Forging a New Reality in a New Century

As we fully enter the new century, it is important to explore the dynamics of what is truly important for people with developmental disabilities, and how the community generally and community services specifically can support them to obtain what is truly important. A new way of thinking about home, learning, work and relationships has supported new directions in community services. The importance of people with disabilities having control over their own lives, with whatever supports that requires, has become much clearer.

The challenge is to forge a new reality with and for people with developmental disabilities based on these understandings. Fundamentally, this means focusing efforts on a single agenda – a meaningful life in the community – rather than continuing to maintain the dual systems of congregation/segregation and integration/inclusion. It means constructing a system based on values and leadership, and using public dollars to secure outcomes that actually serve the public good and respect the dignity and citizenship of people with developmental disabilities. It means involving the rest of the community in the lives of people with developmental disabilities, including recognition by community organizations and agencies that people with disabilities have a right to the same services and supports as other citizens.

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