Summary: S.1579 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (03/02/1998)

Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 - Revises and extends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA).

(Sec. 2) Provides for establishment of: (1) linkages between State vocational rehabilitation programs and workforce investment activities carried out under the Workforce Investment Partnership Act of 1998 (WIPA); and (2) special responsibilities for the Secretary of Education for coordination of all activities with respect to individuals with disabilities within and across programs administered by the Federal Government.

(Sec. 3) Requires the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA, which is in the Office of the Secretary of Education) and the Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to reserve specified funds to carry out certain activities for outreach to minorities.

(Sec. 4) Extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for Basic Vocational Rehabilitation Services programs.

Revises requirements for State Vocational Rehabilitation Services plans, individual eligibility, individualized rehabilitation employment plans, vocational rehabilitation services scope, group services, non-Federal shares for establishment of programs, State Rehabilitation Councils, evaluation standards and performance indicators, and monitoring and review.

Maintains formulas for State allotments for Basic Vocational Rehabilitation Services, but eliminates provisions for certain additional allotments and payments to States. Revises reallotment provisions. Revises the formula for reservation of funds for American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Revises requirements for title I payments to States.

Requires a State Governor (or other appropriate officer of the State) to redesignate the agency conducting the client assistance program under certain conditions. Extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for such program.

Eliminates RA title I (current part C) provisions for Innovation and Expansion Grants.

Increases to 60 months the maximum effective duration of an approved application for an American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services grant.

Revises requirements for vocational rehabilitation services client information. Directs the Secretaries of Education and of Health and Human Services to enter into a memorandum of understanding to exchange data of mutual importance that concern clients of designated State agencies, including data maintained either by the RSA or by the Social Security Administration from its Summary Earnings and Records and Master Beneficiary Records.

Directs the Secretary of Labor to provide the RSA Commissioner with labor market information that facilitates evaluation of the Basic Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and allows comparison of the progress of individuals with disabilities who are assisted under such program in securing, retaining, regaining, and advancing in employment with the progress made by individuals who are assisted under specified WIPA provisions.

(Sec. 5) Revises RA title II (Research and Training).

Extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) expenses of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (Institute), including certain expenses of the Rehabilitation Research Advisory Council; and (2) research and other covered activities.

Requires the Institute's Director to: (1) include, in an education program for the public, information on assistive technology services and devices, and disseminate engineering information about them; (2) provide for development and dissemination of models to address consumer-driven information needs related to assistive technology devices and services; and (3) publish for public comment drafts of five-year plans outlining and explaining priorities for rehabilitation research, demonstration projects, training, and related activities, and consider public comments before submitting the final form of such a plan to the appropriate congressional committees.

Eliminates grant or contract assistance for: (1) a pediatric rehabilitation research program; (2) a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center in the Pacific Basin; and (3) a center for research and training concerning the delivery of rehabilitation services to rural areas.

(Sec. 6) Revises RA title III (Professional Development and Special Projects and Demonstrations).

Directs the Secretary to ensure that all title III grants and contracts are awarded on a competitive basis.

Revises and extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for training programs. Requires (current law authorizes) the Commissioner to make grants and contracts for personnel training. Authorizes the Commissioner to make grants and contracts for training: (1) regarding related Federal statutes; (2) personnel providing services to individuals with disabilities under WIPA (jointly funded with the Department of Labor); or (3) leading to an academic degree or certificate in various rehabilitation-related areas. Continues requirements for training grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other higher education institutions with minority enrollments of at least 50 percent. Includes hard-of-hearing individuals (as well as deaf or deaf-blind individuals) among those for whom interpreters may be trained under a discretionary grant program.

Eliminates: (1) discretionary technical assistance to State rehabilitation agencies and community rehabilitation programs; (2) various grants and contracts relating to vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities; (3) loan guarantees for community rehabilitation programs; and (4) comprehensive rehabilitation centers.

Revises and extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) special demonstration programs; (2) migrant and seasonal farmworkers programs; and (3) recreational programs.

Eliminates certain title III discretionary grants for: (1) reader services for blind individuals; and (2) interpreter services for deaf individuals.

Authorizes the Commissioner to require title III grant recipients to submit information to measure project outcomes and performance.

(Sec. 7) Amends RA title IV (National Council on Disability) to revise the deadline for the Council's annual progress report on national disability policy. Extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for the Council.

(Sec. 8) Revises RA title V (Rights and Advocacy).

Directs the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the Access Board) to promulgate regulations for Federal agency procurement of electronic and information technology that allows individuals with disabilities to produce and have access to information and data in manner comparable to that of individuals without disabilities.

Extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for title V with respect to protection and advocacy of individual rights. Reserves for a grant to the eligible system serving the American Indian consortium a certain portion of such funds in excess of a specified amount. Applies certain limitations under the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997 to the use of allotments or grants under these RA provisions for protection and advocacy of individual rights.

(Sec. 9) Amends RA title VI (Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities) (the Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities Act).

Eliminates current part A (Community Service Pilot Programs for Individuals with Disabilities).

Sets forth a new part A (Projects in Telecommuting and Self-Employment for Individuals with Disabilities). Directs the Commissioner to award competitive, one-time, time-limited grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements to eligible entities to establish and operate: (1) projects in telecommuting for individuals with disabilities; and (2) projects in self-employment for individuals with disabilities. Authorizes the Commissioner to establish procedures for dual-purpose applications. Authorizes appropriations through FY 2004.

Revises and extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) part B (Projects with Industry); (2) part C (Supported Employment Services for Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities). ("Most significant" replaces the term "severe" disabilities.)

(Sec. 10) Amends RA title VII (Independent Living Services and Centers for Independent Living).

Revises and extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) Individuals with Significant Disabilities, including provisions for Independent Living Services and Centers for Independent Living; and (2) Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind.

(Sec. 11) Amends the Helen Keller National Center Act to extend through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) the Helen Keller National Center for Youths and Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind; and (2) the Center's Federal Endowment Fund. Directs the Center to establish and maintain a national registry of individuals who are deaf-blind. Authorizes appropriations through FY 2000 for such registry.

(Sec. 12) Amends a specified Joint Resolution of the Congress to rename the President's Committee on National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week as the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Allows such Committee to solicit, as well as accept, certain donations.

(Sec. 13) Amends the Department of Education Organization Act to provide that the Federal Advisory Committee Act shall not apply to peer review panels established by the Secretary to evaluate applications for financial assistance awarded on a competitive basis.

(Sec. 14) Directs the Secretary to prepare and submit to the Congress recommended legislation containing technical and conforming amendments to reflect the changes made by this Act.