Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Catherine Campisi

Audio transcript: On the challenges of a consumer-led approach at the Department of Rehabilitation
Date: December 17, 2001
Interviewer: Sharon Bonney

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

It is a big challenge, but what we're trying to do is give people more choice, make choice a reality. But when you say choice, it needs to be in recognition that we don't have unlimited resources. What we have to do is let people try, to take off some of our own stereotypical thinking about what people can and can't do, not base so many decisions on paper and pencil testing or medical exams or those kinds of things. Let people try. Then it also puts the responsibility on the consumer, that if they're not making it then we need to redirect the plan in other areas. Part of what we've done is that we've given out that message that we want to let people try. But then we go through sort of radical swings, and then the staff interprets that to mean that they can't say no under any condition, so we have people in plans that aren't working for a number of years. It's really a balance. You need to let people try, you need to make your decisions based on their behavior and their progress, and you need to let them talk to you about how they're going to accommodate a certain profession.

I think the biggest weakness, truly, and the strength of now the One Stop and the Work for Investment Act system, is that our career exploration that could be available to all people was very weak. It's really a complicated thing, because in rehab we're asking counselors to be experts in disability services and almost all types of disabilities and accommodations and work issues and ADA. Then we're also asking them to be experts in career counseling and how to do career exploration and how to go out and do job shadowing and informational interviews and find out what the wages are for a particular job and how many are out there in the county. Now through the One Stop and through some of our own technology, that's more readily available. I think part of giving consumers better choice is working with them through really comprehensive career exploration in the first place. So more of the decisions are data based, both on their side and our side. I think that is coming along.

End of transcript

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