Will Minnesota Leave Workers with Disabilities out in the Cold?

Minnesota may "make adjustments" (does this mean cuts?) to sheltered-workshop operators, thinking it will provide incentive to help their workers find jobs in the community. See article here: 

 

This could be a huge mistake - and here's why.

First, a recent study by George Washington University found that Maine’s elimination of workshops actually resulted in people with disabilities working far fewer hours than nearly all states in the country. Try 11 hours a week. This compares to 30 or more hours of work and educational programming at most sheltered workshops across the country.


Second,  participation in workshops is voluntary. Parents who do not want their children to join programs that “segregate” people in “cloistered” work environments are free and even encouraged to help their children find work in the community.

 

Why must their preferences come at the expense of the vast majority of people with disabilities who may not want or be able to work in an integrated setting?

 

Do disability advocates seriously believe that pushing the most vulnerable population of society into the “wider community” would not leave them even more vulnerable to all sorts of attacks on their dignity, honor and yes, safety? Why should one size fit all?

Third, the article notes that people with with developmental disabilities “toil at these workshops, which often resemble large warehouses, doing menial tasks...” Wow – that sounds pretty dire. The fact is that workshops are located in large centers to allow for the free movement of wheel chairs, so that everyone is able to work comfortably and with ease of movement.

 

Furthermore, why are we to assume that a person with severe disabilities who enjoys performing tasks that he or she is capable of doing is involved in “menial” labor? People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not budding scientists and engineers who just need a chance to succeed in life. Unfortunately, they are disabled, and workshops give them the opportunity to gain the pride of participating in meaningful work and earning a paycheck, just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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