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The persistent message of People First began a simple and straightforward understanding that people with developmental disabilities are people, not labels or clients. This means that their needs and rights are fundamentally the same as everybody else's.

The definition of people with developmental disabilities as "people" shifts the emphasis to the rights of all citizens being applied to all people, and the needs of all people being understood as the needs of people with developmental disabilities.

Over time this perspective radically changed the nature of individual planning. We came to understand that by focusing on an individual's humanness, supports take on a different tone than if the focus is on an individual's deficits.

People need love and relationships, power and rights, respect, meaning in life, money, experience and opportunities. "People" have choices about where and with whom they live. "Clients" or "the disabled" have choices made for them. Professionals assign them housemates and addresses.