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The last time I was "educated" on Olmstead, it was a white cishet physically disabled man from the independent living movement informing me that this was a case about wheelchair users in nursing homes.

So let's chat.
Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson were two women with intellectual disabilities who were in a psychiatric facility in Georgia. Both had been in and out of psych institutions many times, and both wanted the supports they needed to live successfully in the community.
Lawyer Sue Jamieson filed suit on Lois's behalf: the state had decided to just keep her in the institution because there were no community programs available, and their claim was that the state was required to serve her in the community.
Soon, they added Elaine Wilson to the lawsuit: she kept getting discharged but to wholly inappropriate places. They had threatened to discharge her to a homeless shelter this time, where she wouldn't have the services she needed.
You can learn more about these three women at:

People with intellectual disabilities fought first to survive in institutions, and then to get out, and then to go back and get others out. The People First network, which developed in opposition to the authority of parents, guardians, and professionals, has done a lot.
Here is a story from Mouth about work People First of Tennessee did on the developmental centers in their state:

That case dragged on for years, but People First stuck with it:

The self-advocacy movement in the United States -- part of the global self-advocacy movement -- has a proud history of education, empowerment, policy analysis, activism, advocacy, and progress.
The national organization Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) lists "eliminate institutions" at the top of its goals.

Here is a video (unfortunately without captions) of James Meadours of Texas Advocates speaking at an institutional bias rally this year about the need for people to live in the community:

The movements of people who have been subjected to unwanted psychiatric care or denied quality psychiatric care have likewise done great things.

This article is from Canada, but it's a good discussion of much of what went on in North America:

The independent living movement (ILM), another branch of the disability rights movement and -- like the self-advocacy movement and the psychiatric consumer/survivor/ex-patient (C/S/X) movements -- one that grew out of a population subjected to an institutional system ...
... also had a great deal to do with the struggle against institutions.

See, for instance:

And the core, I think, of what all of these movements have in common is brilliantly distilled in this speech from Roland Johnson (uncaptioned, reprinted at end of document linked in next tweet):

Roland's autobiography, "Lost in a Desert World," can be read here:


He grew up in Pennhurst and became a major disability rights leader.
"Who's in charge over you? Are you in charge? Is staff in charge? But who's in charge? ... You're supposed to be in charge, right?" - Roland Johnson
Now, did Lois and Elaine know all this when they started? I don't know. But they were certainly acting in a long tradition of disability rights, as Sue Jamieson certainly knew.

And they fought, and they went to the Supreme Court, and 20 years ago, on June 22, 1999, they won.
What did they win?

@Tuesdaywithliz and @AlisonBarkoff break it down for you in another installment of "Tuesdays With Liz: Disability Politics For All":

Elaine died a free woman. Lois is living as a free woman today. And many, many other people have used the rights they cemented for us to become free too.
Here is Lois's story, complete with pictures of the glowing, vibrant woman whom -- with Elaine Wilson and Sue Jamieson -- disability rights activists and advocates are celebrating today.

Certainly wheelchair users trying to get out of nursing homes have benefited from the Olmstead decision, and certainly they played a huge role in setting the scene -- but don't let anyone forget the rest of the story or the strong, beautiful neurodivergent women at its center.
This link appears not to be working.

I may have typed it wrong; Twitter doesn't let me paste a lot of things.

Google News "people first tennessee arlington developmental center lawsuit" and it pops up.
Dammit! "About" on the SABEUSA page.
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