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Marc Gold
Steve Gold
(Photo courtesy Lucy Gwin)

The time to debate the place of people with disabilities in the society and the community has long since passed. It is time to shift attention to assuring that community living is accomplished in a manner consistent with the values and beliefs expressed in The Community Imperative.

In 1995, Lucy Gwin produced a call to action entitled You Choose as part of a grassroots effort to pass federal legislation to expand personal assistance services.

One of the dynamics of the continued controversy was the requirements of states coming from the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice issued two regulations that came to be important in the Olmstead decision and the debate about community living.

The first was that states were required to administer services in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of individuals with disabilities. Integration was defined in terms of enabling interaction with persons without disabilities to the fullest extent possible.

The second regulation required states to make "reasonable modifications" in policies, practices and procedures in order to avoid discrimination, unless the state "can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity."

States could avoid changes if they could demonstrate that "fundamental alterations" were required. The Olmstead ruling in 1999 turned up the heat for change.

Mr. Dart
Justin Dart
Photo courtesy Tom Olin