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The 1960s: The Growth of a Highly Segregated System.
A Valuing Focus on Work, At Least For Some.

Happy man with hobby
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden

Three major developments dominated the 1960s

  • The President's Panel on Mental Retardation called for major attention to the employment of adults and the preparation of young people for employment.
  • Major growth in the numbers of day activity centers and sheltered workshops across the country, and federal funding to aid in that expansion.
  • Widespread experience with people with developmental disabilities working in real jobs for minimum wage or better, thus bolstering an analysis of the positive economic impact of employment.

Underlying these developments was a fundamental assumption – while the vast majority of people with developmental disabilities could work, many were too severely disabled to do so.

For "the mildly retarded", the career track was fairly straightforward – train for employment, preferably from an early age, then place the person on the job. For everybody else, long term placement in sheltered settings was the prognosis.

Woman and man in a kitchen