In 1967, the PCMR reported that an estimated 2 million people with developmental disabilities were capable of learning to support themselves and needed job training and placement services. Even at minimum wage, these individuals were said to have a potential annual earning capacity of $6 billion.

"Even at minimum wage" was, however, a fairly risky assumption in the late 1960s. Back in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act created a federally-mandated minimum wage, but it also created an exemption for "handicapped workers." Section 14(c) allowed employers with special certificates to pay below the federal minimum wage.

Man working at a table
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.