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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2017:
A Celebration of the Pioneers of Integration and Inclusion

To commemorate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2017, the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (MnGCDD) presents a series on historical efforts and accomplishments to advance the cause of integration and inclusion for people with disabilities.

This March, in conjunction with National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), and the National Disability Rights Network Side By Side Campaign, the MnGCDD presents archival footage from Parallels in Time: A History of Developmental Disabilities and With an Eye to the Past: Minnesota History from the 1800s to Present documenting the lives and stories of some of the people who played a significant role in the disability rights movement.

Faces of Inclusion and Integration

Through the self-advocacy movement, people with developmental disabilities have been able to share their stories. The MnCDD has obtained archival footage of people who were once institutionalized but moved to an integrated, community setting. Their stories are highlighted here.

These two stories are from individuals who were institutionalized in Oklahoma.

Warren Edds

Warren Edds lived at the Enid State School in Enid, Oklahoma, also known as the Oklahoma Institution for the Feeble Minded. In this interview, Edds shares his experiences at the institution as well as his life of freedom living in his community.

Don Wilson

Don Wilson also lived in an Oklahoma institution, which he revisits during this interview as he recounts his experiences there.

John Johnson

John Johnson was institutionalized as a child at the Faribault State School and Hospital in Faribault, Minnesota. In this interview he reveals what life was like institutionalized.

Karen Gorr

Karen Gorr was institutionalized as a child but lived her adult life in freedom. She graduated from college, became a teacher, and had a family of her own. Here, she shares her personal story.

Career Vision

This short documentary, Shifting Patterns, from 1992 shows how shifting patterns, beliefs, and attitudes among individuals, families, and communities led to the creation of programs like Career Vision, which supports people with developmental disabilities to identify career skills and goals and find employment opportunities in an integrated, community setting.

Family and Community

The following are from Possibilities, a six-part video series from the Developmental Disabilities Institute in Michigan.

Including Emily Everyday

Greta: Making Things Happen

A Vision for Abby

Karen: On Her Way

Elizabeth: A Place of Her Own

Bjorn, Tom & Dan: Feeling Right at Home

People First

Valerie Schaaf from Oregon was one of the early leaders of the People First movement. This organization was founded and run by people with developmental disabilities. People First’s goal was to change public perceptions – that people with disabilities are people rather than solely described by their disability. In this video from the People First Conference of 1974, Valerie Schaaf discusses labels and the concept behind the People First Movement.

Our Voices Count: Self-Advocacy Now

"Our Voices Count: Self-Advocacy Now" is a short documentary, narrated by Geraldo Rivera, from 1989. Rivera interviews Bernard Carabello, the founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS), Inc. Once institutionalized at Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, Bernard went on to become a nationally known self-advocate and activist.

Please note that this documentary contains footage from inside Willowbrook State School in 1972. This video does not have captions, but we have provided a transcript below:

(0:53) Rivera: "It’s a warm Saturday night in New York City—June 24, 1989, to be exact—and we’re at Hunter College. There’s joy, there’s electricity in the air. People are laughing, talking, celebrating the end of a great day. If you see pride in their faces, you’re right. It’s the kind of pride that comes from years of hard work and struggle. So who are these people, and what is this party about?"

(1:25) Rivera: "Today marks a great event in their lives—today was the first annual Self-Advocacy Conference, hosted by the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Incorporated."

(1:35) Rivera: "Happy people, proud people—people who’ve learned that although they have developmental or physical disabilities, that standing up for and demanding equal rights is a process that does indeed improve the quality of their lives."

(1:50) Rivera: "For all the happiness you see in their faces now, we should all be aware of the fact that this was not always the scene."

(2:00) Rivera: "Willowbrook—at time of horror, a time of shame."

(2:13) Rivera: "As a journalist investigating Willowbrook it was an experience I will never forget."

(2:19) Rivera, 1972: "The doctor had warned me that it would be bad—it was horrible. There was one attendant for perhaps 50 severely and profoundly retarded [sic] children lying on the floor naked and smeared with their own feces. They were making a pitiful sound, the kind of mournful wail that it’s impossible for me to forget. This is what it looked like, this is what it sounded like, but how can I tell you about the way it smelled? It smelled of filth, it smelled of disease and it smelled of death."

(2:50) Rivera: "It’s hear that I met and befriended Bernard Carabello, who had been living in Willowbrook for 18 years. Bernard and I have remained in touch throughout the years and in him I see a man who has gone from being a victim of the system to being a first-class activist in the field of self-advocacy for the developmentally disabled. Bernard is the founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. The conference we are at today is an outgrowth of his agency’s work. When asked about why he started the Self-Advocacy Association, Bernard had the following things to say."

(3:21) Carabello: "I started because I was involved in self-advocacy since 1972. I believe people with disabilities have a right to speak out, have a right to have a voice in our society. They have a right to say what’s on their mind even though you and I do not agree with what they have to say but they have that right to say it. We do not have the right to tell people what to say and what not to say. So-called professionals have been advocating for us for centuries and now people with developmental disabilities have began to advocate for themselves, begun to say this is what I want, this is right for me. I want you to hear what I have to tell you and what I have to contribute to this conversation."

Goals of Self-Advocacy

Irving Martin was the first person with a developmental disability to be elected to the national board of directors of The Arc United States. In this segment, Martin shares his views on self-advocacy.

Organizational Structure

Nancy Ward was a leader of the Nebraska People First. She went on to create the national Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) organization. Here, she describes her role in the state organization.

Ed Roberts Day, January 23rd

Ed Roberts

Ed Roberts was a pioneering leader of the disability rights movement. Ed declared that people with disabilities are fully human; that they have a right and a responsibility to take control of their own lives, to help build a new culture in which they and all people participate fully in the leadership, the labor, and the fruits of society.

On December 15, 2010 the United States House of Representatives declared January 23, 2011 as "Ed Roberts Day." In celebration of this day in 2017, we are pleased to share additional glimpses into Ed's life, in story and photos, as told by his son, Lee Roberts.

Ed in Russia
Ed Roberts in Russia
Ed as a kid
Lee Roberts (center), with his uncles (Ed's cousins) Jerry McManigal and Kenneth McManigal

January 12, 2012, updated March 2, 2012, May 11, 2012, February 4, 2014, and January 20, 2017

Partners in Living Online Course Spanish Version Released

We are pleased to announce the release of the Spanish translation of Partners in Living. This completes the series of the five Partners in Policymaking online courses that is now available in Spanish.

The design and development of the five original online courses began in 2002 with Partners in Making Your Case. Over the years, several updates to the courses have been made and other versions have been created, including an EZ Read version of the Partners in Employment course and an American Sign Language version of Partners in Making Your Case. The Spanish translations have been the most recent additions.

All of the online courses can be accessed from the Council home page, the home page of the Partners in Policymaking website, and the home page of Partners Online Courses.

Partners Class Group Photo

December 30, 2016

Parallels in Time

The History of Disabilities: 1500 B.C. to the Present

In commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, we are pleased to announce the release of a revised Parallels in Time product. This product combines the original Parallels in Time, documenting the history of disabilities from 1500 B.C to 1950 released on the 25th anniversary of the Council, and Parallels in Time 2, continuing the history of disabilities from 1950 to the present released on the 35th anniversary. All videos have been updated to current technology standards. This product has also been converted to a responsive design format.

Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook

Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook

In celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, we are pleased to announce the release of the newly revised and updated Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook. This is the eighth edition of the Handbook, designed to help Coordinators who are starting or restarting a Partners program as well as serve as a resource for Coordinators to maintain the quality of existing programs. This version is fully accessible and incorporates all current accessibility features.

Download and Read the Handbook >>

Partners Evaluation Reports >>

Forms Related to Replication of the Partners Classroom Program:
Partners Profile Form
Time Match Form
Respite Care/Child Care Reimbursement Form
Participant Reimbursement Request Form
Sample Partners Application
Session Evaluation
Sample Participation Agreement

Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook

Partners in Policymaking®: Changing Lives. Changing Policies.

On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this book traces the history of the Partners program. Through a collection of stories and testimonials, Partners graduates share the impact of the program on their lives as well as the many ways that the ADA has resulted in their greater inclusion and integration into the community and society at large.

Download and Read the Book (Accessible PDF when viewed with Adobe Reader)

Changing Lives, Changing Policies


October 2016 marks the 45th Anniversary of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. A series of articles will cover this history, the work completed and accomplishments made by the Council during those forty-five years.

These articles will be released in five year segments over the next several months. The first segment provides brief background material on the advocacy and legislation that preceded the establishment of the Council.  Read More >>

Disability Justice

The Disability Justice Resource Center

An online resource for everyone interested in learning more about the rights of people with developmental disabilities and protection of those rights.

The Disability Justice Resource Center has been created as an educational resource to increase awareness and understanding of the unique and complex issues related to justice for people with disabilities, particularly people with developmental disabilities. For the legal community, the Resource Center could be used to identify and eliminate biases against people with disabilities, for continuing legal education courses, and by law schools and students. This online resource is divided into several sections:

The ADA Legacy Project

The ADA Legacy Project celebrates the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on disability rights, and honors the contributions of individuals with disabilities and their allies who persevered in securing the passage of this landmark civil rights legislation. Georgetown University has compiled a collection of historical documents related to the ADA that date back to the 1980s, the decade preceding the milestone signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

Index of Moments >>

The Americans with Disabilities Act, Perspectives on the 25th Anniversary

In July 2012, the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities was asked to participate in the ADA Legacy Project. Over a two and one half year time period, a monthly "Moment in Disability History" was posted on the Council website, marking important happenings and recognizing some of the many, many leaders across the country who contributed to the passage of the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act, Perspectives on the 25th Anniversary is a compilation of those "Moments."

