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September 08, 2007



Well that is all very interesting. I am glad it is not outright slave labor. But they do put the cognitively disabled and the wheelchair users on "greeter" duty all the time. I always felt like it was a PR thing. Also, you see a lot of cognitively disabled folks on shopping cart roundup. People with partial paralysis or amputations are on the checkout lines or in the aisles. Sometimes wheelchair users are in the aisles too, which seems like more a real job than greeter...

So anyway, thanks for the detailed answer. I never fail to learn important things from you!

Laura in L.A.

Hi Lisa,

Ditto what Shannon said: I learn so much from you! You make me see things I never even thought about in a whole new light. Thank you for taking the time to write it all down.

P.S. How is potty training progressing for the boys?


This is very interesting. In Washington State, they are (I think, if I read the article correctly) discontinuing sheltered workshops and trying to get people "real" jobs in the community. My husband and I were sort of horrified by this, because it seems like the jobs are not going to be there, and then what happens? I have a hard time holding a job because of fatigue and illness, and I'm articulate, smart in a show-offy fashion, and college educated. But employers are not very flexible.

My husband said this program might work if they renamed some of the sheltered workshops as day programming, because that's what a lot of them are anyway (I don't know about this personally). But they are actually decreasing funding to day programs to create this new program. I think the thing that bothers me most, is that it's a one size fits all philosophy. Some people probably would like to have more meaningful work and can maybe find it, and others just realistically aren't going to be able to get it in our current society.



Some aspects of a sheltered workshop are ok. Getting people working that are really hard to employ, giving them some job security, etc. The problem is that they don't have to abide by any of the labor laws. They don't have to pay minimum, they don't have protections of unions, etc. They don't have a lot of say in what kind of work they do or if they want to move on to do something else.

Also, the incentive is for sheltered workshop supervisors to keep the "least disabled" most productive workers. They need these workers to fulfill their contracts. These are the folks that would have the best shot in competitive employment, yet never get that chance.

I totally agree with you that it is horrendously tough out there for disabled people in the private sector. I mean the stats speak for themselves. A 70% rate of unemployment for disabled who want to work. Shameful. There does need to be a total overhaul of how we think about work and employment in this country.

But to me, keeping people in sheltered workshops because it is so bad "out there" doesn't make it right to have deplorable conditions within the workshops and does nothing to address the problem of making it better in the private sector.


I too am in Washington State, and Oregon, too. The past couple of weeks,I have noticed that Safeway has box boys that have "problems". One boy has Downs Syndrome and I think the other one is just "slow", I could not recogize his label. Both got the job done and even better than some of the so called "normal" box boys!

The Downs boy kept glancing sideways at me because of my deaf voice, so I explained, and held out my hand and said, "I am glad you are here!".


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