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The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

On July 22, 2014, President Obama signed H.R. 803 the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, commonly referred to as WIOA. It provides comprehensive change to a number of employment and education-related programs, including services for people with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities.


The WIOA transferred three programs to ACL from the U.S. Department of Education:

  • The Independent Living Services programs, which work to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities and to integrate these individuals into the mainstream of American society.

  • The Assistive Technology Act  programs, which exist to improve state’s abilities to improve access to assistive technology for people with disabilities.

  • The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). NIDILRR’s mission is to expand society’s capacity to provide opportunities and accommodation for its citizens with disabilities. The Institute does this by funding research and promoting practices to improve the capabilities of people with disabilities. Together, these efforts increase opportunities for inclusion, social integration, employment, and independent living for people of all ages.

The transition of these three important programs reflects their strong alignment with ACL’s current efforts and mission—to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults and people with disabilities, and the families and caregivers of both. ACL already administers well known programs authorized in the Older Americans Act, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, and the Lifespan Respite Act, among others. By uniting our teams and combining our efforts, we will be able to reach farther and be more effective in our mission to ensure that people with disabilities and older adults have the services and supports they need to live the lives they want, fully participating in the communities they choose.

Implementation of WIOA

In addition to moving IL programs from the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services, WIOA also included statutory changes that affect IL programs including the addition of new core services, shifts in the process of developing and adopting state plans and changes in the functions of State Independent Living Councils.

In October 2016, the final rule for Independent Living (IL) programs was released. The rule was developed in close coordination with the independent living network and addresses the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by WIOA. The rule provides clarification of definitions and processes to reflect the independent living philosophy that is integral to WIOA. For more information, read the key provisions below.

Key Provisions of the Independent Living Final Rule

Additional Resources

To learn more about WIOA, read Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee’s blog, New Law Expands ACL’s Capacity to Serve Americans with Disabilities.

Implementing WIOA by Bob Williams to learn more about the Independent Living Final Rule.  

The Independent Living Research Utilization program website includes information about WIOA implementation as it specifically relates to the Independent Living Program.

Last modified on 09/05/2017

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