The state of Ohio has been accused by a disability rights group of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Disability Rights Ohio alleges that the state’s system does not encourage its residents with disabilities to integrate into homes and workplaces in the community and instead isolates them in institutions or sheltered workshops.

The 24-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act calls for people with disabilities to be provided supports in the most integrated and least restrictive settings possible.

The Dispatch reports that Ohio state officials are making some promises to improve the situation while also refuting the allegations.

John Martin [director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities]  told Disability Rights Ohio in a letter on Thursday, officials “do not agree with many of your findings and conclusions” about access to community-based services.

He said the department would discuss its current efforts to downsize institutions, get more people competitively employed and develop a long-term plan to set benchmarks for what the system should look like in 10 years.

Disability Rights Ohio may still file a lawsuit against the state.

“Simply referring to a 10-year strategic-planning process and a waiver-transition committee as a way forward is evidence that perhaps the state does not share our sense of urgency on this matter,” Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt, the agency’s advocacy director, said in a written statement.

Like Ohio, the state of Pennsylvania also has many thousands of people with disabilities who work in sheltered workshops, where they earn subminimum wages and their co-workers are almost solely other disabled people.

A recent PublicSource investigation found that roughly 13,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities earn an average of $2.40 an hour for low-skill jobs, including shredding paper or folding boxes.

Reach Halle Stockton at 412-315-0263 or

This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.

It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?

Halle has served as managing editor for PublicSource since 2015, leading the newsroom and its editorial strategy. Prior to this role, Halle was a reporter for PublicSource for three years and for the Sarasota...