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In 1982, only three states had a waiver for people with developmental disabilities. By 1987, over 30 states had at least one waiver, and by 1992, 46 states were participating.

This was in spite of some of the significant restraints on the waivers – needs of the individual (level of support and being at risk of institutionalization) costs compared to institutions, limits on the size of the waiver programs, the pace of approvals.

These changes in direction during the 1980s do not mean that the ongoing controversy of deinstitutionalization and community living were quieting.

Landesman and Butterfield (1986), for instance, summed up the controversy in words that echo from the 1960s:

As goals, normalization and deinstitutionalization are not terribly controversial. As means to achieving these goals, the current practices of deinstitutionalization and normalization are exceedingly controversial.

Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden