Advocates rally to eliminate IQ testing at VR Services

On October 6, a group of about 50 advocates from Chicago traveled to Springfield, Illinois to rally against IQ Tests run by Illinois Vocational Rehabilitation Programs. While vocational programs are supposed to help people with disabilities secure employment, people with disabilities believe that the IQ tests serve as an impediment, rather than a pathway, to employment. The goal is to eliminate IQ tests from VR Services.

As a result of the rally yesterday, led by DAWWN (Disabled Americans Want Work Now), the community secured a meeting with Michelle Saddler, Governor Quinn’s Chief of Staff.

Below is a news release issued by DAWWN.

(Springfield, Illinois) To put an end to IQ Testing connected to Illinois Vocational Rehabilitation Services, about 50 advocates with disabilities rallied today at the Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) in Springfield.

For decades, people with disabilities have struggled with an unemployment rate much higher than the general population. Though many unemployed people with disabilities are able to work and eagerly seeking employment, discrimination and social employment barriers have kept the majority of the population from finding work. “Considering how high the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is it is essential that employment programs designed to assist people with disabilities are user friendly and accessible,” said Earl Smith of DAWWN, a network of people with disabilities working to increase employment opportunities.

Since 2007, DAWWN, which organized today’s rally in Springfield, has approached the DRS and the governor’s office in order to identify and remedy problems within Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Though VR services are designed to help secure employment, barriers within the program have made it difficult for people with disabilities to utilize the services. One significant barrier identified by people who use VR services is IQ testing.

“IQ tests are not valid in determining various employment-related outcomes, nor are they the only predictors of success for job seekers,” said Jane M. Garza of DAWWN. Instead, IQ Tests have been used to discourage people with disabilities from seeking employment and pursuing higher education. “Just as some experts maintain psychological exams are biased and disproportionately impact ethnic minorities, our experience shows these tests exclude and segregate people with disabilities,” said Garza.

Today, disability advocates rallied in Springfield in order to secure a commitment from DRS and the governor’s office to address and remedy problems identified by the disability community. At the rally, disability advocates met with Rob Kilbury, the Associate Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services. Kilbury committed to coordinating a meeting between disability advocates and Michelle Saddler, Governor Pat Quinn’s Chief of Staff, in order to address the issue of IQ Testing.

For more information, contact Michelle Robbins at 312-640-2194 or Earl Smith at 773-405-8377