In a perfect world, there would be no discrimination; not against race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexual affiliation or disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act and subsequent ruling called the Olmstead decision are steps that have helped the disability community move toward a world in which there is less discrimination.
Last Sunday, we celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the Olmstead decision. On June 22nd, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated and must receive services in the most integrated setting possible. For example, In the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Congress described the isolation and segregation of individuals with disabilities as a serious and pervasive form of discrimination. 42 U.S.C. § 12101(a)(2), (5). Title II of the ADA, which proscribes discrimination in the provision of public services, specifies, inter alia, that no qualified individual with a disability shall, “by reason of such disability,” be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, a public entity’s services, programs, or activities. §12132. Congress instructed the Attorney General to issue regulations implementing Title II’s discrimination proscription. See §12134(a). One such regulation, known as the “integration regulation,” requires a “public entity [to] administer … programs … in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.” 28 CFR § 35.130(d). A further prescription, here called the “reasonable-modifications regulation,” requires public entities to “make reasonable modifications” to avoid “discrimination on the basis of disability,” but does not require measures that would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the entity’s programs. §35.130(b)(7).
Since Olmstead v. L.C., much progress has been made. Many individuals have successfully transitioned to community settings, but waiting lists for community services have grown considerably especially in Indiana and many individuals who would like to receive community services are not yet able to obtain them. Barriers facing those who want to live on their own still exist, such as, finding affordable, accessible housing and improving access to quality support and services tailored to each person's goals.
Down Syndrome Indiana is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and believes in the inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome in their community. We are collaborating with many agencies throughout Central Indiana and the state to fight for the rights of individuals with Down syndrome to live independently and to not be discriminated against. Check out our vision for the future of individuals with Down syndrome and that of Down Syndrome Indiana at: http://dsindiana-exectivedirector.blogspot.com/2013/12/in-2044-thirty-years-from-now-down.html.
It is my pleasure to serve you,
Lisa Wells Executive Director