A key component of the DDS mission includes the vision statement that “Individuals know their rights and responsibilities and pursue opportunities to live the life they choose.”
People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities have the same basic legal, civil and human rights as other citizens. All individuals regardless of ability need the opportunity to effectively advocate for themselves and to exercise their rights. All citizens should understand their rights and be able to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Basic rights such as where to live and with whom, having control and responsibility for our finances, the right to work, the right to have relationships of our choice, the right to choose how and where we spend our time, and the right to be treated equally, with dignity and respect are all basic human rights that all people, regardless of ability should experience. Individuals with disabilities have the right to make their own choices and to lead self-determined lives where they have choice and control, freedom, authority and support to live as responsible and equal citizens.
Throughout history, people with disabilities have been denied their rights simply because of their disability. They have been isolated in institutions, been mistreated and abused and they have been treated as second class citizens. They have not been recognized as contributing members of society and they not had the freedom to make their own life choices about where they live and work, voting relationships and transportation.
Recent history has seen some positive change. Fewer people reside in institutional settings and are now living and working as part of their local communities. People have opportunities to control their finances, to choose where they live and with whom they want relationships. They are able to mange their own support to lead the lives they choose. While there have been positive changes for some, there are still many who continue to have limited opportunity to experience the same rights as all other citizens. Through education and advocacy, individuals can learn and understand their rights and receive the support to live their lives to the fullest.
Ideas to help people learn and understand their rights can be found the following links: