The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a statewide settlement agreement that will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The landmark ten year agreement is the nation’s first statewide settlement to address the rights of people with disabilities to receive state funded employment and daytime services in the broader community, rather than in segregated sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. Approximately 450,000 people with I/DD across the country spend their days in segregated sheltered workshops or in segregated day programs. The agreement significantly advances the department’s work to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C, which requires persons with I/DD be served in the most integrated setting appropriate .
As a result of the settlement, 2,000 Rhode Islanders with I/DD who are currently being served by segregated programs will have opportunities to work in real jobs at competitive wages. Additionally, over the next ten years, 1,250 students with I/DD will receive services to help transition into the workforce.
“Today’s agreement will make Rhode Island a national leader in the movement to bring people with disabilities out of segregated work settings and into typical jobs in the community at competitive pay,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “As Rhode Island implements the agreement over the next ten years, it will make a dramatic difference in the lives of people with disabilities, businesses and communities across the state. We congratulate Governor Chafee and state officials for signing this agreement, as we believe that Rhode Island will be a model for the nation with respect to integrated employment for people with disabilities.”
“The filing of today’s consent decree is a critically important event in Rhode Island history,” said U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha for the District of Rhode Island. “It ushers in a new day of opportunity – opportunity for Rhode Island residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities to live, work and spend their recreational time alongside their fellow Rhode Islanders. It is an opportunity for this State to move forward; to recognize, finally, that we are better, stronger, when all of us – all of us –are interwoven in the fabric that is Rhode Island.”