In July of 2013, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law unveiled “Community Integration for People with Disabilities: Key Principles” at two congressional briefings celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The document is a set of consensus principles reflecting the disability community’s shared vision of community integration. It 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. Twenty-eight major National organizations representing people with disabilities, family members, service providers, and state administrators are signatories to the key principles.
At the time, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee highlighted the Key Principles in its report, Separate and Unequal, detailing how state service systems had continued 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.
“Our disability service systems must begin to make these principles a reality for all people with disabilities,” Ira Burnim, legal director at the Bazelon Center, said at the congressional briefings. “While most states have expressed a desire to do the right thing, 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.”
The text of the document follows. Download the PDF.
Community Integration for People with Disabilities:
Key Principles (Full Text)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Diabetes Association
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
The Arc of the United States
Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
International Association of Peer Supporters
Little People of America
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy
National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Federation of the Blind
National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse
National Organization on Disability
Paralyzed Veterans of America
United Spinal Association