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are perhaps the most difficult group of physically disabled persons to rehabilitate and in the case of both public and private agencies where the blind have not been set aside for special attention, they have been neglected.
If we are not to have a special Federal commission for the blind, instead of passing H. R. 3095, it would seem a much sounder policy to base any development in services to the blind upon the general Vocational Rehabilitation Act. In this way we would utilize the experience and knowledge built up through years of service to sightless people.
It is our view that such laws as are already on the statute books, including the Wagner-O'Day Act, requiring the Federal Government to purchase blind-made products on a competitive basis at fair market prices, the Randolph-Sheppard Act, which gives to the blind the exclusive right to operate vending stands in federally owned or federally leased buildings, aid to the needy blind under the Social Security Act, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act with some amendments such as appear in the Lesinski bill, H. R. 5577, are better designed to meet the needs of the blind than would be a Federal Commission for the Physically Handicapped.
We do not see how the blind would in any way benefit by abolishing or replacing the present Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. With the increased responsibilities assigned to a Federal Commission for the Physically Handicapped, as provided in H. R. 3095, any program for the blind might easily be relegated to the traditional role of a stepchild, and the blind would thus lose all the gains so painstakingly built up over many years.
May we say in closing that the legislative committee of the American Association of Workers for the Blind, which speaks for America's oldest and largest association of professional men and women serving the blind, concurs with the American Foundation for the Blind in expressing opposition to H. R. 3095.
STATEMENT OF MRS. ALICE A. DUNNIGAN, REPRESENTATIVE, ASSOCIATED NEGRO
My name is Alice A. Dunnigan, and I represent the Associated Negro Press, which has more than 100 affiliated newspapers in the United States.
We are deeply concerned with the situation affecting the several millions of handicapped people today, particularly so, because of our own people, both in the field and in the factory, having been victims of disabling disease and injury, and, I am sorry to say, only a small part, relatively, of assistance in the rehabilitation program has been given to them.
We have cooperated with Federal and State agencies in an effort to improve this deplorable condition, but we are very certain that the present rehabilitation program is entirely insufficient to meet the requirements of handicapped people.
As a member of the President's Committee on National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, I have participated, these past 2 years, in programs designed to promote employment of handicapped. I believe the work of this committee has been of great value, but I can see where there is a grave weakness in it, because there is, if you will permit me, too much “voluntarism" in it, and not enough paid and responsible officials and employees. Interpreting “too much voluntarism," I mean that it is my experience where there is no fixation of responsibility, there is no way to really determine who is to do a job, when it is to be done, and what results may be expected. I believe, therefore, this bill affords an excellent means of establishing an agency which will be charged and held by the Congress and the Chief Executive with the responsibility of attending to the needs of the handicapped--treating them medically, when necessary; educating and training or retraining them, if such be required, in order that they may attain skills essential to earning a living; lending them vocational guidance, and when all of these factors have been properly applied, then give them proper placement in suitable employment. This, to my mind, is a most important and necessary part of the work of our Federal Government.
There must always be promotion, on the part of Government in this field, because we cannot expect industry, business, nor the employing interests, generally, to concern themselves very much about fitting in handicapped people, unless, of course, there be another great stress, brought about by war, necessitating industry and business filling vacancies in whatever way may be possible. But, as said, we cannot expect industry and business to concern themselves about the handicapped and, while labor, veterans, farm, women, and other groups may keep up strong and steady pressures, yet, individually, they either do not have enough strength to command the attention of the whole country, or they are too spasmodic in their attack upon the problem. Therefore, Government must do this job. It must provide the means, as I have stated, to give rehabilitation and opportunity for employment to every handicapped person who is in need and is desirous of having these benefits, so that he or she may be fitted better to compete against nonhandicapped to earn a living.
