EEOC has success in litigation about employment discrimination against people with developmental disabilities
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is pleased to present Laurie Vasichek, retired Senior Litigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discussing her work at the EEOC.
Ms. Vasichek's last case was EEOC v Walmart. This court case was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. One conclusion of this case is that a job coach is considered a reasonable accommodation.
EEOC v. Walmart
The Minnesota Olmstead Plan from 2012-2022: Achievements from the First Decade of Planning and Implementation
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is pleased to announce release of a new publication celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the first Olmstead Planning Committee efforts.
The Jensen settlement agreement was approved in December 2011 and required appointment of an Olmstead Planning Committee in 2012.
The Planning Committee met and recommended to then-DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson that the Governor consider appointing an Olmstead Subcabinet. Governor Dayton signed Executive Order 13-01 appointing the first Olmstead Subcabinet.
This report provides a 10 year summary of achievements and is based upon review of Olmstead reports and interviews with key informants.
Impact of the Intersection of Developmental Disabilities and Other Population Profiles on Experiences with Discrimination
Report From Qualitative/Narrative Research
This research study on the Impact of the Intersection of Developmental Disabilities and Other Population Profiles, was designed to explore how discrimination is experienced by people with developmental disabilities, who are also a part of other marginalized communities.
Along with some relevant insights and hypotheses gained from reviews of prior studies conducted around the country, this research report includes stories gained from 49 people with developmental disabilities and family members, regarding their own personal experiences of being unfairly treated or restricted from opportunities or privileges that are available to others.
The ultimate objective of this research is to raise awareness of the impact of explicit and implicit biases to enhance empathy and appreciation for the experiences of people with developmental disabilities.
The Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities celebrated the 35th anniversary of Partners in Policymaking on May 21, 2022 during an Open House. During the celebration, the Council released a new mobile museum exhibit that traces the evolution of disability services from the early 1900s through today.
The Wallace Group was on hand at the Open House and taped some messages from the attendees as they were touring the exhibit photos. These testimonial messages were combined into a brief video to commemorate the occasion.
Partners Class 39 Participant Radio Discussion on KFAI
Sherie Wallace joins host Sam Jasmine to discuss Class 39 of Minnesota Partners in Policymaking with class participants Arbdella Hudson, Cassie Kallis, and Nicole Laudont.
2022 Minnesota General Population Survey of Attitudes Towards People with Developmental Disabilities
Minnesota has come a long way since 1962. When 900 Minnesotans were surveyed in 1962, 25% of the respondents believed that people with developmental disabilities should not be allowed to use public playgrounds and beaches, 20% believed they should not be able to attend movie theaters, and 35% believed people with developmental disabilities should be kept in an institution. Today the attitudes are much different based on a survey of 900 Minnesotans that match the demographic characteristics of the general population.
Eight-out-of-10 Minnesotans agree that society should do everything in its power to help those who are most vulnerable. Most Minnesotans (86%) believe the State should allocate more funds to support PCAs and related services for Minnesotans with developmental disabilities.
Almost 9-out-of-10 Minnesotans (86%) believe people with developmental disabilities face discrimination. Various forms of discrimination against people with developmental disabilities were mentioned by survey respondents including employment discrimination, bullying, teasing, name calling, being treated poorly, and limited accessibility.
There is room for improvement in advancing toward greater integration and inclusion. But in the past 60 years attitudes have changed which has made an impact on the lives of all Minnesotans.
March was Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities celebrated March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by featuring poetry by Alex Junge, sharing the Governor's Proclamation, and presenting a national video featuring Brittanie Wilson.
Alex Junge lives in St Paul and has been writing poetry for over 20 years. He is employed through MSS and came to the December 1, 2021 Council meeting to recite a few of his favorite poems as part of the Cow Tipping presentation. Alex is the Council's "poet laureate."
The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities taped several states providing messages and then created this celebratory video. Brittanie Wilson participated on behalf of the Minnesota Council.
Project SEARCH Minnesota
Project SEARCH is a business-led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration. A 9-12 month program, Project SEARCH provides total immersion in a large community business. Students with disabilities are offered a workforce alternative for their last year of high school.
The Project SEARCH partnership includes a local host business, a school, VRS, a Community Service Provider and a disability services agency. The business provides an on-site training classroom, business liaison and rotational internships for on the job training. The school provides an instructor and job skills trainer(s).
Each day, students report to the host business, learn employability skills in the classroom and job skills through their internships (usually 3-4 internships during the year). Students are encouraged to use public transportation when available, just as they would when employed after high school.
Students and their teams meet monthly for progress reports and to continually refine their career goals and determine concrete next steps. Managers from the host business work with the teacher and skills trainers to support the students every step of the way.
The ultimate goal upon program completion being the students' competitive placements at the host business or in the community, based on the skills and experience learned in their Project SEARCH experiences.
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities in collaboration with the Minnesota Disability Law Center announce a COVID-19 initiative to assist people with disabilities.
Are there barriers that are making it hard for you as a person with a disability to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Maybe you need a ride, someone to go with you, or help signing up online. Or you might just need to talk to someone you can trust to get more information. You have a right to get the vaccine if you want it. The Minnesota Disability Law Center can help. Watch this video to learn more, or call 651-432-4608, or email email@example.com. The Minnesota Disability Law Center also does outreach events on vaccine access and other disability rights issues to community groups, schools, and other organizations – contact them if you'd like them to participate in an event!
The Impact of COVID-19 on Minnesotans with Developmental Disabilities
The Robins Kaplan law firm sponsored its 11th Annual Disability Justice Seminar (Continuing Legal Education course) on May 7, 2021 with over 150 attendees.
This year's topic was the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities. The Federal Bar Association (Minnesota Chapter) and the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities were cosponsors of the Seminar. The Council prepared this short five minute documentary about the Impact of COVID-19 on Minnesotans with Developmental Disabilities to provide an overview of the effect on individuals and families in hospital policies, rights restrictions, special education, and employment programs.
COVID-19 Materials for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Care Providers
COVID-19 is challenging to explain, live through, and communicate about. The materials on this page from the CDC were created to help make communicating about COVID-19 a little easier. Choose from videos, posters, social stories, and interactive activities to best meet your communication needs (more coming soon).
These materials will cover 5 basic topics: getting the COVID-19 shot, washing your hands, getting a COVID-19 test, as well as wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance until you have gotten your shot.
Roll Up Your Sleeves, Minnesota
- Sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector to get updates on vaccine opportunities and be entered into the random selection process for the state's Community Vaccination Program sites. Minnesotans can sign up at mn.gov/vaccineconnector. Minnesotans unable to sign up online can call 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone. Translation is available by phone in all languages. Minnesotans can call the translation hotline at 833-431-2053 for assistance signing up over the phone.
- Connect with your primary health care provider or local pharmacy. To search for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment near you, go to the CDC's Vaccine Finder.
- Use the Vaccine Locator Map to find local vaccine providers in your area.
The Office of Civil Rights issued new guidance on prohibiting disability discrimination in COVID-19 vaccination programs.
50 Years of Bold Achievements
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is pleased to announce three new products designed to celebrate its 50th Anniversary
The New Stargazers: 50 Years of Bold Achievements is a short documentary that describes the major milestones of the Council's work across the last half century. Brittanie Hernandez-Wilson, Council member and Partners in Policymaking graduate, serves as host.
The New Stargazers: 50 Years of Bold Achievements
This book organizes the Council's work around the federal Developmental Disabilities Act requirements of advocacy, capacity building, and systems change. Highlights include Partners in Policymaking®, policy analysis work, measurement of public attitudes and work on a range of topics such as prevention of abuse, employment, and the Olmstead Plan. This book also includes a list of all Council members and a list of $40 million of grants awarded since 1971.
