We envision a Commonwealth comprised of inclusive communities where all people with disabilities are valued and thrive.
The Council engages in advocacy, systems change and capacity building for people with developmental disabilities and their families in order to:
- Support people with disabilities in taking control of their own lives
- Ensure access to goods, services, and supports
- Build inclusive communities
- Pursue a cross-disability agenda
- Change negative societal attitudes towards people with disabilities
In so doing we will bring about benefits to individuals with disabilities other than developmental disabilities and, indeed, to all people.
Statement of Values
- Generic Change. The Council has a responsibility to change communities in the broadest, most generic sense. Our work improves the lives, not only of people with disabilities, but of all Pennsylvanians. Our energy is increasingly directed at ensuring that the systems and supports that are available to the community in general are made equally available, with appropriate accommodation, to Pennsylvanians with disabilities. We prefer to improve disability services by making them available in the context of the systems and supports that exist for all people.
- Systems Change. The Council has a responsibility to change the systems that impact people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. We are less and less interested in models of accommodation which rely on the person with the disability being the person doing the changing, or which provide temporary help in the context of systems that are broken. All our work, viewed over time and in the context of our interlocking strategies and approaches, must contribute to our broad view of systems change. We do not believe that we can change Pennsylvania one sub-system at a time. We view systems in a wide-reaching way; not just as human service systems, but as the broader and generic social systems and cultures which have an effect on people with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
- Natural Part of the Human Condition. The Council believes that disability is a natural part of the human condition. We are not sympathetic to medical models of understanding disability. While we do not deny the importance of medical treatment and medical need, we are more sympathetic to understandings of disability as a social construct imposed on people with disability labels rather than as a quality inherent in the person with a disability. We are not impressed by the model of trying to “help” people with disabilities by making them more like people without disabilities.
- Inclusion. The Council is deeply committed to inclusion and integration. We do not like approaches which are segregated, and will not fund “special programs for special people”. We prefer activities to be alongside and integrated with people without disabilities, in regular and generic settings in regular communities. Groups of people with different disabilities congregated together do not constitute “inclusion”.
- Cross-Disability. The Council is cross-disability in nature; we try to fund approaches that affect all people with disabilities in common areas of their lives, such as housing, health, employment, community inclusion, etc., and we are especially interested in the cross-disability impact of shared stigma and segregation. Having said this, we are acutely conscious of the vital and important differences in priorities and emphases between different disability communities, and seek to provide opportunities for communication and the sharing of different disability experiences.
- Cultural Competence. The Council believes that the skills involved in understanding disability are closely related to the skills which lead to other forms of cultural competence. We believe that disability competence cannot take place in isolation from the embrace of all human diversity. Therefore we seek alliances with all those who are excluded or dispossessed on the grounds of poverty, race, ethnicity or sexuality.
- Empowerment.The Council seeks to engage in activities which meaningfully involve people with disabilities, or, if they cannot speak for themselves, their chosen family members, in all areas of their conception, preparation and implementation. We oppose activities which could be construed as doing things for, to, or on behalf of people with disabilities rather than under their direct leadership. We do not fund projects which portray people with disabilities as deserving pity; which, even unconsciously, endorse stigmatization of people with disabilities, or which incorporate portrayals of people with disabilities as the objects of charity or “the least of these”.