This bill, if passed, would, when all of its functions are in working order, be a godsend to the people of this country, both handicapped and nonhandicapped. It would give hope and freedom of security to our disabled people, and it would enable many millions of nonhandicapped people to turn their thoughts toward their own needs, because of the help thus afforded relatives and friends to whom the nonhandicapped have been previously giving support. I maintain, Mr. Chairman, it is not fair to a poor and struggling young couple to be forced to carry the whole expense of maintaining a sick relative, however that may be otherwise considered as a family obligation. A lift, thus, from Government would enable such young people to plan and execute plans for their own advancement. The same rule, of course, would hold true for old people who are forced to supply the means of upkeep for ailing children or relatives otherwise. The safety and security of this Nation, Mr. Chairman, I believe, rests upon the well-being and advancement of our young people, and enactment of this very necessary legislation would be a great boon to them.
I am very interested in the aspects of cooperative enterprises. As you probably know, our people are among the chief sufferers from respiratory diseases, chiefly tuberculosis, and while some State and local programs are beginning to show effective means of checking this dread disease, yet the aftermath necessitates long periods of recuperation, wherein the patient cannot work, or, at best, can only perform light work. Sheltered workshops, I am sure, would provide one means to handle this situation, and I urgently request that your committee especially approve that section of the bill.
Educational grants to nonfeasible cases also, would be most helpful to my people, and we are unreservedly for grant to states for aid to the totally disabled, unfeasible for rehabilitation. It is a sad commentary, indeed, that our great Government, which spreads beneficience and largess over the entire globe, has not, up to now, seen fit to attend to its own people as should be the case, and while I approve of these efforts to aid foreign lands, yet I am that type of American who demands that our own people, who need assistance, not be ignored in favor of other people abroad.
I sincerely hope, Mr. Chairman, that this committee will give favorable consideration to this bill, which we regard as one of the greatest contributions to better government and social advancement, both economically and from a humanitarian standpoint, of any bill before the Congress.
We shall applaud your efforts in this direction, knowing they will produce excellent dividends.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF CORBETT REEDY, SUPERVISOR, VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION,
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
A PLAN IS DEVELOPED
Over a period of many years workers in rehabilitation have come to realize that some type of center is needed in which severely disabled persons could receive complete rehabilitation services. This conviction received new impetus near the end of the recent World War because of the increased emphasis placed upon physical rehabilitation centers by the armed services. Therefore, as early as 1945, officials of the Virginia Vocational Rehabilitation Service began work on tentative plans for the establishment of a facility that would meet the peculiar needs of the severely disabled and at the same time open new opportunities to all persons with disabilities who were in need of services not readily available to them.
During the midsummer and fall of 1945 through cooperation secured from the Baruch Committee on Physical Medicine plans for a rehabilitation center were refined and expanded. It was definitely determined that physical medicine services should be added to guidance, vocational training, and workshop services that had been in the early thinking of the staff. The proposed organization was revised to include four major services : counseling and guidance, physical medicine, vocational training, and sheltered work opportunities.
FACILITIES ARE ACQUIRED
After a long period of negotiations with the War Assets Administration the property of the former Woodrow Wilson Army General Hospital was acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia for use as a center for educational activities. The property consisting of approximately 400 acres of land, 150 buildings and utilities was transferred July 25, 1947, jointly to the State and Augusta County. The buildings are one-story brick construction backed by hollow tile. The original cost of land and buildings to the Federal Government was $6,290,000. At the time of transfer the property was appraised as having a replacement value of $7,500,000. In addition, furniture and equipment valued at $350,000 was transferred for use in providing the educational activities set forth in the plans of the organization submitted in the applications of the State and county.
THE CENTER IS ESTABLISHED
Immediately following the acquisition of the property the vocational rehabili. tation service of the State department of education established the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center with the specific objective of providing complete rehabilitation services for the severely disabled. The center utilized 50 of the 1-story brick buildings and 229 acres of land. Its program was organized under the direction of a supervisor of the center with associate supervisor's of four major divisions of responsibility, one area being that of business management while the other three have responsibility of these three areas: counseling and guidance, physical medicine, vocational training, and sheltered employment.
The administration building of the former general hospital is used to house the administrative offices of the rehabilitation center. Other buildings have heen converted into dormitories, laboratories, vocational shops, infirmary, and apartments for members of the staff. One dining hall is used as a cafeteria. The chapel provides a place for religious meetings and a building used formerly for the reception of patients has been converted into a social center.
