The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
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David Egan Testimony at Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID)

My name is David Egan, I am 37 years old, and I am from Vienna, Virginia. I am very pleased to provide public comments to the Advisory Council on a topic very important to me personally – competitive integrated employment, on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) today. I am currently working, through my Kennedy Fellowship, in the DC Office of NDSS. I also just wrapped up a fellowship rotation at the House Ways & Means Committee. Through my fellowship, I was able to take a year-long sabbatical from my job at Booz Allen Hamilton. I am also honored to be the first person with an intellectual disability as JP Kennedy Jr Fellow.

I got my first internship in 1996 through the Marriott Bridges Program at Booz Allen Hamilton. Once my internship ended, I was hired as an employee and have worked in the Booz Distribution center as a mailroom Clerk delivering packages and mail for 18 years.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver believed in individuals with intellectual disabilities and she wanted a better life for people like me, for people like her sister Rosemary. That is what she told us through her words, and I quote: “the right to play on any playing field you have earned it. The right to study in any school you have earned it. The right to hold a job you have earned it. The right to be anyone's neighbor you have earned it.”

So why, in 2015, haven’t ALL people like me earned the right to be paid at least federal minimum wage? Why aren’t there more integrated employment opportunities for people like me? Why am I, David Egan, the exception and not the norm?

NDSS believes we need to move away from two practices in the employment of individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities that we need to move away from: 1) subminimum wage and 2) sheltered workshops.

As I stated, I am one of the lucky ones. I’ve worked at Booz Allen Hamilton for almost 20 years, I get paid… pretty well and I won’t tell you how much, but I will say its way above the federal minimum wage AND I get benefits, including a 401k! Why should Booz Allen be allowed to pay me less for the same performance level of my colleagues without a disability? Booz Allen is not alone in employing individuals with disabilities, SAP software solutions, Ernst and Young, and Proctor and Gamble --just to name a few. They’re not paying their workers subminimum wages, so why should anyone?

It is unjust and pure discrimination for people like me, people with Down syndrome and other disabilities to be paid subminimum wage. This outdated policy allows keeps individuals with disabilities way under the poverty line, and forces us to be a burden on the government, our families and our communities.

The mission of NDSS is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. As the largest nonprofit in the United States, NDSS believes, regardless of the employment setting, people with Down syndrome should be compensated the same federal wages as all other Americans. Like all other Americans, employment is a defining aspect of adult life. It connects us to full participation and inclusion in our communities, fosters a sense of self-worth, and opens opportunities for social growth and leads to greater independence. In order to make sure that everyone is integrated and valued in their work, including those with the most significant support needs, it is time to confront practices that segregate and confine people to the limitations imposed by sheltered work and subminimum wage.

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