2013-02 Regarding Informed Choice in Rehabilitation

Resolution 2013-02 Regarding Informed Choice in Rehabilitation WHEREAS, adjustment to blindness training is an essential element of successful vocational rehabilitation for blind persons; and WHEREAS, federal and state rehabilitation laws mandate that the counselor, in partnership with the client, develop an individualized plan for employment that contains all of the services that a client needs to meet his goals; and WHEREAS, in recognition of the importance of the role of the client in successful vocational rehabilitation, Congress introduced the concept of Informed Choice when it reauthorized the Vocational Rehabilitation Act in 1992, and further defined this concept in the 1998 reauthorization; and WHEREAS, to implement these congressional changes to federal law, the Rehabilitation Services Administration issued a policy directive, RSA-PD-01-03, which reads in part: “The State VR program must provide applicants and individuals eligible for VR services with opportunities to exercise informed choice throughout the VR process, including making decisions about the employment goal, VR services, service providers, settings for employment and service provision, and methods for procuring services. To enable an individual to make such decisions, the State VR agency must provide information, support and assistance needed by the individual. The VR agency has the responsibility to implement policies, procedures, and practices, and to develop resources that enable applicants and individuals eligible for VR services to exercise informed choice throughout the entire VR process”; and WHEREAS, in 2013, the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services, Maryland State Department of Education (DORS), began to restrict Informed Choice by refusing to pay the total cost of adjustment to blindness training charged by out-of-state service providers, and informing clients that they could make up the difference between the total cost and the amount DORS was willing to pay, knowing full well that most clients have limited resources and could never afford to make up these differences; and WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has a long history of advocating for Informed Choice, and was largely responsible for persuading Congress to include Informed Choice in federal rehabilitation law: NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this tenth day of November, 2013, in the city of Ocean City Maryland that this organization strongly urge DORS to implement fully the Informed Choice provisions of federal law for its blind clients; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization reaffirm its commitment to Informed Choice for every blind person who is part of the rehabilitation program.