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STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES E. VAN ZANDT, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. VAN ZANT. First, I want to express my appreciation for being given the privilege of appearing before you.
On March 3, 1949, I introduced H. R. 3217, one of the many bills on the same subject, a bill designed to establish a Federal commission on services for the physically handicapped, to define its duties, and for other purposes.
As I have said, my bill is one of many introduced on the subject, and of course it is introduced in cooperation with the American Federation of the Physically Handicapped.
Mr. Paul A. Strachan, president of the American Federation for the Physically Handicapped, Inc., whom I have known for many years, is the prime sponsor of this legislation, and I know is very much in favor of it.
According to available information, this bill and many others will affect some 38,000,000 American people who are in some degree physically disabled. The bill also provides that the Federal Government take leadership in the field of rehabilitating our millions of handicapped persons and place them in suitable employment.
I am heartily in favor of this legislation, and in simple justice to our 38,000,000 handicapped citizen, I respectfully request that the legislation be given favorable consideration by this committee. I see here present this morning Dr. Bartle, who has been interested in this field for many years, and I feel sure that Dr. Bartle is in a position to give to the committee much advice based on his experience.
Dr. Bartle was for many years the principal relief doctor of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the residents of Altoona, Pa., learned to know him, and we are willing to follow his advice based on his treatment of thousands of railroad workers in Altoona, and based on his experience that has been spread over so many years.
Mr. KELLEY. I wish to say with reference to Dr. Bartle that he did testify and was a very excellent witness. He made a very fine statement.
Mr. VAN ZANDT. Fine. I would rest my case on the testimony of Dr. Bartle.
Again, I appreciate this privilege. I left another committee to dash up here to say these few words and lend my support to this legislation.
Mr. BAILEY. The committee appreciates your presence here, Representative Van Zandt.
Mr. WIER. I think we are all quite in accord.
Mr. McCONNELL. I wish to express my appreciation of my colleague's appearance here and his interest in this type of work.
Mr. KELLEY. I join in that. Mr. BAILEY. We will now hear from Representative Mary Norton of New Jersey.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARY NORTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
appear here today in support of legislation to provide a Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped. I have introduced in the House H. R. 3554, which would create such a commission, and I understand that several other Members of Congress are sponsoring similar or identical bills. The very fact that so many
. of our colleagues have introduced these measures is evidence of the great interest being shown at the present time in the problems of the physically handicapped.
In speaking to you, I realize that there are others with us who wish to testify on these bills and because of the limited time at my disposal, I do not wish to delve into the specific provisions of this legislation. In fact, I am sure that almost all members of the committee are acquainted with the aims of the measures being considered here today and the administrative procedures by which these goals can be achieved, as outlined in this legislation.
The problems of the physically handicapped are not new. They have long been with us but, in these days of world-wide controversies, I think we are often prone to overlook the difficulties on our very doorsteps. However, the recent war, from which, unfortunately, so many of our fine young men returned physical cripples, has focused attention upon the plight of those who are physically handicapped from many causes. Although it is difficult to estimate their numbers in our own country at this time, I understand that the Retraining and Reem; ployment Administration under Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine, United States Marine Corps, Administrator, gave a very conservative estimate sometime ago when this agency stated that there were 28,000 persons in the United States who were handicapped.
However, a House Committee to Investigate Aid to the Physically Handicapped, created several years ago, estimated that, on the basis of information given by experts testifying before that group, approximately 23,000,000 persons in our country are suffering in some degree from physical handicaps. This special committee was associated with the House Labor Committee and the chairman of the group was our colleague, Congressman Kelley. As chairman of the House Labor Committee at the time, I know something of the fine work which Representative Kelley did in connection with the problems of the physically handicapped, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly congratulate him on his efforts. His was a painstaking and tireless interest, and the information gleaned by his efforts and those of the committee has been most valuable in studying all problems affecting those suffering from physical disabilities.
