Inmates with mild disabilities (the "high-grades") were used as free labor to help care for others. When superintendents discovered their successful "pupils" were not welcomed back in their communities, they focused their training on skills that would make them productive workers in the institution. Therefore, the institutions could demonstrate they were relieving society of a burden.
Howe and Seguin saw what was happening, but it was too late. In 1866, Howe was asked to give a keynote address for the groundbreaking of a new institution for people who were blind in Batavia, New York. Howe pleaded with them not to open the institution, stating that the idea was misguided.