Today is the 10th Anniversary of the Olmstead decision by the Supreme Court. This decision was the single most important result of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The decision said that states couldn’t force people to live in institutions just because the state thought it was more convenient.
Federal law placed on states an affirmative demand that they work to allow people with disabilities to live in the community of their choice with the supports they need to succeed.
At this 10 year anniversary, it is worthwhile remembering why this is so important:
- As an advocate, every institution I was ever involved with, had many and continuing instances of physical and sexual abuse by staff on those who were forced to live in them.
- Every institution constricts freedom, personal development and choice for its own convenience.
- Every institution denies rights taken for granted by the rest of us to those who live in them for its own convenience.
- Every institution administration views those who live in them as beds, slots, billable payments, or drains on cash flow.
- Every institution discourages the creation of real human relationships between those who live there, between staff and those who live there, and between administrators and those who live there, with policies, the criticism of “unprofessional”, and a constant cultural belief that residents are the inferiors of those who “care” for them.
Let us take a moment to remember our brothers and sisters who are still living in institutions, and reaffirm our commitment to use the Olmstead decision to help them to live in the community of their choice.