[Nfbaz-news] NFBA president's August monthly message

Bob Kresmer krezguy at cox.net
Sat Aug 17 17:12:41 UTC 2013


August 16, 2013 

Hello, fellow Federationists, 


You can jump from topic to topic in this message by finding the * that
precedes each topic. 


We are all looking forward to seeing each other and many new members at our
NFBA state convention coming up September 13 - 15 in Tucson.    I will be
sending out the convention agenda in MS Word format, RTF format and Braille
format just as soon as it is completely set in stone.   

* Convention update- 


A file containing the resolutions passed at our NFB national convention is
attached for you to read and think about.  National resolutions guide the
efforts of our organization for the upcoming year.  Our resolutions passed
at state convention also guide our efforts in Arizona.    


The NFBA doorprize and auction item letter is attached as an MS Word file.
Please print some copies and ask your favorite businesses for a donation of
a doorprize or auction item. 


The convention pre-registration form is attached as an MS Word file.  If you
haven't yet done so, please complete and email or snailmail it to Sharonda
Greenlaw, as explained in the form.  Time is getting short to make your
convention registration and also to register at the Radisson Suites hotel in
Tucson! 


The NFBA is chartering a bus to travel from Phoenix, then Mesa, to bring
members to state convention on Thursday, September 12.  The affiliate board
decided to charge $25.00 per person for round trip charter bus fare, with
our transportation fund to pay the balance of expense of chartering a bus.
More details for reserving a seat on the charter bus will be coming, but
check off the travel needs box on the pre-registration form. 


* From our NFB national office - 
legal analysis by Samuel R. Bagenstos, Professor of Law at the University of
Michigan Law School and former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Justice, regarding the
proposed Section 511 of Title V of the Rehabilitation Act included in the
Workforce Investment Act reauthorization bill.  The report, entitled
"Section 511 is Not a Step Forward," concludes that the provision
"entrenches sheltered workshops and the subminimum wage-and for the first
time recognizes them as acceptable under the rights provisions of the
Rehabilitation Act, our Nation's first disability rights law.  This is a
stunning step backwards."
 
I have attached this analysis as an MS Word file, and also appended it to
the end of this message following my signature.  Please take the time to
read, then, if you have not yet done so, call, email, or go to the web to
tell our senators to remove language from the bill.  


* From Donald Porterfield, NFBA legislative director - 
Federationists,

For those of you who may have tried to email Senator McCain and were unable
to send an email to the email address I supplied in earlier messages,(MS
Word file of this information is attached to this message) please try the
link below.  Please let me know if you have any difficulties.

http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm


Regards,
Donald Porterfield
donaldpfield at gmail.com
520-850-2180

 
* From Connie Ryan, committee chair to form state guide dog users division -

Hello.  I've been asked to put together a group to help set up a Guide Dog
Division in Arizona.  I'd like to have a conference call next Wednesday
evening, August 21, at 7pm. Anyone interested may join us by calling 712
432-6499.  When it comes on, hit the pound sign.  You then enter live
chatrooms by pressing 1, then code 6322 pound.  If you have any questions,
please call me at 480 890-8061 or email connie-r at pmpmail.com. 


* From Bruce Gardner, former NFBA president - 

As many of you know, in several division meetings at this year's NFB
National Convention, I demonstrated using the Victor Reader Stream as an
audible teleprompter for public speaking and reading fluently aloud.  Later
in the week, I conducted a workshop containing a complete explanation, and
tips for success, on how to use the Victor Reader Stream as an audible
teleprompter.
 
That workshop was recorded.  The recording (approximately 40 minutes) is now
available on blindhow.com on the NFB of Utah's website.  Here is a link to
the audio file of the workshop:  http://www.blindhow.com/posts/729#content
 
I strongly encourage anyone who did not learn Braille as a child, and
therefore cannot read fluently aloud, to listen to the workshop, and learn
just how easy it is to develop the ability to give public speeches and read
fluently aloud using the Victor Reader Stream as an audible teleprompter.  


* From Bob Kresmer - 
.	
.	The Arizona Braille and Talking Book Library has very recently
acquired sixty new titles of descriptive DVDs of recent movies.  These
movies range from Men in Black three to The Amazing Spiderman, to The Girl
with the Dragon Tattoo.  You can order these descriptive DVDs online, or ask
your reader / adviser to send them to you.  You can find the most recently
purchased titles on the web.  You can ask your reader / advisor to walk you
through the process of ordering on - line, or to discover these sixty new
titles.  


As a patron of the Braille and Talking Book Library, you are also eligible
to be a patron of the Greater Phoenix Digital Library, and receive music,
DVDs, E-Books, and other digital library materials.  You need a library card
number, and if you live outside Maricopa County, you need to contact your
reader / advisor at the Braille and Talking Book Library  to have them issue
a specific digital library card number for the Greater Phoenix Digital
Library. 

You can reach the Braille and Talking Book Library toll - free by dialing 1
800-255-5578.  Have fun with your new choices! 

 
* From Connie Ryan, on behalf of SunSounds.  This position was formerly
filled by a blind person, Maureen Comiskey, who suddenly passed away. 
 
Position Open 

Development Assistant - Part-time Specially Funded
Tempe Arizona
Up to 19 hours per week
Hourly rate $11 - $15 based on demonstrated experience and qualifications

Position Summary:  This position, located in Tempe Arizona, reports to the
Development Director at Sun Sounds of Arizona and assists with the
maintenance and organization of donor records, sponsorship requests, special
event logistics, and performs research on prospects for future
solicitations.  Maintains information and database records to create reports
for grants, marketing and outreach assessments, as well as assisting with
the customer service needs of donors.   Sun Sounds of Arizona is a 34-year
old Arizona institution providing a reading and information-access service
for people who cannot read print due to a disabling condition.  Service is
delivered through a variety of mass-media and without cost to eligible
persons.  Sun Sounds of Arizona is a department of Rio Salado College's
Division of Public Services.  Rio Salado College is one of the Maricopa
County Community Colleges. The Maricopa County Community College District is
an EEO/AA institution.

Minimum Qualifications:  Must be highly organized, self-motivated, reliable
individual.  Must demonstrate proficiency with MS Office, with an emphasis
on mail merges using Word and Excel; email, and web browser search engines.
Must have excellent telephone and in-person communication skills, keyboard
skills and be able to maintain confidentiality on work related matters.
Must be able to meet deadlines.  Must be able to work in a busy, open-office
environment while maintaining focus on tasks.

Preferred Qualifications:  Documented experience working in a
fundraising/development office on donor and prospect information.
Documented experience researching grant prospects, donor prospects, and
creating reports from that research.  Documented experience working with
volunteers in a team environment.  Demonstrated experience working on
charitable special events.  Bi-lingual English-Spanish.

Apply with letter or email detailing experience, resume, and prior work
references. No phone call inquiries will be accepted.  Position is open
until filled.

Send the above required correspondence to:

Sun Sounds of Arizona
2323 W 14th St
Tempe, AZ 85281
ATTN:  Development

or email the same as PDF or MS Word documents to:

info at sunsounds.org  with "Development Assistant" as the Subject

No Phone Calls 


* From the Kernel Book "Not Much of a Muchness" 

Betrayed by Good Intentions 

Editor's note - 
Barbara Pierce lives in Oberlin, Ohio. She is editor of the largest
circulation monthly magazine in the blindness field-the National Federation
of the Blind's Braille Monitor. This fact is particularly relevant to her
story, which details the harmful actions of a well-meaning but misguided
high school English teacher. Fortunately the actions of another teacher,
along with Barbara's own developing confidence, did much to undo the damage.

Here is what she has to say:


For most of my working life I have manipulated words-I have both read and
written them, and through the years I have learned to make them do what I
want them to. But it was not always so. Oh I made A's in English in high
school, but I hated to write, and reading was something of a strain since I
could not see the print, much less read it. 
Sometimes I could find recordings of the novels we were assigned, and
sometimes the literature texts had been recorded by Recording for the Blind,
the not-for-profit organization that even today records books for students,
scholars, and professionals.
But even though I disliked writing, I had always loved English, and I wanted
to qualify to take Advanced Placement English my senior year. To do so, we
had to take a test during the spring of my junior year. I was told that
arrangements would be made for me to take the test aurally, so I reported to
the testing room, expecting to be pulled out to take the test with a reader,
probably one of the teachers. I was told to report to the cafeteria, where
the teacher whom I most trusted and who, up to that point, had showed the
most confidence in my ability was waiting for me.
I was completely unprepared for what happened next. He began lecturing me in
the nicest possible way about my unfitness for taking on the challenge of AP
English. Of course that was not how he put it. He pointed out that I had
nothing more to prove to demonstrate my academic ability; I was an A
student, and the AP course would tax my resources-it would certainly demand
more than my parents could be expected to read for me. 
That line of argument put me at a severe disadvantage. I had not been taught
Braille, and no one had yet proposed the concept that a blind student should
have accessible versions of all textbooks. In each course I was handed the
print book and expected to figure out how to get my work done. Having two of
the best parents ever created, I did not find this an impossibility, but I
recognized that there were limits to what I could ask my folks to do to help
me.
On the other hand, how would I know whether I could do demanding work unless
I tried doing it? I could feel myself sliding into despair. I was about to
apply to colleges. If I could not manage to do demanding high school work,
how could I expect to do college-level work? I began to cry, but the teacher
only redoubled his preaching. I could get into college on the basis of
regular college-prep course work. Why destroy my senior year by taking on
more work than I could possibly do? Didn't I want to have some time for fun,
maybe dating during my final year in high school? Doing the AP work would be
harder for me than for any of the other students, and where would I be at
graduation time if I could not finish the course and came up a credit short?
At sixteen I had never heard of the National Federation of the Blind. I did
not recognize that I was facing what President Bush has called "the soft
bigotry of lowered expectations." So I capitulated. I told my beloved
teacher that I would not insist on taking the test; I would settle for the
standard college-prep course.
I was allowed to arrange my schedule with a study hall during the AP class
period so that I could sit in on class discussions several times a week, but
it was not the same. I recognized that those students were getting better
exposure to college-level work than I was, and I felt betrayed and
diminished by the realization. For some reason this discouragement did not
prevent me from setting my sights high with my college applications. 
I was admitted to Oberlin College by early decision, and I awaited the fall
semester with more than a little trepidation. After all, I had not even been
able to test myself doing one college-level course. How would I manage when
I was faced with five at the same time and without my parents' assistance to
do the reading? 
That first semester of my first year of college was a bit rocky, the
experience most college students have. I knew that I would have to hire lots
of student readers, and I did so. I did not enjoy freshman composition, a
requirement for all incoming students. I discovered that I disliked writing
even more, and my confidence in doing English in general had been badly
shaken by my high school experience. So English was a continuing struggle.
One of the most challenging courses in a constructive way and the one that
in profound ways changed my life was introductory biology.
This was a very large lecture course taught by the entire biology
department. We were then divided into laboratory sections for one three-hour
session a week. As far as I know by the luck of the draw, I was assigned to
a Friday-afternoon lab section that was taught by a young botanist who
walked with a decided limp. I did not know at the time that she had used a
wheelchair until she was in college. Then surgery restored her ability to
walk and, therefore, to do field work. 
She had enough firsthand experience of disability to have very healthy
attitudes about my potential ability to do biology. She and I became
friends. We went on hikes in which she introduced me to plants, the
identification of birds by their songs, and the shapes of leaves. She was as
determined as I that I would do all the lab work. 
I was assigned a lab partner, and the two of us and the pair across the lab
table got on with our work. My job became to know what we were supposed to
be seeing under the microscope; theirs was to report what they actually saw.
Among us we cobbled together our observations. The other three were somewhat
sobered when I began getting A's to their B's, but that made me an
increasingly valuable part of the team.
In the meantime the professor had decided that it would not do for me to
miss out on the dissection of the crawfish and the fetal pig, though she
recognized that I would have some difficulties in doing exactly what the
other students were expected to do. 

