Celebrating 100 Years of Vocational Rehabilitation – with 40 Years of Research

This year we will mark the 100th anniversary of a bill signed into law by Woodrow Wilson: The Industrial Rehabilitation Act. This landmark legislation was also known as the National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act. Vocational rehabilitation as a service was not new, but this act established the first federally funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disability through military service. The goal of this national VR program was “maintenance of vocational rehabilitation” of people with disabilities and “returning vocationally rehabilitated persons to civilian employment.”

The practice of vocational rehabilitation now includes supporting youth as they transition from school to work, identifying and implementing assistive technology solutions in the workplace, helping employers to build an inclusive workforce with diverse talents, and supporting those with even significant disabilities in progressing to meaningful work. That progress happens because of the research and development of projects like those funded by NIDILRR over more than 40 years. In honor of the 100th anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation, we invite you to explore some of the history of NIDILRR-funded research in VR.

Current Projects

Today, there are 30 active projects conducting research and development in VR. They range from five-year Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers to individual fellowships. Some projects focus on specific populations, like transition-age youth or people with serious mental illness, other projects focus on training and building capacity among counselors, managers, and administrators.  

Explore by Topic

The NIDILRR Program Database includes more than 230 active and completed projects funded over 40 years which focused all or some of their research and development efforts on VR. We broke our searches down by some of the major topics to get a better picture (note: a project might fall in more than one category, such as blindness/visual impairment and assistive technology).

Would you like to explore further?

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