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CONSUMER NEWS
Texas Commission for the Blind
May 1, 1995 Vol. III, No. 9

Advocates for people who are blind say there is good news and bad news
from Washington. The good news is a bill was introduced yesterday that
demonstrates Congress is listening to consumers and wants to address
their concerns about consolidation of federal job training programs.
The bad news is that some critical issues still need to be addressed.
The bill, cosponsored by Rep. Bill Goodling, Chairman of the House
Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, and Rep. Buck
McKeon, would divide the state into +Local Workforce Development
Areas.  A +Local Workforce Development Board would create and monitor
a system of +One-Stop Career Centers within the +Local Area.  The
Board would have at least one individual with a disability, but would
always maintain a majority of members representing business and
industry. The one-stop centers would deliver services to all
individuals, including VR services to persons with disabilities. Any
organization within a +Local Area could apply to be a one- stop center
as long as it delivers a list of +core services, which include VR.
Advocates say:

The bill would allow Governors to designate a fiscal agent to receive
and monitor VR funds earmarked for services to people who are blind.
However, the fiscal agent would not be required to know anything about
VR programs or issues related to blindness and work.

The proposal significantly amends, but retains Title I of the Rehab
Act, including requirements for eligibility determination, qualified
staff, and priority for persons with the most severe disabilities. The
amendments to Title I, however, would not ensure the same scope of
services that are guaranteed under the current Rehab Act: specific
services such as adaptive technology, physical restoration, reader
services, orientation and mobility, or training in independent living
skills.

The bill includes provisions to increase an individual s personal
responsibility in the rehab process by making the IWRP optional and
creating a voucher system for purchasing VR services.

The scope of VR services in each +Local Area would be negotiated by
the Local Workforce Development Board and the organizations applying
to become one-stop centers. Advocates fear services would be
significantly different from area to area.

Consumer control and involvement in the state s overall VR program
would be traded for increased choice and responsibility in the
individual s rehab process.

Final discussion (markup) by the subcommittee will take place on May
17.  Advocates say that if you are concerned about consumer control
and involvement in the VR system or access to specific services for
people who are blind, contact your local representative and those
listed below.  Advocates say any consolidation proposal must
guarantee:

that the scope of VR services +shall include  specific services for people
who are blind, as guaranteed in the current Rehab Act, and 
that the designated agent to receive VR funds be knowledgeable about VR 
programs, as required in the current Rehab Act.

Write to Representatives at:
Hon. (Representative's name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Bill Goodling, Chairman
House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee
(202) 225-5836
(202) 226-1000

Gene Green
(202) 225-1688 (voice)
(202) 225-9903 (fax )

Howard P. "Buck" McKeon 
Chairman, Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training and Life-long 
Learning
(202) 225-1956 (voice)
(202) 226-0683 (fax)
tellbuck@hr.house.gov

Sam Johnson
(202) 225-4201 (voice)
(202) 225-1485 (fax)
samtx03@hr.house.gov
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