Whereas, all people have preferences and express those choices in all aspects of their lives; and

Whereas, the natural opportunity for making choices begins early in life; and

Whereas, freedom of expression and choice are fundamental human rights which should be shared by all people worldwide; and

Whereas, historically some families, professionals and policy-makers have incorrectly assumed that people with mental and physical disabilities are not capable of making choices in their own best interest; and

Whereas, in the past, decisions have often been made by professionals, families, policy-makers and others, based primarily on the assumption of what is in the best interest of the person with a mental or physical disability; and

Whereas, programs and activities that relegate individuals with mental and physical disabilities to a passive role do not encourage or allow a full range of choices that exist; and

Whereas, active attempts by people with mental and physical disabilities to exercise choice or modify programs designed by professionals and families have often been interpreted as non-compliance, resulting in development of behavior programs to decrease the presumed "maladaptive" behavior;

Therefore it be known: Disability Rights Washington affirms the right of people with mental and physical disabilities to freedom of choice in all types of settings; families and professionals should systematically work toward development of real opportunities and programs across all ages for choice; and individuals with mental or physical disabilities should be encouraged and supported to make choices through such activities as exposure, awareness, interaction and instructional opportunities and research should be supported on successful methods that empower people with mental and physical disabilities to make choices.

Be it further known in cases pursued by Disability Rights Washington within our priorities, we will represent the choices of our clients.


Prepared and approved by DRW Board of Directors on April 4, 1990.


This statement was adapted from a resolution passed by The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH) in 1988.