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There are millions of physically handicapped men and women in this country who if properly trained are capable of self-support. The problem is bringing the trained physically handicapped person together with the right job. We have no machinery at present to do this necessary work. One week in the year dedicated to the employment of the physically handicapped is not enough. This is a year-round program, the essential to any coordinated Federal program.
I hope that many of the provisions of the bill I have introduced will be seriously considered.
And let's drop the word “rehabilitation," and use instead the words "physically handicapped.” The physically handicapped are not criminals or drunkards that need “rehabilitation.” In my opinion, the title alone of "Office for Vocational Rehabilitation” seems to indicate our total lack of understanding of what needs to be done. With all good wishes. Sincerely yours,
HELEN GAHAGAN DOUGLAS. Mr. KELLEY. The chairman noticed in yesterday's Pittsburgh PostGazette a statement regarding the blind workers.
The title of the article is Blind Workers Ask Mayor's Aid.
Shepherded by one man with limited eyesight, 35 blind men, each clutching a partner, made their way into city hall yesterday to see what can be done about the depression that has struck their broom-making trade.
These men, whose nimble fingers put together brooms at the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, South Craig Street, are alarmed because their workweek has been cut to 3 days. Their top earnings, only $21.40 a week, have been reduced to $12.
The reason for the short workweek is apparent. Edward Crump, Jr., chairman of the board, said the storage rooms at the association are filled with more than 30,000 brooms.
"The orders aren't coming in. We are reorganizing the sales set-up,” Mr. Crump explained. “We have some top-flight sales executives working out a plan. The reduction in work should not last more than a month."
I have read this article into the record to clinch the argument that the physically handicapped are, in many cases, in dire straits.
That concludes our committee's work for the day. The committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.
(Whereupon, at 11:30 a. m., the committee adjourned, to reconvene the following day, Thursday, July 14, 1949, at 10 a. m.)
FEDERAL COMMISSION FOR PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED
THURSDAY, JULY 14, 1949
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D.O. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Augustine B. Kelley (chairman) presiding.
Mr. KELLEY. The committee will please come to order. We have as our first witness this morning the Federal Security Administrator, Mr. Ewing. Mr. Ewing, you may proceed. STATEMENT OF HON. OSCAR R. EWING, FEDERAL SECURITY ADMIN
ISTRATOR; ACCOMPANIED BY G. LYLE BELSLEY, COMMISSIONER FOR SPECIAL SERVICES; THEODORE ELLENBOGEN, OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL; JAMES J. BURNS, DONALD DABELSTEIN, AND LOUIS RIVES, OFFICE OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
Mr. EWING. Mr. Chairman, I should like to introduce Mr. Belsley, who is Commissioner for Special Services of the Federal Security Agency; Mr. Donald Dabelstein, who is in the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Mr. Theodore Ellenbogen from the Office of the General Counsel. Also Mr. James J. Burns and Mr. Louis Rives, from our Office of Vocationl Rehabilitation.
Mr. KELLEY. You may proceed.
Mr. EWING. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee I represent the Administration in support of H. R. 5577, a bill to expand and improve the services to the handicapped of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, a unit of the Federal Security Agency.
This is a bill we have worked out in cooperation with the Bureau of the Budget and other agencies of the Government, and with the advice and assistance of the State agencies which have primary responsibility for operating the program. It was introduced early this week by Mr. Lesinski, and has been endorsed by the Director of the Bureau of the Budget as being in line with the President's program.
This bill, and all of the measures now before your committee, have the same fundamental objective. The aim of every proposal here is to do the best possible job for the handicapped. We may disagree as to methods, but I am sure that we have no disagreement as to purpose.
When we get into the question of methods, I am strongly opposed, in principle, to the approach that is taken in H. R. 3095. I have filed an official report with your committee, analyzing this and the other identical bills. In addition, Mr. G. Lyle Belsley, Commissioner for
Special Services in the Federal Security Agency, who has administrative responsibility for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, will testify on this subject in more specific terms. I should like to give special emphasis to my reasons for supporting the Administration measure, H. R. 5577.
