Civil Rights, Subminimum wage and choice

There are many things to be considered when one is looking at eliminating the special certificates. The certificates are entered into by choice by the employer and the employee and look at a specific employee with a specific disability for a specific job for specific wage for a specific amount of time. There is absolutely no exploitation taking place and this is fully legal and actually quite desired by many who have been able to be employed under the certificates

The Push to End Subminimum Wage Remains Divisive (Disability Scoop)

Mr. Lemus is hardly an expert in the area and though people may appreciate the fact that he feels worried he really has nothing to be worried about when looking at what the parents and the disabled persons expectations and goals are. As legal guardians for people with disabilities the guardians and the person have gone through a court and medical process which has concluded that the person is best represented through the legal process of obtaining a legal guardian. The legal guardian has a legal duty which has been bestowed upon them through the courts to act in their persons best interest and to speak up and interpret the choices of the person they represent. This scrutiny provides a much better understanding of a persons needs and choices than Lemus and others like him who “worry”.  Mr Lemus states he was diagnosed in 2003 with a mild developmental disability.  By the very fact that Mr. Lemus is able to verbalize that he can understand what a hard job it is for parents and how difficult it was for his parents, indicates a higher level of thought processing (the ability to have abstract thoughts) than many of the people I know and work with have.  With the ability to have abstract thought, Lemus should also be able to understand that people are different and not all have the same level of or type of disability.  This is why it is so critical to listen to the legal guardians who do have a very good understanding of the support needs and choices of the person they represent.

This legal obligation is often ridiculed by Mr. Lemus and Shaun Bickley who routinely discount the legal obligations of the guardians. In denying the legal guardian a place at the stakeholder podium for the person they represent is a violation the civil rights of the person they represent. This violation is repeated over and over again by the likes of so-called advocates like Lemus and Bickley, in addition to agencies such as the Arc agencies, Self Advocates in Leadership, People First and other similar organizations.

In addition to denying disabled people who have a legal guardian a voice on issues that directly affect them, these so-called advocates also misrepresent job opportunities and quality of life experiences that are available for people with significant disabilities. Lemus and others believe that if only people were given the opportunity and educated that they would be able to be fully functioning without needed supports in the community. This is magical thinking and is not based in reality .

In fact Lemus, Bickley and other so-called advocate/activists often miss represent the law and the number of people affected by it. They practice censorship and other violations of the First Amendment by denying people directly affected by these laws to have their voices heard.

The real stakeholders have not been heard nor have their concerns and choices even been considered. When others who don’t even know them make their decisions which go directly against these peoples personal choices while at he same time denying those affected to be heard – Isn’t that Exploitation?

The documentary “Bottom Dollars” by Disability Rights Washington and Rooted in Rights states “If people are given the proper services and supports and proper assistive technology, the sky is the limit for many, many individuals.” This I believe to be true but there is a big IF.   We can’t make these decisions based on IF because we have already witness ed how little supports are funded. Do you really want to have your life choices decided for you by people who believe in magical thinking ? I don’t and I don’t want my sons or others I know lives destroyed because of the misguided activists/advocates

Sheltered Workshops or Supported Employment – Different Roads for Different Folks

Today there was an article published in Disability Scoop regarding Sheltered Workshops.   This information in this is hardly new yet I do find some interesting concepts that have come out of this.  I have also finally realized what one of the issues may be – is a sheltered workshop considered a route to supported employment with a competitive wage or is the sheltered workshop looked at as a day program which has benefits of it’s own?

If a sheltered workshop is only seen as a learning ground for other employment, of course it is a failure in that light.  On the other hand, a sheltered workshop does serve a critical role in the care of some of our more complex and high needs citizens.

When looking at supported employment, many people are needing to choose between a few hours of supported employment a week with no other resources for the remaining hours or a sheltered workshop – a program that has structure for 30+ hours a week.  This is a horrilbe choice for many to have to make.  Why can’t there be supported employment for the hours that one is able to do that and also a day program – why does it have to be one or the other?

When a sheltered workshop is looked at as a day program it serves many purposes – engagement with others, time management, skill development, activity, community involvement – all critical issues. My son is one of those who greatly benefits from a sheltered employment.  I’m not saying these things to limit his growth – I’m speaking from the perspective of reality.  When a person requires constant 1:1 interaction to maintain focus and stay on task, has the emotional maturity of a two year old and does not have a desire to work, understand the concept of money or how to manage any life skills on their own – what type of supported employment would there be?  It is much more beneficial for him to be in a program that is consistent and has several hours every day in which he can participate.  He also does get paid for the work that he is able to accomplish but he is not even aware of that – he just loves being with people.

When people have to choose between a sheltered workshop or supported employment which really may not lead to a job at all, we are just adding to the ranks of the unemployed case load.

Getting back to the study though, the authors are making assumptions about why the outcomes are less than desirable thinking people need to “unlearn” what they learned in the sheltered workshop.  These studies are missing huge areas  – what about the support needs of the individuals?  Yes, they all have autism but we all know that there is a huge variation in how people are affected by autism.  The authors do state that the severity of a person’s behavior may play a role though.  That should have been at the very top of the study – without that information everything else is a moot point.


“Participating in sheltered workshops diminished the future outcomes achieved once individuals became competitively employed, perhaps because the skills and behaviors individuals learned in sheltered workshops had to be ‘unlearned’ in order for the workers to be successful in the community,” according to the research team that assessed the group with autism.

Other factors like the severity of an individual’s behavior challenges might also play a role, they said.

Court Rejects Claims of Abuse

Finally, the courts are listening to the real experts in the care of our citizens with developmental disabilities  –  the families and guardians.

We need to maintain a continuum of care for the health and safety of ALL people with developmental disabilities.  This is a victory for those who need the very critical part of that continuum that many with skewed ideologies have been trying to eliminate.