After the passage of the Rehabilitation Act Amendment of 1992, considerable actions were taken to enhance cultural competence in rehabilitation service delivery, increase outreach and services to persons with disabilities from diverse populations, and develop recruitment strategies of persons from diverse backgrounds to work in areas of rehabilitation. The Amendments required the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services with the U.S. Department of Education, to develop a national strategic plan, known as the Rehabilitation Cultural Diversity Initiative (RCDI) that would implement priority training on issues of cultural diversity to all programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act.
Between 1992 – 1993, Several RCDI meetings were coordinated by the Region VIII Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program (RCEP) to address the current service delivery system within Section 121 funded American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects. Issues and concerns were expressed in regards to initiating and improving tribally appropriate vocational rehabilitation (VR) service provision on reservations nationwide, as State VR services and administrative plans often conflicted with tribal norms, eventually leading to high rates of unsuccessful closures among Native American clients. As a result, on January 22, 1993, the Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) was established, which functions as a national platform for advocating the needs for effective rehabilitation service delivery for American Indians and Alaska Natives with disabilities. The CANAR serves as the official voice of Native American rehabilitation programs, which provide VR services to American Indians and Alaska Natives with disabilities who reside on or near Federal or State reservations, Alaska Native villages, rancheros, and pueblos. CANAR addresses the concerns, abilities, capabilities, and informed choice of American Indian and Alaska Native consumers, so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful employment, including self-employment, telecommuting and business ownership.
After the CANAR met its first five-year initiative (1993 – 1998), their administrative offices relocated from Region VIII RCEP at the University of Northern Colorado to the American Indian Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (AIRRTC) located at the Institute for Human Development, an Arizona University Affiliated Program at Northern Arizona University. The CANAR continues to form collaborative working relationships with AIRRTC, state rehabilitation agencies, Regional RCEPs, tribal health and social service programs, Capacity Building Projects, and federal service agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor.