Handicapped workshops

All posts in the Handicapped workshops category


Published August 1, 2016 by Nan Mykel

Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt, director of advocacy for Disability Rights Ohio, said changes proposed by the federal government are a “a good thing. Offering more options is the whole purpose behind the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s important to remember that neither the state nor the county boards should use these rules as an excuse to terminate services.”

Many elements are fusing into a movement to undermine a system that has worked for decades.  Championing minimum wage for sheltered workshops instead of piecework?  Anyone with any sense can see the businesses offering sheltered workshops contracts for work will dry up so there’s no work for the truly handicapped.  The statement that anyone can do it, just in a different way sounds good, but we the parents know how difficult it is for some to tie their shoe laces.


Irreparably Harmed

Published July 9, 2016 by Nan Mykel

atco image

Source: https://www.change.org/…/ohio-state-house-protect-our-sheltered-worksh…

Petition to Ohio Governor John Kasich,

Ohio House and Senate Members.
Ohioans Demand Protection for Sheltered Workshops, Developmental Centers.  Ohio Adults with debilitating intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) will be irreparably harmed if some of the Kasich Administration’s Employment First sheltered workshop budget and
policy proposals are enacted.

We applaud the Administration’s Employment First’s goals to increase vocation training, funding, and community employment for Ohio’s Disabled Citizens.However, Employment First has four critical failures: 1) misapplication of the Olmstead Decision and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); 2) mistaken justification of replacement of sheltered
workshop proposals by citing recent Federal CMS Regulations; 3) not recognizing that a significant proportion of the disabled cannot work in the community; and 4) decreasing the choices and
increasing the isolation of Ohio’s most disabled citizens. We believe that Ohio should continue to promote the existing sheltered workshop model through policies, direct State funding, and through Ohio CMS Medicaid Waivers.
Employment First is enabling the Justice Department’s misapplication of the Olmstead Court’s
interpretation of the ADA. The Kasich Admiration’s proposed Ohio Medicaid Budget contains many
Employment First proposals. One stated budget goal is to “replace workshops and facility-based day
services with new service models that promote community employment and integrated day
services.” The Administration cites recent increased federal scrutiny for their goal. Specifically they
cite one interim settlement agreement and two “DOJ” lawsuits as support for their workshop
elimination proposals. These DOJ efforts are actually the working of Disability Rights, a “private”
organization funded in part with DOJ funding. This group’s Ohio Chapter, Disability Rights Ohio
(DRO), has threatened to sue Ohio if it does not close the sheltered workshops (among other
issues). Rather than ignore or resist the DRO, the Administration appears to be assisting the DRO’s
misguided goals. As the recent Ohio Transition Plan’s public comment period uncovered, the DRO
does not speak for all of Ohio’s disabled. DRO is misapplying Olmstead’s limited ruling that
individuals with mental disabilities have the right to live in the community rather than in
institutions if “the State’s treatment professionals have determined that community placement is
appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the
affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the
resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities.” Olmstead v. L.C. ,
527 U.S. 581 (1999) DRO is attempting to use this narrow residential decision to force Ohio to shut  down its non-residential sheltered workshops. This is the exact misapplication that the majority of
the Olmstead Court sought to prevent: “We emphasize that nothing in the ADA or its implementing  regulations condones termination of institutional settings for persons unable to handle or benefit  from community settings…Nor is there any federal requirement that community-based treatment be imposed on patients who do not desire it.” Id. at 601-602.
Second, the Administration is also mistaken in justifying its replacement of sheltered workshop,developmental centers proposals by citing recent Federal CMS Regulations that convey expectations regarding person-centered plans of care and to provide characteristics of settings that
are home and community-based. The Administration implies without support that sheltered  workshops are not integrated in nor support full access of individuals receiving Medicaid HCBS to
the greater community, do not include opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive  integrated settings, do not engage in community life, control personal resources, nor receive
