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A Guidance Service For Disabled Workers

Creator: Ruth J. Mayer (author)
Date: June 1942
Publication: The Crippled Child
Publisher: National Society for Crippled Children of the United States of America
Source: National Library of Medicine, General Collection

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THE ADULT who is crippled, or who is handicapped by the loss of sight or hearing, constitutes a special placement problem. The value of vocational guidance, which is increasingly recognized for the physically normal individual, assumes a special significance in the life story of the disabled. It is vital that such an individual be given the earliest possible opportunity to assay his abilities and aptitudes, that he be assisted in directing his vocational choice wisely, that he be trained in a trade or profession which not only is within his physical limitations, but which utilizes his assets to the fullest extent.


What one community is doing to make psychological measurement devices available to the individual at the crossroads of vocational choice is the subject of this article.


In November of 1940, the Vocational Guidance Service of the Division of Public Relief of the City of Minneapolis was organized. Until February, 1943, the clerical staff and the technical supervision were supplied by WPA. Since the closing of the WPA program the Division of Public Relief, under the jurisdiction of the Minneapolis Board of Public Welfare, has assumed the entire cost of the service. While this service was designed to assist in the vocational rehabilitation of the relief client, other individuals have always been accepted by permission of Mr. 0.A. Pearson, Superintendent of the Division of Public Relief, and in March, 1943, the Board of Public Welfare authorized the opening of the service to the community at large on a fee basis. To date the total number of individuals tested and counseled is over five thousand. For the purposes of this paper only those with marked physical disabilities will be mentioned, although, in fact, the handicapped constitute a minority of the total case load.


TAKE John, VGS No. 3023, interviewed first in January, 1943. The counselor noted he was 5 feet 5 inches tall and his weight was 220 pounds. Enough of a handicap already, but John had poliomyelitis when he was seven and he must use two crutches. His job history? Not bad, all things considered. He stayed on the farm with his parents until he was 21, then drove team in the lumber industry, working for various companies and finding the work sporadic so that occasionally he must apply for relief. Sometimes his wife worked to help out.


He made an attempt to go into farming, packed family and furniture into an old truck lent to him by his father, and went to one of the northern counties of Minnesota. The land he rented wasn't too good, the season was a bad one, and again the family faced the intake desk of a relief office. Residence regulations made county relief impossible and the family was returned to Minneapolis. John's next venture was to buy five trucks on credit and hire men to drive them. He secured a contract to haul construction material for a war plant but he had no capital and couldn't meet the bills. The trucks were repossessed and in 1943, at 40, he again found himself without resources.


Relief records at this date showed that over a period of ten years this family had received $2423 in direct relief and WPA funds. The relief was issued intermittently interrupted by John's various attempts to get settled in a kind of work that would pay his family's way. In January, 1943, when he reapplied for relief, he was referred by his investigator to the Vocational Guidance Service. Here for the first time he was given an opportunity to analyze, with the cooperation of a trained job counselor, his work history, his abilities and aptitudes. During the first interview, the counselor questioned him concerning his education, job history and vocational interests, and recorded: "John C. completed the eighth grade in a small town in Minnesota. He has had no further training." His job history we have already reviewed. At this interview he expressed interest in machine operation. He said, however, that his family was in urgent need and that he could not afford to spend any time in training courses. The counselor explained to John the purpose of aptitude testing. Tests were selected which would measure his general ability to learn, his ability to use his hands, his vocational interests and personality adjustment.


When the Counselor saw John for his second interview, the test data were in the file to be used as tools in selecting a job just his size. Counselor and client worked together during the hour long interview. The counselor knew that John would learn quickly and that he had better than average dexterity in the use of his hands. Measured interests and social adjustment were considered. It was decided that John be referred for inplant training in machine operating.


On the counselor's desk was an order from C. & S. Tool Company for men. In June of 1942, Mr. T. S. Castner of that company came to V. G. S. to discuss his problems of selection of personnel. He needed men that could be quickly trained to operate machines. Urgent subcontracts for one of the local ordnance plants demanded immediate expansion of C. & S. facilities. Mr. Castner and his partner, Mr. H. V. Sadler, knew that they must make the best possible choice of men. They could not afford the loss of time which would result from random selections.

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