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Know the Law

In 1999, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, which affirmed that the unreasonable segregation of individuals with disabilities is a form of discrimination prohibited by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All people are entitled to live in the most integrated setting and in the setting of their choice.

The Olmstead decision still applies during all phases of public health emergencies: planning, response, and recovery. If emergencies strain services, individuals who live in community-based settings may need to temporarily access supports or medical care in institutional settings. However, the priority should always be to support adults with disabilities in community-based settings using person-centered planning. When admission to an institutional setting is unavoidable, it should be considered temporary and include immediate plans to return them to the most integrated setting. People should never be institutionalized unnecessarily.