Joint Position Statement of AAIDD and The Arc
The human and civil rights of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)* must be honored, protected, communicated, enforced and thus be central to all advocacy on their behalf.
Today, as throughout history, the human and civil rights of people with IDD have been unjustifiably limited or denied based on a lack of understanding of their humanity. These rights include the right to autonomy, dignity, family, justice, life, liberty, equality, self-determination, community participation, property, health, well-being, access to voting, freedom from unwarranted and unjustifiably extensive guardianship, equality of opportunity and other rights recognized by law or international declarations, conventions, or standards.
Though freedom from discrimination is a basic human right accepted as part of the fundamental law of the land, advancing the human and civil rights of people with IDD presents particular challenges.
Many individuals, businesses, federal, state, and local government agencies and other entities remain unaware of or ignore the human and civil rights of people with IDD. As a result, people with IDD face unique challenges, including the following:
- A history of discrimination and exclusion from meaningful choice and participation in employment, housing, voting, transportation, and other programs, activities, and services provided by the public and private sectors of society;
- Social and cultural attitudes of devaluation and fear;
Unfounded beliefs that people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities cannot and/or do not contribute to society;
- Societal failure to provide the supports wanted and needed for full community participation, equal opportunity, independent living, and economic self sufficiency;
- Overprotection without freedom to exercise individual rights;
- Under-payment for labor and services and denial of the means of economic self-sufficiency;
- Forced impoverishment;
- Prejudice that views people with IDD as unworthy of progressive public policies and related public funding; and
- The presence of other factors that, in combination with IDD, expose them to increased risk of rights violations. These factors include: age; gender; race/ethnicity; sexual orientation; cultural, linguistic, geographic, or spiritual diversity; economic status; severity of disability; intensity of needed supports; and others.
All people with IDD are entitled to human and civil rights. Given that all people with IDD are complex human beings with varying attributes and living circumstances, and many experience multiple risk factors for human and civil rights violations, we emphasize that all are entitled to human and civil rights regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, cultural, linguistic, geographic, and spiritual diversity, economic status, severity of disability, intensity of needed supports, or other factors that expose them to increased risk of rights violations.
These rights include the rights to autonomy, dignity, family, justice, life, liberty, equality, self-determination, community participation, property, health, well-being, access to voting, and equality of opportunity and others recognized by law or international declarations, conventions, or standards. All people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities must have the right to supports they need to exercise and ensure their human and civil rights. Local, state, federal, and international governments must strongly enforce all human and civil rights.
Board of Directors, AAIDD
September 21, 2009
Board of Directors, The Arc of the United States
October 29, 2009
Congress of Delegates, The Arc of the United States
November 14, 2009
Reviewed and extended without revision, 2015
Intellectual Disability (ID) is a lifelong condition where significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior emerge during the developmental period (before adulthood).
Developmental Disabilities (DD), first defined in 1975 federal legislation now known as “The DD Act,”, are a group of lifelong conditions that emerge during the developmental period and result in some level of functional limitation in learning, language, communication, cognition, behavior, socialization, or mobility. The most common DD conditions are intellectual disability, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, fetal alcohol syndrome, and fragile X syndrome.
The acronym “IDD” is used to describe a group that includes either people with both ID and another DD or a group that includes people with ID or another DD. The supports that people with IDD need to meet their goals vary in intensity from intermittent to pervasive.