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Philosophy & Position Statements

Our Philosophy

People with developmental disabilities have the right to be productive, interdependent members of their communities and of society at large.

The Ohio DD Council recognizes:

  • The fundamental role of families in making choices and decisions for their minor children.
  • Needs for training and support so families can meet their children's needs effectively and can be effective advocates for their children.
  • The right of adult individuals with developmental disabilities to make choices about where and with whom they will live and how they will spend their time.

We believe that:

  • All people in our society have a basic responsibility to accept and understand people with developmental disabilities
  • People with developmental disabilities have the same hopes, aspirations, feelings, desires, experiences, successes, and failures as other people
  • It is essential that people with developmental disabilities be viewed first and foremost as ordinary citizens
  • People with developmental disabilities have the right to be treated with personal respect and dignity-the same way other members of society are treated
  • Individuals with disabilities have the right to make choices and decisions about their lives and to participate fully in community life
  • Assistance must be available when it is needed and to the degree necessary, as determined by the individual with the disability or the individual's family
  • Family and friends are essential to personal development, happiness, and survival
  • No characteristic or feature of people with developmental disabilities requires our basic hopes and aspirations for them to be less than those we have for other people or requires them to be served in settings or ways that set them apart from other citizens.

Our Position Statements

The Ohio DD Council has used its philosophy to create more complete statements about issues affecting people with developmental disabilities. Recent federal and state legislation has dealt with some but not all-of the issues. The following are position statements for specific issues that affect people with disabilities.

Abuse and Neglect

All children and adults have legal, civil, and human rights, and federal, state and local governments have laws intended to respect and protect these rights. We support an environment free from all forms of physical and mental abuse, negligent treatment, maltreatment and exploitation.


As individuals age they may require additional supports and services to maintain independence, productivity and health. All individuals regardless of age or disability deserve these supports and services.

Black Lives Matter

Issued by the Ohio DD Council's Outreach Committee
August 2020

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is appalled by the ongoing killing of African American men and women by the police. We recognize that racism and anti-racism are disability issues and that individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected by racism in all aspects of life: health care, education, housing, employment, and the criminal justice system. As many as 50% of people killed by law enforcement each year are people with disabilities who are Black, Latinx, or LGBTQ+.

We, the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, declare our commitment to take action to drive change to address these inequities. We commit to focusing on a systematic, data driven focus on poverty, economic mobility and other factors that impact the social determinants of health faced by African Americans and other persons of color. We commit to standing together and speaking out against injustice and discrimination by strengthening our efforts to address inequities through the work of council. We will listen, we will learn and we will change.

Challenging Behavior

Persons with challenging behaviors can best be served in small integrated settings where comprehensive plans can be developed based on their individual needs, and that use technology and adaptations to the environment when necessary.

Civil Rights

Our laws provide that people with developmental and other disabilities should have the same rights as other members of our society. Appropriate services and supports for exercising civil and legal rights must be available, accessible and understandable to individuals with developmental disabilities, and the individuals must be provided the information to use these services successfully.

Community Presence and Participation (Informal Supports)

People develop networks of informal supports (families, friends, neighbors and peer groups) through their involvement in the community (e.g. church, work, school, leisure activities) where they cultivate friendships, resolve problems, obtain assistance, and acquire a sense of belonging. People with developmental and other disabilities must be encouraged and supported to live interdependently as active community participants providing and receiving informal supports.

Early Intervention

Early intervention begins with early and regular prenatal care. All children have the right to access health care and to live in an environment that encourages optimal growth and development.

Families can access service coordination support and are able to identify needs and make informed choices concerning early intervention services for their infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Practical experience and child development research show that early intervention profoundly affects the physical, emotional, social, and educational outcomes of children with developmental disabilities.

Ohio should have a quality, coordinated, comprehensive system of early intervention that includes health care, education and family support.


Inclusion is a value and the underlying philosophy by which all students with and without disabilities are educated together in supportive settings - learning, playing and working with students their own age in the same schools and classrooms attended by their brothers, sisters and neighbors.

Regardless of individual needs, students are provided the necessary and appropriately trained and supported staff, as well as, the necessary and appropriate related services and supports, including technical supports as specified in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) or other educational plans.

Employment and Income

Often, Ohioans with developmental and other disabilities are in low-paying, part-time jobs and do not receive the same benefits as other workers. Yet, they stand in jeopardy of losing Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Income.

