In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities.
Nationally, millions of individuals with disabilities spend the majority of their daytime hours receiving employment and day services in segregated sheltered workshops and segregated day settings (including day treatment programs or facility-based day habilitation centers) where they are segregated from non-disabled persons. Many of these individuals are capable of working competitively and earning minimum wage or above in integrated employment and are not opposed to doing so, but they have been unable to access the services and supports that would allow them to find, obtain, and succeed in competitive integrated employment. In the approximately seventeen years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring, 527 U.S. 581 (1999), regarding the integration mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), some state and local service systems have begun to provide a greater number of integrated community alternatives to individuals in or at risk of segregation in institutions or other segregated settings; yet, despite these advances, many individuals with disabilities who receive employment and day services that are planned, funded, and administered by state and local governments continue unnecessarily to receive services, and spend the majority of their daytime hours, in segregated settings.
A core purpose of the ADA is to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency” for individuals with disabilities.1 The integration mandate of Title II of the ADA is intended to allow individuals with disabilities to live integrated lives like individuals without disabilities, including by working, earning a living, and paying taxes. The civil rights of persons with disabilities, including individuals with mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or physical disabilities, are violated by unnecessary segregation in a wide variety of settings, including in segregated employment, vocational, and day programs.
Since the passage of the ADA and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead, the ADA’s Title II integration mandate has been applied in a variety of contexts. The ADA’s integration mandate applies to all the services, programs, and activities of state and local governments, including their employment service systems.2 This guide discusses and explains the requirements of the ADA integration mandate and Olmstead as applied to employment service systems for individuals with disabilities. It complements and supplements, but does not supersede, the “Statement of the Department of Justice on Enforcement of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C.” (June 22, 2011).3