When does “choice” mean “restriction”

Many things are changing in the name of “choice” but is this all really choice or is it putting more restrictions on people?

By micromanaging definition of words such as “community” and “employment” our government and advocates are actually reducing the alternatives by creating restrictions on how funds are spent.  Reducing alternatives which greatly benefit many of our loved ones means they lose the ability to make choices.

Having these strings attached to federal funds, funds which are critical to our most vulnerable citizens, forces them into situations which may not be in their best interest.  Is this what choice and alternatives are about?

The fact of the matter is that many do want to live in community settings with similar people, share supports and be able to walk independently outside their home to a friends, an event, or to shop. The other fact is that by eliminating “sheltered workshops”, without replacing with an alternative, forces the people who work in those jobs to be shuttered away in a home, isolated from their community.  Is this what choice is about?

Chris Collins, R-Clarence, represents the House of Representatives’ 27th District, which includes about half of Ontario County, New York, writes about this issue with regards to sheltered workshops.

“The federal government is not in a position to direct all disabled people to join competitive employment. Ultimately, the choice to stay in a workshop should be an employment option for the disabled who are not yet ready to make their transition to a competitive environment. Parents and providers are concerned about finding jobs in this tough economy, especially when non-disabled unemployment rates remain high and stagnant.”

Read more: http://www.websterpost.com/article/20131126/OPINION/131129736/?tag=1#ixzz2mH2WjH46

“Choice of employment” in this situation means the choice to not work since in reality many of these people would be unemployable in a competitive employment market.  There are not enough funds to provide the needed support for these folks to hold a job in a competitive job market and the reality of the situation is these folks will be left  with nothing – is that choice?


Please support real choice and real alternatives!


2 comments on “When does “choice” mean “restriction”

  1. Choice should truly begin with having control of one’s finanes being permitted to purchase services needed rather than having to select services from a caferteria menu from a provider agency. The only way I can think to make this a reality is to have unbiased assitance in the form of a broker who has nothing to gain perosnally by your selections.


  2. You pose a view that I too shared in the past. It was through some painfully honest discussion about my view that i received some insights on how initiatives like this change how I approach my work.

    Initiatives such as these functionally change the perceptions of families, support staff, and agencies that have been ill equipped to see people in a the same light as other american citizens.

    Growing up it was expected that i obtain gainful employment and learn to contribute to society. I now see how that expectation should be applied to all citizens regardless of physical or intellectual disabilities. Additionally, all american citizens don’t find the type of employment they seek, fail to maintain employment, and fail to flourish in the employment arena and options exist to support them.

    It will be our charge as advocates and employees to reduce barriers that prevent individuals from taking their place in society along with other citizens. Employment first initiatives enlighten employers about capabilities and capacity to contribute meaningfully at work and reap the satisfaction of earning a paycheck.

    I do not believe everyone will want to work or be successful at it but equality begins with expectation. We then must learn how to support individuals to explore what their interests and to develop skills needed to participate.

    So many individuals are trapped in their communities by low expectations.


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