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In the landmark decision, Olmstead v. L.C, the United States Supreme Court held that the unjustified institutionalization of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice and other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote “vigorous enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead decision and to maximize the effectiveness of federal leadership in promoting civil rights and setting forth the Administration’s position in the federal courts.”

OCR’s response to Olmstead complaints has had a significant impact in facilitating the community integration of individuals with disabilities. OCR has received complaints filed by or on behalf of a wide range of individuals, including individuals with physical, psychiatric, developmental and cognitive impairments, and individuals of all ages, including children, young and middle-aged adults, and elderly persons. As a result of OCR’s efforts, many individuals have been able to move from an institution to the community, and many individuals have avoided unnecessary institutionalization. For example:

  • Community services are being provided to individuals who had been institutionalized for decades.
  • Community services are being provided or restored to individuals who lost their housing and/or community-based supportive services when they entered institutions due to an acute health care problem.
  • Community services are being provided to individuals with disabilities through “waiver” programs.
  • Increased hours of personal care and assistance are being provided to individuals who need them to stay in the community.
  • Individuals with disabilities are having greater control over their community-based care and services.
  • Individuals are provided reasonable accommodations where they reside, rather than having to move to a more restrictive setting

During the period from August 1, 1999 through September 30, 2010, OCR resolved 850 Olmstead cases. 32% of these cases were resolved after intake and review. 42% involved corrective action resolving civil rights issues and 26% found no civil rights violations. During the same period OCR conducted 581 Olmstead investigations. 61% of the investigations resulted in corrective action and 39% found no civil rights violations.

If you feel that your civil rights under Olmstead are being violated you can file a complaint in writing, either on paper or electronically via the OCR Complaint Portal, by mail, fax, or e-mail.

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