The purpose of the Oregon State Rehabilitation Council is to provide the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) with an external, consumer-oriented perspective. The Council advises VR on the needs of Oregonians with disabilities concerning programs, policy, services and other issues.
The Council also provides rehabilitation services consumers with a formal mechanism to influence the direction of rehabilitation programs in Oregon at the systemic and policy level.
Council Authority and Initiative
The State Rehabilitation Council is authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. This federal legislation identifies the required functions of the Council, which include:
- Work in partnership with the Vocational Rehabilitation regarding essential planning and service delivery intended to result in meeting the employment potential of Oregonians with disabilities.
- Review and analyze program effectiveness, create and analyze consumer satisfaction materials, render concerns and recommendations to VR derived from performance standards and measurements of rehabilitation services.
- Advise the Governor and state agencies on the performance of vocational rehabilitation in Oregon regarding eligibility, program effectiveness and effect on individuals with disabilities. This includes preparation and distribution of this Annual Report.
- Coordinate the work of the State Rehabilitation Council with the activities of other disability-related councils in the state. This includes establishing and maintaining a positive working relationship with the State Independent Living Council (SILC).
The full Council meets four times a year. These sessions occur throughout the state and are structured in order to:
- Listen to and hear from consumers and others;
- Learn about programs, activities and needs specific to each region of the state;
- Build/Support collaborations with public and private partners involved in rehabilitation and employment in Oregon; and
- Conduct the business of the Council in a public setting.
The Establishment of State Rehabilitation Councils
The State Rehabilitation Advisory Council (SRAC) was established with identified functions with the passage of the 1992 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act and the appointment of Oregon's Council by Governor Barbara Roberts on September 1, 1993.
The 1998 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act changed the name of the SRAC and removed "advisory" and empowered the Council to be active policy partners with the VR Program. The name was officially changed in 1998 to the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC).
State Rehabilitation Councils (SRC) were originally formed by the effective advocacy of people with disabilities committed to the success of the publicly funded Vocational Rehabilitation program. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. During the reauthorization process of the Rehabilitation Act of 1993, disability advocates persuaded Congress to create State Rehabilitation Councils (under Title 1, Section 105) as a mechanism to support people with disabilities receiving vocational rehabilitation services to take an active role in shaping the services they receive. The majority of council members must be persons with disabilities, thus providing a powerful venue for the consumer voice in the public vocational rehabilitation program.
Originally the SRCs were established to "advise" the designated state agency regarding its performance in providing vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities. The passage of the 1998 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act shifted the focus from a State Rehabilitation Advisory Council, to its current role of policy partner. This significantly changed the role of the State Rehabilitation Council, giving the council independence, autonomy and a stronger advocacy role. SRCs now work in partnership with the public vocational rehabilitation program on the effectiveness of its policies, programs and services in meeting the needs of persons with disabilities.