By Jill Barker
My son Danny is forty years old this week. He has multiple disabilities resulting from brain damage acquired during his first few days after birth. He functions at the level of a 6 to 12 month old infant and always will. And, yes, I know he is not really an infant. We do not love him less because he lives and survives with profound developmental disabilities.
I first heard the term Inclusion around 1990. Danny was 13 years old and attending High Point School in Ann Arbor. High Point was an outstanding program for Danny, bringing together services, expertise, and a supportive community to accommodate children with the most severe disabilities, including complex medical and behavioral conditions.
Inclusion, when applied to schooling for disabled children, is the belief that all children, regardless of the severity or nature of their disabilities, can and should be educated in regular classrooms with their non-disabled peers. Inclusion was promoted by many disability advocates as a “right” for every child. Most discussions of the idea did not include an examination of whether the premise on which the belief is based is true for every child or whether it is required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (it is not). In the face of any disagreement with the idea, promoters of inclusion encouraged families to take sides: “Are you for ‘Inclusion’ or against it?” Or as many advocates would have it, “Do you want disabled children isolated and segregated from the rest of society or do you want them to be fully integrated into and embraced by ‘the community’”? This continues to this day.
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On March 6th, 2018 the House Judiciary Committee convened to examine the harmful effects of class action lawsuits aimed at closing Intermediate Care Facilites for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF's/IID). The hearing came at the request of Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
Testimony was presented by Martha Bryant, Mother, RN, BSN & VOR member, Caroline Lahrmann, Mother, VOR Ohio State Coordinator & past president, and Peter Kinzler, Father, longtime VOR Member, Director & Legislative Committee Chair. Alison Barkoff of the Center for Public Representation.
spoke on behalf of those in favor of using class action lawsuits against ICF's/IID and opposed to providing notification to families and guardians of individuals residing in these homes.
Read or download testimony of the participants:
In September, 2018 VOR sent out 2 Action Alerts, asking Congress to pause and reconsider HR 3506, the EMPOWER Act to renew the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program.
VOR continues to support the rights of parents, family members, and concerned individuals as legal guardians of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We have collected some of our current and past documents here for your convenience.
By Harris Capps and Joan Kelley
Sheltered Workshops are private non-profit, state, or local government entities that provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Persons served in this environment may include those with developmental, physical, and/or mental impairments, ranging from mild to extreme/profoundly affected individuals. Sheltered workshops:
- Provide prevocational training, with the goal to prepare for competitive employment for available jobs in the open labor market
- Emphasize support of individual needs, based on ability to choose work activities that fit with a person’s skills
- Often include additional training in personal care, living skills and developing social skills
- Honor the depth and scope of the DD population, recognizing that some individuals may not ever be able to be competitively employed
After completing a rehabilitation program, many individuals are able to leave the workshop environment and enter regular employment, if there is a job available for which they qualify. Individuals unable to obtain regular employment because of the severity of their impairments or unavailability of jobs can remain in the workshop environment. Individuals performing services are paid a fraction of, or up to minimum wage, depending on their capacity to perform the services. 
In March of 2018, the National Council on Disability issued a position paper, "Beyond Guardianship, Toward Alternatives That Promote Greater Self-Determination". In September, VOR's Issues Oversight Committee submitted a report on our position and findings regarding that report.
VOR's Response is available to download here