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President Signs Workforce Development Bill

July 2014 — President Barack Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) [H.R. 803], a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The Act, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in June, reorganizes the current workforce development system, which includes many provisions for people with disabilities such as education and vocational rehabilitation.  Working to streamline workforce development, WIOA eliminates 15 current programs and creates new standardized metrics to help evaluate remaining programs.  Additionally, the Act includes provisions to enhance pre-employment transition services for youth with disabilities, which will work to provide additional support as youth transition from education to the workforce. Through reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, Independent Living Programs, such as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), will relocate from their current position under the Department of Education to the Administration of Community Living in the Department of Health and Human Services, aligning these programs with a department to better serve their mission. Under WIOA, a reconfiguration of the National Council on Disability will also occur, as the council will be reduced from 15 to 9 members and will receive a minor increase funding.

In signing the bill, the President noted, “[WIOA] will help us bring [job-training programs] into the 21st century by building on what we know works based on evidence, based on tracking what actually delivers on behalf of folks who enroll in these programs -– more partnerships with employers, more tools to measure performance, more flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and to run their workforce programs in ways that are best suited for their particular demographic and their particular industries. And as we approach the 24th anniversary of the ADA, this bill takes new steps to support Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently.”

The Act will take effect on July 1, 2015, with specific provisions for State Unified Plans taking effect on July 1, 2016.

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.