Disability Community Unveils Key Principles of Community Integration

Disability Community Unveils Key Principles of Community Integration

Washington - July 31 2013 - At two congressional briefings celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Monday, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law unveiled a set of consensus principles reflecting the disability community's shared vision of community integration. The document, entitled Community Integration for People with Disabilities: Key Principles, lays out a vision in which people with disabilities are afforded opportunities to live in their own homes, work in regular, non-segregated employment, and make their own choices.

The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee highlighted the Key Principles in its recent report, Separate and Unequal, detailing how state service systems continue to serve many thousands of people with disabilities in needlessly segregated settings, despite the ADA's requirement that states administer services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate.

Embracing the key principles are 26 major national organizations representing people with disabilities, family members, service providers, and state administrators. (A full list of signatories is on the second page of the Principles document.) Examples include the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Arc of the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Federation of the Blind, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

"Our disability service systems must begin to make these principles a reality for all people with disabilities," stated Ira Burnim, legal director at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, at Monday's briefings. "While most states have expressed a desire to do the right thing," Burnim added, "they have failed to implement these principles on a large scale."

"People with disabilities want the same things as people without disabilities: to make their own choices, to work, to have a place called home, and to have family and friends," added Burnim. "We know now that we can support people with disabilities to live very much like those without disabilities."

Burnim was one of seven speakers at the events, which featured officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a member of the National Council on Disability, a former resident of a nursing home, and experts.

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The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law (www.bazelon.org) is the leading national legal-advocacy organization representing people with mental disabilities. It promotes laws and policies that enable people with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities to exercise their life choices and access the resources they need to participate fully in their communities.

For media inquiries, please contact Dominic Holt at dominic @ bazelon.org or 202.467.5730, ext. 311.

 

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Community Integration for People with Disabilities: Key Principles

July 2013

General Principles

- Individuals with disabilities should have the opportunity to live like people without disabilities. They should have the opportunity to be employed, have a place to call home, and be engaged in the community with family and friends.

- Individuals with disabilities should have control over their own day, including which job or educational or leisure activities they pursue.

- Individuals with disabilities should have control over where and how they live, including the opportunity to live in their own apartment or home. Living situations that require conformity to a collective schedule or that restrict personal activities limit the right to choose.

Employment

- Individuals with disabilities should have the opportunity to be employed in non-segregated, regular workplaces. Virtually all individuals with disabilities can be employed and earn the same wages as people without disabilities. When needed for such employment, they should have access to supported or customized employment. They should be afforded options other than sheltered work, day treatment, clubhouses, and other segregated programs.

Housing

- Virtually all individuals with disabilities can live in their own home with supports. Like people without disabilities, they should get to decide where they live, with whom they live, when and what they eat, who visits and when, etc.

- To this end, individuals with disabilities should have access to housing other than group homes, other congregate arrangements, and multi-unit buildings or complexes that are primarily for people with disabilities. They should have access to “scattered site” housing, with ownership or control of a lease. Housing should not be conditioned on compliance with treatment or with a service plan.

Choice

- Individuals with disabilities should have the opportunity to make informed choices. They must have full and accurate information about their options, including what services and financial support are available in integrated settings. They should have the opportunity to visit integrated settings and talk to individuals with similar disabilities working and living in integrated settings. Their concerns about integrated settings should be explored and addressed.

Public Funding

- Government funding for services should support implementation of these principles. Currently, public funding has a bias toward institutionalization, forcing individuals to overcome myriad barriers if they wish to age in place and remain in their communities.

These community integration principles are embraced by:

1. ADAPT

2. American Association of People with Disabilities

3. American Diabetes Association

4. Association of University Centers on Disabilities

5. The Arc of the United States

6. Autistic Self-Advocacy Network

7. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

8. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

9. Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

10. Easter Seals

11. Little People of America

12. Mental Health America

13. National Alliance on Mental Illness

14. National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy

15. National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services

16. National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

17. National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery

18. National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

19. National Council on Independent Living

20. National Disability Rights Network

21. National Federation of the Blind

22. National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse

23. National Organization on Disability

24. Paralyzed Veterans of America

25. TASH

26. United Spinal Association