Celebrating 15 Years of Olmstead

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The ADA Legacy Project joins advocates and organizations across the country in celebrating the 15th anniversary of the historic Olmstead case.
I Am Olmstead website

The ADA Legacy Project joins advocates and organizations across the country in celebrating the 15th anniversary of the historic Olmstead case. The case was first brought to court by Sue Jamieson, an attorney for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, on behalf of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson. Lois and Elaine both had diagnoses of mental health conditions and developmental disabilities. They both wanted to live in the community but werer unable to without proper supports. As a result, they both went back and forth through Georgia's state mental hospitals numerous times. Sue filed a lawsuit on their behalf - Olmstead v. L.C. - calling for the state to provide the appropriate supports. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

On June 20, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled 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 Court agreed that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state funded supports and services in the community rather than institutions when the following three part test is met:

  1. the person's treatment professionals determine that community supports are appropriate;
  2. the person does not object to living in the community; and
  3. the provision of services in the community would be a reasonable accommodation when balanced with other similarly situated individuals with disabilities.

Since the ruling, many people with disabilities across America have been able to move from institutions to the community. However, according to the I Am Olmstead website, today "no state could credibly make the case that it is fully in compliance with Olmstead. 

To learn more about Olmstead, check out the I Am Olmstead website, supported by the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. 

How well has your state implemented the Olmstead decision? How can you get involved in helping your state become fully compliant?