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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.

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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.


Jeff Pearson, Chair
Anne Barnwell
Roberta Blomster
Jennifer Giesen
Brian Gustafson
Anne Hennessey
Shawn Holmes
Tom Holtgrewe
Loraine Jensen
Steve Jensen
Matt Kramer
Susan Kratzke
Steven Kuntz
Louis Lenzmeier
Stevie K. Nelson
Derek Nord
Marisa Novak
Linda Obright
Dan Reed
Connie Roy
Bryan Schmidt
Barbara Schultz
Wendy Velzke Wangen
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 $1,025,295 from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) for FFY 2009. 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 2009, Class 26 graduated 11 self advocates and 21 family members, including four 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 4.4; productivity increased from 3.8 to 4.3; self determination increased from 3.6 to 4.4; and integration and inclusion increased from 3.4 to 4.0. Graduates rated knowledge gained at 4.5, usefulness of the presentations at 4.5, and quality of the training sessions at 4.6 (5-point scale).

Twenty-nine Partners graduates attended a workshop on "Civil Discourse: Restoring Order and Respect to Difficult Meetings." The workshop was rated for knowledge gained at 4.2, usefulness of the presentations at 4.7, and quality of the workshops at 4.1 (5-point scale). Participants also evaluated themselves on IPSII outcomes and based on their participation in the workshops: Increased independence – 4.1, increased productivity – 4.2, increased self determination – 4.3, and increased integration and inclusion – 4.1.


"Phenomenally empowering!"

"I feel that my advocacy skills have been honed and refined in such a way that I can be truly effective at producing change."

"I have changed as a parent advocate and I am more confident, assertive, and knowledgeable in the area of advocacy. I am ready to change the world, or I will start with my school."

Government Training Services
2233 University Ave West, Suite 150
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114

2. Partners Online: The Partners in Policymaking classroom curriculum is being connected in several ways to the five online training courses –

Partners faculty are incorporating suggestions from the Integrating Online Learning module for each of the online courses into their presentations and interactive learning exercises.

The online courses are included as additional homework assignments for Partners participants to supplement and reinforce the classroom learning.

In FFY 2009, a total of 43,299 visits and 67,694 page views were made to the online courses, for an average of 3,698 visits and 5,641 page views per month respectively. A total of 390 compliments were received, and 365 Feedback Forms completed with ratings for IPSI measures - independence was rated 4.3, productivity was rated 4.4, self determination was rated 4.5, and integration/inclusion was rated 4.4 (5- point scale).

A Request for Proposal was issued in August 2009 to update and enhance the online courses. ZenMation, Inc., who designed the original courses, was awarded the funds for this project. Customer feedback that has been received and summarized over time, including specific comments about course improvements and refinements, will be considered in the process. To the extent possible, new features using the latest technology will be incorporated; stories, videos, and other visuals will be added, and the courses tested to assure accessibility and usability in compliance with the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 version.


Partners in Making Your Case

"It provided a blueprint on how to effect change; and how to concisely present an issue and personalize it to evoke emotion and help attain buy-in."

"Really enjoyed how the course went into such detail about how to be an advocate …I can't think of any other time I have been taught how to professionally address individuals who are involved in Government."

Partners in Education

"I'm a college student majoring in special education. The course helped me clearly understand the process and I enjoyed being able to understand the parents' side through the video clips."

"An awesome learning experience. I liked the worksheets that I could individualize to my child and will suggest to other parents."

Partners in Employment

"Excellent course…for job coaches and consumers."

"Very easy to understand; I'm preparing to use this with customized employment services. I believe that people with disabilities and staff will benefit from this training."

Partners in Time

"Incredibly informational. The variety of information was all very useful and the links helpful to reinforce the topics covered."

"It was important for me to understand the severity of the institutions through the graphic pictures."

Partners in Living

"Liked the listing of my legal rights and my responsibilities for a self directed life style."

Master Communications Group
3410 Winnetka Ave M, Suite 107
New Hope, Minnesota 55427

3. Cultural Outreach: The GCDD funded cultural outreach programs in the African American and Latino communities in FFY 2009. A total of 28 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 4.0 to 4.9, productivity increased from 3.0 to 4.9, self determination increased from 4.4 to 4.9, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.5 to 4.9. Graduates rated the program as 5.0 for knowledge gained, 5.0 for usefulness, and 5.0 for quality of training.

For the Latino Outreach program, independence changed from 4.1 to 4.0, productivity from 3.8 to 2.9, self determination from 4.1 to 3.8, and integration/inclusion from 3.5 to 3.6. Graduates rated the program as 4.9 in knowledge gained, 4.9 for usefulness, and 4.8 for quality of training.


"I learned about the legislative process…I felt my voice was heard for the first time."

