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In 1979 the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University, under the leadership of the late Burton Blatt, released The Community Imperative:

A refutation of all arguments in support of institutionalizing anybody because of a developmental disability. In addition to Center on Human Policy staff and associates (Ellen Barnes, Douglas Biklen, Robert Bogdan, Hillery Schneiderman, Jo Scro, Steven Taylor, and Wolf Wolfensberger), the Community Imperative was endorsed by over 300 parents, people with disabilities, researchers, and professionals.

The initial list of signers included such leaders as: William Bronston, Gunnar Dybwad, Rosemary Dybwad, Robert Perske, Alan Abeson, Allan Bergman, Ed Roberts, David Braddock, Lou Brown, Allen Crocker, Seymour Sarason, Eleanor Elkin, James Ellis, Philip Roos, Frank Laski, Judy Heumann, Linda Glenn, Bruce Ennis, Marc Gold, Fred Krause, Horace Mann, Lotte Moise, Bengt Nirje, Tom Nerney, John O'Brien, Patty Smith, Edward Skarnulis, Ann Turnbull, Rud Turnbull, and Jean Vanier, among others.

The Community Imperative (1979)
A Refutation of All Arguments in Support of
Institutionalizing Anybody Because of Mental Retardation

In the Domain of Human Rights:

  • All people have fundamental moral and constitutional rights;
  • These rights must not be abrogated merely because a person has a mental or physical disability.
  • Among these fundamental rights is the right to community living.

In the Domain of Educational Programming and Human Services:

  • All people, as human beings, are inherently valuable;
  • All people can grow and develop;
  • All people are entitled to conditions which foster their development;
  • Such conditions are optimally provided in community settings.

In fulfillment of fundamental human rights and in securing optimum developmental opportunities, all people, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, are entitled to community living.