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By 1972, some of the initial thinking about job redesign and on-the-job training introduced in the late 1960s were seen as trends. A monograph on "Mental Retardation and the Future" described approaches that would, in fact, become much more common, though in profoundly different ways:

The greatest impetus in increasing employment opportunities will probably be the use of job specifications which emphasize abilities. Jobs can be broken down into parts and new job descriptions written to fit the particular abilities of the [individual]. Also, increased awareness of the under-utilization of abilities among the retarded will overcome the tendency to place them in positions which do not fully realize their potential… During the next decade we will see the community assuming more of the responsibility for employment practices. Industry will provide imaginative leadership in redefining jobs which the retarded can perform, and will identify, if not actually provide, training appropriate to these jobs.

The emphasis on employment, however, applied primarily to those considered "mildly disabled." For many others, sheltered environments would be the rule.

Man working in a factory
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

It is not until the 1970s that the teaching and support strategies begin to emerge to support people with severe and multiple disabilities to enter the real world of real work. In the 1980s substantial resources became available to implement supported employment approaches.

The sheltered workshop represents the major rehabilitation service with the most general application. Many mildly retarded adults can, with assistance, obtain employment. Others will require the service of a rehabilitation counselor. Still others will need further training prior to entering the competitive world. Few moderately retarded persons will independently obtain employment. In general, they will rely on sheltered workshop employment and/or training (PCMR 1969).

People working
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.