13th Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision
Thirteen years ago today, a landmark decision - the "Olmstead decision" - changed the lives of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, and paved the way for others to receive services that would allow them to choose to move out of institutions and into the community. 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 also 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.
The Supreme Court explained that its holding "reflects two evident judgments." First, "institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable of or unworthy of participating in community life." Second, "confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment."
Read more about the Olmstead decision:
- White House press release: On Anniversary of Olmstead, Obama Administration Reaffirms Commitment to Assist Americans with Disabilities
- Justice Department: Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone
- AAPD Blog: Olmstead's Legacy: Senate Hearing Shows where Progress Has Been Made and What Needs to be Done