Statement of Issue
The issue involved in this research revolves around the relationship between the severely physically handicapped person, the severely or profoundly retarded person, and the vocational education facilities which are available for their occupational training. The differences in public and governmental attitudes toward handicapped workers between the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 and the Vocational Education Act Amendments of 1968 are also noted.
Importance of Issue
As automated technology negates an increasingly large number of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs, the physically and mentally handicapped worker faces a tighter labor market requiring increased educational depth, vocational skills, and work experience. To become or remain employable and economically independent, the handicapped of the nation must either develop themselves or be developed in training programs to meet the elevated job requirements of the competitive labor market.
Emphasis in past training programs for the handicapped has been restricted to skill development or improvement. Future programs should incorporate the development of less tangible types of behavior such as initiative, leadership, desire to progress, self-confidence, and acceptance of responsibility. The degree of skill attained and the maintenance of high levels of skill over a long period of time are closely bound up with incentives, interests, and satisfactions from growth and improvements. In considering the concept of worker adjustment, it is necessary to think of the individual as an integrated whole possessing many complex interacting attitudes, abilities, interests, traits and motives.
Survey of Literature
A study (3:157) of university training programs for the handicapped points out the effects if budgetary constraints upon a population that needs a large amount of vocational assistance. It found that:
1. The present capabilities of the programs only allowed one-third of the applicants to enter into training and additional funding was needed for staff and facilities.
2. A forward funding approach is necessary rather than getting last minute funds from the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
3. The moral obligation of the traineeships seems to be working since graduates who received funds from the Rehabilitation Services Administration are more likely to work directly or indirectly with the federal program.
4. Rehabilitation training seems to be national in scope since one-tenth of the students enter training outside of their area of residence, and one-fifth get employment in an area different from the one in which they were trained.
5. Additional funding is necessary from the Rehabilitation Services Administration because universities have increasingly restricted budgets which usually covers only three-quarters of the training costs.
The Bellevue Rehabilitation Center (New York University-Bellevue Medical Center, 5 6:5) found that their pre-vocational exploration program components were inadequate for severely disabled persons with spinal cord injuries and severely disabled adolescents. Their suggestions for improvement to their program included:
1. An introduction to pre-vocational programs for quadriplegics consisting of functional occupational therapy using vocational media where possible to assess vocational potential before intensive work is begun by the vocational counselor.
2. A special vocational recreational program to reintegrate hemiplegics into community life since a conventional prevocational exploration would be unrealistic for this group.
3. Because the disability group of amputees presents a few acute vocational problems, the pre-vocational exploration program consists of practice sessions with appropriate media.
4. For the severely disabled adolescent whose schooling has been interrupted and has a potential for higher education, there is a need for communication skills such as typing and shorthand, along with techniques of work organization, note taking and study methods.
Wortis (9:256) discusses the self-fulfilling prophecy of the severely retarded who accomplish exactly what is expected of them where the expectancies that the people in the field have, are basically the ones handed down by their predecessors. He feels changes in this cycle are imminent because:
1. Available data shows the abilities of profoundly and severely retarded individuals to perform tasks or exhibit behaviors, are inconsistent with previous expectancies for such individuals.
2. New technologies which were previously unavailable are now designed to help individuals with gross learning problems, and include – discrimination learning, attention-retention theory, behavior modification, match to sample techniques, oddity, clustering, fading and shaping.
The interactions which provide weight to the performance of the severely retarded include task complexity, job sophistication, self-perception, and the perception of others. The expectancy cycle (9:257) may be replaced with an expectancy spiral if there is a significant upgrading of the kinds of jobs performed by the severely retarded which results in a different reality on which to base self-esteem.
Since the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 (4:6) when the Federal Board for Vocational Education was admonished to establish vocational schools and classes to give instruction in agriculture, trades, industries, commerce and commercial pursuits, and home economics, there have been demands for more inclusion of the handicapped into these programs. After a report (4:10) protested that the deplorable failure on the part of the government to care for the disabled is due in large part to an imperfect organization of governmental effort, the Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1920 defined a disabled person as (4:13) “a person who by reason of a physical defect or infirmity, whether congenital or acquired by accident, injury or disease, is or may be expected to be, totally or partially incapacitated for remunerative occupation.”
In 1976, it was found that one-fifth of all handicapped persons live on incomes below poverty level with the average income of families of disabled workers dropping fifty-four percent after onset of the disabling condition (7:129). The unemployment rate of handicapped males is up to three times as high as nondisabled men, but despite this rate, individuals with severe disabilities keep a high motivation to work.
