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OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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Commissioner’s Corner: Issue 2
Archived Information

Welcome to the second edition of Commissioner’s Corner. We are excited to celebrate another significant milestone in the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2014. This landmark legislation and its implementing regulations are designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help Americans with significant barriers to employment, including individuals with disabilities, into high quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.

On June 30, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education made the WIOA Final Rules publically available. The Final Rules will be published soon in the Federal Register. You can access the advance copy now on the Rehabilitation Services Administration’s website, We sincerely thank all of you for taking the time to provide us with meaningful comments and suggested revisions on the proposed regulations during the public comment period. We received thousands of comments, which we carefully considered and used to shape the final regulations. Your input serves as a true testament to the strong partnership we have shared since the enactment of WIOA.

We anticipate this partnership will only grow stronger through the implementation process. We know that since the passage of WIOA, you have already made great strides to implement the provisions, and we are eager to get out there in the States and see some of these innovations firsthand and share them with others. We are committed to continue providing technical assistance resources to assist you during implementation and strengthen practices already in place and those that you plan to put in place. Also, in recognition of the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we share this fitting quote from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Janet LaBreck




  • Carol Dobak, last announced as the Acting Director of the State Monitoring & Program Improvement Division (SMPID) in RSA, has been officially named the Director. Congratulations, Carol!
  • Melinda Kaufman has recently joined RSA as the new head of the Data Unit; we are very pleased to have her as part of the team.
  • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced on April 12, 2016 a new process to proactively identify and assist Federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge. Borrowers are encouraged to visit for more information.
  • June 22, 2016, marked the 17th Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision!
  • WIOA is here! Please check out the WIOA section of this Commissioner’s Corner to find helpful technical assistance (TA) and FAQs.


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) - Information

Technical Assistance

In three regional meetings, RSA will provide technical assistance on competitive integrated employment, employment outcome, and limitations on the use of subminimum wage (section 511); transition services, including pre-employment transition services; supported employment; fiscal requirements; and employer engagement.

  • 1st
    Tuesday, August 9, 2016
    Lyndon Baines Johnson Auditorium
    400 Maryland Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20202
  • 2nd
    Wednesday, September 7, 2016
    Citicorp Center
    Regional FSA Training Center
    500 W. Madison
    Chicago, IL 60661
  • 3rd
    Tuesday, September 27, 2016
    California Department of Rehabilitation
    721 Capitol Mall
    Sacramento, CA 95814

For more information, including the meeting agenda, and on-line registration visit

We’re working closely with the RSA technical assistance centers to assure that the TA centers will assist you with activities related to WIOA implementation. In addition, the TA centers are sharing with us the technical assistance questions and issues raised in the field to assist RSA in developing TA resources. We view the TA centers as a valuable resource and a vital link between RSA and the field.

In addition to the in-person regional meetings, RSA is developing a number of presentations on specific topics to be delivered by webinars, including one on the RSA-911, and formal written guidance on integrated employment and connecting individuals with disabilities to employers through work-based learning.

RSA has also been working together with other ED partners on the joint development of a comprehensive transition guide addressing requirements administered by RSA and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in order to provide the public, especially students and youth with disabilities, their families and practitioners, with information about the services and supports needed to better assist students and youth with disabilities to achieve their goals in adult life.


2016 Technical Assistance Protocol

Section 107 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires the commissioner of RSA to conduct annual reviews and periodic on-site monitoring of programs authorized under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act to determine whether a VR agency is complying substantially with the provisions of its State Plan under Section 101 of the Rehabilitation Act and with the Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators established under Section 106. RSA’s FY2016 Technical Assistance Guide for the VR Program is intended to serve as a resource and planning guide for VR agencies and state teams to assist in the preparation for and conduction of technical assistance visits this fiscal year. Please find the guide at the following link:



The Department of Labor (DOL) and ED have jointly developed the following questions and answers concerning the funding of one-stop infrastructure costs. Please use the following link, which is also found in the Resource section:


Maintenance of Effort Update!

Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2016 Maintenance of Effort (MOE) penalty letters have been issued to 11 State VR agencies. Of these agencies, the 4th quarter FFY 2016 VR allotments for 10 agencies were reduced by the amount of their FFY 2015 MOE shortfall and 1 agency’s allotment was reduced by the amount of its FFY 2013 shortfall. The total amount of the MOE penalties assessed was $25,109,023. These funds will be held for possible re-allotment pending resolution of any MOE waiver requests. Agencies may request additional funds by completing form RSA-692 online at RSA.ED.GOV.


