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A commitment to integration.

A Commitment To Integration

The Center on Human Policy is pleased to announce receipt of five years' support (October 1990 to September 1995) by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, for a Research and Training Center (RTC) devoted to improving the community integration of children and adults with mental retardation. The Center operated an earlier RTC on Community Integration from October 1985 to September 1990.

With this first article, we want to let our readers know that we are here, that we are a source of information on community integration for people with disabilities of all types, and that we have a way of thinking about integration (some people use the word "inclusion," which might be an even better way of saying it).

We believe that all people deserve to be included as full participants in the activities, environments and relationships that are enjoyed by many of us, and that this inclusion will require a shift in focus on our part. In the past, we--parents and professional alike--accepted a way of thinking that assumes that people with disabilities will be partially or fully excluded. We spoke of "a continuum of services," which assumed that somebody would inhabit the restrictive (possible) environment, which assumes that some people will be in more restrictive environments. We believe that only some people with disabilities could speak for themselves, that only some people with disabilities could make friends, and that they faced a world where they would be excluded except from the narrow circles formed around them by family members and service providers. These ways of thinking helped us to understand many of the realities facing people with disabilities, and they helped us to realize that people could enter into community environments, but they did not go far enough.

Today, we can speak of full inclusion, of being part of the community as well as being in the community. Thinking this way, and committing ourselves to making sure the support is there for it to happen, requires a shift in focus:

1. From the development of facilities and programs into which people must fit to the provision of services and supports necessary for people with severe disabilities to participate fully in community life;

2. From neighborhoods to typical homes, from regular school buildings to regular classes, and from vocational models to typical jobs and activities;

3. From professional judgment as a basis for determining community involvement to personal choice;

4. From a presumption in favor of integration to a mandate to provide opportunities for integration;

5. From a conditional ("to the extent necessary, appropriate, feasible") to an unconditional commitment to integration;

6. From requiring individuals to change in order to participate in the community to requiring service systems to change;

7. From restrictions applied categorically as a condition for receiving services to opportunities available to people without disabilities;

8. From disability labels as a factor in determining community participation to a recognition of common human needs;

9. From independence to community belonging; and

10. From placing people in the community to helping them become part of the community. [*]

(*) Excerpted from Taylor, S. (1988). "Caught in the continuum: A critical analysis of the principle of the least restrictive environment." Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps. 13 (1), 41-53.
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Title Annotation:Exceptional Parent Networking
Author:Taylor, Steve; Racino, Julie Ann; Shoultz, Bonnie
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Previous Article:Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA) Reauthorization of 1990.
Next Article:I had a dream.

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