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Joint Position Statement of AAIDD and The Arc


All people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)* benefit when fully included in community life.


Individuals with IDD often are not treated equally. They have been labeled by their disability and separated from the community. For many years they were relegated to sterile, dehumanizing institutions. Even as they have begun living in the community, they have experienced exclusion from its schools, jobs, and social life. Moreover, the services they receive frequently segregate, isolate, and focus on an individual’s deficits rather than their strengths and lifestyle choices.


All people benefit when persons with iDD are included in community life. People with disabilities should be welcomed and included in all aspects of our society. This includes public activities, programs and settings, and private establishments which are open and accessible to members of the general public. People with disabilities should receive the supports they need to participate actively in community life without having to wait.

Children should have the opportunity to:

  • Live in a family home;
  • Have access to the supports that they need;
  • Grow up enjoying nurturing adult relationships both inside and outside a family home;
  • Enjoy typical childhood relationships and friendships; Learn in their neighborhood school in a general education classroom that contains children of the same age without disabilities;
  • Participate in the same activities as children without disabilities;
  • Play and participate with all children in community recreation; and
  • Participate fully in the religious observances, practices, events, and ceremonies of the family's choice.

Adults should have the opportunity to:

  • Have relationships of their own choosing with individuals in the community, in addition to paid staff and/or immediate family;
  • Live in a home where and with whom they choose;
  • Have access to the supports that they need;
  • Engage in meaningful work in an inclusive setting;
  • Enjoy the same recreation and other leisure activities that are available to the general public; and
  • Participate fully in the religious observances, practices, events, and ceremonies of the individual's choice.


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.

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