Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Download PDF Version

The Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is part of the Minnesota network of programs funded under P.L. 106-402, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). The DD Act also funds the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the designated Protection and Advocacy agency for the state, and the Institute on Community Integration, a University Center for Excellence located at the University of Minnesota.

The business of the GCDD is to provide information, education, and training to increase knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to an increase in the independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) of people with developmental disabilities and their families.


Shamus O'Meara, Chair
Sandra Anderson
Anne Barnwell
Roberta Blomster
Peg Booth
Brian Gustafson
Anne Henry
Kathryn Jacobson
Steven Kuntz
Sherri Larson
Nina Mae Moss
Derek Nord
Linda Obright
Jeff Pearson
Dan Reed
Connie Roy
Mary Beth Schafer
Barbara Schultz
Jeff Skwarek
Virginia Strand
Sarah Thorson
Stacey Vogele
Susan Wehrenberg


Independence: Personal freedom to make choices and have control over services, supports, and other assistance the individual receives;

Self-determination: Authority to make decisions, control resources and develop personal leadership skills;

Productivity: Meaningful income-producing work or volunteer work that contributes to a household or the community;

Integration and Inclusion: Full participation in the same community activities as people without disabilities.


The Minnesota GCDD received $1,022,625 from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) for FFY 2007. Of that amount, 70% was allocated for grants and contracts to fulfill the goals of the GCDD's Five Year State Plan approved by the federal government.

1. Partners in Policymaking®: The Minnesota GCDD has sponsored Partners in Policymaking courses since May 1, 1987. In FFY 2007, Class 24 graduated eight self advocates and 16 family members, including nine individuals from minority communities. Participants evaluated themselves at the beginning of the program year on the federal outcomes of IPSII and again at graduation. The following IPSII changes were reported: On a 5 point scale, independence increased from 3.8 to 4.6; productivity increased from 3.8 to 4.6; self determination increased from 3.7 to 4.4; and integration and inclusion increased from 3.6 to 4.4. Graduates rated knowledge gained at 4.7, usefulness of the presentations at 4.7, and quality of the training sessions at 4.8.

This year was also the 20th Anniversary of the Partners program. Testimonials and notes of appreciation were received from Partners graduates and coordinators across the United States. Minnesota now has more than 700 graduates, and more than 15,000 graduates in the United States and internationally.


"I'm thanking all of you for helping me with how to advocate for my rights. You've helped me through this class and you've all made me happy."

"My son doesn't have a voice but now I know that his voice is all of us."

"I never thought I could come to a class with a different language and be treated the same as everyone else. I thought I was the only one but here everyone has their own stress and helped me to feel better. I learned a lot. I have gone from nightmares to good dreams. I'm not alone any more."

"I learned a lot. I have new friends to teach me about disability even though I don't have any kids. You parents have taught me."

"This is not the end but the beginning. I will be able to open many doors with what I have learned here."

Supplier: Government Training Services

3. Partners Online: Updates were made to the Partners in Education course to reflect changes in IDEA 2004 and the implementing regulations that were recently adopted.

A new feature has been added to each of the online courses that allows the font size to be enlarged or reduced.

An online blending learning module was created to supplement the classroom Partners training program and provide coordinators with concrete ideas and suggestions about how to integrate the online courses into the weekend sessions. Between 30 and 70 specific opportunities are identified for each course to give participants an enhanced learning experience.

A 20th Anniversary banner was created for the Partners in Policymaking web site. An Ed Roberts video and transcript of his presentation to the first Partners class in 1987 were added to commemorate the anniversary and his contributions to the program.

An EZ Read version of Partners in Employment was designed.

In FFY 2007, a total of 47,393 visits and 66,488 page views were made to the online courses, for an average of 3,949 visits and 5,541 page views per month respectively. A total of 206 compliments were received, and 180 Feedback Forms completed that included ratings (5-point scale) for IPSII measures - independence was rated 4.3, productivity was rated 4.2, self determination was rated 4.4, and integration/inclusion was rated 4.3.


Making Your Case:

"Easy to follow and well written. It really fired me up!"

"Very good mini-course and good civics lesson; an important reminder about the empowering process of democracy and free speech that we enjoy."

"Liked the everyday language to explain the complicated legislative process."

