RI Monthly Magazine Features Story About People With Disabilities Working In Jobs In RI…”The Tyranny of Low Expectations”

RI monthly cover - October 2015The October Issue of RI Monthly has a featured article entitled “The Tyranny of Low Expectations” written by Associate Editor Casey Nilsson.

“For decades, local agencies segregated people with disabilities and kept them from pursuing real work in the community. The federal government stepped in and last year, the state agreed to make big changes. How far has RI come from the sweatshop scandals of 2013?”

Associate Editor Nilsson takes an in-depth description into civil rights investigations by the federal Department of Justice in RI at the Harold V. Birch School in Providence and at Training Thru Placement, Inc. and other agencies providing services to adults with developmental disabilities. The article looks into the life of web-savvy Nick Garcia, a young man at Birch, who had been segregated from the other mainstream high school students but is now more involved in transition planning and integrated activities.

DDC Council Member Steve Porcelli was visited in his job at Automated Business Solutions in Warwick and he is quoted as saying… “It’s important to like what you are doing, and I always wanted to do something other than piecework. If you’re disabled, you’re often not given the chance to prove yourself. We should have the chance. Even if we cant do it right away, well pick it up.” For over 30 years Steve worked at assembly work at TTP and really wanted to do so much more with his life.

Jeffrey Pete also used to work in a sheltered workshop but he works in a full time receivership position at the Capital Grille and has demonstrated he is an asset to the popular downtown restaurant. When asked about his relationship with his co-workers, Jeff proudly used one word to describe it: “RESPECT.”

A photo Jeffrey Pete“We don’t look at Jeff like he has a handicap. He gets the work done, and well.”

-Chris Phillips, General Manager, Capital Grille

The article mentions the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and how employers and coworkers see the positive contributions of individuals with disabilities. It also describes the changes being implemented in both the educational and adult systems in RI for people with disabilities to have “informed choice” about opportunities for working in jobs in the community, or even for self-employment, like Allyson Dupont, who owns her own graphic design and paper products business.

The Sherlock Center’s Employment Survey for 2015 indicates that the number of people working in sheltered workshops has decreased by 25% in the last two years. The number of people landing new jobs has significantly increased.

Sue Babin, of the Developmental Disabilities Council, says this momentum for change is similar to the deinstitutionalization movement of the 90’s to move hundreds of people with disabilities living in the state institution into the community in group homes. Back then sheltered work was considered a progressive alternative to Ladd Center. “All across the country, it’s been a tradition of folks with disabilities performing work at less than minimum wage and segregating them in workshops. Maybe we don’t need sheltered workshops at all. Maybe people need to just be out in the community like everyone else,” said Babin.

“Despite the earth-shattering shakeups of the past and the uncertainty of the future, one thing is true: Nick, his Birch peers and many more Rhode Islander’s with disabilities have the opportunity to work in jobs they actually like, no assembly required.”

-Casey Nilsson, Associate Editor

Pick up a copy of the October Issue of RI Monthly at local newsstands to read this whole article.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

NDI Poster: My disability is one part of who I am.

The National Disability Institute (NDI) is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month through its theme campaign “My disability is one part of who I am”. NDI advocates for advancing individual and systems level change to improve employment and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for all people across the spectrum of disability.


Department of Justice US District Court Monitor Charles Moseley Issues Report on Progress of Consent Decree in RI

Charles Moseley - US District Court MonitorCourt Monitor Chas Moseley has issued his first report assessing RI’s progress on the Department of Justice Consent Decree filed on April 9, 2014. The terms of the Consent Order resulted in the State making a commitment to restructure the nature and operation of day and employment services to provide people with developmental disabilities the training/support they need to become employed in competitive, integrated jobs at or above minimum wage in the community.

This report documents the progress that has taken place during the first year of Consent Decree implementation with a particular focus on the provisions specifically related to two target populations, the RI Youth Exit Target population and the RI Youth Transition Target Population. The report also covers activities related to key infrastructure development including the establishment of the Sheltered Workshop Conversion Institute, the Conversion Trust Fund, Quality Improvement and other programs. Progress on several of the benchmarks related to activities of the RI Sheltered Workshop Target Population and the RI Day Target Population are deferred to subsequent reports.

adults with developmental disabilities attend a press release to announce the State's employment settlement with the Department of JusticeThe agreement requires the three State agencies responsible for providing the majority of services to children and adults with IDD, the department of Behavioral Health Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Office of Rehabilitative Services (ORS) to reach key performance milestones within the first year and on an ongoing basis thereafter.

