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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
Sandra Anderson
Anne Barnwell
Roberta Blomster
Brian Gustafson
Anne Hennessey
Shawn Holmes
Tom Holtgrewe
Loraine Jensen
Steven Kuntz
Sherri Larson
Jaynie Leung
Derek Nord
Linda Obright
Jeff Pearson
Dan Reed
Connie Roy
Barbara Schultz
Stacey Vogele
Susan Wehrenberg


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 $1,025,295 from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) for FFY 2008. 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 2008, Class 25 graduated 12 self advocates and 19 family members, including two 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 3.8 to 4.5; self determination increased from 4.1 to 4.5; and integration and inclusion increased from 3.5 to 4.4. Graduates rated knowledge gained at 4.4, usefulness of the presentations at 4.5, and quality of the training sessions at 4.7 (5-point scale).

Seventy-two Partners graduates attended workshops on "Skills for Negotiating Difficult Conversations" and "Transition from School to Post School: Best Practices." The workshops were rated for knowledge gained at 4.5, usefulness of the presentations at 4.5, and quality of the workshops at 4.4 (5-point scale). Participants also evaluated themselves on IPSII outcomes and based on their participation in the workshops: Increased independence – 3.9, increased productivity – 3.9, increased self determination – 4.0, and increased integration and inclusion – 4.1.


"I learned how important it is to remember our history so it doesn't repeat itself. Change can take time but we're stronger together than separately. Elected officials aren't scary; they're just people and they need our help."

"My son does have a sunny future. I won't tolerate exclusion ever again. I have lots of support, ideas, compassion, courage, and knowledge."

Government Training Services
2233 University Ave West, Suite 150
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114

2. Partners Online: The Partners in Policymaking classroom curriculum was connected to the five online training courses. Partners faculty are incorporating suggestions from the Integrating Online Learning module for each of the online courses into their presentations and interactive learning exercises.

The Integrating Online Learning module was created to supplement the classroom program and provide coordinators with concrete ideas and suggestions about how to blend the classroom experience with the online courses into the weekend sessions. Between 30 and 70 specific opportunities are identified for each course to give participants an enhanced learning experience.

An EZ Read version of the Partners in Employment module was designed. This version of the module will be supplemented with icons that represent various concepts and terms to increase make the online courses more usable and understandable to a broader audience.

In FFY 2008, a total of 46, 696 visits and 82,608 page views were made to the online courses, for an average of 3,891 visits and 6,884 page views per month respectively. A total of 448 compliments were received, and 438 Feedback Forms completed with ratings for IPSII measures - independence was rated 4.3, productivity was rated 4.3, self determination was rated 4.4, and integration/inclusion was rated 4.4 (5-point scale). See Appendix for additional charts.

More than 12 colleges and universities have incorporated the online courses into special education and human services degree programs.


Partners in Making Your Case

"Highly educational and timely. It's great, the best thing I've learned on advocacy and it will be of tremendous help to our organization. Every aspect of the course is exciting."

"Liked the extras – cartoons, quotes, tips and hints, profiles and stories.  The examples brought the essentials and steps into a real world environment."

Partners in Education

"Very well organized. I took the course so I could recommend it to parents.  It's of great benefit for parents to understand the special education process. It is my hope that parents can become better informed through this interactive online course."

"Loved the abundance of information give…I'm an elementary education major and one year away from beginning my teaching career… I plan to keep this website listed in my notes/folders so I will have it in the future when I begin teaching."

Partners in Employment

"Good information about job search and career development. I liked it all!"

"Very informative. I liked the work sheets and matching game, the application and interview discussions."

Partners in Time

"Very informative and gave a great history of people with disabilities.  This is very important to understanding the current times."

"The course was WELL worth the hours I put into it. The information was great, the readings were perfectly worded and not way above my level as textbooks sometimes are written… Very nice program!"

Partners in Living

"Liked the stories and assignments that helped to clarify the values, priorities, and goals of people with disabilities and families."

Excellent information. I enjoyed the course, particularly the time line histories."

Master Communications Group
7805 Telegraph Road, Suite 120
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

3. Cultural Outreach: The GCDD funded cultural outreach programs in the African American and Latino communities in FFY 2008. A total of 27 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 increased from 4.0 to 4.4, productivity increased from 3.4 to 4.5, self determination increased from 3.7 to 4.4, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.8 to 4.9. Graduates rated the program as 4.9 for knowledge gained, 4.9 for usefulness, and 4.7 for quality of training.

For the Latino Outreach program, independence increased from 3.3 to 3.5, productivity increased from 3.7 to 3.8, self determination increased from 3.1 to 3.5, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.0 to 3.7. Graduates rated the program as 4.9 in knowledge gained, 4.9 for usefulness, and 4.8 for quality of training.


African American Outreach:

"I have learned that I have the choice to make the best of my life with people who can help me. I want to learn and be very independent."

"I have learned the importance of relationships with service providers."

Latino Outreach:

"My family and I feel more empowered after understanding how to access the County services."

"Thank you CLUES for this group where I have learned how to be an advocate for my child. The people that I have met are an inspiration for me to continue working hard."

6611 Lynnwood Boulevard
Richfield, Minnesota 55423

797 East Seventh Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55106

4. Longitudinal Studies of Partners in Policymaking: During FFY 2008, Dr. John Johnson surveyed Partners graduates from Years XVI through XIX (Classes 20 through 23).

Based on averages across these four classes, the results indicated that 93% of the respondents have the advocacy skills necessary to get needed services and supports some or most of the time; and 97% rate their leadership skills as good to excellent. In terms of federal outcomes, 88% have increased independence, 67% have increased productivity, 63% have increased self determination, and 71% have increased integration and inclusion that they attribute to their Partners experience.

John Johnson, Ph.D.
San Diego State University
29370 Pamoosa Lane
Valley Center, CA 92082

5. Digital Imaging/Employment:Since 1988, the GCDD has worked with employers and promoted the direct employment of people with developmental disabilities. During FFY 2008 –

A total of 262 people with developmental disabilities were employed in document imaging or other jobs in Minnesota, a 115% increase over FFY 2007. A total of 91 people are working at business locations; the remainder work in a school program, store front business, and in day program settings.

Federal Court Judge Donovan Frank was guest speaker at the October 2008 Council meeting, presenting his personal experiences and perspectives on the employment of people with disabilities. He personally advocated to preserve the jobs of workers with developmental disabilities employed in the Federal Courts building during a renovation project. His presentation was videotaped and placed on the GCDD website.

Minnesota Cities, the publication of the League of Minnesota Cities, published an article about document imaging, "Employing People with Disabilities for Document Imaging."

Northeast Metro Independent School District (ISD) 916 started a document imaging project of school records; an article was published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about this project.  Four transition students are employed and 500 pages of documents are scanned each day. One student is now employed by the Social Security Administration.

The Fall 2008 issue of Autism Advocate, the magazine produced by the Autism Society of America, featured a six-page article on document imaging including a story about a young man who was recently hired to by Arizona Industries for the Blind to work in their document imaging department, and the IDS 916 project. 

The City of Falcon Heights, and Minneapolis Community and Technical College have document imaging projects underway.

The DVD, The Changing Face of Technology, was released and placed on the Council website. This closed captioned videotape features five private sector businesses. Two awards were received for this production – a Silver Award in the 2008 International Summit Creative Awards competition and a Silver Award in the 2008 National Communicator Awards competition.

Midway Training Services opened a storefront business and held an open house for its Business Solutions Center, a press release was prepared.  The storefront employs 24 people with developmental disabilities in document imaging positions and also offers training in document imaging skills to 10 additional individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Materials Management Division, Department of Administration, released a Request for Proposal for state contracts for scanning/document imaging services. Businesses received additional points in the scoring process for hiring people with developmental disabilities in document imaging positions and paying at least minimum wage. Seven businesses were awarded contracts including three day programs; these contracts are valued at $1.1 million in state business per year. A press release was prepared.

The Wallace Group
3750 Pilot Knob Road
Eagan, Minnesota  55121

6. Self Advocacy: SELF ADVOCACY MINNESOTA (SAM) is a statewide network, a coalition of self advocacy groups, organized into six regions - Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southeast, Southwest, and Metro (Twin Cities metro area). The mission of SAM is to promote the human and civil rights of people with developmental disabilities.

During FFY 2008, federal funds supported the Central and Northwest regions, and state funds supported the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions.

A host agency in each region provides coaching/technical assistance to support self advocates and self advocacy groups in each region. A Leadership Circle coordinates the statewide network; each region has equal representation. 

The primary focus of each region is to strengthen the leadership abilities of self advocates through education/training, encourage active involvement in local communities, and support actions to improve their living/working situations, and educate the community at large about disability issues.

A total of 2,012 self advocates attended 68 training sessions on self advocacy concepts; starting a self advocacy group; personal empowerment; leadership development; systems change (human/civil rights issues); individual rights in housing, employment, and transportation; voting and civic engagement; public policy and the policymaking process; and disability awareness. Self advocates evaluated these session in terms of knowledge gained - 4.6, usefulness - 4.6, and quality of presentations - 4.5 (5-point scale).

