Horticulture businesses will be encouraged to hire qualified individuals with disabilities due to the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Maintaining a safe workplace is a considerable challenge due to the use and storage of restricted-use pesticides. In a vocational training program, two persons with mental disabilities were trained to be effective Integrated Pest Management scouts using systematic teaching procedures. Trainees acquired employable skills while providing a service that enabled management to reduce use of conventional pesticides on a greenhouse poinsettia crop by up to 65%.
Robert T. Eddy and Clifford S. Sadof
Robert T. Eddy and Phillip J. Belfiore
Many studies have described the ability of individuals with mental disabilities to learn vocational tasks commonly performed in greenhouses, and a survey of horticulture employers reports a favorable perception toward the work habits of these individuals. Productivity data are not available from these studies, however. We sought to quantify productivity of individuals with and without mental disabilities performing entry-level greenhouse tasks. Information on ten tasks was compiled from surveys of four vocational centers with greenhouse production and six commercial greenhouses. Individuals with mental disabilities produced at rates of 46% to 192% of corresponding commercial rates, with seven often skills performed. above 75% of the commercial rate. The results from this pilot study suggest that individuals with mental disabilities can achieve satisfactory productivity in real work settings. While significance was not achieved due to limitations of the study, the results provide a baseline for further study by other researchers. The practical significance of these findings can be judged by trainers and employers.