National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials Relaunch

New features and enhancements are coming early August during the relaunch of RSA’s online vocational rehabilitation (VR) portal: the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM).

The NCRTM is a valuable resource for the rehabilitation community, including State VR agencies, State rehabilitation councils, RSA grantees, individuals with disabilities, employers, service providers, as well as organizations representing individuals with disabilities. Contributors can even receive recognition for top-rated materials, reach target audiences for dissemination, and highlight important guidance and information.

Under contract with RSA, New Editions Consulting, Inc. is improving the site to optimize utility, technical assistance, and news sharing for the vocational rehabilitation community. The NCRTM will serve as a webinar vehicle for delivering technical assistance related to WIOA. Planned improvements include a dedicated training and TA portal that will highlight and archive webinars developed by RSA’s funded TA centers. High quality products on rehabilitation long-term training, interpreter training, transition, and parent resources are featured within the library, and will continue to be added along with other topics relevant to the VR and education communities. The NCRTM will continue to maintain an archive of resources dating back to the 1960s.

In addition to the current robust search capabilities and star quality rating system, the NCRTM will add multi-channel methods to deliver top-quality resources and news, including a peer review system, TA on document accessibility, newsletters, podcasts, and videos.

The NCRTM can be accessed at Please direct questions or requests for more information about the project to


Joint Needs Assessment

Discussion regarding development and implementation of a “joint needs assessment” across the newly funded RSA technical assistance centers began during the January 2016 Technical Assistance Center Collaborative (TACC) meeting. Each center is responsible for conducting a needs assessment across the 80 State VR agencies; thus, one priority was to coordinate efforts to gather input collectively in an effort to reduce burden and to increase response rate across the State agencies. Beginning in February 2016, the Rehabilitation Training and Technical Assistance Center for Program Evaluation and Quality Assurance (PEQATAC) coordinated collaborative biweekly meetings involving the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Youth with Disabilities (VRTAC-Y), the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC), the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center — Targeted Communities (VRTAC-TC), the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT), RSA, and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) to identify and revise the specific data elements and questions. Dr. Tim Tansey and Dr. Cayte Anderson actively incorporated recommendations and input received across the centers and integrated these into revised versions that were provided to work group members prior to the meetings. Dr. Tansey worked closely with RSA to ensure all Office of Management and Budget (OMB) compliance requirements were approved prior to release.

The final version was successfully disseminated electronically to all 80 State VR programs on April 6, 2016. Participation by State agencies was encouraged and available through multiple formats: online survey instrument (SurveyMonkey), downloadable Word document to be completed and returned by email or fax, and phone interview with a University Wisconsin (UW)-Madison representative for the project. UW-Madison graduate students followed up with State agencies that submitted incomplete assessments and provided the necessary support to complete the assessment. Completed needs assessments were received from 58 State agencies with an overall response rate of 70 percent.

Preliminary results from the needs assessment were presented at the May 2016 symposium hosted by UW-Madison. Additional responses have been received subsequent to the symposium and the summary of needs assessment results is being revised accordingly. The information will be shared with all 80 State VR agencies in the coming weeks. The TA centers are collaborating as they contact each of the agencies that responded to the survey. TA plans based on these joint contacts will be developed to meet the specific TA needs of the agencies.


Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC)

The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center provides training and technical assistance (TA) to State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) and related agencies and to rehabilitation professionals and service providers to help them develop the skills and processes needed to meet the requirements of WIOA. WINTAC provides universal, targeted, and intensive TA in five topic areas related to changes made by WIOA. These topic areas and related outcomes are:

  1. Provision of pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) to students with disabilities and supported employment services to youth with disabilities.
    Implementation of effective and efficient Pre-ETS for students with disabilities, as set forth in section 113 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act).
  2. Implementation of the requirements in section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act that are under the purview of ED.
    Implementation by SVRAs, in coordination with local and State educational agencies and with DOL, of the requirements in Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act that are under the purview of ED.
  3. Provision of resources and strategies to help individuals with disabilities achieve competitive integrated employment, including customized employment and supported employment.
    Increased access to supported employment and customized employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities, including youth with the most significant disabilities, receiving services under the State VR and Supported Employment programs
  4. Integration of the State VR program into the workforce development system.
    An increased percentage of individuals with disabilities who receive services through the State VR agency and who achieve employment outcomes in competitive integrated employment, and (2) improved collaboration between State VR agencies and other core programs of the workforce development system.
  5. Transition to the new common performance accountability system under section 116 of WIOA, including the collection and reporting of common data elements.
    Implementation of the new common performance accountability system under section 116 of WIOA.

