Advocacy & Issues

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TASH is dedicated to increasing the employment rate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and eliminating segregated work environments and sub-minimum wages.

Employment is an essential component of life in the community, and leads to greater independence and opportunity for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Employing people with significant disabilities also makes good sense for business and the overall economic health of our nation. Research and experience show that employees, once in place, are loyal, long-term and dependable. They report higher job satisfaction and less leave time, and companies hiring workers with significant disabilities report higher employee morale and improved workplace culture.

Despite substantive research and many years of best practices, the general public has yet to embrace the concept that all people – regardless of perceived limitations – have competencies with employment potential and can be contributors in the workplace. The desire and capabilities to contribute in a meaningful way are there; however, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains at a level of crisis.

TASH recognizes the importance of work in the lives of all people. Employment connects us to full participation and inclusion in the community. It fosters a sense of self-worth, opens opportunities for social growth and leads to greater independence. Because all people have the right to work, TASH calls for the development of individualized and integrated employment opportunities for all people with disabilities, and with supports tailored to their individual abilities and needs.

For the first time in many years, there is a strong effort to revisit Section 14(C) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which permits sub-minimum wages to be paid to workers with disabilities. This is based on the perpetration of the productivity fallacy, a business model that presumes one’s worth is inextricably linked to a measurable output. This “separate but equal” approach limits the opportunity for workers with disabilities to ever expect to earn a livable wage and work in community workplaces.

Instead, those supporting the rights and interests of workers with disabilities advocate the concept of contribution, a richer perspective to meeting business needs. By evaluating the unmet needs of a business, employers can identify specific areas that need to be addressed beyond productivity standards. A customized approach to employment was pioneered by TASH members more than 15 years ago, along with the concept of the presumption of competence. The practice of customized and supported employment for workers with significant disabilities adds to a society where all members are valued and have the chance to make a meaningful contribution.


TASH Resolution on Integrated Employment

Integrated Employment


Additional Resources

TASH Guest Blog by Michael Callahan, “Enriching Discovery While Staying Focused on the Concept”

TASH Congressional Briefing on Integrated Employment: view TASH’s congressional briefing from July 2010 featuring some of the leading figures on disability employment in these recorded YouTube videos (with captioning).

The U.S. Government Accountability Office convened a forum in March 2010 to explore policy options and actions to help adults with current or past work history improve their participation in the workforce. GAO has provided their report covering the highlights from that forum.

Advancing Employment. Connecting People. View APSE’s call to phase out sub-minimum wage by 2014 in this statement endorsed by the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination.

If you have any questions about TASH’s position or involvement on issues related to employment, be sure to contact us.