Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Intellectually disabled struggling to find work

By
February 19, 2014 | Leave Comment

WASHINGTON — Most Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities remain shut out of the workforce, despite changing attitudes and billions spent on government programs to help them. Even when they find work, it’s often part time, in a dead-end job or for pay well below the minimum wage.

Employment is seen as crucial for improving the quality of life for people with these disabilities and considered a benchmark for measuring the success of special education programs. Yet the jobs picture is as bleak now it was more than a decade ago.

Only 44 percent of intellectually disabled adults are currently in the labor force, either employed or looking for work, while just 34 percent are actually working, according to a survey by Special Olympics and conducted by Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. That compares with 83 percent of nondisabled, working-age adults who are in the workforce.

“The needle has not changed in more than four decades,” said Gary Siperstein, professor at the University of Massachusetts and one of the authors of the study. “We just can’t move the barometer. And we’ve invested a lot of resources with lots of good programs around the country.”

Intellectual disability can include conditions such as autism or Down syndrome. But the vast majority of cases are those with limited intellectual capacity — generally an IQ of about 75 or less — and limitations in handling basic life skills, such as counting money or taking public transportation.

About 28 percent of working-age adults with intellectual disabilities have never held a job. Even those who do manage to find jobs often end up working only part time and get lower pay than workers without disabilities, the study found. On the positive side, 62 percent of disabled people who work in a competitive setting have been there three years or more, showing they can work and stay with it.

“A lot of the problem has to do with low expectations,” said Lynnae Ruttledge, a member of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that advises the government on disability policy. “Schoolteachers don’t have high expectations, and parents tend to be very protective of their children.”

But attitudes are changing, she said. There are now more programs to help disabled children to gain work experience while still in school, making it easier to find a job. Many intellectually disabled people work in fast food, and retail chains such as Walgreens, Best Buy and Safeway that have stepped up to hire them.

Another hurdle is that about 30 percent of intellectually disabled people who work do so in sheltered workshops, where they perform basic tasks but are segregated from nondisabled workers. They can legally be paid less than the minimum wage under a 1938 federal law that allows wages to be based on comparing their productivity level with that of a nondisabled worker.

Disability rights advocates call these workshops an outdated relic and say it’s discriminatory to pay them less than other workers. Critics say they don’t do enough to build skills or help transition intellectually disabled workers into a mainstream work setting.

Defenders argue that thousands of severely disabled people would be left sitting at home without the carefully structured environments. Of the 420,000 disabled people who work at sheltered workshops, only 5 percent ever leave for other jobs alongside nondisabled workers.

Matthew McMeekin, 35, of Bethesda, Md., has spent 14 years working at Rehabilitation Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit sheltered workshop where he and other disabled workers are bused each workday to stuff envelopes, collate files or shrink-wrap products — all for far less than the state minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.

“He’s not working there for the money,” says his mother, Bebe McMeekin. “He has a job to go to every day for eight hours a day, five days a week. On Fridays he brings home a paycheck. He has a work environment with his friends that he’s gotten to know there.”

Asked whether he would ever consider working anywhere else, McMeekin says an emphatic “No!” and rattles off the names of all his work friends. His mother says it would be hard for him to get another job considering his limitations and vision problems.

The National Council on Disability has called on the federal government to phase out sheltered workshops, a move some states are already making. Vermont became the first state to end the use of sheltered workshops and subminimum wage employment in 2003.

“Sheltered workshops at least give them some social context and self-esteem, but it is still segregating, not really mainstreaming them,” said Stephen Corbin, senior vice president of community impact at Special Olympics. “We prefer a competitive employment situation.”

Disability rights groups won a victory on Wednesday when President Barack Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for federal contract workers. The order includes several thousand disabled workers at sheltered workshops run by federal contractors.

At the other end of the spectrum is Ken Melvin, of Crawfordsville, Ind., a truck driver who is among the few intellectually disabled people living independently and working full time at a regular job. Melvin, 45, earns about $50,000 a year making deliveries and pickups. He’s married with four children, has been a member of the National Guard and even served in Afghanistan.

“My biggest disability is reading,” Melvin says. “I can read something and not understand it until I’ve read it 18 or 19 times.”

Even simple tasks can be hard, such as putting his shoes on. He was 11 years old before he learned to put his clothes on correctly.

But at school, one of his teachers who had a farm helped him learn to drive a tractor, then a truck. He got his commercial driver’s license at 19 and has been driving for a living ever since.

“Anyone looking to hire someone with a disability, they are going to get someone that’s more determined and more focused because they’ve got to be,” Melvin said.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Transplant recipients talk about their best gifts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Solano unemployment inches downward

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
 
Spering, Bertani spar over fighting crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 38 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield council candidates weigh in on crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Police release name of woman found dead in Fairfield canal

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Five homes featured on Symphony Home Tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Congregation invites public to Easter music, message

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
 
Local woman helps spread Easter joy

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B12 | Gallery

Weather for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B13

 
.

US / World

California farmers to get more water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teen sentenced in Oakland toddler’s killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

More Latino than white students admitted to UC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Mom and son who died in San Francisco fire ID’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

3 alleged gang members convicted of murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

From Clinton to Obama, many parallels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Easter on 4/20, pot holy day; pastors reach out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
NASA’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

 
SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Sudden movement raises alarm in Wyoming slide area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Some countries get Obama, but want his wife, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Man who avoided prison is overwhelmed by support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

White House updating online privacy policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
In Egypt, a corruption watchdog hit by backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Military scales down, modifies Guam buildup plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Captain of sunken SKorean ferry arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
57-nation OSCE plays key Ukraine monitoring role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine crisis: The turning points

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

Cheers, jeers for the week of April 13-19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Here we go again in Sacramento

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Seniors, it’s never too late to do something about your health

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B10

 
Prince reaches agreement with music label

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

‘The Boondocks’ back for final ‘offensive’ season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

Stratocaster still a favorite at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Sports

Warriors and Clippers take dislike to playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Big innings lift Mustangs over Indians

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Ross, Padres beat Cain and Giants 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A’s come out swinging to beat Astros 11-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors to start O’Neal for Bogut vs. Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Hertl has impressive playoff debut for Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Mets trade 1B Ike Davis to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
TNT’s Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
A’s lefty reliever Doolittle gets 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

’40-and-up club’: Ageless Hopkins after more belts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Solano scores in ninth for 2-1 BVC baseball win over Yuba

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Choi leads rain-delayed RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NBA’s Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NBA playoffs looking more wide-open than expected

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Source: Grizzlies’ G Calathes suspended for 20 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Judge says American can’t end retiree benefits yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs for rust problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

5 features an Amazon phone might offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 04/19/14

Summerwood features 8 new homes in Suisun

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3