"Outstanding resource, all very clear and easy to follow; liked the stories, quotes at the beginning of each section, side bar comments, links to resources, and organizing options that can apply to diverse communities and needs."

Partners in Education:

"What a thorough explanation of special education! I wish I had known about this website before my first IEP meeting."

"This course exceeded my expectations by providing assignments, worksheets, links, and tools."

"Easily accessible and gives a lot of information in an easy to use format. recommend this frequently to parents who are new to the IEP process."

"Very comprehensive. Even to people in the field of special education, a very good review of changes in laws and the sequence of events."

Partners in Employment:

"Very helpful even for people without disabilities about how to search for and get the job they want."

"Really enlightening."

"Easy to understand and learn."

"Nice to have things laid our in such an organized manner. The notes, worksheets, and knowledge will help me to better provide services to people with disabilities."

Partners in Time:

"Learned a TON of new information."

"Incredibly interesting to see how far we've come as a society about our view of disabilities. It also makes me realize how much further we need to go."

"Well planned out and very easy to navigate."

"The Timeline is a great source of knowledge. I also enjoyed the pictures that went along with the text, making the history easier to understand."

"Loved the visions of the future. "

Partners in Living:

"What an absolutely fantastic resource. Congratulations on a fantastic initiative."

"Excellent navigation. I've been a support coordinator for seven years. Your course has so much information. I will need to take it again to learn it all."

"Very easy to read and understand the information; easy to access and work at your own pace."

Supplier: ZenMation, Inc.

3. Cultural Outreach: The GCDD funded cultural outreach programs in the African American and Hispanic communities in FFY 2007. A total of 26 individuals graduated from these training programs. In assessing IPSII, the graduates rated themselves on a 5-point scale.

For the African American Outreach program, independence increased from 3.6 to 4.4, productivity increased from 4.3 to 4.7, self determination increased from 3.5 to 4.7, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.6 to 4.7. Graduates rated the program as 4.8 for knowledge gained, 4.8 for usefulness, and 4.8 for quality of training.

For the Hispanic Outreach program, independence increased from 3.5 to 4.2, productivity increased from 3.7 to 4.0, self determination increased from 3.2 to 4.1, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.4 to 4.2. Graduates rated the program as 4.7 in knowledge gained, 4.9 for usefulness, and 4.8 for quality of training.


African American Outreach

"I enjoyed the training, I made new friends."

"This program helped me get a social worker for my son and me, thank you."

"Change the world! I will help others."

"I feel empowered, the knowledge I've gained. I can help myself and help others."

Hispanic Outreach

"All the information that I learned in this program this year is a privilege."

"CLUES program helped me to advocate for better speech therapy and physical therapy for my daughter."

"After being in the program for a year, I feel ready to help my son to improve his life, and to help other families, too."

"Now I feel that my efforts can make a difference in the life of my son."

Suppliers: IPSII, Inc. (African American program) and CLUES (Hispanic program).

4. Longitudinal Studies of Partners in Policymaking: Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D. has conducted the external evaluations of the Partners classes since 1988. During FFY 2007, Dr. Zirpoli surveyed graduates from Years XV through XVIII (Classes 19 through 22).

Based on averages across these four classes, the results indicated that 95% of the respondents have the advocacy skills necessary to get needed services and supports some or most of the time; and 98% rate their leadership skills as good to excellent. In terms of federal outcomes, 88% have increased independence, 71% have increased productivity, 78% have increased self determination, and 87% have increased integration and inclusion.

Supplier: Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D.

6. Digital Imaging/Employment: Since 1988, the GCDD has worked with employers and promoted the direct employment of people with developmental disabilities. During FFY 2007 -

A total of 227 people with developmental disabilities were employed in document imaging positions in the public and private sectors, earning at least minimum wage, and15 day programs were providing support services. A total of 52 people were working at business locations; the remainder were working in school programs, storefront business, or day program settings.

Articles were published in the League of Minnesota Cities newsletter (August 2007), Advanced benefits and efficiency in records management come from…people with developmental disabilities; and the newsletter for the National Autism Society of America Autism Advocate, Digital Imaging, Good for Adults on the Spectrum, Good for Business.

An article, Digital Partnering for People with Developmental Disabilities, was jointly prepared by United States Senator Norm Coleman, United States Representative Jim Ramstad, and Shamus O'Meara, Council Chair.

