The Impact of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act on Centers for Independent Living and People with Disabilities

President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) on July 22, 2014. What does this mean? It reauthorizes programs that had previously been authorized under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, as well as programs under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

So how does this legislation affect us? Currently, people with disabilities have the highest rate of unemployment of any group, and more than two-thirds don’t participate in the workforce at all. This legislation aims to change that.

The WIOA aims to ensure individuals and youth with disabilities have the skills necessary to be successful in businesses that provide competitive, integrated employment. The legislation emphasizes the need for youth with disabilities to have more opportunities to practice and improve their workplace skills, consider career interests, and get real world work experience. At least 15 percent of Federal vocational rehabilitation program funds will be set aside to provide pre-employment transition services to assist students with disabilities make the transition from secondary school to post-secondary education programs and competitive integrated employment.

Another change is impacting State Independent Living Services, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, programs under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and Centers for Independent Living. While under previous legislation, the Dakota Center for Independent Living was classified under the Department of Education, now we will be transferred to the Administration for Community Living in the Department of Health and Human Services along with the others listed.

While this change may seem like a big one, the Dakota Center for Independent Living is ready for it. Many people from a variety of Centers for Independent Living across the USA see this change as a positive one.

What do you think of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act? Leave your comments below.


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