End Segregation Now!

Now is the time to end segregation on the basis of disability.  People with disabilities have a right, as defined within the Americans with Disabilities Act, for services and supports in the most integrated setting, when those supports are funded by state and local government.  There is no justification for the ongoing segregation of people with disabilities in the workplace or any other part of society.  It seems that U.S. citizens continue to excuse this practice, particularly for those of us with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


This is a civil rights issue.  The segregation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is just as wrong as slavery in the early 19th century and the ongoing Jim Crow practices that enforced societal segregation well into the middle of the 20th century in this country.  Why is grouping people with disabilities in work “enclaves” or “work crews” OK?  Why are people in Colorado languishing in segregated “pre-vocational” settings when research suggests that these services have a detrimental impact on people so “served.”  Why does the State of Colorado continue to provide funding for these services when other states are shifting funding toward regular employment outcomes and are systematically eliminating these services?


That our Nation, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and associated state governments, continues to directly fund segregation is inexcusable.  We must stand up and make it known that we will no longer tolerate this injustice that results in the social isolation and impoverishment of millions of U.S. citizens who receive this treatment only because they happen to experience disability.  What are we waiting for???  For more on this topic, please see Dale’s Ending Disability Segregation at


Does a new DVR Director mean new hope for Colorado citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

Those of us who experience disability in Colorado have reason to be hopeful at the appointment of Joelle Brouner as our new Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.  We have heard from folks in Washington State, where she hails from, and here in Colorado that Ms. Brouner is both “feisty” and understands that many people underestimate the employment contribution of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She also reportedly has significant knowledge of supported and customized employment and how to get it working here in Colorado.

Joelle Brouner, Colorado's new DVR Director
Joelle Brouner, Colorado’s new DVR Director

The fact the Joelle is from Washington State is important.  While Colorado languishes at 23% of people with an intellectual and developmental disability employed (with most people being served in congregate group “employment” situations), Washington is tops in the nation at 65% (with most in individualized employment, AKA real jobs).  Truth be known, the Colorado Department of Human Services has been in the position of leading the nation in this area… only problem is it was twenty years ago when over 50% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were employed in community settings!  We are hopeful that Ms. Brouner will provide the spark necessary to replicate Washington State’s success in providing real jobs for real pay!

Travesty in Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island has been running a segregated sheltered workshop to prepare high school students for future sheltered work.  The Department of Justice has rightly demanded that this practice cease.  It is counter to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead ruling of 1999 which require state and locally-funded services for people with disabilites to provide those services “in the most integrated setting.”  For more, please go to

Providence, R.I. running a “sweatshop” for students with disabilities



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