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- Gov. Cox Recognizes 100 Years of Vocational Rehabilitation in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (October 5, 2021) — In a declaration this morning, Governor Spencer J. Cox recognized 100 years of vocational rehabilitation in Utah and kicked off National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Utah.

“People with disabilities provide a wealth of knowledge, skills, talents, interests and experiences that add tremendous diversity, resourcefulness and creative energy to Utah’s workforce,” said Gov. Cox. “The enduring success of the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, and the many lives improved through its work, is due to the motivation of its clients, tireless efforts of the staff and support from the community.”

Utah led the nation in supporting people with disabilities and started one of the first vocational rehabilitation programs in the country after President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Fess Act. This act, also known as the Industrial Rehabilitation Act, in 1920 established a civilian vocational rehabilitation program under the Federal Board for Vocational Education to be funded on a 50-50 matching basis with the states. Utah’s vocational rehabilitation services started the following year in 1921.

Since then, the mission of what eventually became the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) has expanded to include services that aid people with disabilities re-enter the workforce, specialized programs for the Blind and visually impaired, and programs for the Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing. It now makes use of new and more effective methods to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve high-quality employment outcomes.

The Utah State Office of Rehabilitation also works directly with Utah businesses to provide training on disability awareness and job accommodations, financial hiring incentives, and resources on hiring and retaining people with disabilities. All important pieces in the puzzle of ensuring fair opportunities and prosperity.

Throughout the month, USOR will be sharing success stories, highlighting the staff and sharing the history of vocational rehabilitation in Utah. The public is invited to celebrate the centennial milestone at the USOR facebook and twitter feeds or by following the hashtag #USOR100 and #DisabilityINUtah.

Job seekers with disabilities can join the celebration by attending the virtual WorkAbility Job Fair on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. Employers can learn more about diversifying their workforce and hiring people with disabilities by attending the Disability: IN Utah virtual conference on Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information at jobs.utah.gov/department/events.html

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