1960’s: Vocational rehabilitation at UW-Stout began with a planning grant to establish a graduate program. The first master degree students graduated in 1968. In the same year, a vocational rehabilitation facility named the Evaluation and Training Center was established to provide direct services to persons with disabilities and to serve as a clinical training site for students. In 1969 the Materials Development Center was created to disseminate information and publications.
1970’s: The Evaluation and Training Center was renamed the Vocational Development Center or VDC in 1973. The Research and Training Center was added in 1972 to provide research and development capabilities to the Institute.
1980’s: The VDC added a Program for Independent Living and Projects with Industry to its core services in the early 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the Center for Rehabilitation Technology was established to further enhance new services and capabilities to the Institute. In 1983, all of the programs of the VDC were consolidated in a newly renovated facility located in the center of campus. The new facility included a residence hall that was attached to the vocational rehabilitation building by an accessible skyway.
1990’s: To fulfill our mission, the Continuing Education Center (CEC) was founded in 1996 to focus on training with community-based rehabilitation program personnel.
2000’s: Under the leadership of the current executive director, John Lui, SVRI’s programs were realigned by function. The same basic functions of training, research, and service are still carried out at SVRI but now under the titles of SVRI-Training, SVRI-Research, and SVRI-Services. Additional collaborations and partnerships were developed with the Department of Health Services (DHFS), among many others. New programming including a Transition Partnership School, sensory (deaf/blind) services, benefits analysis, and individualized vocational evaluation services was developed to meet the changing needs of people with disabilities. In addition, online training is a new focus to provide professional development opportunities to rehabilitation professionals across the United States. Demand-side rehabilitation is another focus of the institute with the development of WorkSource Wisconsin and a research partnership with the University of Wisconsin – Madison.