The Importance of Community Living: Celebrating the Olmstead Anniversary

On June 22nd, 1999, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. that institutionalization of people with disabilities who wish to live in their community instead is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The majority opinion for Olmstead recognized that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” and that services must be provided in integrated, community-based settings whenever possible.

We have learned much in the intervening years about the importance of community living and participation, about the benefits to physical and mental health, and about the economic benefits of participation. We turned to our Research In Focus series to explore some of the recent studies from the NIDILRR community.

Moving Out and Finding Supports

Access Leads to Participation

Supporting Care Professionals

Many Ways to Participate

Managing One’s Own Care

Connecting to Community

This area of research is important, as it shows that many people with disabilities are benefiting from living in independently in the community. It also highlights some of the barriers to community living and participation and how they may be addressed.

It’s also important to hear directly from the people who have fought to move out of institutions and into their communities, about what it means to live in a home they choose, participate in activities they choose, and direct their life as they choose:

  • Olmstead Story Project, stories collected by the NIDILRR-funded ADA Participation Action Research Consortium along with writer Mike Ervin. These stories highlight action taken by people with disabilities and the community supports they used to move out of nursing homes and live independently.
  • Faces of Olmstead, personal stories collected by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice from their Olmstead enforcement work.
  • Community Living for All: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision was a live event hosted by the Administration for Community Living and the Office for Civil Rights. Guests heard about the importance of Olmstead from people with disabilities who shared some of their own experiences.
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