A videotape and DVD, The Changing Faces of Technology, were designed and developed. These products feature five private sector businesses - a national moving company, a construction company operating in 44 states, a major insurer, a law firm, and a data storage/info risk management company. The DVD is available at the GCDD website and has been disseminated to hundreds of individuals and organizations.

A brochure was also created for this new product, and includes a complete listing of Minnesota day programs and contact information.

A Request for Proposal has been drafted for document imaging services by the Department of Administration, Materials Management Division, and will be issued in FFY 2008.


Thanks so much from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to share Nick's great news. Yesterday he started his new job. He is a document prep clerk and then, hopefully, he will go to document scanning. He told me it was just like the video you sent us. He loved it.

Supplier: The Wallace Group

7. Self Advocacy: A statewide effort to strengthen self advocacy was funded. People First Minnesota recruited 23 new members for groups in Mankato, Winona, and Windom; new groups established in Chaska (metro area) and Cambridge.

A total of 94 self advocates attended five training sessions were on self advocacy skills, personal choice, empowerment, and personal and community leadership. Results: new knowledge -100%; useful - 100%; quality - 100%.

A new statewide self advocacy network, Self Advocates of Minnesota (SAM) was created. Self advocates and allies from 19 local groups established a framework and priorities for the network. SAM's focus is on personal empowerment, leadership training, systems change via individual/group action, disability awareness, and public education.

A Statewide Leadership Circle is comprised of four representatives (two self advocates) from each of six regions; each region is served by a Host Agency. A Leadership Circle sets direction for the network and decisions are made at a regional level.

Funding from the GCDD supported self advocacy efforts in the Northwest and Central regions of the state. During FFY 2007 -

Northwest Region: A total of 169 self advocates attended training sessions on systems change, personal empowerment, disability awareness, types of power, changing attitudes, assertiveness and leadership skills, and starting a self advocacy group. Results: useful/helpful = 100%; rating = 8.8 (1-10 scale); new knowledge - 4.1; usefulness - 4.0; quality - 4.5 (1-5 scale).

Central Region: A total of 116 self advocates attended training sessions on assertiveness skills, collective action, self advocacy history and values, and ADA/accessibility issues. Results: new knowledge - 4.1; usefulness - 3.9; quality - 4.3.

A total of 24 self advocates served as teachers/trainers on disability perspectives, changing attitudes, empowerment, systems change, power, ADA/accessibility issues. The following IPSII results were reported: greater independence - 93%; self determination - 83%; productivity - 83%; integration/inclusion - 93%.

Self advocates have improved pedestrian safety at crosswalks (Central Region) and are working on improving post office accessibility (Northwest Region).

The Minnesota Legislature appropriated $280,000 biennially for self advocacy; these funds are included in base funding for the GCDD. A Request for Proposal issued and a single grant awarded to Self Advocates of Minnesota (SAM). These funds will expand the SAM network and support local self advocacy efforts in the Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast regions of the state.

Suppliers: Advocating Change Together, Inc. and People First Minnesota

7. Training Conferences:  The GCDD cosponsored 19 training conferences during FFY 2007; the total number of attendees was 2,583. The overall rating was 9.1(10 point scale) and 99% of the participants rated the conferences as useful/helpful.


"Lots of good information, especially from the police in case of emergency."

"I have not been to the Capitol before.  I want to do this again."

"We talked with two legislators.  Both listened to us. 
We talked about not enough services, special education and co-pays."

"I liked meeting new people and the friendly presenters."

"I liked winning a door prize."

"I liked everything about the conference." 

"Staying overnight was icing on the cake."

"The elevator was crowded and slow."

"Sometimes it's hard to listen to people without disabilities telling people with autism how to behave. I think it's better to work with how we are rather than trying to get us to be something we are not."

"The conference was a great deal of help to me as I have a child with a disability and coming has given me strategies for both my children and other children in my day care."

Suppliers: ACT, Inc., Arc Central Minnesota, Arc Headwaters, Arc Midstate, The Arc of Minnesota, Arc of Minnesota Southwest, Arc of West Central Minnesota, Autism Society of Minnesota, Center for Inclusive Child Care, Dakota Communities, Hammer Residences, Lifeworks, Merrick, Inc., Minnesota APSE, People First Kandiyohi County, People First Minnesota, People First New Ulm, 2007 Self Advocacy Committee, and UCP of Minnesota.