services in the community, to the same degree of access as individuals not receiving Medicaid HCBS.
Absent in the Federal Regulations cited is a definite statement that sheltered workshops do not comply with these regulations. In fact, in its last “Exploratory Questions to Assist States in
Assessment of Non-Residential Home and Community-Based Service (HCBS) Settings,” the Federal CMS admits that; “(t)he manner in which each of these services meets the HCB settings requirements may vary.” The Administration seems to fudge this ambiguity by noting that “the CMS
is currently working with stakeholders to clarify expectations of this new rule for day activity  services, and additional guidance will be forthcoming.” It also ignores that many Ohio Disabled
citizens choose to remain in sheltered works because it meets their unique needs as outlined in their person-centered plans. Statistics show many individuals with I/DD have not shown an interest
in supported/competitive employment, and the majority who have tried it, ultimately return to sheltered employment.
Third, the Kasich Administration’s Employment First policies and budget fail to recognize that a significant proportion of disabled Ohioans simply cannot work in the community.  These Ohio citizens suffer from various debilitating intellectual or developmental disabilities including autism, moderate to severe mental retardation, and cerebral palsy. As a result, the Administration’s  contention that mainstream employment opportunities exist for all or even a significant number of
developmentally disabled persons is largely wishful thinking. It’s hard for anyone to get a job these  days. In many cases, the newly “employed” individual ends up leaving a 29-hour a week job in a  sheltered workshop for one where the individual only works one or two days a week for four hours a day. Working eight hours a week washing dishes alone in a restaurant kitchen is hardly integration into the community. Many families of the participants maintain that the sheltered work
shop programs provide them with useful skills and meaningful activities, and that there is nothing about them that segregates or isolates people.
Fourth, the Administration’s Employment First policies and budget will actually decrease choice and  increase the isolation of Ohio’s most disabled citizens. Sheltered workshops throughout the U. S. provide a safe environment for adults with I/DD to work, interact with their peers, and gain a sense of accomplishment. These facilities also provide transportation, off-site day habitation programs, and opportunities to for new experiences including taking a vacation or going on a camping trip. Individuals who choose to work in sheltered workshops are happy, safe, fulfilled, and are among their friends and peers. As the other disabled co-workers obtain or are forced to obtain “employment” in the community, the lower functioning disabled citizens that remain will become
more isolated. If sheltered workshops employing hundreds of developmentally disabled persons throughout the state are closed, most of those participants will end up in day-care nursing homes,
many of which offer few skill-based activities, much less any sort of wages for performing them. It is also about forcing people into a theoretical model of care, which, as usual, denies them and their families/legal guardians any say in that model. Community employment is not the answer for everyone. We need sheltered workshops! We should be creating more employment opportunities for people with disabilities – not eliminating options.
Olmstead and the ADA were not meant to take choice or any other kind of employment option away from persons with I/DD. Let your voice be heard and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. It is our responsibility to provide opportunities and support for individuals with
developmental disabilities. Do not deprive them of their choices and force them into settings which will diminish their quality of life. Help us protect sheltered workshops across Ohio and the nation!

Respectfully Submitted,

This petition was delivered to:

  • Ohio State House
  • Ohio State Senate
  • by

1 year ago


Published July 9, 2016 by Nan Mykel

athens disabledMy computer, my printer, my digital phone, my video camera, my internet connection, my telephone, my router, my monitor have connecting cords that easily get tangled and are often difficult to follow to their correct  position.  The secret to achieving the goal of correct, transparent even,  smooth functionality is clarity of motivation.  Both the goal needs to be clear and the motivation free of skullduggery.  If you should find yourself in the lethal hodgepodge of scrambled goals, alternating motivations, red herrings, skullduggery and outright lies, not to mention the little  hidden rat critters  chewing away at ethics in the dark recesses of the human libido and greed,  then there’s no way a democracy can survive.  Adding pet bills to important legislature is just a common referent, but by no means the whole works.

