The Olmstead Decision
Seventeen years ago, on June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court decided in Olmstead v. L.C. (Olmstead) that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated and must receive services in the most integrated setting possible.
The case was brought by two Georgia women whose disabilities include intellectual disabilities and mental illness. At the time the suit was filed, both plaintiffs were receiving mental health services in state-run institutions, despite the fact that their treatment professionals believed they could be appropriately served in a community-based setting. The Court based its ruling in Olmstead on sections of the ADA and federal regulations that require states to administer their services, programs and activities “in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.”
Since this ruling, Ms. Lois Curtis, one of the two plaintiffs in the case, has launched a new journey. She rents a home in the Stone Mounotain area of Georgia where she chose a fellow artist and friend to be her roommate. Unfortunately, there are many peple who dream of what Lois has, but instead continue to live in settings that are not of their own choosing.
Because of Olmstead, community living has been the cornerstone of the disability rights movement and is at the core of the Administration for Community Living’s mission to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan.
Olmstead in Action
Share Your Story
Does your CIL work with a federal partner or community based organization to provide transition services?
In 2015, the Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act (WIOA) took the concepts in Olmstead a step further and formally added transition, as the fifth core service Centers for Independent Living provide.
CILs across the country have established beneficial and relationships with their local Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, and community based organizations to provide transition services for consumers.
We want to hear your success stories and share them with our network! Share your stories with us.
At ACL, we are helping to advance the community living for all, and our name proudly bears this charge.
To help us celebrate the 17th anniversary of this landmark decision and its profound impact on the lives of people with disabilities and older adults, we want to hear from you!
June 6 through June 24 use social media and the hashtag #OlmsteadAction to share individual stories of transition into the community and/or what your organization does to promote independent and community living for older adults and people with disabilities.
Example Social Media Posts
Independence Now Inc. staff visit 48 nursing facilities in a bi-county area on a monthly basis to provide outreach and support to all residents who may be interested in transitioning to community living. #OlmsteadAction
Equip for Equality produced a short video, A Place to Call Home (2011) about the personal stories of named plaintiffs in the case Ligas v. Hamos and the difficulties they faced in the fight to live in the community and not be forced to live in institutions because of their disabilities. #OlmsteadAction
Many consumers at Placer Independent Resource Services are older adults. Home modifications can be a tool for alder adults to remain in the community or transition out of a nursing facility. #OlmsteadAction
We look forward to celebrating this landmark anniversary by hearing all the ways Olmstead is in action in your communities!
Please explore multimedia resources below to learn more about the significance of Olmstead.