This review reveals that the State has made significant progress in meeting the many performance benchmarks identified by the Consent Decree that were to be achieved during this period. Additional actions need to be taken by BHDDH, ORS and RIDE to fully operationalize the changes that have been made and to build the foundation for the next stages of system change and program development.

This report identifies key benchmarks for each operational provision of the Consent Decree and the status of the State’s efforts to address the various outcomes. Each section concludes with a statement of recommended actions the State should take to meet Consent Decree requirements.

infoFor more information:

To Review a Copy of the Full Report, click here.

Your Chance to Speak Up: 2015 Public Forums for People with Disabilities

State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Public Forums to Identify the Concerns of People with Disabilities and their Families

During the week of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (signed on July 26th), the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities and many other state and non-profit agencies conduct a weeklong series of open forums to hear the concerns of people with disabilities and their families.

The forums are open for anyone to come in and speak; representatives of the sponsoring agencies will be there to listen. State policy makers and planners want to hear your concerns about current services, unmet needs, and suggestions for improving services and expanding opportunities.

Monday, July 27, 2015 | 3:45 – 5:45  PM

South Providence Library
441 Prairie Avenue

Hosted by Perspectives Corporation

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | 2 – 4 PM

Warwick Public Library
600 Sandy Lane

Hosted by the Ocean State Center for Independent Living

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 | 4 – 6 PM

Peace Dale Library
1057 Kingstown Rd
Peace Dale

Hosted by National Multiple Sclerosis Society RI Chapter

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 | 4 – 6  PM

Middletown Public Library
700 West Main Rd

Hosted by Opportunities Unlimited For People With Differing Abilities

Thursday, July 30, 2015 | 1:30  – 3:30  PM

Zambarano Unit, Eleanor Slater Hospital
2090 Wallum Lake Rd

Hosted by Zambarano Unit, Eleanor Slater Hospital

Thursday, July 30, 2015 |  4 – 6  PM

Woonsocket Harris Public Library
303 Clinton St

Hosted by RI Department of Health

Friday, July 31, 2015 | 2:45 – 4:45  PM

East Providence Public Library
41 Grove Ave
East Providence

Hosted by RI Statewide Independent Living Council and National Federation of the Blind of RI

Additional information from the governor’s Commission on Disabilities about attending the Forum:

Remarks can be made in person during the forums, faxed to 401-462-0106, e-mailed to GCD.Disabilities@gcd.ri.gov, or mailed by August 8th to:

Governor’s Commission on Disabilities
John O’ Pastore Center
41 Cherry Dale Court
Cranston, RI 02920

CART Recorders (real-time captioning) and assistive listening devices will be at all sites, courtesy of the Office of Rehabilitation Services/Assistive Technology Access Partnership. The RI Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will provide sign language interpreters for each forum.

To request information or accommodation, please call 401-462-0100 or 401-462-0101(tty) in advance; arrangements will be provided at no cost. Language interpreting is available with the Deptartment of Human Serivces and requests can be made to 401-462-2130 in advance.

When making the ADA reservation with RIde to get to and from the public forum, tell the RIde reservationist (1-800-479-6902) that this trip is for the Governor’s Commission’s Public Forums in order to guarantee your return trip, after normal RIde hours of operation. ADA fare is still applicable.

When attending the forum, please use unscented personal care products. Mild fragrances can constitute a toxic exposure for a person with an environmental illness.

Sherlock Center’s Supporting Meaningful Employment (SME) Training Series

Starting in January 2015, multiple offerings of the Sherlock Center’s “Supported Meaningful Employment Training Series” will be available in half-day and full-day sessions. The series is designed to help employment professionals (job developers, vocational specialists, job coaches, direct support professionals, etc.) to earn an ACRE Certificate.

Click here for more information.