Who or what is behind privatization, for instance?  Who or what is behind the destruction of sheltered workshops for the disabled?  “They’re segregated from the normal population” is one rallying cry. Pardon my French which I’m just thinking.  “More money should be put into the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation”  so the higher functioning ones can really realize their potential” is another rallying cry.   Maybe to produce more money for charter schools? I don’t know.  Maybe it’s “cut back on government aid to the needy.”   I’m not that naive. Money and greed are winning out.  We can see what it’s doing to our prison system.

Headlines on the Feb. 11, 2016 edition of the Athens (Ohio) News  read “Board: ATCO Inc.’s days are numbered.”  ATCO (Advocacy, Training, Career, Opportunities)  has been a day service provider for people with developmental disabilities since 1969. Services include community inclusion, recreational activities, life-skills training and nursing services.  Twenty-six counties of 88 in Ohio have already been privatized.

Institutionalized residents of the Gallipolis Develpmental Center in Gallia County have been utilizing a workshop building which costs one dollar a year. It is within minutes  from GDC.  That workshop has been shuttered and plans are for residents to travel  70 miles roundtrip to a privately owned workshop in Wellston, Ohio, where untrained staff receiving lower pay will oversee the residents.  Parents were initially informed that the GDC staff who have been working with them will continue to do so.  I’m not sure how many of them have been told the truth of the situation.  About 3 weeks ago the GDC staff itself were under the impression the new workshop was going to be opened the next day. It still hasn’t opened, and last week a busload of residents were driven to see the new workshop and returned quite frustrated at its incompleted state. (In the meantime, the nearby former workshop available for a dollar a year has been closed.)

The “upfront” rationale for the change was a ruling that nonprofits receiving medicaid services couldn’t monitor their own services.  So wouldn’t it be easier to change who monitors them than to disassemble them?  Another verbalized rationale for disassembling the workshops is because they’re “segregated.”  I say UNSEGREGATE THEM!  Let any “normal” person who wants to participate, participate!  And how many of the public businesses of education and recreation are feasible for the developmenally handicapped?  Barf!  My 44 year old daughter with Downs Syndrome was born during a time when outreach services were readily available.  Athens as a community has been proud of its relationship to the developmentally disabled.

There is too much distrust and finagling  going on between our “representativces” and our front line folks,  Perhaps in a moment of guilty feelings a new law has been passed that no resident of a developmental center shall be served half meals.  As though they were protecting the residents from being mistreated by staff?  Nothing like that has been happening,  My 5 foot daughter weighed an unhealthy 203 pounds before going into GDC. Within a couple of years she had reached her goal weight of 117 pounds, and she never asked for more food on her half-size servings.  With the recent changes at the sate (and maybe federal) level she already weighs 138 pounds, and climbing.  The flavor of our representatives appears  to assume their certified, trained and dedicated staffs either don’t know what they’re doing or are taking advantage of the disadvantaged.   By assuming that the very caring long-term trained and certified staff are harming the residents, our representatives are trying to take the spotlight off their own damaging actions.  I inquired and even the physician is not allowed to order half sized meals in medical conditions.



Published May 21, 2016 by Nan Mykel

I’m thankful for my Down Syndrome’s daughter’s first 44 years. A humane society made her transition into adulthood relatively painless.  During the dawn of the one-percenters, however, that care is insidiously being compromised.  Much as the mentally ill years ago were shoved out into the community, many of them from the only homes they had ever known; so too the community workshops, where they gather with their friends,  labor at tasks of which they are capable, and dine together are in the process of being closed down.

Some excuses sound rational, many smell of politics.  A humane cultural endeavor of which our communities could be proud is being demolished.  We were so lucky that our Downs daughter was born during an era which offered hope for a consructive future for the mentally challenged–or disabled, or handicapped, or retarded–however you wish to label them.  It’s reached beyond the silent political stage in which the deconstructionists had a head start in paving the way for scraping a humanitarian system that was beautifully engineered and carried out. And the community felt good about the caring they showed.  Now this is ugly, and the ends don’t justify the means of supporting a system to pamper the oligarchy.


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