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Olmstead v. LC: Right to Inclusion for People with Disabilities


Posted December 18, 2019
12:13 pm


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. on June 22, 1999. The Court found that segregation of people with disabilities is unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This case is as important for disability rights as Brown v. Board of Education is for civil rights.

The ADA was passed after disability rights advocates raised awareness of the injustice and prejudice facing people with disabilities. The law sought to change how the public viewed disability and to demand the full rights of citizenship. Since 1990, the law has improved access to businesses, public spaces, transportation, communication, and employment. It has protected people with disabilities from discrimination.

The Olmstead decision required states to ensure that people with disabilities could receive services in the setting most appropriate to their needs. Prior to Olmstead, people with disabilities could be excluded from services or limited to institutional settings. This case created community inclusion and integration for people with disabilities.

The ADA and Olmstead decision paved the way for numerous changes to benefit people with disabilities. These cases have focused
on a wide variety of populations, a variety of service systems, and communities across the United States. All these settlements uphold and advance the rights of people with disabilities to live where and with whom they want.

This article was written by Karla Perry and appeared in The Alert: Volume 35, Issue 3.