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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.


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The Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is part of the Minnesota network of programs funded under P.L. 106-402, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). The DD Act also funds the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the designated Protection and Advocacy agency for the state, and the Institute on Community Integration, a University Center for Excellence located at the University of Minnesota.

The business of the GCDD is to provide information, education, and training to increase knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to an increase in the independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) of people with developmental disabilities and their families.


Shamus O'Meara, Chair
Roberta Blomster
Peg Booth
Brian Gustafson
Anne Henry
Kathryn Jacobson
Sherri Larson
Nina Mae Moss
Derek Nord
Linda Obright
Jeff Pearson
Dan Reed
Connie Roy
Mary Beth Schafer
Barbara Schultz
Jeff Skwarek
Virginia Strand
Sarah Thorson
Jim Varpness
Stacey Vogele
Susan Wehrenberg
Jerry Wood


Independence: Personal freedom to make choices and have control over services, supports, and other assistance the individual receives;

Self-determination: Authority to make decisions, control resources and develop personal leadership skills;

Productivity: Meaningful income-producing work or volunteer work that contributes to a household or the community;

Integration and Inclusion: Full participation in the same community activities as people without disabilities.


The Minnesota GCDD received $1,021,571 from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) for FFY 2006. Of that amount, 70% was allocated for grants and contracts to fulfill the goals of the GCDD's Five Year State Plan approved by the federal government.

1. Partners in Policymaking®: The Minnesota GCDD has sponsored Partners in Policymaking courses since May 1, 1987. In FFY 2006, Class 23 graduated 11 self advocates and 13 family members, including three individuals from minority communities. Participants evaluated themselves at the beginning of the program year on the federal outcomes of IPSII and again at graduation. The following IPSII changes were reported: On a 5 point scale, independence increased from 4.1 to 4.6; productivity increased from 4.1 to 4.8; self determination increased from 4.0 to 4.6; and integration and inclusion increased from 3.6 to 4.5. Graduates rated knowledge gained at 4.6, usefulness of the presentations at 4.6, and quality of the training sessions at 4.7.

Minnesota now has more than 670 graduates, and more than 15,000 graduates in the United States and internationally.


“Life is great! With the help of Partners, my son has an assistive communication device. He is integrated for most of the day. I have been told that I'm very intimidating but they (school and teachers) have come from not wanting me into the same room to wondering what I do at home because my son is doing so good!!! And the typical kids love having him in class. Thanks, Partners!”

“Partners helped me work for change by providing background information and materials and a network of connections to other members of the disability movement.”

“What an excellent program. This program helps all individuals and should be available for years to come. Thank you for a wonderful class!”

“It has made me more aware of ways to more effectively advocate for my son and others.”

Supplier: Government Training Services

2. Partners Graduate Workshops: IN FFY 2006, three workshops were held on the topics of inclusive education, self determination, and negotiating difficult conversations. A total of 102 graduates attended and evaluated the workshops as follows: 4.6 for knowledge gained, 4.6 for usefulness, and 4.4 for quality of training on a 5 point scale.


Inclusive Education:

“Very motivating, upbeat, fun, smart, wise.”

“Very real sources to continue my success in IEP building.”

“Loved the presenter's excitement and interest.”

“Good for recharging batteries and for us to get out and help others.”

Self Determination:

“Eye opening and re-energizing.”

“This entire workshop helped me understand the empowerment of self determination and how important it is to understand that it means to me and my family.”

“Get a life, not a program – I learned how to develop a positive lifestyle for my child.”

Negotiating Difficult Conversations:

“Great process information on how to handle stressful meetings.”

“Reinforced and reminded me about 'we' not 'me.' I never realized I have different styles for different situations and some don't work as well as others.”

“The presenter's delivery and ability to use humor and personal anecdotes is wonderful; delightful to listen to.”

Supplier: Government Training Services

3. Partners Online: The conversion of the Partners in Policymaking leadership training program to an e-learning site has been completed. Five online self directed courses, 30 hours of training, can be accessed directly from the Partners in Policymaking web site.

Making Your Case teaches the competencies of communicating effectively with public officials and community organizing.

Partners in Employment teaches how to find a job of your choice, write a resume, prepare for an interview, and plan a career.

Partners in Education teaches parents of children with developmental disabilities how to maximize the benefits of special education services and work to achieve inclusion for their children in the regular classroom.

Partners in Time teaches how people with disabilities lived, learned, and worked from ancient times to the present; how history repeats itself; and how past lessons can be applied to create a vision that truly includes all people. The rise of community services, from 1950 to the present, is the focus of this course.

Partners in Living teaches the concepts of self determination, family support, community living, and assistive technology.

In FFY 2006, a total of 54,517 page visits were made to the online courses, for an average of 4,543 page visits on a monthly basis. During FFY 2006, a total of 191 compliments were received. The Feedback Form for each course was revised to include IPSII measures with ratings on a 5-point scale. A total of 118 evaluations were received; independence was rated 4.6, productivity was rated 4.6; self determination was rated 4.6; integration/inclusion was rated 4.7.


Making Your Case:

“Very logical, easy to understand, very accessible, and it presented advocacy in plain English.”

“Every module was concise and useful. I particularly liked the specifics about writing a letter that gets attention.”

“Informative and fun. I learned so much and look forward to putting it to use in my professional and personal life.”

Partners in Employment:

“Excellent course; rich with resources and positive examples.”

“Covered all aspects of a successful job search; particularly liked the professional manner in which the course was put together.”

“Very useful information. Everything is positive, positive, positive. I will definitely share with consumers!!!!”

Partners in Education:

“Encourages parents to stay close to their child and look into their education everyday. It gives us better hope than there was a few years ago.”

“Very informative! I learned to be a better advocate for my son and community!”

“I have to commend you on this WONDERFUL web site. This is priceless!! I am in awe of how well it is constructed and the completeness of its content. You are making such a difference in our lives, especially the lives of our children OUR FUTURE!”

Partners in Time:

“Eye opening. I had no previous knowledge of the history of people with disabilities and was shocked to learn of some of the practices and maltreatment.”

“The section on advocacy made a very strong impact and helped me to question my own biases

“Extremely impressed with this resource. I would like to use to educate staff in South Australia.”

Partners in Living:

Very informative about the types of supports that are available in the community for people with disabilities.

Supplier: ZenMation, Inc.

4. Cultural Outreach: The GCDD funded cultural outreach programs in the African American, Asian, and Hispanic communities in FFY 2006. A total of 36 individuals graduated from these training programs.

In assessing IPSII, the graduates rated themselves on a 5-point scale.   

For the African American Outreach program, independence changed from 4.0 to 3.7, productivity increased from 3.3 to 4.0, self determination increased from 3.3 to 4.0, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.6 to 4.0. Graduates rated the program as 4.5 for knowledge gained, 4.7 for usefulness, and 4.7 quality of training.

For the Asian Outreach program, participant levels of independence and productivity stayed the same; self determination changed from 75% saying “yes” at the start of the year to 67% saying “yes” at the end of the year; integration/inclusion increased from 75% saying “yes” at the start of the year to 100% saying “yes” at the end of the year. Graduates rated the program as 4.5 in knowledge gained, 4.4 for usefulness, and 4.8 for quality of training.

For the Hispanic Outreach program, independence increased from 3.5 to 4.8, productivity increased from 3.5 to 4.6, self determination increased from 3.6 to 4.5, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.5 to 4.5. Graduates rated the program as 4.8 in knowledge gained, 4.8 for usefulness, and 4.8 for quality of training.


African American Outreach

“Because of the training, I learned how to get job opportunities for my son and tutoring for myself.”

“I have a better understanding of my rights!!!”

“I can actually make a difference in my kids' lives and the lives of others.”

Asian Outreach:

“I learn from other parents because we face similar barriers. When we are all able to share our experiences, our minds expand and there is relief.”

“Normally I am stressed because of my daughter's needs but during and after the workshops, I feel good and hopeful for the future.”

“The workshops provided a very supportive environment. We were comfortable and felt supported.”

Hispanic Outreach

“The program is helping me to talk to the staff of my son's school in a more powerful way.”

“I am starting to understand the benefits of independence for the future of my daughter.”

“I am looking forward to participate in activities that will influence the elected officials on behalf of children with disabilities.”

Suppliers: IPSII, Inc. (African American program), WISE (Asian program), and CLUES (Hispanic program).

5. Longitudinal Studies of Partners in Policymaking: Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D. has conducted the external evaluations of the Partners classes since 1988. During FFY 2006, Dr. Zirpoli surveyed graduates from the previous four classes. Based on averages across the four classes, the results indicated that 92% of the respondents have the advocacy skills necessary to get needed services and supports some or most of the time; and 88% rate their leadership skills as good to excellent. In terms of federal outcomes, 74% have increased independence, 82% have increased productivity, 82% have increased self determination, and 84% have increased integration and inclusion.

Supplier: Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D.

6. Digital Imaging/Employment: Since 1988, the GCDD has worked with employers and promoted the direct employment of people with developmental disabilities. During FFY 2006,

  • More than 50 people with developmental disabilities were employed in digital imaging jobs in the public and private sectors, and earning at least minimum wage; more than 56 million records were scanned.
  • Workshops were held in Minnesota's 11 Economic Development Regions for businesses and day program providers to introduce digital imaging concepts and encourage hiring people with developmental disabilities to do this work. A total of 175 people from 19 public/private sectors attended; evaluation results: overall rating 8.8 (10 point scale); 99% said workshops were useful.
  • The Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and local newspapers carried articles about employing people with developmental disabilities in digital imaging jobs, and cost savings and efficiencies for businesses. Press releases, business profiles, and articles for professional publications were prepared.
  • A videotape and DVD, The Economics of Digital Imaging, featuring Commissioner Dana Badgerow, Department of Administration, and business supporters, were created. Presentations made to provider groups, Chambers of Commerce, and conferences; 2,394 people attended.
  • Meetings were held with staff of the Governor's Office; State Auditor; Secretary of State; state legislators; representatives of the Departments of Education, and Employment and Economic Development; Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Minnesota District Court System to discuss digital imaging for records retention/access purposes, and employing people with developmental disabilities.
  • Former US Senator Dave Durenberger prepared a letter of support. An article, “Digital Partnering for People with Developmental Disabilities,” was prepared jointly by US Senator Coleman, US Representative Ramstad, and the Council Chair, Shamus O'Meara.
  • The MN Dept of Human Services received a Computerworld Honors Laureate Award for its digital imaging project and employing people with developmental disabilities. The GCDD received an award from the St. Paul Mayor's Advisory Committee. Sixteen supported employees gained experience in copying/collating resource materials, and preparing packets for the eight weekend sessions of Class 23 Partners participants. Skills learned help workers move to competitive jobs.


“Excellent employment opportunity for people with developmental disabilities in greater Minnesota.”

“Great ideas. I'm excited to go out and pursue [digital imaging] with businesses.”

“We have a business that has contacted us to do scanning and we're looking forward to getting started.”

“Excellent! Congrats on showcasing a terrific workforce.”

Suppliers: Metro Work Center, The Wallace Group, Quality Culture Institute, Minnesota Department of Human Services, and Minnesota Department of Administration.

7. Self Advocacy: The GCDD funded a statewide effort to strengthen self advocacy and local self advocacy groups. New groups were started or strengthened in Bemidji and Waseca, and 34 new members were recruited. A total of 88 self advocates attended workshops on leadership and communication skills, civic involvement, and voter education and the voting process.

A total of 413 self advocates from 14 local self advocacy groups attended workshops or conferences and helped to plan conferences or training sessions, and five self advocates made presentations.

Self advocates evaluated themselves on IPSII changes — 89% reported increased independence, 86% increased productivity, 89% increased self determination, and 88% increased integration and inclusion.


“Thank you for helping me to learn what a good leader is!”

“I feel more confident and inspired.”

“Being with other people, I like that.”

“I like role plays because it showed us how to be more assertive.”

