Changes in Services for Persons With Developmental Disabilities: Federal Laws and Philosophical Perspectives
The 1970s saw the initiation of critical advances in laws governing delivery of services to individuals with disabilities. These landmark legal changes and the process of deinstitutionalization have had a profound impact on where individuals with an intellectual disability (ID) reside and where their educational services are provided. Subsequent legislation emphasizing service delivery in natural environments that include typical peers has implications for inclusive practices across the life span, as many adults with ID transition into community-based living settings.
The following is a summary of landmark federal laws responsible for changes in services for persons with ID.
For current information on IDEA and ADA, see Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 and Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Collectively, these legislative changes helped alter the legal status of individuals with ID (Brady et al., 2016) and have stimulated general social and institutional acceptance of the rights of persons with ID. These changes have resulted in
- a new level of respect for the person, beyond the disability;
- recognition of the importance communication plays in making choices and life decisions for individuals with ID;
- increased access or eligibility for services, regardless of cognitive functioning;
- involvement of families in the assessment and program-planning process;
- services that are individualized and appropriate;
- inclusion of culturally and linguistically appropriate practices in the assessment and intervention;
- planning for individuals with ID from diverse groups;
- opportunities for interactions with a variety of individuals in natural environments; and
- knowledge of prevention practices.
Each of these rights for individuals with ID leads to principles that guide the roles and responsibilities of audiologists and SLPs in their service to persons with ID.
Brady, N. C., Bruce, S., Goldman, A., Erickson, K., Mineo, B., Ogletree, B. T., . . . Wilkinson, K. (2016). Communication services and supports for individuals with severe disabilities: Guidance for assessment and intervention. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 121, 121–138.