COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Family members of Ohioans with profound and severe intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have filed a motion to stop a class-action suit brought by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO).
With the current move toward encouraging community based living and work settings for individuals with developmental disabilities, these family members say more severely disabled Ohio residents are being forgotten. In response, they have formed the Disability Advocacy Alliance (DAA).
Caroline Lahrmann, a member of the DAA, objects to the DRO class action on behalf of her twins, who have profound intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"The Americans with Disabilities Act is about protecting their rights as individuals and enabling them to make choices to best accommodate their unique disabilities and circumstances," says Lahrmann. "Without a range of choices, individuals with disabilities will be forced into a one-size-fits-all service model. Ultimately, people will be harmed and their opportunities diminished."
DAA members disagree with the DRO's assertion that Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) and sheltered workshop environments are not as favorable as community living and working arrangements. While community homes benefit some individuals with disabilities, they are not appropriate for everyone. The parents, siblings and guardians who filed the motion know their loved ones need more intensive services and supports that are not available in a small community setting.
Currently, the state of Ohio's Developmental Disabilities budget is heavily weighted toward community settings, with $1.9 billion directed toward community waiver services. In contrast, only $770 million is directed toward state-operated and privately-run ICFs. The DRO's class action seeks to widen this funding gap by taking money away from ICFs and sheltered workshops, which will likely force closures of many facilities. For Lahrmann and the parents and guardians who joined in the motion, closing important care options reduces choice, a basic tenet of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ICFs provide services such as licensed nursing, therapy and behavioral supports, personal care and 24-hour supervision. These are vital to addressing the requirements of those with complex needs such as severe and profound intellectual disabilities, quadriplegia, autism, epilepsy, maladaptive behaviors, non-verbal and requiring all nutrition through a gastrointestinal tube.
Families opposing the DRO's action also say that ICF residents will be torn from the communities of friends and caregivers to which they have grown accustomed and formed attachments. Because they cannot afford legal counsel to fight lengthy litigation, the parents, siblings and guardians are representing the interests of their family members before the court.
"The DRO is charged to protect and advocate the rights of all individuals with I/DD and serve as their publicly funded legal counsel," says Lahrmann. "By bringing this suit as a class action, however, DRO has marginalized a significant portion of its constituency from its services – those who cannot handle and benefit from community settings."
The motion may be viewed here: http://nebula.wsimg.com/e3a89eb2227eb9d599c5b6a32897b98a?AccessKeyId=3AA4F2DE7107738E8E2F&disposition=0&alloworigin=1.
About the Disability Advocacy Alliance
The Disability Advocacy Alliance (DAA) is a volunteer organization which was formed in January 2015 by parents and family members to protect the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Ohio. DAA's mission is faithful to the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Olmstead clearly states that an individual's choices are paramount in determining residential placement. It is with this legal foundation that DAA asserts that the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities must offer a range of residential, habilitation, and employment options to meet the diverse needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more, please visit www.DisabilityAdvocacyAlliance.org.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/family-members-and-guardians-of-individuals-with-intellectual-and-developmental-disabilities-file-motion-to-maintain-options-for-care-300450850.html
SOURCE Disability Advocacy Alliance