The political fallout from such cases as New York ARC v. Rockefeller, among others, led to a flurry of legislation to protect the rights and expand services to people with disabilities. This included the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA), which mandated free and appropriate public education for all children aged 3 to 21. Before 1975, children with disabilities were, for the most part, denied an education solely on the basis of their disability. The Act later became known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Ohio county boards began services for infants and toddlers in the mid-70s. These services were not included in IDEA until 1986.
In an effort to protect people from neglect and abuse in institutions and to guarantee their rights, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act was passed in 1975. This mandated that people with developmental disabilities have a right to appropriate treatment, services, and habilitation in the least restrictive setting that maximizes development. It also specified that public funds could be withheld to any residential program if it conflicts with or does not meet certain minimum standards for health and safety.
The Ohio General Assembly was taking steps to reduce overcrowding in its facilities. Ohio Senate Bill 336 took effect in 1975 and guaranteed the rights of persons with developmental disabilities. It also provided admission standards for Ohio’s institutions. In response to Souder v. Brennan, in which the court held that resident workers in institutions were protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the legislature ensured that no resident would be required to work at the institution and made clear that the state must pay any resident who volunteered to work. The Ohio Legal Rights Service also was established to ensure that residents were represented by legal counsel and knew their rights.
A growing movement was taking shape internationally to recognize the rights of people with developmental disabilities. The most significant statement on the rights of people with developmental disabilities, the “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons,” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1975.
Photo Source: Hancock County Board of DD