The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law on July 22, 2014, and is an amendment to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. A large federal legislative bill that encompasses The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, WIOA authorizes the formula grant programs for vocational rehabilitation, supported employment, client assistance, and Independent Living.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first major legislative effort to secure an equal playing field for individuals with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. The WIOA amendment established the new Independent Living Administration and housed it within the Administration on Community Living (ACL), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. This is an important milestone within the Independent Living movement. Establishment of the Independent Living Administration places legislative emphasis on the importance of the ability of people with disabilities to live independently in the community.
In addition to this shift in federal program placement, WIOA brings about change for the operations of CILs. In particular, CILs have been assigned a new 5th core transition service to facilitate transitions from school for youth and from institutions for adults. (National Council on Independent Living, 2015).
Nearing the end of its first year as law, service providers are working hard to develop and implement new programming in accordance with WIOA’s requirements. This process poses many challenges and the United States Department of Labor has developed a resource page to provide in-depth information about the act.