We, as Americans, cannot overlook this large segment of our population, who are so unfortunate as to have physical handicaps, nor can I emphasize too strongly the need for pertinent Federal legislation in this instance. Their problem must be our problem too, and I believe that all of us will agree that so large a problem necessitates Federal action. While it is true that State and local agencies are trying to solve this tremendous difficulty, their facilities, personnel, and services are inadequate to meet the needs of the handicapped. The Federal Government has found it wise to provide services to farmers, veterans, laborers, and other groups and why, therefore, overlook the physically handicapped who are so eager to contribute their full share to our country's welfare.
The handicapped person deserves our interest and our help, since he must master obstacles even before he is able to meet the usual problems of life which we all face.
The legislation we are discussing today establishes nothing new along the lines of Federal assistance. The Commission, as provided in this legislation, would merely coordinate the activities of many Federal agencies, which are now dealing with the problems of the physically handicapped. I believe that all of us will agree that a centralized agency equipped specifically to study the difficulties of the handicapped and deal with them in a forceful way would be by far most beneficial to the handicapped themselves. If this legislation is enacted, it will provide a system of cooperation between the Federal, State and local governments, as well as private agencies, which will lead to better care and treatment for all handicapped persons. Uniform handling of these problems and a definite standard for rehabilitation will go far in remedying the difficulties with which this group of our citizens have been confronted too long.
The handicapped do not want charity. They ask only what is reasonably theirs, an opportunity to use their abilities in a way which will enable them to become useful and productive members of society We have seen in recent years just what they have been able to do in the professions, in business, and in industry. I know that the leaders of labor and industry are finding more and more that the handicapped person is a conscientious, intelligent, willing, and capable worker. In fact, in some fields they have proven exceptionally able-comparable and sometimes surpassing those who suffer no disabilities. But the physically handicapped can only find their real place in our economic system if their abilities are developed to the fullest extent, and they are afforded opportunities commensurate with their full qualifications. Only centralized Federal handling of this great problem can insure a satisfactory solution. I, therefore, urge this committee to report this legislation favorably to the full committee.
Mr. BAILEY. We will now hear from our colleague, the Honorable James C. Davis, of Georgia.
STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES C. DAVIS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA
Mr. Davis. I do not come before the committee as an expert on rehabilitation but as one who has had a continuing deep interest in the welfare of handicapped persons.
With great pride I have observed the growth of the rehabilitation program in the State of Georgia. Each year thousands of handicapped persons are becoming wage earners and taxpayers as a result of this program.
It seems to me that Federal Government can afford to be very liberal in the type of legislation it passes in an effort to rehabilitate its handicapped citizens. After all, it has been demonstrated many times that each dollar expended by the Federal Government on the rehabilitation of a handicapped person is repaid many times in taxes after rehabilitation is complete.
Although Public Law 113 gives rehabilitation agencies authority to render most of the services necessary to rehabilitate our handicapped citizens, it is not sufficient to enable States and local communities to obtain the facilities needed for the rehabilitation of certain classes of the handicapped and to secure the personnel that is needed for specialized rehabilitation services.
H, R. 5485, of which I am one of the sponsors, attempts to meet these needs.
Probably the most significant development in rehabilitation since World War II has been the development of rehabilitation centers; facilities that provide as nearly as possible a complete service to the handicapped, including medical services; fitting, and training in the use of artificial appliances; occupational and physical therapy; prevocational and vocational training; counseling and guidance. Experience gained by the armed services, the Veterans Administration, and certain facilities for civilians has been sufficient to take them out of the experimental class.
It is tragic to realize that many sections of the country do not have such facilities available for the civilian disabled, especially those suitable for rehabilitation of our most severely disabled. Nor are such facilities likely to come into existence soon, unless financial encouragement is offered to States that attempt to set up such facilities.
