Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Equitable Treatment in the Rehabilitation Process: Implications for Future Investigations Related to Ethnicity

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Equitable Treatment in the Rehabilitation Process: Implications for Future Investigations Related to Ethnicity

Article excerpt

Section 21 of the 1992 Rehabilitation Act Amendments summarized much of the research related to diversity issues and state vocational rehabilitation agencies. It stated:

   Patterns of inequitable treatment of minorities have been documented in all
   major junctures of the vocational rehabilitation process. As compared to
   white Americans, a larger percentage of African-American applicants to the
   vocational rehabilitation system is denied acceptance. Of applicants
   accepted for service, a larger percentage of African American cases is
   closed without being rehabilitated. Minorities are provided less training
   than their white counterparts. Consistently, less money is spent on
   minorities than their white counterparts. Section 21 (a)(3)

The body of literature contributing to and resulting from Section 21 is extensive (e.g., Atkins & Wright, 1980 Alston & Mngadi, 1992; Crystal & Alston, 1991; Daneck & Lawrence, 1982; Dziekan & Okacha, 1993; Feist-Price, 1995; Galea'i, 1994; Griffin, 1994; Herbert & Martinez, 1992; James, DeVivo, & Richards, 1993; Leal, Leung, Martin & Harrison, 1988; Leung, 1993a, b; McConnell, 1993; National Council on Disability, 1993; Riggar, Eckert, & Crimando, 1993; Royall & Corthell, 1981; Watson, 1988; Wheaton, 1995; Wheaton, Finch, Wilson, & Granello, 1997; Wheaton, Wilson, & Brown, 1996; Wright, 1988).

Of the empirical studies that have been conducted, the seminal study (Atkins & Wright, 1980) included the 10 Rehabilitation Services Administration Regions. However, subsequent investigations have focused on the state level. For example, state agency investigations have included a northeastern state (Herbert & Martinez, 1992), a southeastern state (Feist-Price, 1995), a midwestern state (Dziekan & Okocha, 1993), and a large, industrial midwestern state (Wheaton, 1995; Wheaton et al., 1996; Wheaton et al., 1997).

Similarly, the interventions that have been recommended to ensure equitable treatment and a diverse workforce have been relatively broad-based. In addition to management strategies (Riggar, et al., 1993), role specific behaviors have been recommended for (a) rehabilitation administrators (Griffin, 1994), (b) rehabilitation counselors (Rubin, Pusch, Fogarty, & McGinn, 1995), and (c) pre-service education (Alston, 1996; Leal-Idrogo, 1997).

From an intervention viewpoint, it is helpful to know whether the patterns of difference exist throughout a state or only in selected areas. Moreover, despite the extensive body of literature related to ethnicity and rehabilitation service delivery, there is a paucity of information concerning within-state differences and actions that have been taken by states to address identified inequities. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to extend the investigation to within-state differences related to rehabilitation rates and expenditures for African Americans in a large southeastern state vocational rehabilitation agency.


Data Collection

This study, which used an ex post facto design, was based on RSA 911 closure data for the 14,182 individuals whose cases were closed in FY 1996 (October 1996 - September 1997) in a southeastern state. Because the focus of the investigation was on European Americans and African Americans, individuals who were Asian (n = 76, 5%) or Native American (n = 76, 5%) were not included in the data analyses. Therefore, of the 14,030 cases that were analyzed, 3102 (22%) were African American individuals and 10,928 (78%) were European American individuals. Based on 1990 census data, the percentage of African Americans was greater than that which actually existed in the state (i.e., 14%). The increased percentage of African Americans included in the data set may reflect the increased levels of disability among individuals from minority groups. For example, the rate of blindness among African Americans is higher than that of European individuals (Prevent Blindness America, 1994). …

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