"I learned it is my responsibility to speak up for my child. No one had ever said that to me."

6611 Lynnwood Boulevard
Richfield, Minnesota 55423

797 East Seventh Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55106

4. Longitudinal Studies of Partners in Policymaking: During FFY 2009 Nancy Miller, Metropolitan State University, surveyed Partners graduates from Years XVI I through XX (Classes 21 through 24).

Based on averages across these four classes, the results indicated that 98% of the respondents have the advocacy skills necessary to get needed services and supports some or most of the time; and 93% rate their leadership skills as good to excellent. In terms of federal outcomes, 92% have increased independence, 72% have increased productivity, 74% have increased self determination, and 80% have increased integration and inclusion that they attribute to their Partners experience.

Nancy Miller, Ph.D.
Metropolitan State University
700 East Seventh Street, Room SJ 210
St. Paul, Minnesota 55106

5. Digital Imaging/Employment: Since 1988, the GCDD has worked with employers and promoted the direct employment of people with developmental disabilities. During FFY 2009 –

A total of 607 people with developmental disabilities were employed in document imaging or other jobs in Minnesota, a 156% increase over FFY 2008. Individuals are employed in full time, part time, intermittent, temporary, or project focused positions. A total of 130 individuals are at business locations, including 40 transition students who are employed at Independent School Districts (ISDs) 916 and 287 leaning document imaging skills, acquiring job experience, and paid minimum wage.

The ISDs have a strong interest in developing an educational program for document imaging that includes a certification option, giving students an entrée to businesses in the digital technology field. A certificate framework with job titles and duties has already been proposed.

One transition student who has graduated is currently employed in the IT department at a campus within the Minnesota State College and University system. He selected the document imaging equipment that best matched the IT department's business needs and it was ultimately purchased.

News releases were prepared and broadly disseminated for the 11 Minnesota businesses recognized by the GCDD in October 2008 for their innovative employment practices in hiring people with developmental disabilities. Several businesses also received press coverage in their local newspapers. The St. Paul Legal Ledger Capitol Report and The Excellence Report, a newsletter of the Department of Administration, also published articles.

The DVD, The Changing Face of Technology, was featured in an issue of the HCBS Clearinghouse CLIPS online newsletter and highlighted on the Products page of the Quality Mall.

The St. Cloud Times and Access Press newspapers published articles about Midway Training Services and their document imaging work with the cities of Falcon Heights and Long Prairie.

Marketing digital imaging services, and promoting and expanding employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities was also carried out at conferences/exhibits sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities and the Autism Society of Minnesota, and the Statewide Conference on Exceptional Children.

The St. Paul Chamber Technology Conference and University of St. Thomas (UST) Job Fair included an on-site document imaging demonstration. Resumes were scanned for participants at the UST Job Fair and then given directly to businesses in attendance.

A joint powers agreement was executed in Southwestern Minnesota for shared IT services with city and county government, Marshall public schools; the Utilities and Police Departments; and Lincoln, Lyon, and Murray County Human Service Departments. A local day program provider has started providing document imaging services under this arrangement.

Ronnie Kauder, National Technical Assistance and Research Center at Rutgers University, visited with GCDD members to learn about document imaging as a sectoral initiative for a research study.


"This gives me good job experience. Plus, it's good to know that you're doing something to help someone else." (transition student).

The Wallace Group
3750 Pilot Knob Road
Eagan, Minnesota  55121

6. Self Advocacy: SELF ADVOCACY MINNESOTA (SAM) is a statewide network and coalition of self advocacy groups that are organized into six regions - Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southeast, Southwest, and Metro (Twin Cities metro area). The mission of SAM is to promote the human and civil rights of people with developmental disabilities.

During FFY 2009, federal funds supported the Central and Northwest regions, and state funds supported the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions.

A total of 1,616 self advocates attended 107 training sessions on self advocacy concepts; starting a self advocacy group; personal empowerment; leadership development; systems change (human/civil rights issues); individual rights in housing, employment, and transportation; voting and civic engagement; public policy and the policymaking process; and disability awareness. Results: new knowledge = 4.5, useful = 4.4, quality = 4.4.

A total of 87 self advocates served as teachers/trainers on privacy and human rights issues, concepts and principles of self advocacy; personal empowerment, assertiveness, communication, and presentation skills; disability awareness; public speaking; stereotypes and language; self determination; social change and collaboration; fundraising; and leadership qualities.

Self advocates serving as teachers/trainers evaluated themselves - greater independence – 92%, productivity – 78%, self determination – 91%, integration/inclusion – 90%.

