The statements below are from a white paper produced from a March, 2011 Summit by leaders from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the National Youth Leadership Network, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, and allies. Including not only Summit proceedings, but a broad range of interviews besides, the authors “…believe that this report and the process that led to it was broadly inclusive and captured many voices typically left out of these discussions.”
Community Living and Employment:
Whether we work in sheltered workshops, enclaves, or day habilitation centers, vocational segregation of us from people without disabilities does not count as community living. It is not gainful employment if we do not have the opportunity to make money at the same levels as other people who work in our community. We lose an important aspect of community life if we spend our time only around people with disabilities, in day habilitation centers, and are not able to be included in our broader communities.
We must have opportunities to work in jobs as part of the general work force, among people who do not have disabilities. Opportunities for earning wages and benefits should be the same as everyone else. CMS funding should be used for supported employment and not be used for sheltered workshops or settings paying sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. CMS community funding should not be used for any segregated settings, including day habilitation centers.
Anything that segregates us from our communities is not community.
Keeping the Promise: Self Advocates Defining the Meaning of Community Living