Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NCD Report on Deinstitutionalizatioin : Part 4

The National Council on Disability met today for its quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C. Anyone calling in to the NCD can give comments to the Council. Check on their schedule of meetings and agenda. Some public comment periods are open only for specified topics and others are unrestricted. 

These comments are about the NCD's Report on Deinstitutionalization and the NCD's failure to acknowledge or explain opposing views.

Comments to the National Council on Disability
April 23, 2013

Jill Barker
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The DD News Blog

You have heard from individuals who opposed the NCD report on "Deinstitutionalization: Unfinished Business". I think that the NCD needs to do more to include opposing views on this and other subjects from people with severe developmental disabilities and their families:

  • I have two adult sons with profound intellectual and developmental disabilities. My sons and people like them appear to be invisible to the NCD. When the NCD redefines an institution as any setting with 4 or more individuals who did not choose to live together, it does not acknowledge that there are people who cannot make such choices. My husband and I, as our sons' co-guardians, make these choices for them because both our boys are unable to exercise their rights on their own behalf. We make these choices based on what we know to be their preferences and needs and not without considerable thought to how their lives will be affected.
  • The NCD report on deinstitutionalization makes no attempt to assess how the recommended policies will affect people with severe disabilities. How many 10's of thousands of people will be displaced from their homes? How disruptive will policies be to the lives of people with severe disabilities and their families when they lead to the elimination of services and settings that are not "fully integrated" (as defined by the NCD)? In writing the report, no one bothered to ask. In interviews with individuals with disabilities, only those who reinforced the views of the NCD were included in the report. No attempt was made to include opposing viewpoints or explain the reasons for them. 
  • Who stands to benefit from policies that push the ideology of full inclusion to its illogical extreme? Such policies provide cover for states that seek to cut costs while being heralded as promoting freedom for individuals with disabilities. How many people will be "liberated" from services and residential options they need to survive? By promoting residences of fewer than 6 people, in Michigan at least, this will relieve the State of having to license and regulate living situations. In closing larger facilities, there is no guarantee that services will be financially sustainable for people with the most severe disabilities or that savings will go to expand community services.
By focusing in this report so narrowly on eliminating options for people with severe disabilities, the NCD has missed an opportunity to call attention to the problems in community care and solutions that include a broader spectrum of ideas and opinions.

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