“I liked learning about voting” (a self advocate presented on civic engagement).

Suppliers: People First Minnesota (statewide project) and local self advocacy groups: Midway Training Services Self Advocacy Group, People First Anoka, People First of The Arc of Minnesota Southwest, People First of the Bemidji Area, People First Central, People First Duluth, People First of Kandiyohi County, People First McLeod County, People First of New Ulm, People First Olmsted County, People First Sherburne County, People First Wright County, Rum River Advisory Committee,

8. Publications: In FFY 2005, the GCDD disseminated 21,201 print publications (individual orders, and at conferences and presentations); there were 147,346 downloads from the GCDD web site. The evaluation scores averaged 9.2 on a 10 point scale and 97% of the respondents indicated the publications were useful.


CD-ROM – Parallels in Time

“One of the most informative and comprehensive reviews I've come across on this subject! Excellent format!

“This brought back many, many memories from my past work at Cambridge. I was there before and at the beginning of the Welsch case and followed the deinstitutionalization process. I felt part of our Minnesota history.”

“I used the information in a course I teach to present the historical aspects of disabilities (Exceptional Student class, Puerto Rico).”

Stories of Leadership

“Really appreciate this beautiful book.”

Publications about Person Centered Planning/Self Determination

It's Never Too Early, It's Never Too Late

“I enjoyed the visual daydreams.”

“Perfect for our Partners in Policymaking session on Futures Planning and Visioning.”

“Easy to read and parent friendly.”

Making Futures Happen

“Excellent tool! Very easy to read.”

It's My Choice

“Very good tool for self help and making your own choices.”

“Extremely useful in assisting students with transition planning.”

“Excellent graphics; well thought out, easy to understand — great!”

Supplier: Advantage Business Center

9. E-Government Services: The GCDD web site is the largest on the state of Minnesota server with a total of 70 products/services converted to electronic formats or individual items added during the past year. In FFY 2006, there were 163,604 unique visits to the
GCDD web site. Visitors gave the web site an 8.9 rating (scale of 1 to 10; 10 = highest), and 100% found it to be very user friendly, well organized, and one that contains a lot of useful information.

Parallels in Time, Part 2, a continuation of the History of Disabilities that is contained in the original Parallels in Time, and covers the time period from 1950 to the present was released. This period is comprised of a series of significant changes in the perceptions and perspectives about disability, the types of services and supports available to people with developmental disabilities and families, and how these services and supports were delivered.

Each of the major aspects of a person's life — home, learning/education, and employment are presented by decade with images, photos, history, and stories that reflect and represent the reality of this period in our history.


Parallels in Time, Part 2 is a powerful and compelling presentation. It is a true testament to how far we have come in the past 55 years and how far we still need to go.”

“A masterpiece that should be acknowledged and recognized at a national level.”

“I am always amazed and disturbed at the attitudes towards people with disabilities.”

“A wealth of information that truly describes the trials and tribulations that people with disabilities have endured.”

Supplier: Master Communications Group

10. Training Co-sponsorships: The GCDD cosponsored 14 training conferences during FFY 2006; the total number of attendees was 2,743. The overall rating of the conferences was 9.0 (10 point scale) and 99% of the participants rated the conferences as useful/helpful.


“Thanks for the conference. I am more assertive and more confident.”

“I never knew how I can stand up for myself…I liked learning about voting.”

“Lots of great energy…Music is a powerful way to connect self advocates to social change and social justice.”

“I want to talk to my staff about what my vision is.”

Suppliers: ACT, Inc., Arc Central Minnesota, Arc Greater Twin Cities, Arc Headwaters, The Arc of Minnesota, Arc Minnesota Southwest, Arc West Central Minnesota. Autism Society of Minnesota, Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, MnDACA, Reach for Resources, Region X/Arc Southeast Minnesota, United Cerebral Palsy of Minnesota.

11. Customer Research:

In FFY 2006, a new Five Year State Plan was developed. An Individual Survey was designed to collect data and gather input from people with developmental disabilities and families about specific attributes associated with independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII), and individual satisfaction with current IPSII levels. Both English and Spanish versions were available. A Provider Survey was also developed to learn from service providers about areas of emphasis, satisfaction with those areas, and where and what system improvements could be made. A total of 706 individuals responded to the surveys.

Visits were made to eight regions of the state to talk with self advocates, families, advocates, program managers, and front line staff about issues that are important to them, and where and how services and supports could be improved.

Qualitative and quantitative survey results are posted on the GCDD web site.

Supplier: MarketResponse International

12. Quality Improvement:

The GCDD has aligned its work to the Baldrige Criteria and Framework since 1997. In FFY 2006, training and coaching sessions on strategic planning and customer focus were provided to a statewide advocacy organization. Technical assistance requests received during the year were reviewed and analyzed to determine areas of emphasis, help identify public policy issues, and delivery system improvements that could be incorporated in the new Five Year State Plan. Staff and GCDD members received a total of 245.5 hours of training on quality principles and core learning.

Suppliers: Minnesota Council for Quality and Quality Culture Institute

13. Technical Assistance:

During this year, the GCDD had 1,795 unique customer contacts about individual problems and 210 contacts about the Partners in Policymaking program.


“Thank you so much for your kind words.”

“Thank you so much for providing information related to your state's progress in addressing respectful language through… legislation or policy.”

“Thank you for your time and efforts.”

“Thank you for responding so quickly to my request for information.”

“Yours is the only Council I know of that actually tries to get to the root of things in such a detailed fashion before charging off into the forest of the five year plan.”

“The two reports you sent are fabulous. You folks do incredible work!”

14. Presentations:

A total of 34 presentations reached 2,735 people.


“Partners is the single most exciting and influential empowerment effort in my experience. I believe it has done more to change the lives of people and help them gain the skills they need to effect changes in the formal and informal systems they rely on than any other single effort.”

“Thank you so much for being at our conference. New life has been breathed into our membership.”

“Thanks for your enlightening speech on the history of disabilities. It was interesting to see how history replays itself and a little disheartening.”

“Thank you for, once again, setting the stage for another successful year of Partners.”

15. Public Policy:

We addressed the following public policy issues at the state level during FFY 2006:

Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) — survey and budget allocation methodology

Parental fees

Day training and habilitation programs

Universal assessment

Family support

Modernization of language legislation

Help America Vote Act (HAVA) implementation — poll accessibility, voting equipment, and voting process issues

We addressed the following public policy issues at the federal level during FFY 2006:

IDEA reauthorization

IDEA 2004 implementing regulations

Special education funding

Direct Support Professional Fairness and Security Act

DD Act reauthorization


Deficit Reduction Act and Medicaid reform

Medicare Part D

16. Collaboration:

During FFY 2006, our collaborative activities with the Minnesota Disability Law Center (P&A Agency) and the Institute on Community Integration (UCE) included:

E-Government Services — the DD Network is linked and materials from the DD Network are featured.

Voter equipment standards and accessibility.

Health care access and availability of health and dental services for people with developmental disabilities.

Abuse, neglect, and exploitation issues.

Partners in Policymaking.

Self advocacy funding.

Funding for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission.

Newborn screening legislation.

Managed care issues.

Day program and employment issues.

 Waiver legislation.

Emergency preparedness and disaster recovery.

Council's new Five Year State Plan

Human Services Administration Study.

Efforts to promote digital imaging and increase employment for people with developmental disabilities.

Medicaid Town Hall Forums.

Information and referral services.

Letters of support.

Alliance for Full Participation.

Promoted self determination.

Family Support 360 grant, and planning for the ADD Site Visit and Fall Regional Technical Assistance Training in November 2006.

Meetings were held with the P&A and UCE in advance of conducting the surveys for the Council's new Five Year State Plan to discuss the regional meeting schedule and data collection through the survey process; and again after the survey was completed and results analyzed. The DD Network was on hand to discuss issues with Commissioner Pat Morrissey during the November ADD visit to the Family Support Center at Jordan New Life Church in North Minneapolis.

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©2019 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
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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.