Job patterns also differ in procedure, effectiveness, and intensiveness from patterns of nonhandicapped workers. Placement data from 1960 reports that forty percent of rehabilitated clients located their own jobs, thirty-five percent were retained by a previous employer, fifteen percent were placed by a vocational rehabilitation agency, and four percent by public employment services (7:133). In a study of paraplegics the job-seeking techniques used were vocational rehabilitation aid, direct application, contact by friends, or contact by relatives. Disabled respondents felt that any labor market intermediary dealing with handicapped job seekers should offer quick placement to applicants and have expertise concerning the problems associated with the present disability, and the intermediary should be willing to work with applicants to improve job skills.
Woal (8:172) cites a program for the visually handicapped which implements the career development concepts that view career choice as a process beginning in early life and continuing throughout a lifetime; being closely related to self-concept and influenced by life experiences. The integration of partially sighted and sighted students allows the sighted to grow in understanding of the handicapped person’s capabilities, and the handicapped students anticipate situations which they will encounter in later schooling.
Workshops for the disabled worker are categorized into five general descriptions:
1. An independent, non-profit facility;
2. A state-operated facility which is not part of a rehabilitation center, hospital or institution;
3. As part of a comprehensive rehabilitation center;
4. As part of a public or private hospital; and
5. As part of a public or private institution that provides care for individuals with a chronic disability such as mental retardation (1:10).
In most cases, workshops for the handicapped are non-profit institutions which prevent the worker from accumulating enough material benefits to rise above poverty-level income. The possible advantages of this type of situation are outlined in a set of objectives outlined by Barton (1:13):
1. To provide long-term sheltered employment for disabled persons too handicapped to compete in the open labor market along with rehabilitation services to help clients to work successfully in the workshop.
2. To provide evaluation and rehabilitation services to handicapped persons for whom these services are being purchased by community organizations.
3. To provide sheltered work experience and training to handicapped persons for the purpose of preparing as many as possible for employment in the competitive labor market.
4. To operate a comprehensive work evaluation and/or rehabilitation unit to give services to workshop employees.
5. To put definite limits on the time any individual may remain in the workshop since the purpose of sheltered employment is to provide an evaluation and therapeutic experience rather than a wage.
Little’s projection (5:163) of what California students in the seventies will face in the way of an occupational environment after schooling included:
1. Twenty-five percent of the California labor force of the seventies will have college degrees than in the sixties.
2. By 1975, the proportion of California workers who had completed less than ninth grade in school was essentially zero.
3. The proportion of California employees who completed thirteen to fifteen years of education, including some college, rose from twenty-two percent in the sixties to thirty-one percent in the seventies.
4.4. Students who have not dropped out in the seventies will include a higher proportion of disadvantaged then during the sixties and they will be making known their desires in educational policy and curriculum matters.
Berkowitz (2:43) feels that it is essential that improvements be made in research on rehabilitation of the physically handicapped, even though grantors often fail to ask for sufficient pre-program information and grantees do not seem to appreciate the value of controlled research. He states that grantors need clearly stated goals for their funded research, and evaluators must make correct use of the appropriate means of project design. With the costs involved in the failure to adequately rehabilitate the disabled becoming increasingly evident, researchers will continue to look for methods of effective rehabilitation, and a correctly designed, faithfully executed research program will achieve this end.
Vocational education for the severely physically handicapped is essentially part of a rehabilitation program which is limited only by the extent of disability encountered. General objectives of rehabilitation departments, pre-vocational shops, vocational programs, and counseling services may include:
1. Determining aptitudes, interests, and significant abilities of the participants;
2. Determining readiness for vocational planning;`
3. Evaluating motivation to work;
4. Encouraging development of positive work attitudes;
5. Evaluating work tolerance; and
6. Fostering the development of self-confidence.
When diagnosing the handicapped applicant’s state of psychological and physical readiness, the vocational education staff must be prepared to look beyond test scores for interpretive material. Standardized intelligence, aptitude and personality tests are generally inadequate for this segment of the population because:
1. The norming population of the tests cannot be considered analogous to a handicapped group.
2. Certain tests are impossible to administer to people with given handicaps.
3. Many tests require literacy in English, but a large percentage of the physically handicapped are non-English speaking.
4. The cultural background of many members of handicapped groups is not oriented to the speed and accuracy aspects of quality performance.
5. The validity and reliability of test results in these cases depend on the tester’s insight and personal skill in assessment.
6. The largest area of uncertainty in the diagnostic stage is the degree of readiness and fitness of the participant.
Training programs for the handicapped should operate under the assumption that demonstrations of vocational skill competencies in the permanent surplus labor population will provide a basis for positive social change. In modern American society, constructive employment and the nature of a person’s work provides the most reliable means for obtaining the basic privileges and acceptances. The demonstration of competence on the part of the severely handicapped or retarded should precipitate the elimination of imposed handicaps such as hiring and testing practices, preconceived ideas about intellectual requirements, and low psychological expectancies. When the handicapped can be judged as they function, following carefully designed training programs of work and social skills, within a community framework of constructive expectancies and attitudes, full participation in society for this group will result.