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Archive for November 1st, 2020

People with disabilities do best when we live in our communities and make our own choices. All people with disabilities should have the support we need to live in the community — but many people with disabilities are still stuck in institutions. 

For decades, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been fighting to get out of institutions and back into our communities. But a lot of resources explaining the history and policy of institutions are not accessible to the people who need them most. That’s why we’ve released two toolkits about institutions. 

The first one, Institutions: the Old, The New, and What We Should Do, focuses on the history of institutions from the 19th century to the present, and what we can do to make community living possible for everyone. This toolkit answers important questions like:

  • What is an institution? What is living in the community?
  • When did institutions get made, and what were they like?
  • What rules and laws help us live in the community?
  • Why is living in the community better than living in institutions?
  • What are new institutions like? How are they different from the old institutions? How are they the same?

When new institutions open, people often say that they will be great places for people with disabilities. But they end up hurting people with disabilities. Our second toolkit, The Cycle of Institutions, explains how institutions get opened, closed, remade, and opened again… and again. This toolkit answers important questions like:

  • What is the cycle of institutions?
  • What are state schools, ICFs, group homes, and intentional communities?
  • How are these places different from institutions in the past? How are they the same?
  • How can you tell that a facility is an institution?

Institutions: The Old, The New, and What We Should Do

Institutions: The Old, The New, and What We Should Do is available in two versions:

  • Our Easy Read Edition. The Easy Read version has 7 parts, plus a separate section with additional links and a section with Words to Know. The Easy Read version uses pictures along with large text, and has more white space.
  • A Plain Language Version without accompanying graphics. It includes a full glossary of all the words used in the toolkit.

Easy Read Edition

The Easy Read Edition is split into parts. Click on the title of any of the parts below to download it:

You can also download the entire Easy Read edition by clicking here. Plain Language Version

Click here to download the Plain Language version of Institutions: The Old, The New, and What We Should Do.

The Cycle of Institutions

The Cycle of Institutions is available in two versions:

  • Our Easy Read Edition. The Easy Read version has 5 parts, plus a separate section with additional links and a section with Words to Know. The Easy Read version uses pictures along with large text, and has more white space.
  • A Plain Language Version without accompanying graphics. It includes a full glossary of all the words used in the toolkit.

Easy Read Edition

The Easy Read Edition is split into parts. Click on the title of any of the parts below to download it:

You can also download the entire Easy Read edition by clicking here. Plain Language Version

Click here to download the Plain Language version of The Cycle of Institutions.

Support for this toolkit was provided by The Community Living Policy Center at Brandeis University. Funding for this center is provided by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (grant number 90RTCP0004). However, the contents of this brief do not necessarily represent the policy of the federal government.



a view of tall autumn trees from below

Dear friends,

October is coming to an end, and we wish we could say that Halloween was the scariest thing happening this week. But with COVID cases surging and threats to the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, the disability community is facing dangers that are all too real. Plenty of us are feeling fatigue set in after an incredibly difficult year — but we’re not giving up. People with disabilities across the United States are speaking up by voting in this year’s election, and when our voices are heard, we have more power to make change. ASAN has spent this month educating our community about voting and civic engagement, and we know that whatever the next battles may be, people with disabilities will advocate for our rights as fiercely as ever. No matter what comes next, we’re in this fight together.

One of the first things we did this month was release a statement against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. As of this week, Barrett has been sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice. This puts our community’s rights in danger, especially with a Supreme Court case coming up about the Affordable Care Act. Regardless of the outcome of that case, ASAN will keep fighting to protect access to healthcare for all people with disabilities. 

With the election coming closer, we spent a lot of time this month putting out accessible information on voting. Voting can change who makes policies at the local, state, or federal levels  — and that affects our daily lives as people with disabilities. We’ve been sharing information and resources about voting under guardianship, making a plan to vote, and how and why to vote. As we approach election day, we encourage you to review your options to vote. It’s also important to remember that with more people voting by mail this year, it may take more time to count all the ballots. We may not know the final election results on Tuesday night, but ensuring that we count every vote is more important than quick election results. When the disability community votes, and when we make sure that every vote is counted, we’re saying that every voice matters.

With COVID-19 killing tens of thousands of people with disabilities in institutions, it’s clearer than ever that we need to end institutionalization and make sure all disabled people can live in the community. Our two new Easy Read and plain language toolkits explain why our society has kept deadly institutions around this long, and how we can get rid of them. The first toolkit talks about the history of institutions, what research tells us about living in the community vs. an institution, and what new institutions look like. The second one explains the cyclical nature of institutions, how institutions “rebrand” themselves, and how to break the cycle. 

We’ve also been preparing for another change this fall: ASAN’s annual gala is going virtual! We’re hosting a variety of events, from Twitter chats, to panels, to film screenings. All video or streaming content will have captions. Tickets are sliding scale. We would love to see you there!

During these next few months, lots of change will continue to happen. We encourage you to take care of yourself and your communities in this difficult time. The disability community has been using mutual aid and powerful advocacy to get through this pandemic. We will use those same strategies and skills to keep up the fight for our rights and our liberation — for as long as it takes, until all of us are free. Remember to vote if you haven’t already, and know that no matter what comes next, we’ll face it together.

In solidarity,

Julia Bascom
Executive Director
Autistic Self Advocacy Network

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ASAN Opposes Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett

2020 Virtual Gala invitation