On The Road To Regular Lives

Beliefs, Shifts, Milestones, Questions…


  • Work in the community, live in the community, be a part of the community, contribute to community.
  • Resist the temptation as a human service agency to be the employer, the landlord, or the sole supporters of people with disabilities. It is a formula for disaster.
  • Act as an aid to community integration, not as a barrier to it.
  • Change one person at a time.
  • Abandon the notions of “readiness”, the continuum of services, and that people need “fixing”.
  • Assure there are no double standards (services should reflect what you’d want and need).
  • Scrap groups, programs, and buildings. It only works for individuals with supports in the community.
  • Invest in “values training”. It is the most important investment you can make.
  • Reinforce (or establish) participatory management.
  • Listen to the gurus.
  • Talk about your dreams, set your sights high.
  • Work in a state of discontent. Know there are always better ways.


  • Business as usual ? Make the vision work
  • Sheltered Work ? Real Jobs
  • Artificial training in artificial environments ? Real skill acquisition in real environments (home and community)
  • Programs for groups ? Supports for individuals
  • Training Curriculum ? Consumer Choice and Person Centered Services
  • Foster, group, boarding, ICF’s, anything agency owned ? The person’s own home
  • Wait until “they” fix the funding, find more money, etc. ? Do what’s right and figure out the money later


  • One staff person experienced PASS Training [intensive values training] (1979)
  • All agency staff went to conference featuring Lou Brown [more values training] (1984)
  • Began finding people jobs in the community (1986)
  • Moved “day program” from residential area to “downtown” location; closed sheltered workshop (1987)
  • Abolished all sheltered work (1989)
  • Served first person in supported living (1989)
  • Restructured center-based services to include home-based instruction and evening hours (1992)
  • Proved that even people with the most challenging disabilities can live in their own homes (1992)
  • Changed job descriptions to reflect “connecting role” for direct service staff (1994)
  • Achieved final phase-out of center-based day hab services (1996)


  • Why do people with disabilities go to day programs?
  • Why do people have to leave their homes during the day? Is that really home?
  • What do you look for in staff? People who are already connected to the community?
  • Who else in the community can/should do what you do?
  • Who (what people) can you begin with?
  • How can families help?
  • Where are there opportunities to implement the vision?
  • If it was your life, what would you want?

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