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Two Streams – Real Work and Sheltered Programs

By 1969, the President's Committee stressed the need for realism in the vocational objectives parents have for their children, and the role of education and training to prepare people to meet realistic objectives. Usually the phrase "let's be realistic" is a call to limit opportunities for people.

The PCMR, however, was pushing for increased recognition of the employment potential of people with developmental disabilities.

Realism must be the key to the education and training of people with developmental disabilities. They will have to enter a real world not truly made for them; get a real job that may be alien to their concepts of work; face up to real social and interpersonal situations that may not always be pleasant; handle real personal problems (money, transportation, living quarters, the like) that for us might be routine but for them are crisis-sized.

Recycled metal
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Early in life, education and training must prepare them for the world of useful work. And it must prepare them for the world of useful living outside of work.

Parents should be encouraged to accept realistic vocational objectives for their children with developmental disabilities. To do this, it is necessary to inform not only parents, but also persons to whom parents might turn for counsel… These professions should be provided with material dealing with the training and employment of people with developmental disabilities, with the emphasis placed on the innate value of all work whether skilled or unskilled.

The PCMR recommended developing curriculum guidelines to prepare people for work, preparing materials on work for people with disabilities themselves, and building on "new concepts of vocational education that bring students out of the classroom into work-a-day situations."

Men working with wood
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
People working
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.