This bill is in full accord with the fundamental principles of good executive management as laid down by the Hoover Commission and supported by all authorities on public administration. The Hoover Commission recommended, among other things, that the number of Government agencies be drastically reduced. It urged that all activities be grouped into departments, as nearly as possible in accordance with major purposes. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is now located cheek by jowl with the other Federal services with which any program to rehabilitate the handicapped must, of necessity, have the closest working relationships. Chief among these are the Public Health Service, the Office of Education, and the various programs of the Social Security Administration. It is impossible to divorce the job of vocational rehabilitation from problems of health, for in 9 cases out of 10 you start out with a health problem. It is equally impossible to divorce it from problems of social security. In most cases, disablement itself creates problems of individual or family security, and before you can go very far toward putting a disabled breadwinner on the road to physical recovery and fitting him to be self-supporting in a new job, you have to make some provision for his family's security. Neither can this function be divorced from problems of education, for the very heart of the job-once you have overcome the health problems and provided a measure of security-is educational. That is why the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation was placed where it is, in the Federal Security Agency in close touch with services in the fields of health, social security, and education.
On this point, I should like to quote from a report in 1946 of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Physically Handicapped of the House Committee on Labor, which studied this problem.
It is administratively soundthat report said to place the responsibility for complementary services in the same department, since one program tends to reflect the efficiency of another. For example, the physically handicapped who are not successfully rehabilitated make demands upon the public-assistance program ; failures in the preventive programs are shown in the applications for rehabilitation, and so on. It is important that the administration of health, rehabilitation, and educational services should be kept closely related because a high degree of coordination is necessary if the services are to be fully effective.
That report anticipated the fundamental recommendations of the Hoover Commission by 4 years. The bill I urge for your consideration, H. R. 5577, is in full accord with it.
It seems to me that other bills before your committee violate this principle. They remove from the Federal Security Agency and set up in a brand new, independent commission, a going program whose function is directly related to the other major programs in the Agency. In my opinion, it would result in duplication and waste.
We in the Federal Security Agency have been at work on this problem of aid to the physically handicapped for a long while. In my report to the President in September 1948, entitled “The Nation's Health,
a 10-Year Program," I devoted an entire section to this subject. One of the goals I set up in that report, which we should strive to achieve, was this:
To rehabilitate the 250,000 men and women who become disabled through illness or injury every year so that they can be restored to the most nearly normal life and work of which they are individually capable.
The way to achieve that goal is by building strongly on the sound foundation we already have. The same conclusion was reached by the Subcommittee on Aid to the Physically Handicapped, in the report from which I quoted a moment ago. It said:
The growth of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation since 1943 indicates that it is a sound base upon which to begin the building of a genuine service to the handicapped.
The subcommittee referred here to the need for new legislation to make it possible for the existing Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to do a more adequate job. In the same report, the subcommittee said:
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation should be authorized to make its services available generally to the physically handicapped; it should be authorized to offer a much wider range of services; its work should be supported by increased appropriations as rapidly as the program can be expanded; it should carry out its work, as it now does, jointly with the States; it should become in reality a service to the handicapped.
Within the limits of the authority and the funds at our disposal, we have built solidly on a firm foundation. A great deal remains to be done, but we need more authority and resources with which to do it.
As you know, the State-Federal partnership program of services for the handicapped was expanded in 1943. In 6 years, the program has rehabilitated for useful work approximately 280,000 men and women. That is more, by about 70,000, than had been rehabilitated in the previous 23 years. During the fiscal year just ended, more than 60,000 disabled men and women were restored to self-sufficient employment—a new record for the second straight year.
Already this program has returned truly remarkable dividends to the Nation. By far the most important are its returns in human dignity, in greater happiness, in individual and family security. But in addition to all this, it has paid very large dividends in dollars and cents. The men and women aided by this program in 6 years already have increased their earnings and the Nation's purchasing power by more than $900,000,000, and have paid into the Federal Treasury in income taxes alone more than $67,000,000. To put it_another way, every dollar we spend through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the Federal Security Agency returns $10 in Federal income taxes, and that is the least of its many benefits. Without such a program, many of these same men and women would have to be cared for through public assistance, which would cost the Nation not only in appropriations for relief, but in loss of purchasing power.
On the question of public assistance, incidentally, it seems to me that the proposals contained in H. R. 3095 are fundamentally unsound. As you know, the President has urged the amendment of the Social Security Act, to assure the disabled more adequate benefits under the regular State-Federal program. The proposal is being considered now by the Ways and Means Committee. That, it seems