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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.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Inclusion Drives Innovation. National Disability Employment Month.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The Council offers numerous educational materials and resources about employment and employment issues, and success stories that highlight what can be achieved when employers and delivery systems work together to increase the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities. Take advantage of the following items to review and/or refresh your knowledge and understanding about employment.

Nathan Barclay is a self taught pianist.  He doesn’t read music but has a repertoire of over 60 pieces that he plays as a “Master of the Keys.”  He secured a job at Menards in St. Paul to add a musical element for shoppers.  WCCO television carried his story on Friday, October 13, 2017 to help promote meaningful work for individuals with disabilities and as part of the national effort to increase awareness about employment during the month of October.

Governor Mark Dayton has issued a Proclamation for the month of October 2017 as Disability Employment Awareness Month in the State of Minnesota. The Proclamation makes note of the persistently high unemployment rate for people with disabilities and recognizes, at the same time, that we must value and include all people in our workforce in order to remain competitive in a global economy.

Partners in Employment – An online course designed to help people with developmental disabilities find meaningful jobs and plan a career.  Participants create a resume or portfolio, learn how to network, prepare for an interview, and understand the hiring process.

Meet the Future Face of Employment – The technology fields offer a broad range of jobs and careers for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Parents, educators, VR staff, and employers can take specific actions to facilitate the education, training, and employment processes.

It's My Choice – A NEW and REVISED edition is now available.   Navigation and usability of the guides and checklists have been greatly improved. The concept and principles of person centered planning are interwoven throughout and one of the first checklists is the Person Centered Plan. For anyone who needs and uses services and supports to meet their personal life goals, including employment and beginning with transition students, this tool encourages their involvement and active participation in planning meetings.

Project SEARCH - Student interns are provided work opportunities and practical learning experiences to enhance their academic preparation and expose them to the world of work. There are currently five Project SEARCH sites in Minnesota.

Employment Success Stories – The Discovery Process is an information gathering tool that involves seven stages of learning about a person's interests and skills that will lead to better matches with employment opportunities, or shape job possibilities that will be successful, productive, and rewarding for the individual. Here are examples of employment success stories that have resulted from the Discovery Process approach.

Moments in Disability History – The ADA Legacy Project preserved and promoted the history of the ADA and the disability rights movement. Monthly "Moments in Disability History" recognized the leaders in the movement and significant events that resulted in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employment issues were addressed in "Moments" about Civil Rights, Section 504 Regulations, Stories of Discrimination (including US Representative Tony Coelho's story), and Stories from No Pity.

Disability Justice Resource Center – Created to help members of the legal community better understand complex disability justice issues for people with disabilities, and identify and eliminate biases against people with disabilities including in the area of employment.

The Jobs Challenge for People with Disabilities (2012) – Individuals with developmental disabilities are being directly employed in a broad range of business fields and a wide range of positions in both public and private sectors. In all instances, the experiences of employees and employers have been overwhelmingly positive.

1962/2012 Minnesota Survey of Attitudes about Developmental Disabilities (2012) – A 50-year survey of Minnesotans (general population and individuals with developmental disabilities) comparing perceptions and current attitudes that include employment. Over 90% believed that, with the right education or training, people with developmental disabilities could be very productive workers.   View Survey as Text Only

The 2017 Minnesota Racial & Ethnic Survey of Attitudes Towards People with Developmental Disabilities - This NEW and recently released survey shows strong public support for employment and the high level of respect for companies that employ people with developmental disabilities. Questions included the importance of vocational counseling to help people with developmental disabilities get a better paying job, internships, on the job assistance so people can work in regular businesses, as well as training services for employers. Insights revealed in this survey  can help inform policy decisions about employment, emphasizing the greater integration and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities in a broad range of businesses.   View Survey as Text Only

Connect 700 – This is a state employment option for individuals with disabilities.  The traditional approach to interviewing, testing, and selection and hiring for a broad range of positions in state government does not always accurately measure the abilities and skills of individuals with disabilities. The opportunity to demonstrate those personal skills and talents through on-the-job work experience of up to 700 hours can make a significant difference.  Success at the outset can open the door to additional work experiences in related or new fields and  career advancement.

Employer Survey (2005) – A customer-focused study of 600 Minnesota employers (businesses that employed individuals with disabilities and businesses that didn't) was conducted to identify and measure issues and perceptions that constitute barriers to employment for individual with disabilities.

Innovative Employers in Minnesota (2008) – Through a nominations process, Minnesota businesses that are using innovative employment practices in hiring people with developmental disabilities and promoting an inclusive work environment were identified and recognized.   Text Only Version of Presentation

(October 2, 2017)

Welsch v. Likins Class Action Lawsuit 45th Anniversary

August 30, 2017 marks the 45th Anniversary of the Welsch v. Likins class action lawsuit brought on behalf of six individuals with developmental disabilities, residents of six different Minnesota State Hospitals.

The Welsch Lawsuit, according to Luther Granquist, plaintiff counsel on the case

In 1972 Richard Welsch sought help from the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis for his daughter, Patricia Marie, a resident of Cambridge State Hospital. He told Neil Mickenberg, an attorney there, that Patricia was at that “hellhole” and wondered if Neil could do anything about it.

Welsch had heard that Mickenberg and Jeffrey Hartje, another Legal Aid lawyer, had been told by state hospital professional staff that Cambridge and Faribault State Hospitals were ripe for the kind of lawsuits that had been brought in other states. On August 30, 1972, with the support of The Arc Minnesota, they sued state officials charging that the residents at Cambridge, Faribault, and four other state institutions were denied their rights to habilitation and to live in less restrictive community settings.

The lawsuit lasted seventeen years. The trials in the 1970s centered on Cambridge State Hospital. A trial in 1980 involving Faribault, Moose Lake, Brainerd and Fergus Falls State Hospitals led to a settlement that included Rochester, St. Peter, and Willmar State Hospitals. Another settlement in 1987 led to a final dismissal of the case in 1989.

Photo from Welsch Lawsuit

In the early years, attorneys from the Minnesota Disability Law Center at Legal Aid focused on institutional conditions—lack of adequate staff, excess use of medication and restraint, and a deplorable living environment. In the 1980s, the focus was on moving people from the institution to community homes, with an emphasis as well on the quality of care provided persons discharged.

No court order or settlement agreement in the case required closing of the state institutions, but the court action coupled with funding under the home and community-based waiver, and a steadily growing commitment by state and county officials to provide community-based services, led to that result over the next eleven years.

A Brief History of the Welsch Case by Luther Granquist

Welsch Trial Photo Gallery  

Photographs from the 1973 trial (from With an Eye to the Past)

Photo Exhibits from Welsch

Welsch-related Interviews from With an Eye to the Past

Eleanor Welsch

Eleanor Welsch, mother of Patty Welsch, whose parents filed the landmark federal suit over lack of care at Cambridge State Hospital.
Part 1: The Beginning of the Welsch Case from a Mother’s Viewpoint
Part 2: The Cambridge Experience
Part 3: Group Homes are a “Godsend”

Luther Granquist

Luther Granquist, with Anne Henry, both of the Minnesota Disability Law Center, served as plaintiff counsel on the Welsch case.
Part 1: The 45th Anniversary of the Welsch Case Beginning
Part 2: Lack of Individual Assessment and Structured Activity at Cambridge

Anne Henry

Anne Henry of the Minnesota Disability Law Center, worked with Luther Granquist on the Welsch case.
Part 1: Restraint and Seclusion at State Hospitals
Part 2: Dehumanization Practices
Part 3: Getting Children Out of Institutions

View more interviews about this time period  

An Index of Documents Related to Welsch from With an Eye to the Past, including orders in that action in the federal district court and related documents.

The Disability Justice Resource Center has a summary of the lawsuit, the Welsch decision, and the Welsch Consent Decree.

Faribault State Hospital  

At a trial in the Welsch case in 1980 involving Faribault, Moose Lake, Brainerd, and Fergus Falls State Hospitals, the plaintiffs presented small black and white photos of the four institutions as part of their case. The defendants never presented their response, because they agreed to the Consent Decree the federal court issued in September 1980. They had, however, prepared a set of color photographs of the same scenes with some added commentary. 

Photos contributed to the Council by Mel Heckt.

Photo Exhibits from Welsch

2017 Minnesota Racial & Ethnic Survey of Attitudes Towards People with Developmental Disabilities

The 2017 General Population Survey of Attitudes Towards People with Developmental Disabilities includes representation from racial and ethnic communities. However, the Council was most interested in assuring that the insights and perspectives of members of these communities were heard. Additional outreach efforts were made in the Hispanic, American Indian, African American, East African, and Southeast Asian communities. The results are contained in this supplemental report.

View as Slides     View as PDF   View as Text Only

MN Racial and Ethnic Survey

2017 Minnesota General Population Survey of Attitudes Towards People with Developmental Disabilities

In 1962, a survey of the Minnesota general population was conducted to measure awareness and attitudes about developmental disabilities. The survey was updated and repeated in January 2007 (45 years post) and again in 2012 (50 years post). A 2017 survey was also conducted and the results are now available.

While attitudes changed dramatically between 1962 and 2007, those attitudes have remained unchanged over the past ten years. The 2017 study reveals that, for a majority of Minnesotans, the most important services provide access to quality, coordinated healthcare; and protection services to prevent the abuse of people with developmental disabilities. Over 70% of Minnesotans favor employment services, special education services and early childhood special education services. A majority also believe that the State should move away from corporate foster care by providing housing supports directly to individuals with developmental disabilities so they can choose where to live, their roommates, and their staff or providers.

View as Slides     View as PDF   View as Text Only

MN Survey

Human Trafficking of People with Disabilities

On April 4, 2017, the Diversity Committee, Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, University of Minnesota Law School Division, hosted a CLE event, a panel discussion of human trafficking of people with disabilities. United States District Court Judge Donovan Frank served as moderator for panel members who shared their professional experience with human trafficking, some of the history and evolving legal landscape, and rights and remedies for victims.

One of the panel members was Sarah Bessell, staff attorney at the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, DC. The Legal Center believes that every trafficking victim in the United States should have access to justice.

In this video interview, MS. Bessell identifies some of the types of abuses they are seeing including forced labor (sexual servitude), commercial sexual exploitation, and extreme violence and physical abuse. She presents case law examples involving people with disabilities and trends they are seeing in the types of trafficking.

Sarah Bessell

Partners In Policymaking® 30th Anniversary

1987 – 2017

In 1986, a new way of thinking demanded new leadership. Medicaid reform was the critical public policy issue. A Congressional hearing on September 19, 1986 ended with a young mother presenting testimony in favor of dramatic changes to Medicaid – changes that would keep families together and provide a range of services to support families with a child with developmental disabilities.

Communicating effectively with public officials could be taught. Self advocates and parents could learn how to best speak with their elected public officials and elected public officials could be educated about policies – in partnership with each other. At that moment, Partners in Policymaking® was born.

Read the full article...

Partners In Policymaking® 30th Anniversary
Partners In Policymaking® 30th Anniversary
Partners In Policymaking® 30th Anniversary
Partners In Policymaking® 30th Anniversary

View more photos from the event...

Partners in Policymaking 30th Anniversary Proclamation

With an Eye to the Past

The History of Deinstitutionalization in Minnesota

With an Eye to the Past

With With an Eye to the Past, was first presented on February 7, 2001 at a recognition event. This event was in celebration of the dedication and commitment of leaders across the state who worked together to close Minnesota’s large state institutions and develop a respectful service delivery system for individuals with developmental disabilities. We are now pleased to release a revised edition of With An Eye to the Past. This product has been converted to a responsive design format and all videos have been updated to current technology standards.

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 the complete article >>

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 ADA 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

John McKnight, a community organizer and gifted story teller, is committed to the concepts and principles of asset based community development – discovering and enhancing the abilities, capacities, gifts and skills of every member of every neighborhood and community.  In a recent conversation with Cormac Russell, Managing Director of the UK based consulting and research organization, Nurture Development, John McKnight and Peter Block speak about the renewal of communities, local living, and cooperation. (7-25-17)

Play Conversation: Audio Recordings Page     Transcript

Presentation conducted February 17, 2012
Updated May 25, 2012; August 21, 2017

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.