8. Publications: Publications: In FFY 2007, the GCDD disseminated 27,800 print publications (individual orders, and at conferences and presentations); The evaluation scores averaged 9.2 on a 10 point scale and 100% of the respondents indicated the publications were useful. A total of 263,694 items were downloaded from the GCDD web site.


CD-ROM – Parallels in Time

"A fantastic review of the history of the disability. I highly recommend it!"

"Great information for everyone! Not all of us in this field know about the past."

Making Your Case

"Clear, concise, exactly what I needed; thanks so much!"

Publications about Person Centered Planning/Self Determination

It's My Choice

"This is not only useful to consumers but in training new case managers in writing effective person centered plans."

It's Never Too Early, It's Never Too Late

"Good illustrations and examples of an action plan; very helpful."

"Extremely helpful in getting parents of students to recognize the importance of personal futures planning."

"Absolutely eye opening! I shared with my children (ages 12 and 21) and my other supports. Thank you!"

Supplier: Advantage Business Center

9. E-Government Services: The GCDD web site is the largest on the state of Minnesota server. In FFY 2007, a total of 211 items were converted to electronic formats. A total of 185,060 unique visits were made to the GCDD and Partners websites, and 263,694 items were downloaded.

Visitors gave the web site a rating of 8.8 (scale of 1 to 10; 10 = highest) and 100% found the information useful and helpful.

Parallels in Time, Part 2 was released on the GCDD website in October 2006. Additional historical documents, videos, articles (549 documents and 10,990 pages): To Bridge the Gap (services in northern European countries), Changes (conditions at Faribault State Hospital and first behavior modification program), Bedlam (1946 Life magazine article and photos), Pennhurst photos, and Operation Real Rights and Oklahoma Shame (Tennessee and Oklahoma court cases).

A total of 152 documents and 3,995 pages about Minnesota's deinstitutionalization history were added to With An Eye to the Past.

A total of 1,470 pages of articles/stories on abuse, accessibility/universal design, advocacy, community living, education, employment, housing, and technology from Inclusion Daily Express, a disability rights news service, were added.

Disability Minnesota, a website for quick and easy access to Minnesota state government agency programs, products, and services dedicated to disability issues was launched on June 17, 2007. A news article was prepared and disseminated to agencies, and 1,000 people on listservs; the announcement was covered on MPR. Web site visits totaled 10,325 from launch through Sept 2007.


Parallels in Time, Part 2:

"Extremely powerful; will be a very useful tool for training."

"A powerful and compelling presentation; a true testament of how far we've come in the past 55 years. Staff at all levels need to receive this type of training."

"Excellent research tool; so valuable to have this history documented for everyone to access. The documents, videos, photos, and links clearly meet the goal of providing information and education to change attitudes."

"Great! The pictures are very clear and moving."

"Great work. This should be in every college. The historical perspective is so important. Thanks for sharing."

"It looks great! What a treasure!"

GCDD website surveys:

"Love the website; excellent and invaluable; use it all the time when teaching respite providers."

"I work in a group home and am always looking for new information. Love the website."

"Great job! Very impressed with the website and all the information offered."

Supplier: Master Communications Group

10. Customer Focused Research: A Public Opinion Poll of 803 Minnesotans was conducted to determine changes in attitudes/perceptions about people with developmental disabilities compared with a similar survey conducted in 1962. Final results were released and a seminar held in February 2007 for about 200 people. Evaluation results: Useful/helpful = 98%; rating of 9.1 (10 pt scale).

The event was cosponsored by the Minnesota State Council on Disability. Awards were presented to The Arc of Minnesota, Autism Society of Minnesota, Self Advocates of MN, and UCP of Minnesota for their contributions to increasing public awareness/changing attitudes about people with developmental disabilities.

Media coverage included WCCO Radio, MPR and KFAI Radio (interviews), Almanac (TV interview), CTV15 Community Television (feature), news articles (Star Tribune, Minnesota Daily, Access Press, Community Services Reporter), Betah and Associates Family Support 360 website, e-newsletters (Inclusion Daily Express, The Arc of Minnesota and Arc Greater Twin Cities, ACT, Inc., MN-CCD, Inside Admin).


"Very solid data collection. I hope this will be used to affect a lot of influence on policymakers."

"Great to know that changes are happening"

"I'm so glad that attitudes have changed this much in a positive direction!"

"It's my very clear and strong opinion that your outfit is doing the most important work I've seen in my lifetime in this field. The importance of this brilliantly conceived followup survey is astounding. What progress!"

"The findings of this survey are seminal and need to be submitted for dissemination within the professional community."

"You have a neat report! Would that all states had a poll conducted from a distant past upon which to build."

Supplier: MarketResponse International

11. Quality Improvement:

The GCDD has aligned its work to the Baldrige Criteria and Framework since 1997. In FFY 2007, GCDD staff/members received 403.5 person hours of core learning (on developmental disability issues) and 36.5 person hours of training on quality principles and the Baldrige Framework. Technical assistance was provided on the ADD site visit in November and a housing project. An analysis of the Public Opinion Poll survey results regarding attitudes and perceptions of people with developmental disabilities was completed.

Suppliers: Minnesota Council for Quality and Quality Culture Institute

12. Technical Assistance:

During FFY 2007, the GCDD had 2,710 unique customer contacts about individual problems and 141 unique contacts about the Partners in Policymaking program. Considering repeat customers, a total of 13,740 contacts were made. A total of 973 compliments were received regarding personal assistance and support, timeliness and responsiveness, and specific products or services.


"Thank you for letting me do the job this week (helping staff the GCDD exhibit for a conference). I can do more of that. I really need the money and it would be really helpful."

"The Council has provided the highest possible leadership…They have earned the respect of elected officials at the state, county, and federal level, government officials, service providers, parents and advocates…."

"Thanks for your encouragement and support."

"You get the prize for promptest reply."

"I can't thank you enough for all you did today to help. Thank you."

"Thanks so much for all of this information. You are amazing at the fast turnaround."

"Thanks and congratulations to everyone who contributed to this useful site." (

13. Presentations:

A total of 37 presentations reached 4,076 people.


"Thank you so much for the amazing amount of work that went into our first Partners weekend! I am grateful to be gaining this knowledge and experience while my child is still so young!"

"Thank you for your presentation on the History of the Disabilities Movement. I felt a new source of empowerment from you for what you have done over the past 25 years."

"Just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to attend the Pro Parent workshop and learning skills to be a better advocate for people with disabilities."

"Your presentation clearly demonstrated why we are in the field. DIGNITY, INCLUSION AND QUALITY OF LIFE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES!"


The following public policy issues were addressed at the state level during FFY 2007:

Day training and habilitation programs

Universal assessment

Employment innovations

Funding for document imaging

Housing innovations

Modernization of language legislation

Self advocacy

Poverty issues and people with disabilities

Group residential housing

Special education - preschool and pre-kindergarten, excess costs, extraordinary special education needs, funding formulas, program growth factors, intensive interventions,

Funding/services for children/adults who are deaf or hard of hearing including family support services, hearing aid loan bank, Universal Newborn and Infant Hearing Screening Act, interpreter services, mentoring program,

Public safety, transportation and infrastructure funding

State Capitol Restoration and Renovation Project

Community education for adults with disabilities

Self directed personal supports (j waiver)

Mercury containing vaccinations

After school programs for youth with disabilities

The following public policy issues were addressed at the federal level during FFY 2007:

DD Act reauthorization

Allocations for Developmental Disabilities Councils

IDEA 2004 regulations

Full funding for special education

Self advocacy funding

Deficit Reduction Act impact on Medicaid funded services

Family support initiatives

Direct Support Professional Fairness and Security Act


During FFY 2007, our collaborative activities with the Minnesota Disability Law Center (P&A Agency) and the Institute on Community Integration (UCE) included:

Letters of support

Minnesota Survey of Attitudes Regarding Developmental Disabilities (Public Opinion Poll)

Family Support 360 and ADD site visit and Fall Regional Technical Assistance Training - November 2006

To Top

©2022 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711  Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001MNSCDD-03, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

This website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL),  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,120,136.00 with 83 percent funded by ACL/HHS and $222,000.00 and 17 percent funded by non-federal-government source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.