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Kyle Gatchalian


Abingdon, MD, USA

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Imagine you have finished school and seek employment. Your only life-long option is a job that pays minimum wage and without health insurance. This is the reality for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The employment rate for these diverse learners is 34% compared to the 76% employment for non-disabled peers that also receive higher wages and benefits. Within the 34% employment rate, only 19% work in a competitive employment setting. Conditions in sheltered employment settings are worse because wages are as low as two dollars per hour. This is a pressing matter because employment is one measurement to determine success in Special Education. The low employment rate has remained steady in the United States despite federal legislation and billions of dollars set aside to produce meaningful employment for this underrepresented population of students. These students need a solution providing equity and the opportunity to be productive in their post-secondary lives.

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