Each region identified specific issues they wanted to address during the year and/or shared responsibility for planning and carrying out training/education activities. The Central Region coordinated a retreat for advisors and a retreat on human rights. The Northwest Region planned a regional self advocacy conference. The Southwest Region presented a play about language/terminology issues and mentored self advocates in the Southeast Region. The Southeast Region worked on Remembering with Dignity and planned a retreat. The Northeast Region began planning to restore the Moose Lake Cemetery as part of the Remembering with Dignity project.


"I like the saying 'together we are stronger.' It's true."

"Being on the leadership circle is the first time I got to do something like this."

"Self advocacy is about saying everyone gets included."

"We should have more retreats…I didn't think I could go four days without a TV but I did it."

Advocating Change Together, Inc.
1821 University Avenue, Suite 306-
South St. Paul, Minnesota 55104

7. Training Conferences:  The GCDD cosponsored 19 training conferences during FFY 2000; the total number of attendees was 1,837. The overall rating was 8.8 (10 point scale) and 98% of the participants rated the conferences as useful/helpful.


"The conference gave great insight into better advocacy techniques."

"The workshops were fun. The food was good. I was so proud to attend."

"Every presenter gave me gifts to take back and apply to improve our early childhood setting."

Suppliers: The Arc of Minnesota, Hennepin Technical College, Arc Central Minnesota, The Arc of Minnesota Southwest, Merrick, Inc., Dakota Communities, Advocating Change Together, Inc., 2009 Self Advocacy Planning Committee, Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, Reach for Resources, MnDACA, Arc Greater Twin Cities, Concordia University, Family Alternatives, Partnership Resources, Inc., Arc Southeastern Minnesota, Arc Headwaters, Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, Lifeworks Services, Inc.

8. Publications: In FFY 2009, the GCDD disseminated 8,363 print publications to 106 individuals as well as conference attendees. The evaluation scores averaged 10.0 on a 10 point scale and 100% of the respondents indicated the publications were useful. A total of 452,866 items were downloaded from the GCDD and Partners web sites.


"The Council clearly provides the best materials available in this field, in terms of quality, timeliness, values, and usefulness."

"The Council provides great, highly accessible materials on a number of issues and areas of interest to professional, families, and individuals receiving support."

9. E-Government Services: In FFY 2009, a total of 98 items were converted to electronic formats. A total of 247,111 unique visits were made to the GCDD and Partners websites. A total of 37,426 visits were made to, the one stop website for all state disability programs.
A total of 503 websites are linked to the GCDD website; 908 websites are linked to the Partners website.

A two day lecture originally given by Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger and Susan Thomas at Millersville University in 1998, A History of Human Services, Universal Lessons and Future Implications, was converted to a video presentation for the GCDD website and prepared for release in October 2009. The video contains 30 segments running a total of nearly 11 hours.

Significant additions to Minnesota's deinstitutionalization history were added to With An Eye to the Past, including documents regarding special education (1,292 pages), state institutions prior to 1920 (762 pages), Faribault Regional Treatment Center (1,507 pages), and 12 History Note articles from Access Press, a community newspaper on disability issues.

A DD Act history section (2,352 pages) was added to the GCDD website with contributions from the Connecticut and Texas DD Councils.

A total of 38, 236 visits were made to, the one stop website for all state disability programs.

A total of 25 additions were made to the GCDD website including a presentation by US Congressman Jim Ramstad about his 18 years of service in Congress and to Minnesotans, press releases about employers recognized for their innovative practices in hiring people with developmental disabilities, award nominations for Minnesotans excelling in assistive technology, presentation about the 2010 Census, and electronic records management guidelines and metadata standards for document imaging; and 7 additions to the Partners website including stories from Partners graduates about employment successes and impact of budget cuts, and longitudinal studies of Minnesota Partners graduates.


"Seeing the Marc Gold videos in this format gives me hope that there are still places where folks have high expectations for all members of their community."

"The Council continues to amaze me with their ability to be ahead of the curve with the technology they utilize."

"The Parallels in Time and courses on the website offer information that is not available anywhere else. Teachers, students, parents, and community members can educate themselves based on this excellent resource."

"Thank you so much for this precious piece of history." (Wolf Wolfensberger presentation, A History of Human Services).

Master Communications Group
3410 Winnetka Ave N, Suite 107
New Hope, Minnesota 55427


10. Customer Focused Research: A total of 382 Minnesota households with and without people with disabilities were surveyed about their access to and adoption, use and perceived benefits of IT. A total of 44% were households with people with developmental disabilities, found to have equal access to IT and services, use more frequently on a daily basis, and spent as much or more on technology products on 2008. The results of this study are available at


"This research study is an impressive snapshot of how people with disabilities are using technology in 2009. It provides statistical data which will serve as a baseline and guide future research."

"This is terrific!! We always wonder how effective we are in reaching people via technology."

