DAY 10:

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How would you like to work for $2 per hour?

This is the reality for almost 250,000 Americans with disabilities. They are paid below the minimum wage, simply because they have a disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 and good progress has been made. However, it has not reached its full potential of assuring equal opportunities to people with disabilities. For example, individuals with disabilities are still more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those without disabilities. Only 32% of working-age people with disabilities are employed, and over 250,000 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities are paid below minimum wage through 14(c) waivers that allow businesses to legally pay people with some disabilities an average of $2 per hour.

People with disabilities still experience many barriers that limit full integration into the community, which create health inequities. For example, 35.7% of Iowans with disabilities are physically inactive (23% without disabilities) and 44.8% of Iowans with disabilities are obese (33.3% without disabilities). They are two times more likely to smoke and are more likely to have had heart disease, stroke, cancer, or diabetes than those without disabilities. Women with disabilities are less likely to have received a mammogram in the past two years. Some of the contributing factors include inaccessible medical equipment, lack of knowledge among health and wellness practitioners about disability and accommodations, and barriers to communication with people with disabilities.

Having a disability does not mean a person is not healthy or that he or she cannot be healthy. They do require healthcare that meets their needs as a whole person, not just as a person with a disability.

People with disabilities want to be included in everyday activities with peers who do not have a disability. This includes social activities, using public transit or libraries, receiving adequate healthcare, having relationships, and enjoying recreational activities.

Did you know?

  • About 1 in 4 Iowa adults, or about 725,667 adult Iowans, have a disability.
  • An additional 14% of youth identify as having a physical, mental, or emotional disability, or impairment that limits their daily activities.
  • Persons with disabilities include every race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, and more.
  • Many people are born with disabilities, and they can be acquired through accident, illness, or the aging process.

Do one or more of the following…



The Iowa Department of Human Rights provides guidelines in using affirmative words (PDF) when communicating with people with disabilities and ideas on how to be more inclusive to people with disabilities (PDF). For a personal perspective, read the Credo of Support (PDF), a poem written by Norman Kunc on how to support people with disabilities.

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Listen to this recent NPR report Workers With Disabilities Can Earn Just $3.34 An Hour. Agency Says Law Needs Change, reported by Alina Selyukh. (4:00)



Watch the Ted Talk with Judith Heumann as she speaks to “our fight for disability rights and why we’re not done yet.” For more than 30 years, Judith Heumann has been involved on the international front working with disabled people’s organizations and governments around the world to advance the human rights of people with disabilities. (21:15)



Watch a video from the Move to Include series on IowaPBS. Move to Include is the multi-platform public media initiative designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. The initiative looks to inspire and motivate people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life. (various videos ranging from 2:36 to 1:30:00)

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Watch the trailer for Rooted in Rights' Bottom Dollars, and learn about this award-winning documentary that exposes the exploitation of people with disabilities through personal stories and expert interviews. The film presents clear employment alternatives with competitive wages and community inclusion. (3:45)



Visit an accessible park or accessible trail to see and experience important features like curb cuts, playground equipment, ramps, and braille signs. Then, walk around your neighborhood and notice what places are not accessible to people with disabilities (physical, hearing, sight, cognition, mental illness, or someone with multiple disabilities). What areas would be challenging to visit and enjoy? How could those areas become more accessible?


Capture what you learned by journaling your thoughts and feelings about today's content. Click below to download a free journal page for today.

Journal Page


If you are participating in the Challenge as part of a group, download this free discussion guide to help facilitate discussion.

Journal Page






CONVERSATION PIECE: Art Addressing Equity

Lines by LS

Artist: L.S. 
Title: Lines
Date of piece: May 2018

"This piece can bring strong emotions in some, and very little in others. It can surface difficult emotions and echoes of trauma."

Youth Artist, ArtForce Iowa

Thank you to the members of BRAVO Greater Des Moines for curating the Equity Challenge Gallery, a collection of art in various media that speaks to the issues of equity in our society.

BRAVO Greater Des Moines