Spread the True Meaning of Olmstead: Preserving Choice and Opportunity
Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) issued press releases celebrating the 17th Anniversary of the Olmstead decision. VOR shares their view that there is much to celebrate in opening doors to community living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are able and wish to take advantage of such opportunities. Unfortunately, their ideological preoccupation with one key part of Olmstead, community integration, at the expense of the other key part, choice, has reduced options for all people with I/DD. This crimped and, VOR would submit, inaccurate application of the plain language of Olmstead has done significant harm to many of our most disabled citizens.
By insisting that all people with I/DD live and work in the community, the DOJ and ACL are treating people with I/DD as a monolithic group, not as the individuals they are. DOJ and ACL are substituting the wishes of the government for that of the person with I/DD or, where relevant, the legal guardian. While their policies have opened doors for the less severely disabled, they have closed important doors for the more severely disabled. Many of these individuals have lifelong needs that require higher levels of care, the kind often found only in public and private Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs/IID), sheltered workshops and facility- based day programs.