Celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the Olmstead Act

Today, we’re celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the Olmstead Decision!

What is the Olmstead Decision?

In 1999, the US Supreme Court declared that the unjustified segregation of people with disabilities counts as discrimination, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“The story of the Olmstead case begins with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental illness and developmental disabilities, and were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in the State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. Following the women’s medical treatment there, mental health professionals stated that each was ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution, each for several years after the initial treatment was concluded. They filed suit under the ADA for release from the hospital.”


The court ruled in favor of Curtis and Wilson, and the decision stated that community-based services must be provided to every disabled person who needs them, so long as they do not oppose the services. 

The Olmstead Decision has helped thousands of people with disabilities live independently, with the community services they need, rather than in segregated institutions. This is something worth honoring!

Learn more about the Olmstead Decision by watching this brief, animated video:

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