A System of Assistance and Empowerment

Published On: February 1st, 2022Categories: Advocacy Papers, News

Some of the early advocacy work on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities was initiated by allies or those with a strong connection to someone with IDD. Parents, siblings, and friends were among those at the forefront fighting for equal access to public school education and against the exclusion and segregation of their children in the community. These knowledgeable and fierce advocates raised consciousness and helped catapult intellectual and developmental disabilities from the category of social welfare to that of civil and human rights, from assistance to empowerment.

For two years, ABCD opposed a bill publicly promoting camera surveillance because it would have enshrined into law an ineffective prevention policy which could negatively impact the rights of the individual. During that span of time, we learned that too many parents do not trust agencies to adequately care for their adult children. In response, we challenged ourselves to a set of goals, three of which were to consider current approaches to electronic monitors while ensuring institutionalization does not reassert itself and individuals are not shoved to the margins of their lives.

ABCD members vary in their use of cameras, but many will consider cameras and/or monitors for specific purposes in limited areas with the approval of their Human Rights Committee which analyze and weigh the risks of potential rights restrictions. Recently we analyzed the use of remote supports and technology to help connect individuals to their communities and increase safety and independence, while respecting privacy concerns in our upcoming policy paper, Increasing Independence for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities through Remote Technology and Supports.

Though people who need assistance may be exposed to more risks to their health and safety while living in the community, we believe this is no reason to narrow the aspirations and values of the individuals, families, and providers who came before us. Unfortunately, rights are never forever won and must be constantly and vigilantly defended. The field has evolved thanks to new discoveries and methodologies so there is no reason that we cannot build a better and safer system that continues to stand up for human rights honoring the privacy, identity, dignity, and choice of the individual — a system of assistance and empowerment.

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