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Celebrating the Anniversary of Olmstead vs L.C.

June 22, 2022
Alison Barkoff
Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

Twenty-three years ago today, we celebrated one of the most significant civil rights victories for people with disabilities. On June 22, 1999, the landmark Supreme Court decision in Olmstead vs L.C. held that people of all ages with disabilities have the right to live and receive support in the community under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The ruling affirmed the value of the lives and contributions of people with disabilities, recognized the importance of participation in the community for everyone, and heralded a sea change in the way our country approaches providing supports to people with disabilities.

In the years since Olmstead, disability and aging advocates and providers of community services and supports have been working to help people leave nursing homes and other institutions to live in the community – and to help people avoid entering institutions in the first place. Diversion and transition programs have been highly effective in supporting hundreds of thousands of people who want to live in their own homes and communities, with appropriate services and supports. I’m proud to say that ACL’s networks are at the forefront of this work, providing legal assistance, facilitating moves, partnering with discharge planners to help people return to their homes after hospitalizations, and more. Today’s other blog post by Erica McFadden, director of ACL’s Office of Independent Living Programs, describes the diversion and transition work being done by centers for independent living across the country, as just one example. Our networks are also at the forefront of providing the services and supports that make community living possible, advocating for system change and quality improvement, and fighting to uphold the rights of people with disabilities.

While we have made so much progress, too many people who can and want to live and fully participate in the community still do not have that opportunity. I am proud of the work we are doing together to change that – and of the difference our work has made during the pandemic. As we mark this 23rd anniversary of Olmstead vs L.C., let’s celebrate and reflect on those accomplishments, and use them energize for our continued work to make true inclusion for people with disabilities a reality.


Last modified on 08/23/2023

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