By Sam Hananel

Most Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities remain shut out of the workforce, despite changing attitudes and billions of dollars spent on government programs to help them. Even when they find work, it’s often part time, in a dead-end job or for pay well below the minimum wage.

Employment is seen as crucial for improving the quality of life for people with these disabilities and considered a benchmark for measuring the success of special-
education programs. Yet the jobs picture is as bleak now as it was more than a decade ago.

Only 44 percent of intellectually disabled adults are in the labor force, either employed or looking for work, while just 34 percent are actually working, according to a survey by Special Olympics and conducted by Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. That compares with 83 percent of non-disabled, working-age adults who are in the workforce.

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