PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island College and the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities will host a public forum, “The State of Employment for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A National Perspective on Trends and Systems Change,” on Thursday, Feb. 13, 6:30-9 p.m. at Alger Hall, Room 110, Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence. Those wishing to attend the free forum are asked to register through the Sherlock Center website, www.sherlockcenter.org, by Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The State of Employment forum represents the first in a series of collaborative forums and workshops this year designed to raise awareness of effective policies and practices in integrated employment and transition.
Panelists for the Feb. 13 event include Executive Director for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities Andy Imparato, Dean and Research Professor at the School of Global Inclusion and Social Development William Kiernan, Director of Employment Systems Change for the Institute for Community Inclusion John Butterworth, Director of Employment Services for Berkshire County Arc Rick Hawes and Chief Operating Officer of WORK Inc. Sharon Smith.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines “integrated employment” as jobs held by people with significant disabilities in a workplace where the majority of workers are not persons with disabilities. Individuals participating in integrated employment perform the same or similar work as those without disabilities, and as such, receive comparable wages.
Although employment and a meaningful life for adults with developmental disabilities have long been the goals of families, service providers and advocates, a Jan. 6 letter of findings from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights has increased statewide focus on these issues. The U.S. Department of Justice issued findings concluding that the State of Rhode Island violated Title II of the ADA by unnecessarily segregating persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities through the use of particular sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.