OLMSTEAD Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary

The 15th Anniversary of Olmstead v. LC - 'The Olmstead ruling was a critical step forward for our nation' a quote from president Barack Obama

About Olmstead

The story of the Olmstead case begins with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental illness and developmental disabilities, and were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in the State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. Following the women’s medical treatment there, mental health professionals stated that each was ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution, each for several years after the initial treatment was concluded. They filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the hospital.

The Decision

On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when:

  1. such services are appropriate;
  2. the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and
  3. community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the public entity and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the entity.

Olmstead Enforcement: Community Integration for Everyone

U.S. v. Rhode Island –1:14-cv-00175 – (D.R.I. 2014)

On April 8, 2014, the United States entered into the nation’s FIRST statewide settlement agreement vindicating the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.

The settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island resolves the Civil Rights Division’s January 6, 2014 findings, as part of an ADA Olmstead investigation, that the State’s day activity service system over-relies on segregated settings, including sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs, to the exclusion of integrated alternatives, such as supported employment and integrated day services.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island has entered the settlement agreement as a court-enforceable Consent Decree. Click this link to read more and to see a copy of any the following documents:

  • Consent Decree – filed April 8, 2014
  • Fact Sheet about Consent Decree
  • Order Approving Consent Decree – entered April 9, 2014
  • Complaint – filed April 8, 2014
  • Letter of Findings – filed January 6, 2014
  • Press Release on Landmark Settlement Agreement – April 8, 2014
  • Remarks by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels at Press Conference Regarding Employment Services for Rhode Islanders with Disabilities – April 8, 2014
  • Faces of Olmstead – read several individuals’ stories
  • Related item: U.S. v. Rhode Island and City of Providence – 1:13-cv-00442 – (D.R.I. 2013)

Free Communications App for Emergencies

Show Me for Emergencies, an innovative, interactive app that will enhance communication between public health and emergency management personnel and volunteers and individuals with communication challenges across a variety of emergency settings.

The MA Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management has a free mobile application, Show Me for Emergencies, an innovative, interactive app that will enhance communication between public health and emergency management personnel and volunteers and individuals with communication challenges across a variety of emergency settings.
a promotional graphic for the Massachusetts Show Me for Emergencies App

The app expands upon the booklet, Show Me: A Communication Tool for Emergency Shelters, to include not only emergency shelter settings, but emergency dispensing sites, shelter in place, and evacuation scenarios as well. Within each scenario there are options to communicate information such as an individual’s preferred language, the type of emergency that’s happening, personal and medical needs, animated instructions for actions like boiling water or gathering items, etc. One of the features of the app is that once it’s downloaded to a user’s device, the app does not need internet connectivity in order to access its content.

a screenshot from the Show Me for Emergencies App showing a menu with different kinds of emergency information

screenshot from the Show Me for Emergencies app

a screenshot showing a menu in the Show Me for Emergencies App

screenshot from the Show Me for Emergencies app

Show Me for Emergencies is available to download from both the iTunes® and Google Play® stores. Click below:

download Show Me for Emergencies on the Apple App Storedownload the Show Me for Emergencies Android App on Google Play


For a copy of the Booklet “Show Me: A Communications Tool for Emergency Shelters” click here.

The Case for Medicaid Self-Direction: A White Paper on Research, Practice, and Policy Opportunities

Executive Summary

In recent years, self-direction has emerged as a game-changing strategy in organizing and delivering Medicaid funded services, a means of affording people with disabilities enhanced opportunities to live fulfilling lives of their own choice in local communities. Yet, despite the growth in self-directed services, many key questions remain to be answered about the most effective ways of promoting individual choice and control within a Medicaid funding environment.

a graphic of a piggy bank with the words 'my budget' and 'self directed supports'To assess the current state of knowledge and pinpoint remaining gaps that need to be filled, in the fall of 2011 the National Council on Disability commissioned a study of Medicaid-funded self-directed services.

This paper, dated May 2013, summarizes the key study findings, conclusions, and recommendations, and…

  • Traces the history of self-directed services in the US and its emergence and subsequent growth within the Medicaid policy arena
  • Examines the fundamental concepts that undergird a self-directed approach to organizing and delivering community-based long-term services and supports
  • Reviews the basic components of self-directed services as spelled out in federal Medicaid policy
  • Summarizes the findings and conclusions from existing studies of the cost- effectiveness of self-directed services
  • Explores the ramifications of the growing use of Medicaid managed care arrangements for the future of self-directed services and supports
  • Recommends strategies for improving the accessibility and quality of self- directed Medicaid services and supports

The National Council on Disability wishes to express its deep appreciation to the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS) team that conducted the research and writing for this paper: Robert Gettings, Charles Moseley, and Nancy Thaler.

Click here to read the full report.

National Council on Disability logoNational Council on Disability (NCD) is an independent federal agency charged withadvising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. NCD is comprised of a team of fifteen Presidential appointees, an Executive Director appointed by the Chairman, and eleven, full-time professional staff.


Keeping the Promise:
Self Advocates Define the Meaning of “Community Living” for CMS

an image of the word community formed from individual cutout letters pinned to a tack-boardThe Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), National Youth Leadership Network and other national allies conducted personal interviews with peers with developmental disabilities attending SABE’s national self-advocacy conference to ask them about their experiences with home and community based services and access and involvement in “genuine community settings and lifestyles”.

The intent of these interviews was to obtain feedback from people with disabilities representing a broad diversity of people from across the country to develop a paper to submit to Sharon Lewis, Commissioner, Administration for Community Living (ACL), with a definition of “COMMUNITY” that captures the most vital elements of community life.

Click here to read the document submitted to the national Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL)