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High Bar Urged For Youth With Disabilities


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A new federal effort is encouraging young people with disabilities — and those who come into contact with them — to set high expectations.

In a public service campaign that launched Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment is highlighting the experiences of seven Americans with varying disabilities who’ve excelled at work, sports and in life because of the support of others.

“Many people who achieve success and have found satisfaction in their careers have done so because one person believed in them and urged them to set their expectations high,” said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “This PSA challenges viewers to rethink their ideas about what people with disabilities can achieve and consider what they might do to encourage young people with disabilities to pursue their personal and career goals.”

Those featured in the campaign include a Virginia man with Down syndrome who works for a caterer and an artist with Asperger’s syndrome who credits a teacher for helping him see his talent.

“Like all young people, youth with disabilities should grow up expecting to work and succeed,” a voice-over in the PSA says.

Dubbed “Because,” the PSA is being distributed to over 1,400 television stations, Labor Department officials said.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. says:


  2. VMGILLEN says:

    Low standards are a reflection of the conflict between requiring a diagnosis (label) and making plans “individualized.” In training, time is spent on the “involved” parts of a diagnosis, while strengths-based approaches receive little more than lip service. Is this role validation at work? After all, a professional is worth so, so much more if they deal with difficult, intractable students/clients. As a parent I’ve been battling self-fulfilling prophecies since the delivery room! I’ve been told many, many times that I’m in denial (for example, saying my daughter with Downs was able to read). The feds can mandate anything, but change must start with the trainings and practicum, supported by constant vigilance on the part of parents and advocates.

  3. Aaron Joiner says:


  4. Denis Anson says:

    I would, and have, argue that success shouldn’t be assured, it should be striven for. In too many cases, children with disabilities are placed in unrealistic environments where whatever they do is counted as success. But able-bodied children learn from failure, and children with disabilities need that same lesson.
    Yes, absolutely, people with disabilities should have very high goals, and should strive to achieve them. But they must also have the opportunity to fail, so that they can rise above the failure to achieve even more.

  5. mikelooch says:

    The challenge to service providers in the area of employment is to find the strengths of and individual and match that to a job that fits the person’s aptitudes (strengths) and their self-goals. Fitting someone into an existing opening because it is funded and available has to stop. And, make-work jobs are disrespectful. Every person has skills that are valuable.

  6. Electric_Pink says:

    I work for a provider that encourages young adults to train for jobs other than in the janitorial and food service industries. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with that type of work, and these days, any type of work is good if you can get it. I’m stressing that people with disabilities have the potential to do more than what other think they can do. Their potential has to be unlocked and nurtured. They just need the opportunity to exhibit their skills and knowledge in an inclusive, supporting environment. My employer trains persons to do office administrative work, and retail work that doesn’t always involve bagging groceries or stocking shelves. As well, several of the people receiving services are great visual artists. More opportunities should exist for them to work creatively and be paid for it.

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