In addition to TA in the five topic areas, WINTAC will conduct three Workforce Innovation Pilot Projects (WIPPS) designed to offer solutions to SVRAs on effective implementation of WIOA. The first WIPP is implementation of The Career Index Plus, a labor market information (LMI) system designed to align VR and Workforce Development core partners through the use of a common system of LMI that seeks to integrate partners. The second WIPP is designed to provide a solution to the transition to the common performance measures and the sharing of data across core partners. Through the use of an artificial intelligence program called SARA, we hope to demonstrate that common data elements and performance information can be shared across partners with no modification to current case management systems. The third WIPP establishes a network of peer mentoring services in an SVRA’s service area and provides a structure for ensuring pre-ETS services can be delivered in a peer-to-peer model.

For more information, please use the following link to the WINTAC’s homepage:

Contact for this center can be directed to:



5 Things You Should Know about WIOA

Friday, July 22, 2016 marked the two-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law. Check out the following link for five important things to know about WIOA:


2017 President’s Budget

Please find below various links to the 2017 President’s Budget.


A Workforce Development Success Story!

Read the success story of Janet Terry, who went from an extensive criminal background and a history of substance abuse to an Allegheny County, Penn., administrative assistant earning $10/hour with health benefits. Her amazing story can be found at:


Council State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR)

CSAVR is composed of the chief administrators of the public rehabilitation agencies serving individuals with physical and mental disabilities in the States, District of Columbia, and the territories. These agencies constitute the State partners in the State-Federal program of rehabilitation services provided under the Rehabilitation Act. The Council’s members supervise the rehabilitation of some 1.2 million persons with disabilities.



Federal Voting Rights - U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Ensure your right to accessible elections! As a voter with a disability, you have the right to vote privately and independently, as well as have an accessible polling place with voting machines for voters with disabilities. For more information, contact the U.S. Election Assistance Commission by phone: 866-747-1471 or by email:


Institute on Rehabilitation Issues (IRI)

IRI publications and fields of study identify and discuss field-initiated topics of importance to the public rehabilitation program, develop materials which can be used by State VR agencies and others concerned about staff development in rehabilitation, and publish and disseminate the materials widely to persons who provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities.


Latest Publications:

  • 38th IRI: Return on Investment and Economic Impact: Determining and Communicating the Value of Vocational Rehabilitation (2015)
  • Assume Nothing! A Monograph from the 38th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues to Address Underserved Populations, Including Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind


Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC) Toolkit

JDVRTAC has developed toolkits for each of the topic areas for which it is responsible. These toolkits can be found on the Explore VR website:


National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM)

The NCRTM is RSA’s central portal that provides users access to a wide range of materials and the opportunity to disseminate their own rehabilitation training resources. RSA is particularly interested in showcasing resources developed through RSA grant funds as a way for grantees and RSA to demonstrate accountability for the Federal investment in training grants. Contributors can receive recognition for top-rated materials and reach target audiences for dissemination.

The NCRTM can be accessed at Questions or requests for more information about the project can be directed to


National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils, Inc. (NCSRC)

NCSRC is a national membership coalition that advocates for and works in partnership with the national public vocational rehabilitation system’s continual quest for excellence. The NCSRC vision is to enhance the employment opportunities of persons with disabilities through the public vocational rehabilitation system.



National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB)

The mission of the NCSAB is to promote through advocacy, coordination, and education the delivery of specialized services that enable individuals who are blind and visually impaired to achieve personal and vocational independence.



National Rehabilitation Association (NRA)

NRA’s mission is to provide exemplary leadership through social advocacy and legislation, advance cultural awareness and competence across communities, promote excellence in research and practice, and support professionals engaged in the employment and independence of individuals with disabilities.



RSA: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Frequently Asked Questions

The Departments of Education and Labor have jointly developed the following questions and answers concerning the funding of one-stop infrastructure costs. Please follow this link to access the FAQs:


Technical Assistance Centers

The RSA is committed to providing leadership and resources to grantees and stakeholders for the purpose of improving services to individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment, independence, and integration into the community and the competitive labor market. Accordingly, RSA announces a series of training and technical assistance centers and demonstration projects to assist State VR agencies and their partners in providing VR and other services to individuals with disabilities. Each TA center focuses its efforts on a specific set of topics designed to provide universal, targeted, and intensive TA.

Specific information about each TA center, how to receive TA services, latest projects and communities of practice can be obtained by visiting the individual TA center websites. Details about each grant and the TA continuum of services are on the RSA homepage:



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To learn more about RSA—or use tools and download data—visit our Web portal at or click on one of the links below.

Last Modified: 11/12/2020