The Supreme Court's Olmstead decision found that unjustified
institutionalization of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination,
but it left considerable latitude about the nature of adequate community
Working under contract with the National Council on Disability (NCD), the
Public Interest Law Firm of Philadelphia produced a study titled"
Olmstead: Reclaiming Institutionalized Lives," which includes
comments from people with disabilities about how they view "the most
Those comments were the result of focus groups, informal interviews, and
discussions at various state-level meetings about Olmstead, according to
Martin Gould, NCD's senior research specialist.
When asked to describe "the most integrated setting," the most
common response was "a place where the person exercises choice and
control." The second most common response was "A home of one's own
shared with persons whom one has chosen to live with" or where one lives
alone. Respondents also mentioned some variation of the idea that integration
is "living in the community with everyone else like everyone
What do people with disabilities need to live in the community? They most
frequently answered that question by identifying "ordinary human
needs," such as friendship, rather than listing services.
Most often, they expressed the idea that "support depends on the
person, must be defined by and tailored to the individual, and might change
The second most common response was that people need "friendships,
emotional support, and networks of friends, families, and mentors."
Education, opportunities to participate in community affairs, and
transportation were mentioned by a number of respondents.
The most important barrier to community integration, according to the
respondents, is the lack of affordable and accessible housing.
The National Council on Disability is a presidential-appointed advisory
body authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
"Olmstead: Reclaiming Institutionalized Lives" is posted online