People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities1 have the same basic legal, civil and human rights as other citizens. They may need accommodation, protection and support to enable them to exercise these rights. Their rights should never be limited or restricted without due process.
Advocacy is essential in maintaining or improving the quality of life for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, like other residents of the United States, have the right to justice and fair treatment in the criminal justice system, including reasonable accommodations as necessary.
Autonomy, Decision-Making Supports, and Guardianship
The majority of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities can manage their own affairs with informal assistance and guidance from others, such as family and friends. If guardianship2 is necessary, it should be tailored to the person’s needs. It must be adequately monitored to ensure that the best interests of the individual are protected.
Human and Civil Rights
The human and civil rights of all people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities must be honored, protected, and enforced.
All Americans gain when people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are fully included in their communities.
People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities must be protected from harm and injury and must have the tools and supports so they can protect themselves.
People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities have the same right to self-determination as all people. They must have opportunities and experiences that enable them to exert control in their lives and to advocate on their own behalf.
1 “People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities” refers to those defined by AAIDD classification and DSM IV. In everyday language they are frequently referred to as people with cognitive, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities although the professional and legal definitions of those terms both include others and exclude some defined by DSM IV.
2 Terminology for guardians differs by state and can include tutor, conservator, etc.
Position Statements Related to Rights