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The Social Security Act of 1972 authorized a consolidated, federally administered cash benefits program for needy individuals and couples who are aged, blind, or have a disability. This program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), established a basic federal income support level for eligible individuals. Children with disabilities under the age of 18, including children who are blind, were eligible for benefits provided their disabilities were comparable in severity to adult recipients.


The Rehabilitation Act was completely rewritten with stronger emphasis on providing rehabilitation services to people with severe disabilities. Section 504 of the Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all federally assisted programs and activities. Sections 501 and 503 protect people with disabilities from employment discrimination by federal agencies or federal contractors.


The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 established the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Block grants were a major source of federal aid to urban areas. Funds could be used for architectural barrier removal and the construction of accessible public facilities. Each urban area was required to prepare a Housing Assistance Plan that reflected the needs of people with disabilities within that area.