H. R. 5485 would allow the Federal Government to reimburse the States for 50 percent of the cost of establishing and equipping such centers, and 100 percent of the administrative expense in connection with their establishment. This financial assistance would no doubt encourage many communities to establish rehabilitation centers.
A considerable portion of our handicapped people, estimated at about 20 percent, are so severely disabled that they can never successfully engage in the competitive labor market. These people, nevertheless, possess abilities that should be utilized. The sheltered workshop has proved to be the answer to the problem of these people. In the workshop the individual is allowed to work as many hours as he can under conditions that will not aggravate his disability. He is paid for his work at minimum rates approved by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. Being allowed to work under these conditions, handicapped persons often develop to the extent that they can leave sheltered employment and work under competitive conditions.
Unfortunately many sections of the country have few if any such facilities. H. R. 5485 would encourage governmental units and nonprofit associations to establish such facilities. The Federal Government would reimburse 50 percent of the cost of establishing and equipping such facilities, exclusive of the cost of land and buildings, and 40 percent of an operating deficit during the first 3 years of operation. We believe this would encourage the establishment of many of these badly needed workshops.
Another phase of the problem of handicapped persons in which I have been very much interested is the home-bound disabled. Almost every community in our land has a few of these people. Present legislation does not allow a complete service to these people and, in general, the problem is not being met successfully. H. R. 5485 would
, enable the Federal Government to reimburse the States for 50 percent of the cost of instructing the home-bound in the design and production of marketable articles, the acquisition of production equipment, stocks and supplies, and arrangements for delivery of supplies, and the marketing of articles. The passage of this legislation would offer new opportunities to this neglected group of our severely disabled.
I shall not discuss the bill in greater detail. In my judgment the sections I have discussed are the real heart of the bill.
My attention has been called to the fact that other legislation now before the committee would set up an independent commission for the administration of programs for the handicapped and would establish a system of pensions for the handicapped, separate and apart from our established welfare system. Both of these proposals seem to me to be extremely unwise. The FSA is the logical place for ne administration of vocational rehabilitation, since the related programs, health, welfare, and education, are also administered by this agency. We can see nothing to be gained by a change, and we can see the possibility of confusion and overlapping authority if an independent commission should be set up.
We realize that many severely disabled persons can never be rehabilitated and that numerous of these need financial assistance. We believe, however, that any pensions to this group of unfortunate people should be administered through the regular Federal and State welfare organization.
I hope the committee will call upon me, if I can be of any service. Mr. Bailey. We will now hear from Hon. John E. Fogarty.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN E. FOGARTY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
Mr. FOGARTY. I appear before you in support of H. R. 3523, a bill to establish a Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped, which it has been my honor and privilege to introduce to the Congress. This bill and its companion measures are, in my opinion, a real step forward in the interest of that great segment of our population who are afflicted by physical handicaps.
The district which I represent, the Second District of Rhode Island, is a typical group of communities in which live a representative cross section of the type of people to be found throughout the length and breadth of our country. In my district are the usual number of handicapped persons, many of whom I know personally and have learned to admire and respect for the valiant manner in which they have rehabilitated themselves. I know, from my contacts with them, that such rehabilitation cannot be done alone; it requires the cooperation of many and the assistance of a great number of private, local, State, and Federal agencies.
At the present time such avenues of assistance are spread throughout a great many sources; it is estimated that in the Federal Government alone, some 40 agencies have a part in the handicapped program. H. R. 3523 would coordinate these varied activities and permit effective planning and programing of a truly adequate rehabilitation plan. It would assure the best of care and treatment for all handicapped persons and provide for aid to such persons in all their many aggravated problems, to the end that those who are employable may eventually attain the goal of being self-supporting.
In my capacity as chairman of the subcommittee handling the appropriation for the Federal Security Agency it has been forcibly brought to my attention many times that, given adequate facilities, a workable solution to even the most acute problem can usually be developed. It seems to me that we have here a great opportunity to improve our methods of caring for the less fortunate members of