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1983-1988: Focus on Transition

Three different pieces of federal legislation supported more attention to the transition from school to work. In 1983, Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments (P.L. 98-199) established and funded services to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities moving from school to the community and/or work settings.

In 1984, the Carl Perkins Vocational Technical Education Act (P.L. 98-524) mandated the development of a full range of quality vocational services and vocational education programs for students with disabilities and expanded existing programs with a 10% "set aside" to support programs for individuals with disabilities.

The 1986 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act specified that states must plan for individuals making the transition from school to work.

Women at a desk
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden

The third area of legislative advancement in the 1980s was in the area of assistive technology. In 1988, The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (PL 100-407) (Tech Act) was passed by Congress. The Tech Act assisted states in developing comprehensive, consumer responsive programs of technology related assistance. It extended the availability of assistive technology to individuals with disabilities and their families. The Tech Act was instrumental in promoting systems change and capacity building. States developed policies, and encouraged public awareness of technology through training and technical assistance.

 

Individual living in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden

Throughout the 1990s, state Tech Act projects established centers around their states to help local communities access and use assistive technology. A few years later, the assistive technology loan program became operational. A variety of "models" are used within states to work with credit unions, banks, and savings and loans to loan money to individuals who could not afford to purchase technology on their own.

Up until the late 1980s, the idea of a continuum of day and vocational services was very much alive. In earlier decades, there were only a few steps in the continuum – day activity centers, sheltered workshops and competitive employment. By the 1980s, there was a greater variety of sheltered settings both in disability centers and regular work places.

Individual living in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden