The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act) is landmark legislation, which changed the course of services and expanded the rights of individuals with disabilities in our nation. It set out the purpose, policy and principles that have continued to guide its implementation over the past 50 years.
Congress acknowledged that disability is a natural part of the human experience that in no way diminishes the right of millions of Americans with disabilities to live independently; enjoy self-determination; make choices; contribute to society; pursue meaningful careers; and enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational mainstream of American society.
Since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act, the United States has maintained a policy that all programs, projects, and activities receiving assistance under the Rehabilitation Act shall be carried out in a manner consistent with the principles of—
- Respect for individual dignity, personal responsibility, self-determination and pursuit of meaningful careers, based on informed choice, of individuals with disabilities;
- Respect for the privacy, rights and equal access (including the use of accessible formats), of the individuals;
- Inclusion, integration and full participation of the individuals;
- Support for the involvement of an individual’s representative if an individual with a disability requests, desires or needs such support; and
- Support for individual and systemic advocacy and community involvement.
To read more on the anniversary, what the Act meant then, what it means now, and what it can mean in the future, click here to access the OSERS blog on the topic.