The second publication, entitled inVISIBILITY, begins with a photo collection from the Minnesota Historical Society and depicts people with developmental disabilities from 1905 to the 1970s. Then the images portray the great progress made in the visibility of people with developmental disabilities in education, employment, community living, and in action as advocates. Each section heading provides a glimpse of prevailing attitudes when the Council began in 1971.
50 Year Celebration - MN Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
The signs were there, dozens of them, and many key players, as well. The 50th Anniversary of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities at the Doubletree Hilton in Bloomington evoked memories, appreciation, and determination to move forward to further improve the lives of people with disabilities. We interviewed several attendees to capture the flavor and spirit of the event. New publications were made available and a brief 50th Anniversary video ran as attendees enjoyed a great variety of refreshments.
October 2021 is the 50th anniversary of the formation of the first Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Partners in Policymaking® In the News
Minnesota Partners in Policymaking creates a supportive and educational environment to help individuals change habits, expectations and attitudes about themselves and their loved ones with developmental disabilities. The free program equips people with leadership skills to impact their communities. People with fascinating stories attend workshops and group interactions in preparation to make a substantial difference. Here are some of their stories:
St. Cloud Times
When her alert 18-month toddler was losing communication skills and avoiding eye contact, a St. Cloud mother sought help for an autism diagnosis.
A mother realizes the impacts of lead poisoning on her children from a rented apartment and begins a campaign to draw attention to the problem and propose legislative changes.
After the birth of their child with Down syndrome, this family of six adopted two girls with the same disability to provide companionship. Partners participants introduced the father to positive experiences of self-advocates with independent living.
The New Prague Times
After realizing that the phrase "dignity of choice" could apply to her daughter with vision, hearing and muscle tone deficiencies, Jennifer Pedersen gave her daughter, Mia, the chance to try ice skating. She went on to learn from her sister and perform in skate shows.
Lakeville Sun This Week
An award-winning elementary school teacher learns from self-advocates about the importance of communication skills and speaking up for one's self. She sees this valuable skill as critical for her teens to learn as they move into adulthood.
Balaton Press Tribune
Elizabeth Hoff's has two daughters with a progressive, genetic disorder that affects the skeletal system, vision, and heart, a rare form of dwarfism. Hoff's positive, hopeful attitude focuses on abilities rather than disabilities.
column in Redwood Gazette
A mother's guest column shares her excitement about being accepted into Partners program and a published article about her daughter with Down syndrome. She offers to speak to any community group about the disability.
The Maplewood Review
Taking the Partners program emphasis on inclusion in the schools, a mother realizes her role in revamping her son's middle school Individual Education Plan (IEP). It focuses on his strengths and "supports his civil right to be fully included in the general education classroom with appropriate supports."
Mother of adopted twins who have multiple disabilities shares how person-centered thinking with her children (asking them for their preferences) increases their self-confidence and decision-making skills.
column, Rochester Post Bulletin
Two Rochester mothers raising children with disabilities describe their Partners involvement as "life-giving and life-changing" and, "a phenomenal, empowering experience." They share how they benefited from the network of advocates and friends and recognize the power of their own story.
Murray County News
Raising two young boys with disabilities, one with dwarfism and the other with Down syndrome, in a small rural community, Partners spurred Konechne to build a network of peers "to come together to be stronger advocates for our children."
Treat People Like People campaign has been updated to include new voices from diverse communities.
On the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act it is important to remember the ADA's goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities. These goals cannot be achieved unless people with disabilities live free from abuse and neglect.
Listen and learn dynamic, multi-cultural stories from Kate, Christy, Senator Hawj, Bonnie Jean, Abdi, and Linda. Find resources on how to report abuse, the Supervised Living Facilities bill of rights project, Minnesota's Olmstead Plan, training resources, and culturally specific information. You can download beautifully designed posters with powerful messages: "I Just Want to be Treated with Respect" and "Abuse Stops with Us."
