The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), the membership organization of the 78 public vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs across the U.S., held its fall conference in October. The focus was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The 1973 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act included the first legislative focus on access and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires access to programs and activities that are funded by federal agencies and access to federal employment.
The conference included a focus on the strategic priorities for CSAVR, which include:
- Recruiting and retaining VR staff
- Redesigning and streamlining internal processes
- Increasing public awareness of VR services
VR leadership, staff and partners participated in several breakout sessions incorporating these priorities.
Both individuals and business partners provided keynote sessions to share input, models and personal experiences. The CVS Health team received the NET (National Employment Team) Lifetime Achievement Award. Duane Rohr, senior manager of workforce initiatives at CVS, shared his experiences and insight into working with VR agencies and training centers across the country. Lorenzo Brown, executive director of the IS-ABLE Center in Alabama, shared his journey and experience with VR. Brown and Cindy Otis, former CIA intelligence analyst and author, joined the conference for a book signing. Otis has been a previous presenter who shared her journey as a person born with a disability. Through the support of her family, community and VR in Utah, she gained a graduate-level education in international relations and navigated her career in the public and private sectors. Otis is now a business owner, opening her bookstore in Savannah in mid-December.
In September, CSAVR also hosted the NET Summit 2023: The Future is Now. Over 200 NET points of contact and VR business relations consultants discussed strategies and initiatives working with national, state and local businesses. The first day included roundtable discussions and updates on the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP), which is currently supporting over 3,200 candidates with disabilities (tapability.org). The second day of the NET Summit focused on business partnerships, trends and future career opportunities. Presenters represented 15 business partners in various industry sectors along with federal agencies. Awards were presented to recognize the partnership with CVS, GM and Hands On @Hyatt, and our legislative partners who have supported the VR agencies in their dual customer approach with individuals and businesses.