Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nothing Is Worse

Lynn Arditi and Linda Borg, Providence Journal - January 15, 2014

Fuck this shit.

I don’t think there’s any aspect of the disability rights / disability policy world that makes me angrier than when people with developmental disabilities are herded like cattle into sheltered workshops and “day programs”, where they either waste away on entirely useless, easily managed pursuits, or help produce products that actually are sold in the real economy, while making sub-minimum wage.

Look, it’s entirely true that just because a disabled person is capable of performing a job, doesn’t mean a job can always be arranged for him or her. But in theory, nobody in our cutthroat economy has as much individual support and coaching available to them than people with developmental disabilities. Yet, so often that help is, in fact, theoretical. Why that is, I still don’t know, and I’ve been observing it … admittedly on the margins … for over 20 years.

In some ways, it’s too bad it takes a Justice Department Civil Rights ruling to shake up these complacent setups. Better ideas and better practices are all out there, in full and effective use. All these musty institutions have to do is embrace them. On the other hand, since change doesn’t seem forthcoming through other avenues, I’m extremely grateful that the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing these cases aggressively.

It can’t happen soon enough.