End subminimum wage and segregated employment. Integration into the community including jobs is essential to end dependence on benefits and meet the intent of the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Act (improving the quality of lives of people with disabilities), Ticket to Work Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Subminimum wage is an outdated concept that has long outlived its usefulness. As a human being I find it appalling to think that an employer would legally be able to pay people with disabilities less simply because of the disability. It may have made sense in 1938, but we have come so far since then.
In 2014, WIOA, a bi-partisan law declared that competitive integrated employment was the goal of the nation. It is absurd to re-open this dialog and undermine the progress in this area. People with disabilities deserve the right to be included in real jobs, earning real wages, of their choosing in the community.
We have years of experience and evidenced based practices which clearly demonstrate that everyone has talent and everyone can work. Nevertheless, we are too concerned about protecting outdated models of segregation to invest properly in human capital and development of people with disabilities.
We know how to place people into competitive wage, integrated jobs. Employers that pay competitive wages. We are no longer a manufacturing economy where individual productivity is a clearly defined characteristic of their work. In addition, where productivity is a factor, we should be providing Assistive Technology and applying concepts of reasonable accommodation, job sharing, and job carving to enhance productivity.
Because individuals with disabilities cannot always speak for themselves, and have not been asked about their future aspirations, there is a bias that segregation is the way to go. We need to change the dialog and do a paradigm shift – we need to assume full employment of people with disabilities (starting when they start school) and we need to have higher expectations of them to go to work.
Schools are intended to educate and prepare individuals for adulthood including vocations and occupations. This includes employment. Real jobs at real wages, just like the rest of workforce. Paying people with disabilities less than the going rate perpetuates their second-class citizenry and allows businesses to make enormous profits on the backs of their labor