November 11, 1976

Honorable Edwuard I. Koch
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington D.C. 20505

Dear Mr. Koch:

I appreciate your concern for the problems encountered by severely disabled, blind, and deaf individuals. I am enclosing a copy of the proposal that we have submitted to Special Services, a component of the Trio Programs in the Office of Education. This proposal was funded jointly by Special Services, the University of California at Berkeley, and the California State Department of Rehabilitation. It reflects what I believe are essential services to the severely physically disabled and the blind in a post-secondary academic situation. At present, our program does not have an adequate deaf component. Therefore, I suggest that you do further research in that area.

The establishment of ten regional university centers offering comprehensive services to the severely impaired is preferable to spotty or non-existent services. However, I strongly feel that all educational institutions should provide full services. Channeling disabled students through ten regional centers is segregation and may offer those institutions not chosen an excuse for non-compliance with sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Disabled students must have as much diversity in their choice of educational experiences as all students.

I fully concur with Ms. Heumann that similar and perhaps expanded services should be extended to all disabled individuals. I also believe that this can best be done through community services centers staffed by disabled individuals. Services eligibility should not be based on the nature of the disability or financial need.

Services should be directed towards increasing the functional independence of those served. In all cases the professional status of those providing services, as it has been traditionally defined, should be de-emphasized.

Vocational rehabilitation may or may not be part of the overall services package offered an individual. However, eligibility for services should not be dependent on an approved vocational goal. Any service that enhances an individuals overall independence from extensive medical supervision and medical holding facilities such as nursing homes, etc., is beneficial both for the overall individual and for the state in terms of economics. The economy of maximum functional independence does not require the addition or obligation of a rigid vocational goal to demonstrate an overall savings.

Please keep me informed of any legislation that you may propose that will benefit the disabled. I will provide any needed future assistance.

Donald Lorence, Director