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Bill to help disabled people get meaningful jobs passes

The bill is headed to Gov. Jim Justice's desk.
The bill is headed to Gov. Jim Justice's desk.
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 7:16 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - When it comes to disabled people and the opportunities they have to land a job, some say West Virginia could do a better job.

A bill is headed to the governor’s desk aimed to help people get a good job.

Making meaningful jobs for people with disabilities a reality in West Virginia is what state Delegate Dianna Graves, R- Kanawha, wanted when she sponsored the bill.

“West Virginia has one of the highest percentage based on population of people that are disabled and we are the lowest in percentage based on people that are gainfully employed,” Graves said.

Integrated employment means people with disabilities can work in their communities for a competitive wage.

Advocates for the bill say most states have passed bills encouraging it and now, overwhelmingly, the West Virginia House and Senate passed a bill, too.

“What this does, it is creates a task force that looks at how well are we doing in the state with integrated employment what could we be doing better,” said Delegate Graves.

House Bill 2290 now goes to Gov. Jim Justice’s office. If it is signed, the task force would work to raise expectations.

Christy Black’s 17-year-old daughter Gracie has Down syndrome. Christy, an advocate for the bill, works with the West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council.

“Society does unfortunately have a lower expectations about what a person with a disability can or can’t do,” Black said.

She said Gracie worked at a store in Culloden, the community where she lives. Through working there, Gracie found out she enjoys flowers but also found out a lot of things about herself, too.

“She also found that guess what? ... She wants to work, she wants to get married, she wants to build a house, she wants everything that everybody else wants,” Black said.

Christy has been working hard to get this bill through for a few years.

“Early on sometimes parents are told not to have expectations for their children, so it’s really a lot about changing those expectations but creating policies to make sure people do get that opportunity,” Black said.

With the bill’s passage Christy’s work begins to educate the public about what people with disabilities can do and to change expectations so thousands with disabilities like her daughter Gracie can be in their communities doing what they love.

The task force would use federal dollars already available to the state.

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