The Atlanta Lawyer June/July 2019 - Page 32

I am Olmstead. Celebrating A Lifeline for Georgia’s Disabled Youth SUSAN WALKER GOICO Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. June 22, 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W.– the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case hailed as the 32 June/July 2019 Brown v. Board of Education for people with disabilities. The decision clarified that people with disabilities have the right under the Americans With Disabilities Act to obtain services in the community rather than in institutions. The decision has had a profound impact on people with disabilities in the Atlanta area and beyond. Atlanta Legal Aid Society, which brought the Olmstead case, is continuing to fight to ensure Olmstead is fully implemented. One example is the advocacy involved Tykeem, a young man with autism who does not use words to communicate. As a result of having advocates on their side, Tykeem received around-the-clock care in a group home and also helped his mother, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, receive the in-home supports she needed. As a result of justic prevailing, Tykeem is now supported in a home with trained caregivers who are able to manage his challenging behaviors and help him engage in the community. Without Legal Aid’s advocacy, Tykeem would likely have been institutionalized, but he is now able to live close to home and maintain a healthy relationship with his mother. The Olmstead decision has made it possible for Tykeem and others to live in the community rather than being unnecessarily segregated in institutions. In recognition of the 20th anniversary of this groundbreaking civil rights decision, Atlanta Legal Aid Society will co-host a conference along with Georgia State Law School on August 8-9, 2019 to explore the history of the case, assess the current state of compliance with the law, and imagine a path forward, where all people with disabilities have access to the supports they need to live full and meaningful lives in the community. For more information and to register for the conference, go to journal-of-legal-medicine/