Every person with a developmental disability has the right to equal access to productive employment in a vocation they have chosen, receive wages and benefits on par with those people without disabilities and move into management positions when qualified, without the fear of losing benefits and other rights. Workers must have access to necessary supports to be successful, including but not limited to adapting the workplace, having accessible public transportation, or hiring a support person.

Formal Supports for Individuals and Their Families

People with developmental and other disabilities and their families often need services and supports beyond what their informal supports provide to participate meaningfully in community life. Formal services must be available in a variety of settings to promote and support the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society.

Communities must provide their citizens with disabilities and their families with the services and opportunities they need and want.


People with developmental and other disabilities are discriminated against in health care programs, such as Medicaid and high-risk pools, because many providers will not accept Medicaid payments for services, and people are charged higher premiums for insurance in high-risk pools.

All citizens have a right to comprehensive health care services that are unrestricted by financial barriers. They have a right to equitable access of affordable and appropriate health care regardless of geography, income, age, gender, or cultural background.


People with developmental and other disabilities must have accessible affordable housing available that meets their individual needs. They must have the same housing opportunities and choices available to them as their peers without disabilities.

Individualized Funding for Residential and Family Support Services

Funding from federal, state or local sources should not jeopardize the fundamental right of children and adults with disabilities to live in a family which is safe, nurturing, permanent, and adequately supported.

The aforementioned funding sources must provide Ohioans with disabilities and their families with the services, supports and opportunities they need and want which are efficient and cost-effective, and which promote the autonomy of the family and the individuality of the child or adult.

Assessment tools used to determine funding levels that assure comparable services must make a distinction between, and account for, natural, informal supports provided by family members and those types of formal services provided by the service system. People with disabilities and their families should not be penalized for receiving informal supports that maximize their inclusion in community life.

Preventing Developmental Disabilities

There are more than 200 known causes of developmental disabilities. Many disabilities can be prevented or their effects can be lessened, through public awareness and education. Public awareness education should be comprehensive in nature. At the very least, it should include:

  1. Pre-conceptual and prenatal influences: Encourage women of childbearing-age to receive relevant information and support regarding chronic diseases and associated health care in order to make informed decisions about childbearing. Encourage early and regular prenatal care. Discourage the use of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and substances, both prior to conception and during pregnancy. Discourage adolescent pregnancy.
  2. Parenting education: Encourage training in techniques for CPR and preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  3. Childhood/adolescent injury: Encourage safety training in the major causes of injury - motor vehicle accidents, fires/burns, drowning, choking, poisoning and falls. Encourage training about shaken baby syndrome, age appropriate toys, and the hazards of baby walkers.
  4. Childhood screenings for health and well being: Encourage infants to be appropriately identified and referred for early intervention services. Encourage comprehensive preventive health care including all childhood immunizations. Encourage early identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Encourage home visits.


From: Beyond Managed Care: An Owner's Manual for Self-Determination, September 1997, by Public Consulting Group, Inc., Boston MA and Donald Shumway and Thomas Nerney, Concord NH.

Self-determination is a human right.

Self-determination is a means by which individuals with developmental and other disabilities and their families, who are eligible for services, are empowered to gain control over the selection of individual services, or supports, that meet their unique needs.

Self-determination is not built around particular services or programs. Rather, self-determination is an approach to service delivery with the individual with disabilities designating what kind of life activities are desired and what kinds of help are needed in order to attain his/her goals within the community. They are assisted by a "circle of support," usually consisting of family, friends and selected professionals.

The goal of self-determination is that people with disabilities and their families can create opportunities for themselves as participants in the social and economic communities in which they live.

Systems Coordination

People with developmental and other disabilities and their families have a right to receive the services and supports they need. The system of services and supports must be coordinated to reduce fragmentation, duplication and barriers that prevent efficient and effective delivery of needed supports and services.

People with disabilities and their families have a right to be actively involved with service programs as equal partners in deciding the services and supports they will receive.


Currently, many people with developmental and other disabilities are dependent upon an inadequate public transportation system. Freedom of movement is essential in enabling all citizens to live as independently as they choose; to engage in productive self-sustaining activity; and most importantly, to be fully integrated within their communities. All people should have access to available public transportation.

Withholding Medical Treatment (Baby Doe)

All children have the right to all available medical treatment, regardless of their level of developmental disability and economic status. Withholding treatment should be a decision by families and physicians in consultation with appropriate ethics committees.