PDF Format     ePub Format

Book Cover - The Americans with Disabilities Act, Perspectives on the 25th Anniversary

Quality and the Baldrige Framework

The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities began its quality journey in 1997 using the National Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. The Baldrige Framework, a systems approach to improving a business or organization's performance, is based on a set of core values and concepts that represent the beliefs and behaviors found in high performing businesses and organizations.

Since 1998, Bill Harreld, Quality Culture Institute, has shared his experience and expertise, working with the Council on quality improvement and the application of the Baldrige Criteria to the Council's work. This journey has been a learning experience and, since there's always room for improvement, the learning continues. For businesses that want to better serve their customers and improve their business results, this overview of the Baldrige Framework and Criteria can serve as a step in beginning that process.

Bill Harreld

Quality and the Baldrige Framework Video Presentation >>

April 3, 2015

"Telling Your Story"

App Available Now for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Amazon Kindle Fire

iPad App Telling Your Story

Making Your Case, the print publication, was created in 1994. This was the first of many tools used in the Partners in Policymaking program that focused on specific techniques and insights for effective communication skills in the legislative process and the many ways to positively influence public policy at all levels of government.

Both the "Telling Your Story" app and the Partners in Making Your Case online course, released in 2003, are using different technologies based on the original publication. They all serve as tools for making those critical connections with your elected public officials and building positive partnerships in the policymaking process.

July 13, 2013, updated July 1, 2014, September 30, 2014, February 16, 2016

Institutions to Independence

"Institutions to Independence" is a 30 minute documentary produced by TPT (public television) in cooperation with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, the law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Government Training Services. This documentary tells the story of services in Minnesota from the 1860s into the 21st Century through the telling of stories of people with developmental disabilities, families, and professionals.

Institutions to Independence
Know Your Rights

In addition to the documentary, the Minnesota Governor's Council worked with TPT to create "Know Your Rights", an Illustrated Essay by David Gillette regarding the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities.

Visit the Institutions to Independence section for interviews about rights and social justice issues >>

Independence To Inclusion

A TPT Documentary Produced with the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

"Independence to Inclusion," a second TPT documentary, was produced with the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities in 2014. Much has changed in terms of available services and supports, and delivery systems. However, stigma and stereotypes against people with developmental disabilities have long outlasted Minnesota's state institutions and still persist today. How will inclusion in schools, the workplace, and the community affect the lives of thousands of Minnesotans with developmental disabilities?
(View version with closed captioning)
Original Broadcast: 04/15/2014. Length: 26 minutes, 40 seconds.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Upper Midwest chapter, announced the 2014 Upper Midwest Regional nominees and the TPT documentary, Independence to Inclusion, was nominated under "Documentaries – Cultural."

Independence to Inclusion

The Evolution of the Quality of Care in Developmental Disabilities

Jim Conroy

Jim Conroy

Jim Conroy is the founder and President of the Center for Outcome Analysis, Inc., a non-profit firm that is devoted to evaluation, research, training, and policy analysis on quality of life issues in the developmental disabilities field. The Center is founded on the principle that service agencies should be guided by measurable quality of life outcomes regarding the services and supports received by individuals with developmental disabilities.

The video interview was conducted December 7, 2011.

Quality – Standards, Values, Vision: A Paper by Bruce Kappel (April 18, 2013)

January 25, 2012

Professor John McKnight: Community Building

All the people who live in a community can help to create a welcoming environment; one that recognizes the gifts, abilities, and skills of everyone there; and invites everyone to work together to build and strengthen their community.

Professor John McKnight brings this concept to life and talks about the key elements of asset based community development through his wit and the art of storytelling.

John McKnight

Presentation conducted February 17, 2012
Updated May 25, 2012

Capacity Building Beyond Community Services

Introduction by Ed Preneta, Retired Director, Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities

Asset based community development is John McKnight's approach to community organizing. John is a community organizer, an academic and a brilliant story-teller. He believes that everyone has a gift, an ability, a skill to share; and everyone, regardless of how they may identify themselves or what their personal needs may be, can help to make their community better for everyone who lives there.

Video Interview: Capacity Building Beyond Community Services

John McKnight

Videotaped Interview: August 3, 2011

A collection of John McKnight's papers, where he further explains the building blocks and assets that make for an inclusive community, can be found at John McKnight Resources and Documents.

Updated September 15, 2011

MNDDC on Facebook

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.