Students at a school in Morgan Township, Ind., recently learned what it's like for someone with vision impairments to perform daily tasks such as eating lunch or walking down the hallway. Students rotated through stations offering various activities such as eating spaghetti while blindfolded.
Disability rights advocates in Wisconsin and nationwide are pushing for competitive wages and employment opportunities in the community for all people with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their condition. Officials with community-based agencies contend they still need a sub-minimum wage option to ensure they can get jobs for people who work at low productivity levels.
People with disabilities must be actively involved in disaster and emergency planning, said Marcie Roth, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Office of Disability Integration and Coordination. More efforts are being made nationwide to include people with disabilities in emergency planning, including the Alianza Emergency Preparedness Project, which involves families in planning and preparing for emergencies.
A Washington state school district, where students with special needs are taught in inclusive classrooms, has a program to help students with developmental disabilities make the transition from high school to independent living and the workplace. Since its creation in 2004, the Transition Academy has served students ages 18 to 21 with life-skills lessons plus job training that has helped many secure paying positions at local businesses.
A special-education teacher at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale, Minn., has students with special needs learning math and social skills through a new school-based popcorn business. Teacher Gary Downing secured a grant to start the program for his students in the school's Communication and Interactional Disorders program. Proceeds from the sales are used to sustain the business and provide funding for other special-education projects.