The campaign was designed by, for and with people with disabilities.
Partners in Living Online Course Updated
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is pleased to announce that its Partners in Living online course has been completely revised.
Everyone has the right to a full, meaningful life in the community. Fortunately, old stereotypes are being replaced by opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, work and participate fully in their communities. A "meaningful life" doesn't mean the same thing for every person. This course explores key elements of a meaningful life including the right to be treated with dignity and respect; the concept of self-determination and how community services and supports, Medicaid waivers and other funding sources affect self-determination; family supports; community living and housing options; and assistive technology. The course also highlights key historical milestones and critical legislation.
Partners in Living is free and takes approximately 4 hours to complete. It is the fifth course in the free Partners in Policymaking online curriculum, which also includes Partners in Time, Partners in Education, Partners in Employment, and Partners in Making Your Case. All five courses have been recently revised.
Partners in Making Your Case Online Course Updated
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is pleased to announce that its popular Partners in Making Your Case online course has been completely revised. Partners in Making Your Case introduces learners to the important role advocacy plays in changing public policies that affect people with developmental disabilities.
The course reinforces that everyone, including people with developmental disabilities, has the right to make their case to policymakers. The course explores key social movements that helped to further the rights of people with developmental disabilities, how public policy is made at the local, state and federal levels and key elements of the advocacy process. It reinforces the connection between personal stories and systems change, and introduces ways to make your case in writing and in person.
The course also introduces ways you can build and maintain momentum by partnering with others who share a similar vision. The course is free and takes approximately 4 hours to complete.
Learn About Our Tools and Resources
Recently we interviewed three of our council members – Brittanie Hernandez-Wilson, Reid Scheller, and Bonnie Jean Smith. Watch their video testimonials to learn about our user-friendly tools and easy-to-navigate resources.
Ambassadors for Respect Announces New Anti-Bullying Handbook, Resource Guide and YouTube Channel
In 2013, the Ambassadors for Respect Anti-Bullying Program was initiated. The program was inspired by self advocates, all of whom experienced bullying and were willing to share their personal stories as part of the training sessions they led for 4th grade elementary school students. In 2020, PeaceMaker Minnesota updated all of the materials, and has now launched a YouTube channel devoted to personal stories.
The Ambassadors for Respect Training Handbook – Training basics for Ambassadors who will be leading training sessions, the details of planning and preparing for the sessions, making props and getting supplies, how to keep students actively engaged in the learning process, and the role that evaluations play in making improvements along the way to increase the benefits and take-aways for students.
The Ambassadors for Respect Marketing Brochure – An overview of the Program as an opportunity for Ambassadors for Respect, transition students and young adults who have experienced bullying, to develop their personal leadership skills, and recognize and gain confidence in their role as teachers. This brochure was created to recruit and inform transition programs on how they can participate in Ambassadors for Respect, and the benefits for their students in doing so.
The Ambassadors for Respect Teacher Resource Guide – Tools on inclusion, Person First Language, and self advocacy to strengthen the bullying prevention efforts that are introduced in the Ambassadors for Respect training sessions.
Ambassadors For Respect YouTube Channel — Watch individual stories of students in transition and adults with developmental disabilities who have experienced bullying.
An Interview with Elinor Gollay
Elinor Gollay guided the evolution of the definition of developmental disabilities during the first 20 years of the Developmental Disabilities Act.
By Jim Conroy, The Center for Outcome Analysis
After 50 years since the passage of the Developmental Disabilities Act in 1970, it's a good idea to ask again, what exactly is a developmental disability? How did the definition become what it is today? We know that the term "developmental disabilities" was written on a cocktail napkin, brainstormed by Elizabeth Boggs and Elsie Helsel (both mothers and advocates).
One person who was at the center of that cyclone was Dr. Elinor Gollay. After years of turmoil and strife, the besieged Congress mandated that the Administration on Developmental Disabilities undertake whatever actions were necessary to produce a less conflict-prone definition. Dr. Gollay led those efforts from positions in the private sector.
We interviewed Dr. Gollay by video-conference in her Portland home in November 2020. The way in which her work revolutionized the meaning of the term is pivotal in the history of developmental disabilities. This is the story of the origin of the so-called "functional definition of developmental disability." The story reveals a great deal about some oddities and quirks of America's present system of planning and services.
Disclaimer: This interview references an out-of-date term that is called intellectual disability today.
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Developmental Disabilities Act
Why did we need a DD Act?
Elizabeth Boggs, Ph. D. and Elsie Helsel, Ph. D. were the primary citizen lobbyists for passage of the law. They represented The Arc US and United Cerebral Palsy Associations, respectively.
Hadamar: The Forgotten Holocaust, detailing Hitler's extermination of people with disabilities
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities presents a new documentary detailing Hitler's extermination of people with disabilities
On September 1, 1939, World War II began with the German invasion of Poland. On September 1, 2020, the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is releasing a new documentary entitled, Hadamar: The Forgotten Holocaust. This documentary focuses on Adolph Hitler's order to kill hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in order to create a master race. Deaths occurred in various hospitals including Hadamar. We gratefully acknowledge Dave Reynolds from Spokane, Washington who generously provided us with his lecture notes and PowerPoint, and to Tim Lewis from Mastcom for converting that lecture into a 16 minute documentary.
US Senator David Durenberger reflects on the 30th anniversary of the ADA
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities has archived historical videos and documents since the 1990s. The interview features former US Senator David Durenberger reflecting on the 30th anniversary of the ADA.
He began his Senate career by addressing women's discrimination and then disability discrimination; how people with disabilities became his friends and influencers; how the ADA passed; and the impact of the ADA. To those who opposed passing this civil rights legislation, Senator Durenberger asserts, "We cannot afford not to pass the ADA and enable people with disabilities to be employed."
The "Telling Your Story" App Has Been Updated
We are pleased to announce the release of an updated and simplified version of the "Telling Your Story" app. In six easy steps, create your personal story, tell how a policy issue affects you or your family, add a photo, and send your message directly to your elected public official.
Three Disability Rights Songs to Honor the 30th Anniversary of the ADA
Five years ago, the Council posted 31 monthly segments describing critical events leading to passage of the ADA.
This year, the Council has asked Jeff Moyer, troubadour of disability rights, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA by selecting three original songs. We invite you to read his memories and listen to his music.
Song #1: "ADA Anthem" released on July 26, 1990
Thanks to the intercession of the late Justin Dart Jr., I was invited to play my song, "The ADA Anthem", on the day of the signing. It was premiered at the U.S. Senate reception for the Congressional and disability rights community leaders who brought the ADA to fruition. I taught the song to the audience in that stately Senate chamber after Senators Kennedy, McCain, and Harkin spoke.
Justin Dart Jr. died June 22, 2002. I was honored to be invited to play "The ADA Anthem" in 2012 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, when Mr. Dart's battered wheelchair became part of their permanent collection.
Interview with Ann Turnbull
Produced by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Dr. Ann Turnbull is recognized as a leading family researcher on the topics of family support, family quality of life, family-professional partnerships, and community inclusion. She is a visionary whose writings are human interest stories that reflect real, authentic life.
Family and Professional Background
An Enviable and Dignified Life
Strengths and Challenges, inclusion and Segregation
The Real Beneficiaries of Research Grant Funds
Family Partnerships and Culturally Responsive Leaders
Enhance Social Justice, Keep Your Passion, Pursue Dignity
ADA, IDEA, DD Act Anniversaries
Changes in Education, Work, Community Life, Language
Everyday Schools, Everyday Work Settings, Everyday Community Programs
Build Family, Lead with Dignity, Seek Relationships
510 Videos Now Cataloged and Available Online
With the assistance of Mark Snow, the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities identified and organized the entire collection of videos that are available on various web pages and different locations on the Council website. An index was then created so the collection could be accessed at a single location and according to the following topics:
Over the past five years, more than 350,000 video views have been reported. Consistently, over that time period, the Willowbrook and Marc Gold videos have been at the top of the video viewing list.
