A Purpose in Life: Why Employment First Matters to Self-Advocates

Self-advocates with intellectual disabilities describe Employment First efforts in their states, and why those efforts are important.

Quick summary:

Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered asked leaders in the self-advocacy movement to describe the impact of Employment First in their states. The authors spoke with 21 peer leaders across the country and asked, “What does Employment First mean?”

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Key findings and quotes

“Being in a sheltered workshop is being sheltered from the world.”

Even though there are new laws limiting the use of sheltered workshops, many people with disabilities do not have access to community employment.

“It is not acceptable to close a sheltered workshop by moving people into day programs. The goal is to support people to work in real jobs.”

Employment First as a policy is not well known by self-advocates. But many interviewed felt that “anybody who wants to work should be able to do so.”