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Steve Taylor of the Center for Human Policy writes,

We developed The Community Imperative in 1979 to counter the growing backlash to deinstitutionalization and the widespread claims that some people were "too retarded" to live in the community individuals or organizations can express their endorsement of The Community Imperative by sending us a letter, fax, or e-mail with their name and address.



The Community Imperative
A Refutation of All Arguments
In Support of Institutionalizing
Anybody Because of Mental Retardation
In the domain of Human Rights:
All people have fundamental
moral and constitutional rights.
These rights must not be abrogated
merely because a person has a
mental or physical disability.
Among these fundamental rights is
the right to community living.
In the domain of Educational
Programming and Human Service:
All people, as human beings, are
inherently valuable.
All people can grow and develop.
All people are entitled to conditions
which foster their development.
Such conditions are optimally provided
in community settings.
In fulfillment of fundamental
human rights,
In securing optimum
developmental opportunities,
All people, regardless of the severity of
their disabilities, are entitled to
community living.




When was the Community Imperative written?


Who wrote the Community Imperative?

The Community Imperative was written by the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University, under the leadership of the late Burton Blatt.


Who endorsed the Community Imperative in 1979?

In addition to Center on Human Policy staff and associates Ellen Barnes, Douglas Biklen, Robert Bogdan, Hillery Schneiderman, Jo Scro, Steven Taylor, and Wolf Wolfensberger--the Community Imperative was endorsed by over 300 parents, people with disabilities, researchers, and professionals. The initial list of signers included such leaders as: Gunnar Dybwad, Rosemary Dybwad, Robert Perske, Alan Abeson, Allan Bergman, Ed Roberts, David Braddock, Lou Brown, Allen Crocker, Seymour Sarason, Eleanor Elkin, James Ellis, Philip Roos, Frank Laski, Judy Heumann, Linda Glenn, Bruce Ennis, Marc Gold, Fred Krause, Horace Mann, Lotte Moise, Bengt Nirje, Tom Nerney, John O'Brien, Patty Smith, Edward Skarnulis, Ann Turnbull, Rud Turnbull, and Jean Vanier, among others.


Why was the Community Imperative written?

The Community Imperative was written in response to organized opposition to deinstitutionalization and community living. Specifically, the Community Imperative was intended to counter a 1978 memorandum submitted by 10 national experts in hearings in the Wyatt case in Alabama that argued that only a small number of institutional residents could be expected to adjust to community living and that training programs were inappropriate for a substantial number of them. The purpose of the Community Imperative was to establish that all human beings, regardless of nature and severity of disability, are inherently valuable, have fundamental rights, and are capable of learning, growth, and development.


Why has the Center on Human Policy reissued the Community Imperative?

Today, 21 years after the Community Imperative was written, deinstitutionalization and inclusion remain controversial in some states and localities. Current debates and controversies surrounding community living obscure fundamental disagreements over values and beliefs between those who support and those who oppose inclusion. The Center on Human Policy believes that it is necessary to focus attention on the principles underlying community inclusion.

The time to debate the place of people with disabilities in the society and the community has long since passed. It is time to shift attention to assuring that community living is accomplished in a manner consistent with the values and beliefs expressed in the Community Imperative.

For further information, please contact

The Center on Human Policy:
Syracuse University
805 South Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2280
315-443-3851 or 1-800-894-0826
TTY 315-443-4355
FAX 315-443-4338


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