She acquired a lobster, which she assured me was assembled in the same way
as the crawfish, but on a larger scale. She insisted that I wear surgical
gloves for dissection since she was afraid that the formaldehyde would
damage my sense of touch and make reading Braille more difficult. She worked
with me one-on-one to do the fetal-pig dissections, and gradually I mastered
the lessons she taught me.
When it came time for tests, she insisted on being my tester. She wanted to
make certain that the descriptions of the various lab-station test questions
contained no leading information that might give me hints about the correct
answer. She would begin a description by saying, "Under the microscope I see
several blobs with clusters of smaller blobs inside them." I would try to
ask questions that would not solicit information that I did not deserve but
that would strengthen or destroy my hypotheses about what was being asked.
The only way to prepare for such testing is to know the material cold. 
When my high scores on the lab tests raised some skepticism within the
biology faculty, another professor quietly slipped into the lab to observe
the testing procedure. It was pronounced free of bias, and the A's I
received both semesters were declared appropriate. Moreover, the faculty
told me that they would be pleased to have me consider majoring in biology.
I actually left Oberlin that spring with the intention of doing exactly
that. My confidence in my abilities to do English had been badly shaken by
my high school mentor, and even though I had done good work in my literature
course second semester, my mediocre composition grade had confirmed all the
questions my high school teachers had raised in my heart.
My determination to major in biology continued until the fall of my
sophomore year. It led me to sign up for chemistry, which was required of
biology majors. I had already fulfilled the college requirement of eight
hours of science, but even when I decided that I really did not want to
teach high school biology, so why on earth was I majoring in it, I decided
to keep the chemistry class, in which I earned A's both semesters. If I had
been a member of the National Federation of the Blind, I might well have
known biology majors who were doing things other than teaching high school
biology. 
Left to my own inexperience, I did not have much confidence in my ability to
pursue graduate work toward a career other than teaching, but I could
imagine myself successfully doing a major in the field. That was solely
thanks to one professor who believed that nobody had the right to tell me
that I could not succeed in her field. In fact, her notion was that a
teacher's job was to figure out ways to support the hopes and dreams of her
students, and that is what she did.
I do not know how much damage my well-meaning high school teachers might
have done to me if it had not been for my biology professor. It was to be
many years before I would meet and be influenced by blind people in the
National Federation of the Blind who would teach me the same lesson. But she
was there when I needed her, and my response to her gift of confidence in me
has been to pass it along whenever I could.
Blindness does not necessarily mean the end of any dream. Gradually I
discovered that even an English major at one of the most demanding colleges
in the country was not beyond me, despite what my high school teachers had
thought. Maybe they just did not want to bother helping me figure out how to
do what I would have needed to do to complete that AP English course. I will
never know, but they almost stifled a young woman with promise. I rejoice
that today the NFB is present to protect students from such well-meaning
mistakes.


Thanks for reading all this, and the Professor's analysis is attached as a
ms word file and also follows my name and signoff.  
See you at state convention, 

Bob Kresmer, president NFBA 
Toll free 1 888 899-6322 

Section 511 is Not a Step Forward
Prepared for the National Federation of the Blind
By Samuel R. Bagenstos*

The Workforce Investment Act of 2013, which the Committee on Health,
Education, Labor, and Pensions recently reported to the full Senate,
contains a provision that purports to restrict subminimum wage employment
for young adults with disabilities.  That provision is the proposed Section
511 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Although Section 511 is well intended, it is
unlikely to achieve its goals.  If anything, it is likely to set back the
progress that the federal government has made in recent years in limiting
the use of subminimum wage employment in sheltered workshops.
The good intentions behind Section 511 cannot be doubted.  Senator Harkin,
who has championed the provision, has argued passionately that "[w]ithout
section 511 in the bill, I am very concerned that another generation of
young people with significant disabilities will end up getting tracked
directly from school to sheltered settings."   Legislative efforts to
restrict the use of subminimum wages and sheltered work are long overdue.
Senator Harkin and the others who drafted this provision are to be commended
for attempting to do something about the problem in the context of the
reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.
With respect, however, Section 511 is unlikely to have much, if any, effect
in stopping young people with disabilities from being tracked into sheltered
workshops.  Even worse, the provision is likely to slow the progress the
Department of Justice has recently made in this area under the Americans
with Disabilities Act.  Section 511 is thus a well-intentioned, but
ultimately misguided, effort to respond to the needless shunting of people
with disabilities into sheltered work at below-minimum wage.  The remainder
of this paper discusses these points.

The Subminimum Wages Section 511 Does Not Limit
Section 511 is framed as a measure to prevent a new generation of young
people from entering sheltered work at below-minimum wages.  As a result, it
does absolutely nothing to limit the use of subminimum wages for people who
are already receiving them as of the date the provision comes into effect or
for people who are over age 24 when they begin below-minimum-wage work.
This means that the young people who already have been sent off to sheltered
workshops and subminimum wage jobs-like the young people in Rhode Island who
were the subject of the recent Department of Justice agreement with the
state and the City of Providence -will get absolutely no benefit from this
provision, even if they are still under 24.

The Weakness of the Limitations Section 511 Does Impose
To be sure, there is a benefit to keeping a new generation of people with
disabilities from being sent off to dead-end, below-minimum-wage jobs in
sheltered workshops.  If Section 511 really would accomplish that goal, it
would be a step forward, even though it does nothing for people who are
currently being unnecessarily relegated to sheltered work.  But Section 511
will not accomplish that goal-not even close.  Even as to people with
disabilities who are 24 and under and who are not yet in subminimum wage
jobs-the target of the provision-Section 511's limitations on the use of the
subminimum wage are full of loopholes.  All of our experience with the
subminimum wage suggests that vocational rehabilitation systems and
sheltered workshops will exploit these loopholes to the greatest extent
possible.
	For individuals who are 24 and under and who are not yet in
subminimum wage jobs, Section 511 would allow an employer to pay a
below-minimum wage to three classes of individuals: (1) individuals who have
applied for vocational rehabilitation services, but have been found
ineligible for them by the state vocational rehabilitation agency ; (2)
individuals who have applied for and been found eligible for vocational
rehabilitation services, but who have worked toward an integrated,
competitive employment outcome "for a reasonable period of time without
success" ; and (3) individuals who are "receiving work readiness or job
training services provided by" a subminimum wage employer.   Taken together,
these three classes of individuals will likely encompass all or nearly all
of the young adults with disabilities whom the section claims to prevent
from being placed in subminimum-wage sheltered workshops.
	(1) Those Found Ineligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
Supporters of Section 511 argue that it creates a "speed bump" in the way of
placing new young adults into subminimum wage jobs by requiring them to
apply for vocational rehabilitation services before entering those jobs.  As
discussed below, Section 511 does not invariably require young adults to
apply for vocational rehabilitation services before entering subminimum wage
jobs.  But even in those circumstances where it does, that requirement will
not impose any meaningful obstacle to directing individuals to
below-minimum-wage work.  
Section 511 specifically allows subminimum wage jobs in cases where the
state has found an individual ineligible for vocational rehabilitation
services.   But experience shows that state vocational rehabilitation
systems often erroneously find individuals with disabilities ineligible for
their services-and it is these erroneous determinations that lead to
placement in subminimum wage jobs at sheltered workshops.  In Oregon, for
example, the Department of Justice found that the state's vocational
rehabilitation agency "often screens out [persons who are capable of
benefiting from integrated employment] by classifying them as too severely
disabled to benefit from employment services or succeed in a job setting,"
and that "sheltered workshops often become the default setting" as a result.
Nationwide, more than 40 percent of applicants for vocational rehabilitation
who had their cases closed in 2011 were determined by their state vocational
rehabilitation systems to be ineligible for employment services. 
Section 511 does absolutely nothing to stop this transmission belt to
sheltered work.  The provision does include language that purports to
require informed consent of the individual with a disability or his parent
or guardian before placement in a subminimum wage job.   But a similar
informed-consent requirement exists in current law,  and Section 511 adds
nothing of substance to it.  Indeed, it is hard to believe that an
informed-consent requirement could do much to stop sheltered-workshop
placement in these circumstances.  If the individual (or his parent or
guardian) refuses consent to sheltered workshop placement, Section 511 does
not require the state to provide supported employment services in an
integrated, competitive setting.  For an individual whom the state has found
ineligible for vocational rehabilitation services to refuse consent to
placement in a sheltered workshop is thus to refuse consent to the only
employment setting the state has offered.  Even individuals who are fully
capable of working in integrated jobs will likely consent to sheltered work
if that is the only option available.  By allowing subminimum wages in cases
in which the state has found an individual ineligible for vocational
rehabilitation services, Section 511 will entrench one of the major pathways
by which young adults with disabilities are shunted into below-minimum-wage
work.
(2) Those Who Have Worked Toward an Integrated Employment Outcome "For a
Reasonable Period of Time without Success."  Section 511 also allows the
payment of a subminimum wage in cases in which the state has found an
individual eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, but he or she
has worked toward an integrated, competitive employment outcome "for a
reasonable period of time without success."   In such cases, Section 511
would allow the payment of a subminimum wage if "the individual's vocational
rehabilitation case is closed after the individual's qualified vocational
rehabilitation counselor and the individual both agree that continued
efforts by the individual to work toward an employment outcome [in an
integrated job in the competitive workforce] at the present time will likely
not be successful."   But this is hardly an effective obstacle to
inappropriate placements in sheltered workshops.  Just as states often
erroneously find people with disabilities ineligible for vocational
rehabilitation services, they also often close the cases of individuals whom
they had originally found eligible based on the erroneous determination that
those individuals cannot succeed in integrated employment.   
Section 511 does virtually nothing to slow this second common pathway to
below-minimum-wage jobs at sheltered workshops.  Section 511 requires that
an individual have worked towards integrated employment "for a reasonable
time without success," but it does not define-or even give any guidance for
how to interpret-the crucial term "reasonable."  And the provision allows
the use of a subminimum wage based on a prediction that further efforts at
achieving integrated employment "will likely not be successful."  But the
provision leaves the crucial concept of "likelihood" undefined and
effectively unenforceable.
(3) Individuals Receiving Job Training Services.  Section 511 also allows
the payment of a subminimum wage to individuals who are "receiving work
readiness or job training services provided by a certificate holder, as part
of the individual's preparation for competitive integrated employment."
Pursuant to this training-services subsection, an individual can receive a
subminimum wage for up to six months without any further limitation,  or for
a longer period if "the individual wishes to continue to receive such
services" and is reassessed every six months "to determine the individual's
ability to transition to competitive integrated employment." 
To the extent that the remainder of Section 511 imposes any meaningful
restrictions on the use of subminimum wage jobs-which is doubtful-the
training-services subsection provides a loophole that allows those
restrictions to be entirely evaded.  The subminimum wage for people with
disabilities has often been justified as providing opportunities for
training.  But experience shows that below-minimum-wage jobs provide little
meaningful training; they instead largely prepare people with disabilities
for a life of segregated, dead-end work.
Up to 95 percent of workers with disabilities receive less than the minimum
wage work in sheltered workshops.   And "[t]he ineffectiveness of sheltered
workshops for helping individuals progress to competitive employment is well
established."   Rather, "[s]sheltered employment has been shown to be a much
better medium for preparing people to continue sheltered work than to begin
competitive work."   In its recent Rhode Island investigation, for example,
the Department of Justice found that requiring high school students to
receive training in a sheltered workshop placed them at "serious risk of
unnecessary segregation" in sheltered workshops later in life, because
students in the sheltered workshop "generally only learn work tasks that
will prepare them for postsecondary placements in segregated work settings."

Section 511 does absolutely nothing to stop this common pathway to lifetime
workplace segregation for people with disabilities.  To the contrary, the
proposed provision specifically endorses the use of subminimum wage jobs as
a means of providing training-and it does so regardless of the age of the
individual with a disability, regardless of whether he or she currently
receives a subminimum wage, and regardless of whether he or she has applied
for vocational rehabilitation services.   In other words, all of the
limitations imposed by the other subsections of Section 511-to the extent
that they are at all meaningful-do not exist under the subsection that
allows a subminimum wage for those who receive work readiness or job
training services.  The only limitation imposed by this subsection is the
requirement of an assessment every six months of the individual's ability to
move toward competitive employment.  But precisely because sheltered
workshops provide so little training that aids success in competitive
employment, it is unlikely to be much of a limitation at all.

Section 511 Undermines Recent Department of Justice Efforts
	The Department of Justice has repeatedly made clear that sheltered
work at subminimum wages presumptively violates the integration mandate of
the Americans with Disabilities Act as interpreted in the Supreme Court's
landmark case of Olmstead v. L.C.   The Department's technical assistance
guide on Olmstead specifically lists "individuals spending their days in
sheltered workshops" as an example of the unnecessary segregation of people
with disabilities.   The Department recently sued the State of Oregon to
challenge the state's provision of employment services to people with
disabilities through sheltered workshops,  and it entered into an interim
settlement with the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence
regarding the same issue.   
The Rhode Island settlement in particular rests on the proposition that
every young person with a disability should receive training and supports in
an integrated work setting.   Section 511, unfortunately, would mark a step
backward from that proposition.  Section 511 would affirmatively embrace
subminimum wage employment (which typically takes place in a sheltered
workshop) for people under 24-at least under the very broad circumstances in
which the state vocational rehabilitation system says that no integrated
employment outcome is possible or the sheltered workshop purports to be
providing training services.  That position stands in sharp contrast to the
recent positions of the Department of Justice.
Conclusion
Section 511 reflects a good-faith effort at reaching a compromise that will
limit subminimum wage employment.  But despite the good intentions of its
author, Section 511 is exceedingly unlikely to achieve that result.
It is unclear whether any compromise that would write the recognition of the
subminimum wage into the Rehabilitation Act would make sense.  But at a
minimum, any such compromise would have to do two things that Section 511
does not do: (a) prohibit any new issuance of certificates authorizing the
payment of subminimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act; and (b)
require that those who receive the subminimum wage work not in sheltered
workshops, but in integrated, competitive environments.  The first
requirement would serve Senator Harkin's goal of preventing "another
generation of young people with significant disabilities" from "end[ing] up
getting tracked directly from school to sheltered settings."  And the second
would align the disability subminimum wage provision with the other
subminimum wage provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act for learners,
apprentices, and students by ensuring that subminimum wages are truly only a
temporary way station for people who are in fact learning skills appropriate
to the competitive economy-rather than a long-term subsidy to dead-end
sheltered workshops.  Section 511 as currently drafted does neither of these
things.  It simply entrenches sheltered workshops and the subminimum
wage-and for the first time recognizes them as acceptable under the rights
provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, our Nation's first disability rights
law.  This is a stunning step backwards.


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