A total of 107 self advocates served as teachers/trainers on disability awareness, social change and self advocacy, self advocacy values and mission, power relationships, assertiveness and self empowerment, civic engagement and the policymaking process. Self advocates were also active in coalitions – ADAPT, Get Out the Vote, Arc Legislative Alert Action Team - and served on interagency committees.

Presentations about self advocacy and disability awareness were made at the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth) and Minnesota State University (Moorhead)

Self advocates in each region identified specific issues of concern – building accessibility, transportation needs/gaps, housing options, co-pays, staff shortages, and isolation and loneliness. They also worked on improving public speaking, negotiating, and community organizing skills; working through conflicts; developing work plans and working through action plans; building relationships and networking; and communicating with elected officials.

Self advocates also evaluated themselves on IPSII outcomes - greater independence – 93%, productivity – 80%, self determination – 93%, and integration/inclusion – 91%.


"I like these sessions from SAM because it helps me learn about things."

"I like helping with trainings. I was nervous at first but it feels good to share my ideas about self advocacy. I hope I can do more!"

Advocating Change Together, Inc.
1821 University Avenue, Suite 306-
South St. Paul, Minnesota 55104

7. Training Conferences:  The GCDD cosponsored 15 training conferences during FFY 2008; the total number of attendees was 2,241. The overall rating was 8.7(10 point scale) and 98% of the participants rated the conferences as useful/helpful.


"I enjoy learning from people with autism, learning from their experiences; and value the networking opportunities that people with autism, educators, and families have at this conference."

"Lots of good ideas! Great conversation to help jump start new opportunities for people with disabilities. Very excited to get going developing a small business within the school district."

Suppliers: Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, Dakota Communities, Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, Autism Society of Minnesota, Reach for Resources, MN APSE, Opportunity Partners, Arc Greater Twin Cities, Center for Self Determination, MnDACA, Center for Inclusive Child Care, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, Arc Central Minnesota, and The Arc of Minnesota.

8. Publications: In FFY 2008, the GCDD disseminated 20,402 print publications (individual orders, and at conferences and presentations); The evaluation scores averaged 9.2 on a 10 point scale and 100% of the respondents indicated the publications were useful. A total of 405,670 items were downloaded from the GCDD and Partners web sites.

A total of 20,402 publications were disseminated to 221 individuals and conference attendees.


Making Your Case

"Based upon information in this publication, I was able to meet my state representative and clearly articulate my issues."

It's My Choice

"A great resource to assist people in learning about themselves and what's important to them."

Advantage Business Center
635 North Prior Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104

9. E-Government Services: In FFY 2008, a total of 65 items were converted to electronic formats.  A total of 202,814 unique visits were made to the GCDD and Partners websites. Spanish and audio versions of publications were added.
More than 2,000 documents and 46,000 pages about Minnesota's deinstitutionalization history were added to With An Eye to the Past including Cambridge State Hospital video clips from the 1960s, the Harriett Blodget lecture series, and "History Corner" articles written for Access Press.

Additions to Parallels in Time, Part 2 included President John F. Kennedy video clips; Willowbrook timeline; seven videos/transcripts on learning, working,  and community living; person centered thinking video; William Bronston poster collection and Project Interdependence; history of Fairview Training Center; Handicapism slide show; ADAPT 25th Anniversary; Tom Gilhool's speech on strategies used in key lawsuits; Project TEACH video clips; MIT Quaker Oats and Fernald School exposés; and video clips from a DHS series on residential innovations.

The GCDD website was updated and redesigned with a new format and colors.  A page devoted to the history of the DD Act was added. Additions or features included The Changing Face of Technology and awards received for this DVD production; US District Court Judge Donovan Frank's presentation on employment and disability issues in the federal court system; Marc Gold's Try Another Way systematic training approach; youth focus group results; resources to help ensure the accessibility and usability of e-government services; Wikipedia entries on special education, supported employment, and Minnesota IT Recognition Award for the online courses.

Additions to the Partners in Policymaking website included a Public Policy Action Center and podcasts. 

A total of 38, 236 visits were made to, the one stop website for all state disability programs.

A total of 46,696 visits and 82,608 page views were made to the five e-learning courses. At least 12 colleges and universities, including Millersville University (PA), Metropolitan State University (MN), Southeast Oklahoma State University, and Western Oregon University are using these courses to replace textbooks and/or supplement learning in special education and human services degree programs.

An EZ Read version of Partners in Employment was created.

A total of 438 people completed Feedback Forms about the online courses; increased independence – 4.3, productivity – 4.3, self determination – 4.4, and integration/inclusion – 4.4 (5 pt scale).


Parallels in Time, Part 2:

"Parallels in Time, Part 2 is an incredibly comprehensive review of our field's contemporary history. In recent years, I have come to understand more and more the value and import of this information and, as an Oklahoman, I'm pleased that some of our state's history is represented in this remarkable work."

