OVR marks 100 years of vocational rehab services

Posted on Jun 04 2020


The CNMI Office of Vocational Rehabilitation under the CNMI Office of the Governor is joining the rest of the nation in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first federally funded program that assists people with disabilities.

On June 2, 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Fess Act of 1920, also known as the Industrial Rehabilitation Act or the National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act.

Over the years, the program has reinvented itself numerous times to meet the changing employment needs and challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and the demands of public policy.

While the basic program has remained constant since its inception, it now makes use of new and more effective methods to empower individuals with disabilities, particularly those with significant disabilities, to achieve high-quality employment outcomes.

Since 1975, OVR in the CNMI has assisted youth and adults with disabilities to obtain, maintain or advance in employment.

“Our OVR services are designed to help consumers succeed in jobs that enable them to live as independently as possible, reduce or eliminate their need for publicly funded benefits, and be fully contributing members of their local communities,” said CNMI OVR executive director Maryann Borja-Arriola. 

The most common categories of disability among OVR consumers are cognitive impairment, psychological, physical, mental, and orthopedic impairments. 

OVR also has specialized services that help clients be as self-sufficient as possible, and these are provided through the CNMI Center for Independent Living.

“We work in partnership with community organizations and businesses to develop employment opportunities for people with disabilities through job fair events, outreach, and referrals,” added Borja-Arriola. 

OVR offers business services that include consultations with employers about diversifying their workforce by hiring people with disabilities, and prescreening services to match employers with clients who are qualified, reliable job candidates. (PR)

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