Personnel of the center.-Since the center is a facility in which rehabilitation clients are kept in residence for the duration of the period in which they will receive vocational diagnosis, physical restoration, and vocational training, the staff of the institution must contain persons who are qualified to perform administrative duties, supervision of clients, and to provide the various services connected with the daily living of all students. For the present student load of 150 the list of personnel is approximately as follows: administrator, bookkeeper, 3 secretaries, director of medical services, nurse, 4 physical therapists, one occupational therapist, director of training, 5 vocational teachers, director of guidance, supervisor of recreation, house mother, director of buildings and grounds, 3 maintenance men, 3 firemen, 3 janitors, dietitian, 3 cooks, 2 waitresses, 3 maids.
Services-nature of.—The primary services rendered to disabled people at the center as as follows:
(a) Vocational diagnosis and vocational counseling: A large percentage of the students coming to the center have vocational plans already well developed. The center is simply being used as a means of carrying out the services already found by the rehabilitation counselor to be necessary to prepare these clients for employment. In such cases, the guidance department at the center reviews the plan as submitted, makes sure that the client is enrolled in the proper courses, and is oriented to his situation at the center. Many clients, however, need special guidance procedures not feasible in the field counselor's work situation. The client is then sent to the center where he can engage in a much more intensive and varied diagnostic study in which additional medical information, additional standard testing, and in many instances, exploratory periods in various classes are used to get the best possible evaluation of the potentialities of the client. Use of this study will result in most cases in a specific plan of rehabilitation. It may involve additional services of preparation at the center or directions may be given to the field counselor for carrying out a suitable program in the client's own community or at another preparation facility. All students enrolled at the center get the counseling required for satisfactory personal and vocational adjustment while at the center.
(6) Physical restoration: The services of physical restoration at the center meet the usual needs of clients whose earlier treatment often had its beginning in a regular hospital. Specific physical therapy, functional training, teaching in the use of appliances, and general medical supervision are the chief services. These are provided in a medical unit consisting of a well-equipped physical therapy building, a functional training building, and adequate X-ray and laboratory facilities.
An infirmary which can house 16 patients at one time is adjacent to the physical medicine service. Students with minor illnesses are cared for in the infirmary. Those with more serious conditions are sent to nearby general hospital. No surgery is performed at the center.
(c) Vocational training: There is at present training available at the center in the following occupations: shoe repair, electric appliance repair, radio repair, watch repair, sewing, woodworking, auto mechanics, business education, cosmetology, laundry trades, and on-the-job training. Students may be enrolled in vocational classes and in the physical medicine department concurrently. They may attend classes in a wheel chair and quite often special facilities must be designed and constructed to meet the needs of a severely handicapped person.
A State regional vocational school is located in close proximity to the rehabilitation center. It enrolls both handicapped and nonhandicapped students. Many of its classes are composed almost entirely of rehabilitation trainees. All the training is organized with sufficient flexibility to meet individual capacities and individual needs.
(d) Arrangements have been made whereby representatives of various orthopedic appliance companies will come to the center upon call to assist in the provision of artificial limbs, braces, hearing aids, and the like.
(e) A speech therapy department is a recent addition to the services at the center. Persons enrolled in this department devote only a small amount of time to speech training, the remainder being given to other vocational preparation activities.
(f) Employment projects affording part-time employment for many students.
The present load. During the year ending June 30, 1949, 221 different students were enrolled. The peak enrollment at one time was 141. Approximately 25 of these were sent by out-of-State rehabilitation divisions. It is expected that the number of students will be gradually increased until a capacity of 400 is reached. This will require many months or even years since present buildings require considerable conversion before they are suitable to the needs of the present program.
Relations. The Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center is a project of the State civilian rehabilitation prograin. Its facilities, however, are made available to disabled veterans and to out-of-State clients sponsored by other rehabilitation divisions to the extent that vacancies exist. Persons injured in industry who need specific physical therapy are also accepted under the sponsorship of insurance companies. Every effort is being made to make the center of maximum usefulness to the disabled of the State.
