undergo certain treatments in which appliances were used on her spinal cord. This was fairly successful.

She had spent all of her money at this time and Rehabilitation was called in to provide services for this young lady.

a

a

« PreviousContinue »