The Road to Success

The Rehabilitation Services Bureau

August, 2005


Cedar Rapids Success, by David Mitchell

Sometimes it is the small steps that make a difference.  The Cedar Rapids Office has been working on developing and implementing their Office Action Plan per their Quality Assurance report out during the past several months.  Through team work collaboration among their committee members, including their office staff, they identified a number of short term and long term goals they felt would have an impact on the delivery of quality VR services and improve employment outcomes.  Successes are occurring and momentum is developing as they move forward with their plans.  Examples of activities include: 


These activities have helped eliminate a step for the CR office in their tracking of waiting list clients, increased employment awareness of staff and clients, is beginning to change the team work role of office support staff, and identified some longer term strategies related to the make-up of the office, its location and its design.  These are examples from the Cedar Rapids Office related to their small steps on the Road to Continued Success.





VR-Business Networking

Developing a National Model

By Barb McClannahan


Networking defined—1) Connecting with people of like interests for the purpose of uncovering opportunities, identifying landmines and learning of best practices.  2)  to connect residents, companies, government and institutions together with the common goal of sharing information.



On June 1 – 3, 2005 Steve Wooderson and Barb McClannahan traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in a conference sponsored by the CSAVR Employment Committee focusing on “Growing the National VR-Business Network.”  This conference piggy-backed on the Region IV Employment Partner Team annual conference which gave us the opportunity to begin to envision what a national business network might look like, as well as actually experience the partnering and resource sharing that is currently occurring across our Southeast sister agencies.


Twenty-eight states were in attendance and participated in discussions of the benefits and challenges related to strengthening VR-employer relationships within each state as well as across state lines.  A consensus was reached on the need to 1) recognize the employer as a customer of VR and 2) to establish an infrastructure that facilitates peer-to-peer (VR-to-VR) relationships, resources and employer connections from state-to-state and region to region. 


CSAVR has conducted research with business that identifies the need for public VR agencies to work together to leverage resources in providing employers with quality job candidates, technical assistance and resources to retain valued employees impacted by illness, injury or disability.  The successful implementation of these actions will enhance our capacity to serve the employer’s needs, increase placements and communicate the value of the public vocational rehabilitation agencies to business as well as state and federal legislators. 


What We Learned

Linking what we do well:

An outline for a shared vision of the essential components of a “world class” employment program for people with disabilities was shared.  While each state has autonomy to develop their own in-state network, this outline was offered as a resource for action planning and continuous improvement efforts in assisting consumers and employers as valued customers. 


Ten Components of an Effective Employment Program

I.                     Job Readiness

II.                   Pre-Employment Skills/Training

III.                  Consumer Work Plan

IV.               Computer Information Systems

V.                 Employer Account System

VI.               Specific Services to Meet Employer/Client Needs

VII.              Materials/Information for Marketing VR Services to Business and Industry

VIII.            Business Advisory Committees/Business Leadership Networks

IX.               Research and Evaluation

X.                 Human Resource Development


Resource Sharing:

National/regional/state networks are built on trust and on sharing of resources which enhances our capacity to serve both consumers with disabilities as well as employers.  Multiple resources were shared in the following areas:

Action Steps for Iowa

As we consider our role in this national network, IVRS will have the opportunity in June and July to learn about strategies to enhance our employer development efforts from Peggy Anderson of Alabama Vocational Rehabilitation.  I had the opportunity to hear Peggy speak at the conference in Atlanta and wholeheartedly encourage everyone who has the opportunity to attend her training this summer to do so.  The training will also give every participant the opportunity to engage in the planning steps necessary for building Iowa’s capacity to develop our own local and state business networks. 


Transition, by David Mitchell

I recently attended the National Leadership Summit on Improving Results for Youth as well as the RSA Transition Conference on Guiding Youth With Disabilities to Employment.  I will not attempt to identify all of the concepts and strategies discussed, but do think it is relevant to hit what were the major highlights. 


The National Leadership Summit provided an opportunity for a work group from Iowa to discuss how to collect better school to work data documenting the progress being made with education efforts in the State of Iowa.  Major points of emphasis was on improving graduation rates, improving access to post secondary education and improving employment outcomes.  These areas impacted both youth in the regular education programs as well as youth in special education.  A major initiative occurring during our next school year will be a roll out of a student survey to assist in measuring transition effectiveness.  Students in special education as well as a sample from the regular education curriculums will participate at the time of graduation, at one year post follow-up as well as a voluntary five year post graduation follow-up.


