The dis/Ability movement insistence of “Nothing About us Without Us” is the foundation on which TASH sees community living, person-centered planning, and community participation. It is essential that the creation of lives are directed and controlled by people with disabilities themselves. This issue is derived from two particular “Community Gathering” conversations organized by the TASH Community Living National Agenda Committee and held at the 2013 TASH Annual Conference. In this issue we share reflections from these Community Gathering conversations, recommendations and action plans around the meanings of community and implementation of services in the community, and revisit seminal articles that guide practice in these very important areas.
This issue of TASH Connections includes Pamela Walker’s written overview of the TASH Conference Community which yielded in-depth conversations on the meanings of “person-centered” and “community”. These conversations reaffirmed that choice and control are critical to authentic person-centered, community life. Increasingly the idea of choice and language related to “person-centered,” “community,” and “choice” are being used to co-opt opportunities for authentic person-centered, community life by the mechanistic, bureaucratization of services, including new forms of system-created and funded segregation such as newly built gated communities and housing complexes specifically for individuals with disabilities. Graphic mind maps are included to highlight the main ideas generated by these important conversations. The graphics were developed by Aaron Johannes and April Doner, respectively.
As a follow up to this community gathering, John O’Brien reflects on the discussion of meanings and distortions of the term “person-centered”. As a whole, O’Brien’s reflections on the conversation on the meaning of person-centered resonates with the call, urging TASH members and the wider disability community to not just “use” the process of person-centered planning, but to adopt the principles of person-centeredness—engaging with and learning from individuals with disabilities to support their choices and lives in the community. However, so often, when “community” is discussed in the field, it is with the idea of doing something to benefit people with disabilities. As an alternative to doing something “for” people with disabilities, it is important to keep in mind that a sense of community or belonging is something can be beneficial for many people, not by any means just those who happen to have disabilities (Bogdan & Taylor, 1999; O’Brien & Lyle O’Brien, 2002 ). The reprint of Bob Bogdan and Steve Taylor’s article, “Building Stronger Communities for All,” provides some ideas about what it means to hold central the importance of community living and how to put these ideas into practice.
Innovative practices that promote community membership have been more challenging at the systems level. This issue also contains a reprint of Keeping the Promise: Self Advocates Defining the Meaning of Community Living, a position paper from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and others that attempts to clarify the definition of “community,” and excerpts from a report of the National Council on Disability, Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work, and in the Community, both of which address recommendations and action plans for implementation of the Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver program to ensure that services that are called “community” more accurately reflect and promote possibilities for authentic community.
Ultimately, the foundation of person-centered, community life lies in real choice, control, and decisions made by and with people with disabilities. As such, it is critical to continue telling stories and identifying positive examples of possibilities related to “person-centered,” “community,” and “choice.” Steve Taylor’s article, “On Choice” highlights the key issues related to this. This article is as relevant today as when originally written; Steve Taylor’s contributions to the field are numerous, and this is an opportunity to continue to remember his voice in these discussions.
- Introduction, by Pamela Walker
- Gathering Around the Meaning of “Person-Centered” and “Community” Practices and Supports, by Pamela Walker
- The Trouble With Person-Centered Planning, by John O’Brien
- Building Stronger Communities for All: Thoughts About Community Participation for People with Developmental Disabilities, by Robert Bogdan and Steven J. Taylor
- Keeping the Promise: Self Advocates Defining the Meaning of Community Living, by Autistic Self Advocacy Network
- Excerpts from: Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work and in the Community, by National Council on Disability
- On Choice, by Steven J. Taylor
- This is What Inclusion Looks Like: Implementing the HCBS Waiver Settings Rule: Meet Marie!, by Gail Fanjoy