The Top 5 Reasons Why We Haven’t Yet Ended Disability Segregation

The Top 5 Reasons Why We Haven’t Yet Ended Disability Segregation

1. Fear of Change
There is a big, obsolete, but functioning service structure out there, with people in jobs, agencies owning buildings, policies about how to get in and out of them, and billions of dollars to make it work. It’s a giant game of mousetrap, easily able to fail when one part breaks, but there it is. Start changing pieces and the whole structure might come down.
Then, on a smaller scale, are families and the lives of their sons and daughters. Moving away from a workshop, an institution, or even a group home, into a life in the community, can be daunting. The only way to manage this fear is to support, shape, and give things time. People often use the fear of change to defeat things by playing the “they will have nothing then” card. But change shouldn’t close existing systems overnight. It should be planful and make sense over time.
2. The Tendency to Overcomplicate
As far as I can tell, this habit seems to correlate with how many letters come after your name, as in degrees, certifications, or title. We really don’t need more studies, grant proposals, 5-year plans, or task forces. I know policy problems can be complex, but the process and answers are straightforward if we keep the goals clear. The answer is never a paper or a task force; those are just tools that on rare occasions can lead to answers, but generally just produce even more paper or meetings. What is needed is policy directives, a funding change, or a grass roots action that takes things where they need to go. People need good jobs; not programs, training centers, or social enterprises. People need real homes, not residential facilities. 
3. Lack of Leadership
It takes guts to change anything, especially if you are in charge of policy. Most leaders are cautious and politic. This is sensible, but not if it prevents doing what’s right. 
4. Belief that Significant Disabilities are Best Fixed in Buildings
This is simply no longer true, if it ever was. Yet, people still justify sheltered workshops, institutions, day programs,and other facilities as necessary for those with “more severe” disabilities. Even though there is: no… evidence… to… support… facility… services.
5.??? I have about ten more… but, i am going to leave this one for you. Add your fifth obstacle, and any ideas you might have on how to overcome it, by leaving a comment here. 


Judy Kerr

5. The fear of losing benefits and medicaid. People with disabilities have a fear of being too successful in commmunity employment,ie: working too many hours, making too much money, where they would eventually be taken off SSI. They need to be encouraged to go the Supported Employment route to their won financial independence.

Joseph M. Macbeth: (

#5. Not Recognizing the Value of the Direct Support Workforce.

Quality begins and ends with the direct support worker and Quality is defined at the point of interaction between the staff member and the individual with a developmental disability – not the color of the walls or the size and location of the organization’s offices. DSPs assist people they serve in being valued by the community in which they live, however DSPs must themselves also be valued by their employers.

Knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate DSPs act not only as caregivers, but also as teachers, advocates, companions and friends – they work with intention and they work with unconditional positive regard. Even though direct support demands complex skills, independent thinking, ethical judgment and the ability to create long-term relationships of trust and mutual respect, the work of DSPs has not been recognized as a profession by virtually anyone. They are neither viewed as the key lynchpin of a system of community services, nor compensated and otherwise supported on par with the importance of the work that they do. This is a matter that must be addressed if we are to attend to the current crisis as more and more Americans become reliant on community supports due to aging or other disabling conditions.