MarketResponse International
1304 University Ave Northeast, Suite 304
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413

11. Quality Improvement:

Customer comments and feedback from the five Partners in Policymaking online courses for FFYs 2007 and 2008 were reviewed, and Pareto charts created for compliments and improvement suggestions for each of the courses. This information will be used for updating the courses during FFY 2010.

The website was reviewed and compared with two other websites (Michigan Disability Resources and to identify strengths and areas for improvement.

Customer complaints regarding home health facilities and other licensed facilities in Minnesota were reviewed and analyzed over a three year period to show trend data in the types of complaints and the increased in the number of complaints filed over that time period.

Focus groups were conducted to review a packet of emergency planning materials designed by the California Department of Developmental Services. Permission was granted to create a Minnesota version and incorporate changes and additions identified by focus group participants.

GCDD staff/members received a total of 445.75 person hours of training - 354 person hours of core learning on DD issues and 91.75 person hours of training on quality principles/Baldrige Framework.

Quality Culture Institute
2603 Institute Road
Rochester, Minnesota 55902

12. Technical Assistance: During FFY 2009, the GCDD had 3,291 unique customer contacts about individual problems and 121 unique contacts about the Partners in Policymaking program. Considering repeat customers and including the online courses, a total of 13,951 contacts were made. A total of 779 compliments were received regarding personal assistance and support, timeliness and responsiveness, and specific products or services.


"You have been a wonderful role model, mentor, and inspiration to me to do the best I could to coordinate a quality Partners training that followed your model. I so appreciate having the opportunity to learn from the best – thank you so much."

"Thank you so much! You are very kind. I do hope many of the materials will be helpful for our son and other children in Iasi (Romania), too."

"I want to thank you for your great hospitality during my visit to Minnesota…Thanks for the opportunity to attend the Council meeting and meet many of the key players in your digital imaging efforts."

"Thank you so much for the gift of your time and knowledge."

"I wanted to let you know that I got my acceptance material for the Humphrey Institute's Policy Fellow's Program. I'm very excited to get started and want to thank you for your support!"

"An excellent source of information for people with disabilities and their families as well as for providers of services on numerous topics pertaining to disabilities."

13. Presentations:

A total of 27 presentations reached 1,885 people.


"I want to thank you for making our annual conference one of the best yet. Your keynote was very timely as we continue to work to move people…into competitive employment." (Alabama APSE)

"Thanks so much for your outstanding presentation at our retreat. Board members and staff are still ‘buzzing' about it." (Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities)

"The Board members were moved by your presentation…which was exactly the goal. Thanks again!" (Dakota Communities)


The following public policy issues were addressed at the state level during FFY 2009:

Self advocacy funding

METO – Issues regarding restraints, active treatment, best practices regarding positive behavioral approaches resulting in a lawsuit.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – Paper prepared on use and efficacy of ECT with people with developmental disabilities

ECT on an outpatient basis (Ray Sanford)

Proposed legislation regarding ECT

US Attorney General Office review of Minneapolis hotels regarding ADA compliance

Accessibility/usability issues of state hardware, software, and online applications

Use of telephone access funds for accessibility/usability issues

Housing discrimination issues

Use of seclusion and restraints on special education students

Waiver funds allocated but not used by counties

Electronic meetings

Use of technology to replace foster care staff

Elder abuse

Personal Care Assistance program - budget cuts and changes in eligibility criteria

Emergency preparedness materials

Incontinence products (type, quantity, payment issues)

Alliance for Full Participation (vision statement for new organization)

Governor's Workforce Advisory Council subgroup on employment policy

SIRS rule changes

Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM) report on system reforms


The following public policy issues were addressed at the federal level during FFY 2009:

DD Act funding

ADA Amendments Act

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding

DEED/ARRA funded employment project regarding young adults on the autism spectrum and employment opportunities in the digital media fields

Medicaid reform

Federal standards regarding use of restraints and seclusion

Iowa meat processing plant and involuntary servitude

Family Support State Action Team

CRIPA investigative reports (Texas and Missouri)

National Employment Study

CMS regarding waivers

2010 Census and census reports

Autism Report from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Texas report on waiting list issues

ARDC legislation

Forensic units

Reuse of assistive technology

Medicaid Services Restoration Act of 2008

Community Choice Act


During FFY 2009, our collaborative activities with the Minnesota Disability Law Center (P&A Agency) and the Institute on Community Integration (UCE) included:

Letters of support

Information and referral services

Partners in Policymaking

Family Support 360

Self advocacy funding

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) issues/work group

Employment and Rutgers University's sectoral initiative on document imaging

Federal Grant Funds for FFY2009 According to Areas of Emphasis
in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act

Total All Funds for FFY 2009

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©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.