During the breakout sessions of the Leadership Summit, three main concepts were discussed:  1) students with special needs will have greater access to regular education curriculum with necessary supports;  2)  Youth with mental health needs can be successful, but it is all about how they are engaged in the process.  You may only get one opportunity to create the impression you want, so think about how and what you are doing that is creating the impression.  Is it the impression you want?  Youth get easily frustrated and will leave our system without meaningful and respectful engagement.  There is a need to work across multiple domains to be effective in the outreach that is needed.  An interesting quote regarding our educational system was, “As kids start in kindergarten, they want to be in school and are excited about going and learning.  What happens and changes that we lose that type of engagement?  3)  IEP meetings are most effective when they are student driven.  Usually the student’s involvement is a sample of tokenism or a symbolic effort to meet the minimum qualifications of the law.  When youth are involved with the planning and the implementation, when they are provided opportunities to dream, to think, to follow-through and are held accountable for actions, then success can occur. 


The RSA Transition Conference had excellent main sessions and breakout sessions regarding transition issues.  Opportunities were provided to dialog with other states and community rehabilitation programs and I was impressed by how Iowa was often at the lead in innovative and creative practices.  Rather than try to summarize the main sessions and breakouts, I will attempt to provide a few issues that were identified that will challenge us as we continue to drive down the road to success.



As we have discussed in prior meetings, challenges are opportunities for success.  Hopefully some of these items can stimulate your thoughts regarding how as an individual and as an agency, we can continue to move forward.




Senator Tom Harkin's Disability Policy Update

Welcome to the Harkin Disability Policy Update!

In order to serve your needs and keep you informed, we created the Harkin Disability Policy Update. In this e-mail we share with you the latest happenings in Washington regarding disability issues. More important, we want to hear from you.

Table of Contents for July 2005:

  1. Update on Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Support Act (MiCASSA)
  2. Update on Money Follows Legislation
  3. Press release on passage of the Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2005
  4. Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act. A list of events in Iowa

1. Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Support Act (MiCASSA) of 2005

On February 16th, Senator Harkin introduced S. 401, the Medicaid Community Based Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA) of 2005. This bill would increase access to community-based services and supports for individuals with disabilities, and would make home-based attendant care available to Medicaid recipients who are eligible for an institutional level of long-term care.

Under MiCASSA, states would receive increased funding for attendant services and administrative activities to enhance their long-term care infrastructure and improve their ability to provide home and community based services. The bill would also fund demonstration projects to evaluate service coordination and cost sharing approaches for persons who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.

To be eligible for attendant care benefits under MiCASSA, individuals must be eligible for Medicaid and receive a determination that they require a level of care equal to that provided in a nursing facility or intermediate care facility. Services would include attendant care necessary to accomplish one or more activities of daily living or health-related functions. The bill would not cover such things as room and board, special education or vocational rehabilitation services, assistive technologies, durable medical equipment, or home modifications.

In a recent press release regarding MiCASSA, Senator Harkin said: "I strongly believe that it is important to level the playing field and give eligible individuals equal access to community-based services and supports. This vital legislation will open the door to full participation by people with disabilities in our neighborhoods, workplaces, our economy, and our American Dream."

Current co-sponsors of the bill include: Edward Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY),Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Christopher Dodd (D-CT).

2. Money Follows the Person Act of 2005

On March 7, 2005, Senator Harkin introduced S. 528, the Money Follows the Person Act of 2005. S. 528 would provide grants to states for demonstration projects to increase the use of home and community-based, rather than institutional, long-term care for persons with disabilities.

The Money Follows the Person Act would fully reimburse States for providing one year of Medicaid home and community–based services to individuals who move from institutions into their own homes and communities. After the initial year, States would be responsible for matching payments at their usual Medicaid matching rate.

Eligible individuals must have resided in an institution for a minimum period of time (at least six months to two years depending on the state) and have an on-going need for long-term care. They may be required to develop an approved Individualized Service Plan, including a budget for services. Home-based long-term care services could include home health and personal care services and may include one-time transitional expenses.

The bill authorizes $1.75 billion for five years, but could yield States substantial savings in Medicaid spending since home-based care is typically less expensive than institutional care. The bill also stipulates that States cannot reduce current spending for community-based care while receiving project funds and must continue to offer community-based services to individuals after completion of the project.

In a recent press release about the bill, Senator Harkin said: "This initiative would allow people with disabilities and older Americans to have choices we all take for granted… to live with family and friends, not with strangers; to live in a neighborhood, not a nursing home or institution; to eat what you want to eat; not just what is served to you; to go to a restaurant or for a walk anywhere you want to go, and not just on the grounds of a facility."

The bill is also co-sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

3. Press Release on the passage of the Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that his "Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2005" passed in the Senate last Friday. The 1996 Telecommunications Act mandates that all television programs are captioned by 2006. Harkin's legislation would establish competitive grants to educational institutions to train realtime writers in order to meet this goal.

"Although we have only a few years to go until the deadline set by the Telecom Act, our nation is facing a serious shortage of captioners," Harkin said. "This legislation is essential to ensure that we meet this important goal."

It is estimated that at least 3,000 captioners will be needed to fulfill the upcoming requirement. Unfortunately, today the United States only has 300 trained captioners, and student enrollment in programs that train realtime writers has decreased significantly.

"Realtime writers are needed in order to assist millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans in taking full advantage of television programming," Harkin said.

Since 2002, Harkin has secured $2.17 million in funding for court reporting and captioning programs in Iowa. More than 28 million Americans, or eight percent of the population, are considered deaf or hard-of-hearing and require captioning services to participate in mainstream activities.

Harkin was the chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation which seeks equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. He also authored legislation creating the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders.

4. Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act.

  • There will be a celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Des Moines on Saturday July 23rd at the downtown Farmers Market. The formal program will take place on the corner of Court Avenue and 4th Street from 10:45 - 11:30 a.m. Speakers will include U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, author of the ADA; Mayor Frank Cownie; Evelyne Villines, Disabilities Rights Activist and national speaker from Des Moines who advocated the passage of the ADA; and Special Olympic athletes Kyler Prunty and Jenna Schrack (invited). Performers during this period of time will include the New Vision Dancers and the Ames Sign Choir. There will also be various events taking place from 7 am-10:45 am.
  • The Friends of Iowa Civil Rights, Inc. are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Iowa Civil Rights Act and the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This event will be held on July 21st starting at the state capital building at 8:00 am. There will be a march to the New Historical Building followed by a reception. The Rev. C.T. Vivian, a civil rights leader who has worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for many years, will be the keynote speaker. Events will be wrapping up at 12 noon.
  • Senator Harkin will be speaking at an ADA event in Sioux City on July 23 at the Anderson Pavilion on the riverfront – the event is from 2:00 to 3:00. For more information, persons can contact Three Rivers Independent Living Center at 712-255-1065
  • United by the ADA
    On Sunday, July 24, beginning at 1:00 pm, Cedar Rapids will be hosting its first ever ADA celebration to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the ADA. The celebration will take place at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 950 Rockford Rd SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Senator Tom Harkin will be in attendance to throw out the first pitch.

For more info please contact:

Cherie Clark - Cedar Rapids Coordinator
2005 ADA Planning Team Co-leader
412 Angle St – Bertram
Cedar Rapids IA 52403-9025
319-363-0887 or toll-free 1-866-860-0887

Evert Conner Center for Independent Living
Chris O'Hanlon, Executive Director
730 S Dubuque St
Iowa City, IA 52240
1-800-982-0272 or 319-338-3870 - Voice/TTY
319-338-8385 – FAX

Again, we hope that you find this information helpful. Please keep in touch.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act:

15 Years of Progress

By Senator Tom Harkin


This month, our nation is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – the landmark civil rights law securing the rights of people with disabilities. As chief author of the law, I remember the day it was signed into law – June 26, 1990 – as one of the proudest in my entire legislative career.

Today, the impacts of ADA are all around us. Drive-through restaurants have visual displays allowing the deaf and hard of hearing to place their orders outside. Banks have talking ATMs, now, to assist those with visual impairments. Cities have installed curb cuts and ramps to allow wheelchair users easier access. And on and on.

Just as important, because of ADA, we have seen an enormous change in attitudes. It used to be socially acceptable to treat people with disabilities as second-class citizens, to exclude and marginalize them. I remember my brother Frank, who had a profound hearing disability, being sent off to a “school for the deaf and dumb,” and later being offered just three job possibilities: baker, printer’s assistant, or cobbler.

Today, by contrast, the expectation is that we will do what it takes to give people with disabilities not just physical access, but an equal opportunity in our schools, in our workplaces, in all areas of our economy and society.

Just as important, ADA has changed attitudes. We have overcome the false dichotomy between A disabled @ and “able.” We recognize that people with disabilities – like all people – have unique abilities, talents, and aptitudes. And that America is better, fairer, and richer when we make full use of those gifts.

To observe this 15 th anniversary, I invite Americans with disabilities and their loved ones to share their stories. Tell me how ADA has made a difference in your life. Just go to my Senate home page at Scroll down to the lower right hand corner. Then, under the item labeled “ ADA,” click on “Share Your Story,” and tell me about your experience.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has made a huge difference in our society. It has opened doors, created opportunity, and transformed lives. If you are one of those who have benefited from this law, I’d love to hear from you.