A Foundation for Progress

By the early 1970s, perceptions about people with developmental disabilities and their potential were changing. Services began to emphasize programs that promoted individual growth, development, and learning. However, Ohio lagged behind the national movement.

A report by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation described institutional services in 1970:

“With not enough attendants to teach patients to feed and clothe themselves, mentally retarded children wandered aimlessly about in soiled diapers. Some were restrained by T-shirts pulled over their arms like miniature straight jackets. Bathing was accomplished by hosing down the children in shower stalls. They were locked up at night with no one to help them until morning.”

With the passing of the Developmental Disabilities Service and Facilities Construction Act in 1970, which is also referred to sometimes as the “DD Act,” the foundation was laid for building new facilities in Ohio or improving the existing ones. The amendment also mandated that states create a state developmental disabilities advisory council.

On the local level, support existed as well. In Central Ohio, voters approved a 10-year tax levy that allowed the Franklin County Program for the Mentally Retarded – today referred to as the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities – to begin an extensive building program.