Rochester Program to Improve Unemployment Rates for Persons with Disabilities

ROCHESTER, NY The US Supreme Court held at Olmstead v. LC. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This enables people with disabilities to integrate into the right steps of their lives. This can look like individuals moving into properly designated group homes, access to needed health care, and employment opportunities.

That court decision was 25 years ago, on June 22, 1999, but people with disabilities still suffer from high levels of unemployment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 7.2% in 2023, about double that of those without disabilities, which was 3.5%.


What you need to know

  • People with disabilities were formally placed in a position to seek our appropriate next steps for their development in 1999 in the United States Supreme Court’s decision of Olmsted v. LC
  • The decision found that justified segregation of disabled people is a form of illegal discrimination
  • 25 years after the decision, there are more job training opportunities for people with disabilities, but their unemployment rate remains
  • Daemon Mack is a student employee through the MCC Experience, a program partnered with Arc o Monroe since 2017
  • They are working with Mack to identify his goals and build his skills for his future career

That’s why employment training is critical for people like Daemon Mack.

My dream is to work at Foodlink food pantry you know? Mack said.

He has been interning as a student worker in the Monroe County Community Colleges food pantry, a job offered through the Arc of Monroe and the MCC Experience.

I spent two more years at MCC before graduating. And I have to figure out my plans, what I’m going to do next year, he said.

Ferr will enter the workforce, but as a person with developmental disabilities, maintaining employment has been somewhat of a challenge for him in the past.

They’re like, well, you’re not doing so well. So I’m like, I have to find my plan B, Mack explained. I wasn’t crazy. I might have to get another job, or I might have to do another job study or something.

Two jobs later, he continues to work toward his goals, both physically and mentally.

It’s part of my disability, so it’s more one-handed exercises and things like that, he said.

MCC Experience has partnered with Arc of Monroe since 2017. The organizations help people, like Mack, find personalized and sometimes non-traditional employment opportunities.

This really helps our participants. It is important, so the preparation to work, what are those skills that people need that will help them to be successful and then, but also work for their goals. What kind of interests are they interested in doing? Is it employment? Is it volunteering? Is it just getting out into the community more? So everyone is at a different level of services, said Linda Riggs, vice president of community and employment services at the Arc of Monroe.

It’s just helping people understand that, that maybe you look at things in a non-traditional way,” she continued. “Like I said, maybe we have a person who can’t work 40 hours a week, but has a skill set that fits the needs yours, but they could do it in 10 hours a week. So, get creative. And that’s so important because giving it, you know, to people we foster a sense of purpose and mission in life, which, you know, is sometimes denied and really shouldn’t be.”

Employment helps provide a purpose in life for people with disabilities. People with disabilities were officially declared able to seek developmentally appropriate next steps in a 1999 US Supreme Court decision. Olmsted v. LC Macks the right to employment can help him find a stronger purpose in life.

What we do is try to figure out different resources, different techniques, different strategies to help them, to help them achieve their goal, if it’s to gain job readiness skills, then to have lectures and as occasional teaching to show those things. they can influence them in their work lives to develop appropriate and good work habits along with social habits, said Daniel Lee, Macks program manager at MCC Experience.

Mack’s supervisors say conversations about his goals have been a big step in his development. They are proud to see it grow every day.

I think just all the opportunities that Daemon has taken and he’s taken some risks…and he’s just blossomed into such an amazing person and he’s doing things that he never would have done before. I was also seeing many new signs and abilities coming out of him. And I can’t wait to see what he does next year, said Jean McCrumb, Access to College Experiences program coordinator at MCC.

Everyone is forming a team – Team Daemon.

It’s a great program for me, you know? Mack smiled.

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