In 1966, the investigative work and reporting of Geraldo Rivera captured the media's attention in the Willowbrook Exposé and marked the beginning of the end of New York's Willowbrook Institution.
Marc Gold: "Try Another Way."
In the 1970s, Marc Gold developed and presented three day workshops on a new systematic training approach: "Try Another Way." This system provided an organizational framework, instructional strategies, and a value base for teaching persons with even the most severe disabilities to perform sophisticated tasks or competencies.
Xochil Flores on Medicaid
In 2018, Xochil Flores said her seven-year-old daughter wasn't expected to survive when she was born. With Medicaid's help, her daughter has learned to walk and speak Spanish, English, and use sign language.
A Complete Bill of Rights Training Package Now Available
Minnesota's Olmstead Plan was developed to ensure that people with disabilities are living, learning, working, and enjoying life in the most integrated setting. Prevention of Abuse and Neglect is one of the topics included in a comprehensive plan to educate people with disabilities and their families, mandated reporters and the general public about how to identify and report abuse, and how to prevent it from occurring.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) supports the concept of a public education campaign for individuals with disabilities, families, providers, and advocates that addresses prevention and includes a discussion about rights. The Council, in collaboration with the MDH, produced this package of resources around the Bill of Rights for Supervised Living Facilities:
- Easy Read Guide: The Guide is a simplified version of the Health Care Bill of Rights for Residents of Supervised Living Facilities. The 25 rights are presented in plain English with images that help to explain each of the rights
- Know Your Rights Persons Served Workbook: The Persons Served Workbook explains what each right is about and includes lessons to aid in understanding.
- Know Your Rights Instructor Handbook: The Instructor Handbook is a resource for staff, families, guardians, advocates, and educators to help persons served understand their rights, recognize and report instances of abuse and neglect, and help with prevention efforts.
- Situational Videos: In January 2018, four video segments were released about the Right to Refuse Care, the Right to Freedom from Maltreatment, the Right to Complaints/Grievances, and the Right to Personal Property.
The Future of Disability Rights, Activism, and Inclusion in the 21st Century
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities is pleased to announce the launch of our 2018 Legacy-funded Project, entitled "With an Eye to the Future." "With an Eye to the Future" begins in 2000 where the previous Minnesota history feature, "With an Eye to the Past," ended.
"With an Eye to the Future" offers over 750 documents, more than 20 interviews, numerous presentations by subject matter experts, and most excitingly, a brand new story section featuring 120 segments filled with events, debuts, or descriptions of the actions that have shaped our understanding of and approach to developmental disabilities from 2000-2018. "With an Eye to the Future" was funded by the Minnesota Humanities Center and the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment. The generous funding of $55,000 allowed us to go beyond our promises to the Legislature, and deliver a true "legacy" project.
Ed Roberts Day, January 23rd
Ed Roberts was a pioneering leader of the disability rights movement. Ed declared that people with disabilities are fully human; that they have a right and a responsibility to take control of their own lives, to help build a new culture in which they and all people participate fully in the leadership, the labor, and the fruits of society.
On December 15, 2010 the United States House of Representatives declared January 23, 2011 as "Ed Roberts Day." In celebration of this day in 2017, we are pleased to share additional glimpses into Ed's life, in story and photos, as told by his son, Lee Roberts.
The Disability Justice Resource Center
An online resource for everyone interested in learning more about the rights of people with developmental disabilities and protection of those rights.
The Disability Justice Resource Center has been created as an educational resource to increase awareness and understanding of the unique and complex issues related to justice for people with disabilities, particularly people with developmental disabilities. For the legal community, the Resource Center could be used to identify and eliminate biases against people with disabilities, for continuing legal education courses, and by law schools and students.