Choice And Control Over Our Lives

Choice And Control Over Our Lives

The current system requires us to ask: “Who is in charge?” Federal and state laws mandate choice and control by individuals with developmental disabilities over their lives and the services, supports and education they receive. Despite the requirements of the “I” (meaning Individual) in IEP and IPP, programs and classrooms are often one-size fits-all and lack any person-centeredness.

Professionals – regional centers and school districts -- usually choose the service providers and teachers. The classrooms and providers are often chosen based on the professionals’ preferences or relationships, convenience, and cost – not on what the individual and their family believes is appropriate. In many cases, the individual and their family are not told what options exist or are given limited choices. They are sometimes denied critically needed services.

Many individuals with disabilities don’t have critical control over their everyday lives. They don’t even get to decide who supports them, where they go, whom they live and spend time with, and even what they eat. This lack of control often leads to poorer outcomes, unhappier lives, and a feeling of helplessness.

Even though laws mandate choice and control by the individual and family, there is little accountability over whether this is happening. Teachers often feel more accountable to the administrators than to their students. Services providers are often beholden to the regional centers who fund them and not to the people they serve.

Adults Served by Regional Centers


Our goals and actions:

To ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have more choice and control, we will focus our energies on the following areas:

  • Monitor implementation of and advocate for the Self-Determination Program statewide and at every regional center. Many of the board members of Disability Voices United were leaders in getting the self-determination law passed and are critical players in bringing the law to reality.
  • Advocate for person-centered planning at regional centers and school districts.
  • Ensure individuals and families are provided choice of classrooms, services and providers. Push for release of names of all providers to be made available to families, regardless of where they are vendored.
  • Hold regional centers and school districts accountable for providing choice and options of classrooms and services, as mandated by law. Encourage administrative and legislative oversight.
  • Empower individuals and families through advocacy training about their rights to choice and control.
  • Advocate for restoration of social and recreational program options.

Relevant Stories