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The Right of People with Disabilities to Live Independently
June 26, 2012

June 22, 2012A girl in glasses playing a card game with a teacher

Thirteen years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forcing people with disabilities into inappropriate institutional living arrangements violates their civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the case of Olmstead v. L.C., decided on June 22, 1999, the justices interpreted the ADA to require that people with disabilities must be offered the opportunity to live and receive services in their communities when appropriate.

The Olmstead Decision was “the impetus to finally move individuals with disabilities out of the shadows, and to facilitate their full integration into the mainstream of American life,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in marking the anniversary.

The U.S. Department of Justice enforces the ADA and OlmsteadOther federal agencies work with states to help people with disabilities live independently in their homes or appropriate community settings when possible.

Above, Kaitlyn Bennington, 10, shows Delfonzo Peterbark how to play the card game “Fish.” Peterbark lives in a residence in Winchester, Virginia, operated by a private not-for-profit corporation. It maintains small group homes and a supervised apartment program for adults with intellectual disabilities.