"… the magnificent assemblage of on-line history, stories, images, and analysis of this world of special needs... [It] captures and features the works of myriad citizen and professional advocates, heroes and heroines in the field whose insights, teachings, and works stand against the system... a brilliant archive of the most important historical events relating to devalued people... a living, breathing work of compassionate scholarship, media artistry, ethical meaning, political integrity and social beauty… "

GCDD website surveys:

"Awesome site for the history of disability policy in Minnesota."

"All the information helped me in dealing with my child and her school about her disability."

Master Communications Group
7805 Telegraph Road, Suite 100
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438


10. Customer Focused Research: Eleven Minnesota public and private sector employers were selected through a nominations process for their innovative practices in hiring people with developmental disabilities. WCCO posted a notice on their website and helped to solicit nominations. Nineteen individuals are employees of these businesses in a wide range of industries across the state, including housing, education, child care, environmental, automotive, technology, veterinary services, and printing.

MarketResponse International
1304 University Ave Northeast, Suite 304
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413

11. Quality Improvement:

A total of 88 high school students with and without disabilities participated in focus groups about current and future uses of technology. Computers (91%) and cell phones (71%) are used mostly for communication; online university courses and libraries, improved geographic mapping, and increased cell phone capacity for personal data and records were rated 7.4 (10 pt scale) as the most important topics.

A review of the Grant Recipient Guide, Grants Management system and SWOT analysis were conducted with the GCDD Grant Review Committee, and suppliers were surveyed about the supplier performance review process.

GCDD staff/members received a total of 512.25 person hours of training – 395 person hours of core learning on DD issues and 117.25 person hours of training on quality principles/Baldrige Framework.

Quality Culture Institute
2603 Institute Road
Rochester, Minnesota 55902

12. Technical Assistance: During FFY 2008, the GCDD had 3,291 unique customer contacts about individual problems and 121 unique contacts about the Partners in Policymaking program. Considering repeat customers including the online courses, a total of 14,064 contacts were made. A total of 779 compliments were received regarding personal assistance and support, timeliness and responsiveness, and specific products or services.


"I'm so happy that the "History Corner" (in Access Press newspaper) is going to continue. Thanks for your support and vision in making it happen."

"Great [website] stats! It does show that if you have good information, people will come and people around the country know that you have a ton of superb information to share with them."

13. Presentations:

A total of 32 presentations reached 3,322 people.


"Thank you for joining us at the FOCUS conference. Your presentations greatly contributed to the overwhelming success of this event."

"Thank you for your wonderful presentation at [Partners] Class 26. I learned more in one afternoon than I have in 10 years of advocating for my son! I was affected to greatly that I wanted to go home and start advocating and changing the world on disability rights."


The following public policy issues were addressed at the state level during FFY 2008

Special education rules

Self advocacy funding

2010 Reform effort

Managed care/Special Needs Basic Care program and data practices issues

ADA policy for state agencies updated

Poverty and disability issues

Rates and payment structure for day programs

State Capitol restoration and renovations


Use of the "R" word

Housing issues for people with disabilities

Abuse issues in residential facilities

METO – Issues regarding restraints, active treatment, best practices regarding positive behavioral approaches

Waiting list

Public safety and people with disabilities

US Attorney General Office review of Minneapolis hotels regarding ADA compliance

Accessibility/usability issues – Business case prepared, compliments/complaints line established, leadership training for Department of Administration managers/supervisors, legislation drafted to create an executive position with A/U expertise, and state contract amended to strengthen language related to technology purchases.

The following public policy issues were addressed at the federal level during FFY 2008:

Assistive Technology funding

Community Choice Act (US Representative Betty McCollum became a cosponsor) and Medicaid long term care spending

P&A system changes and limitations

National Technical Assistance Center on Family Support

CMS regulations regarding case management and targeted case management

ADA Title II and Title III implementing regulations regarding public accommodations and barrier removal

DD Act reauthorization

DD Act regulations

NIDRR Long Range Plan and focus on families


During FFY 2008, our collaborative activities with the Minnesota Disability Law Center (P & A Agency) and the Institute on Community Integration (UCE) included:

Letters of support

Information and referral services

Partners in Policymaking

Family Support 360

Self advocacy funding

Department of Human Services task force on the Special Needs Basic Care program.

Medical Home Care

Production of a video, "Go Vote;" and a separate video produced by the Institute on Community Integration (UCE) to get out the vote featuring the GCDD's Public Policy Chair.

Voter registration

WCCO series on autism issues

CAN DO initiative

Partnership Resources Arts Program

People with disabilities and prevention of sexual violence

State Capitol restoration and renovations

METO reports


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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 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

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.