The center and its activities are approved by the Virginia Industrial Commission and by the committee on rehabilitation of the Virginia Medical Society.
Method of financing.–The funds for operating the program at the center and for developing its various facilities come from three principal sources:
(a) State-Federal vocational rehabilitation funds paid to the center for specific rehabilitation services furnished clients of the rehabilitation agencies. This is the major source of revenue.
(6) Payments from private sources such as insurance companies, United Mine Workers of America, and National Polio Foundation, for specific services rendered their beneficiaries in limited numbers.
(c) Specific grants from capital improvements funds of the State. This income must be used exclusively for capital improvements.
(d) Payments by students when financially able to do so.
The present per capita cost is approximately $5 per day. It is expected that this amount can be reduced slightly with an increase in the number of students enrolled.
Outlook.—The establishment of a rehabilitation center by a State rehabilitation agency is a venture into untried fields. The need for such facilities has long been recognized by those interested in the rehabilitation of the handicapped. After a little over a year of operation we are convinced that such a project is both feasible and practical. Great care has been exercised to develop effective relations with those who are in a position to aid in the promotion of this project and who will be customers of its services. While there are many problems yet to be solved, we are encouraged to feel that the center will continue its rate of growth and will eventually become a major resource for the rehabilitation of disabled persons in Virginia as well as for the other States nearby. Visiting the center in July 1949, a representative of the United States Office of Education made the following evaluation, “A good beginning has been made at this unique institution to make it become one of the outstanding educational institutions in the country.”
The Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center is the first project of its kind to be developed under a State-Federal program of vocational rehabilitation. The initiative behind this project was from within the State and the accomplishments to date are objective evidence of the interest of the Governor, the State board of education, and many other Government officials and private individuals.
Officials of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Federal Security Agency, gave every aid and encouragement in the establishment and continue to be most helpful as the program grows. Specific mention should be made of the unstinting attention given this project by Director Michael J. Shortley ; John Kratz, Associate Director; Joseph Hunt, Assistant Director; and H. L. Stanton, regional representative, all of OVR. The regional office of the Federal Security Agency under the direction of Dr. Erval R. Coffey has also been most helpful.
After 2 years of experience the following conclusions are presented:
(1) Such a center is meeting the rehabilitation needs of hundreds of applicants, many of whom could not otherwise have been served.
(2) Such a comprehensive center can be operated at reasonable cost per case served once facilities are available and a satisfactory number of cases has been enrolled.
(3) The official rehabilitation agency is the logical sponsor. The great variety of services provided fit naturally into the broad program which a State-Federal rehabilitation agency offers to the disabled.
(4) The Woodrow Wilson Center could not have been developed or years had the State not had the good fortune to secure, at so little cost, such excellent facilities.
(5) The per capita cost during the first years of operation of such a center will be high.
(6) Such a center should be planned to serve several States rather than a single one. A pooling of cases and resources assures better and more varied services at lower cost.
(7) Present Federal legislation does not afford a fully satisfactory basis of aid to States in the establishment and operation of such centers. Liberalization of procedures and greater financial aid are required if comprehensive rehabilitation centers are to be established in the country.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., August 8, 1949. Hon. AUGUSTINE B. KELLEY, Subcommittee on Aid to Physically Handicapped, Coinmittee on Education and Labor,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. KELLEY: Earlier in this session, I joined with other Members of the Congress and introduced a bill to establish a National Commission for Physically Handicapped. I took this action because of my deep conviction that the Federal Government should extend every possible assistance to handicapped persons in achieving a maximum of well-being, economic security and, wherever possible, the opportunity for self-support.
I am delighted that the Kelley subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor has held hearings on this subject and has gathered all available information as to how these objectives can best be achieved.
I wish to take this opportunity to express the hope, which I am sure is shared by the many other sponsors of various proposals in this field, that the committee will use its specialized knowledge to report to the Congress a measure which will most successfully achieve a maximum of opportunity for the physically handicapped. I cannot stress too strongly the need for a coordinated Federal policy in this field.