Wednesday, March 2, 2011

COMMENT NOW on "Envisioning the Future" recommendations on developmental disabilities

Last Fall, the federal Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) held Listening Sessions in five cities around the country to hear public testimony on "Envisioning the Future" for people with developmental disabilities and programs funded by the federal Developmental Disabilities Act. In Michigan, those programs include the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services, and the DD Institute at Wayne State University in Detroit. State advocacy organizations, including the ARC Michigan, UCP Michigan, and the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, are recipients of DD Act funding through grants from the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council.

The day following each listening session, the ADD held a stakeholder's meeting to prioritize recommendations for future DD Act program activities. These meetings were by invitation only and were were not open to the public. Stakeholders are presumably the agencies and organizations that receive DD Act funding. Their recommendations are summarized in this document

Friday, March 4th, 2011 is the last day to submit comments on choice and other issues for people with developmental disabilities to the federal Administration on Developmental Disabilities Website.

Recommendations run amok
While many of the recommendations are reasonable and uncontroversial, some are decidedly anti-choice, calling for the elimination of congregate care and so-called segregated sheltered workshops (specialized community-based work programs) that many people with developmental disabilities need and want.

For example:  

Promote access to community living services - “Develop and implement plans to close public and private institutions and segregated workshops” (p. 12. Note: The DD Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Supreme Court Olmstead decision do not require that institutions or other congregate settings close. Neither are specialized work settings for people with disabilities singled out for closure.)

Collaboration - “ADD and the Administration on Aging should jointly plan and pool resources at the Federal and State levels while maintaining the DD Act values. Caution against taking on any values/programs that involve congregation and segregation” (p. 13. Note: Whose values are we talking about? Some of the values of DD Act programs conflict with the rights of people with developmental disabilities to participate in making decisions about their own lives and to choose services and living situations based on their individual needs and preferences.).

Community Living - “Keep people with disabilities out of congregate institutions” and “Harness the supports and influence of The Arc” (p.  14. Note: the ARC Michigan supports the elimination of all specialized programs that serve people with DD in disability-only settings. Why promote the influence of this one organization over others?)

Family Supports - "Guardianship should be assumed as an exception -- there should be legislation to protect people with developmental disabilities." (p. 16. Note: There already is legislation to protect people with DD. Guardianship is a state issue governed by state laws. In Michigan, guardianship law protects individuals from abuse, exploitation, and neglect while promoting the maximum independence appropriate. Many advocates in Michigan promote an ideology that dismisses the idea that anyone is in need of these protections through guardianship.)

Self-Determination - "Make self-determination the overriding foundation in DD Act. ADD and the DD network must promote self-determination clearly and explicitly, applying quality standards that are universal to all people through the network, across the lifespan. Self-determination equals citizenship and control of supports/resources." (p. 18. Note: Self-Determination, a process for gaining more personal control over services and financial resources, is optional in Michigan and for many that process is not the best way to achieve the goal of appropriate services to meet the needs of the individual. There are other pathways to citizenship.)

Despite public testimony to the contrary, there is no recognition in this document that there are people with developmental disabilities who may not be able to work in integrated employment, live in typical community settings, or make decisions for themselves. This is an example of how little understanding of cognitive disabilities there is among some "stakeholders" : 

Economic Self-Sufficiency - "Promote teaching all people with disabilities how to control their financial resources and supports (i.e., how to bank, file their taxes, how to control their resources for supports, how to open and maintain checking and bank accounts). This should apply to everyone, even if they have a severe disability." (p.20)


  1. To comment,  prepare a simple statement in support of your views and objecting to recommendations that you do not agree with. If you have more extensive comments, you can upload a Word Document along with comments you enter directly. Give your name, city, and state.
  2. Go on-line (directions below) and submit your comments. Keep a copy of your remarks for future use. 
  3. To post your comment BY FRIDAY, MARCH 4, click here.
Fill in the required boxes marked with the asterisk. 

Where it asks you to enter the title of your submission --- that is what will appear at the top of your submission.  Something like "Support the Right to Choose" or "One size does not fit all" will draw attention to the point you want to make.

To see other comments, click “What Others Have to Say” link

You can then type in your comments. There is no word limit. You can "copy and paste" into the comment section.  You can also attach (“upload your document”) your document. 

When finished, hit SUBMIT!.

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