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Segregated and Exploited: The Failure of the Disability Service System to Provide Quality Work


Press Release by NDRN

In a report released on 1/18/11, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) found a total failure of the disability service system to provide quality work for people with disabilities. The report focuses on the problems with segregated work, sheltered environments and low wages and highlights a massive breakdown between good federal and state policies and their implementation and oversight.

It identifies the barriers to employment that people with disabilities face and dispels myths about their capability to be fully employed, equally compensated, and an integral member of American workplaces and communities. It shows a systemic failure to provide hope and opportunity to young people with disabilities who want to transition into traditional work but instead wind up trapped in a sheltered workshop.

“For decades we have worked to ensure federal laws guarantee the right of people with disabilities to live and work in their chosen communities,” said NDRN executive director Curt Decker. “Yet, our investigation found that many people with disabilities are still being segregated and financially exploited.”

The report calls for:

  • Ending segregated employment and the subminimum wage by restricting all federal and state money that is spent on employers who segregate employees with disabilities from the general workforce.
  • Strengthening current and create new tax incentives for employers to hire people with disabilities in integrated workplaces at comparable wages.
  • Increasing labor protections and enforcement of existing law.

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