Since the mid-thirties, the Fair Labor Standards Act has created exceptions for people with disabilities that allowed them to be paid sub-minimum wage, often amounting to pennies on the dollar. Arising from this system grew a network of segregated warehouses, where people with disabilities would do mind numbing, simplistic labor, a practice which many are surprised to hear is still utilized through much of the United States. Today in Iowa, thousands of people with disabilities are segregated from their peers, warehoused away and exploited, all while ‘providers’ receive funding for the invaluable ‘work training’ being provided. Even as many work to dismantle this antiquated system, others seek to push for change without daring to speak truthfully about the damage sheltered work has dealt to generations of disabled youth.
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