Olmsted decision

Olmstead decision turns 20

[Video courtesy of EquipforEquality / YouTube]

Twenty years have passed since the Olmstead decision by the Supreme Court, which found that people with disabilities have a right to receive services outside of institutions, and to be fully integrated in their communities.


The 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision fundamentally changed the lives of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had both been institutionalized and living in isolation for an extended period of time after they had been voluntarily admitted into a state-run psychiatric unit for treatment. Even after mental healthcare providers approved their release, Curtis and Wilson were, essentially, stuck in the institution.

The Case

In a first-of-its-kind use of the ADA–which was less than a decade old–Curtis and Wilson filed a lawsuit. The result was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court, which found that confining individuals “greatly diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment.”

Olmstead Impact

Since the Olmstead decision in 1999, many people have been freed from institutions and have a legal right to live where they want to live.

Listen to Ruth Bader Ginsburg deliver the majority opinion for the court:

News Record (Elizabeth, N.J.)

Community Access Unlimited Applauds State Plan For Stipends For People With Disabilities

The members and staff of Community Access Unlimited applauded a state plan to provide people with disabilities and/or their families an annual stipend to help pay for the cost of providing services. New Jersey has proposed the $10,000 to $15,000 stipend in light of the state’s inability to provide people with disabilities sufficient access to community living, as required by law.

The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star

Community care urged for the disabled

Charles Cooper had never heard of Down syndrome in 1958, when his 2-week-old son was diagnosed with the disability.

Cooper trusted the doctor when he said his son would do best in an institution. So Cooper went to a Fredericksburg judge and signed commitment papers.

But then he visited some of the training centers. And Cooper decided that his son deserved better.