MA21 Policy Recommendations

Implementing a 21st Century Disability Policy

1. Enhance supports for individuals and families through agencies and advocacy organizations. Increase public and private investment in non-governmental agencies, which provide essential direct services. Increase investment in advocacy organizations which assist individuals, families, and groups through outreach and education.

2. Properly fund and implement in-home, in-school and in-community supports for children. Provide the essential supports for children to remain home with their families instead of being sent to schools or residential programs away from home. This creates a healthier society and saves public funding in the long term.

3. Establish a comprehensive policy that makes school inclusion central to the culture of public education. Value all individuals, support all students and ensure that no person or group is marginalized or excluded. An inclusive education ensures that a child with disabilities remains on a path to an adult life as an engaged member of his/her community.

4. Develop and support a comprehensive transition policy beginning promptly at age 14 (as required by law). Include benchmarks and standards, track outcomes, and adhere to principles of self-directed lives (as described in this document). Students are considered valued members of the planning team, directing the process as much as possible, and family members are central to the process. The transition period is seamless and looks at the needs of the whole person – as prescribed by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – not just employment needs.

5. Streamline the waiver system to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, demonstrate trust in families, and save money. Bring the waiver system into line with our Policy Foundations, making it a flexible, family friendly, transparent, personalized system that encourages innovation and collaboration among providers, individuals and their families, and ultimately saves the state money.

6. Develop comprehensive policies for monitoring, measuring, and safeguarding inclusion and self-direction, taking full advantage of community supports. Use community supports to advance self-direction and inclusion throughout the lifecycle and in all aspects of life, including friendships, intimate relationships, employment, home life/independent living, transportation, etc. (Institutions and aversive therapy are antithetical to self-direction and inclusion). Set goals for enforcing existing regulations and maximizing community participation/inclusion.

7. Ensure that long-term supports are available throughout the lifecycle. Guarantee access to high-quality healthcare regardless of age or disability, recognizing that the medical system must be adequately funded to provide essential training and compensation. Never allow long-term supports to be compromised, with particular vigilance as we age or develop medical conditions, or when these supports are most at-risk. Plan in advance to provide substitute care when caregivers become incapacitated or die.

Next: Strategies

The Massachusetts Alliance for 21st Century Disability Policy (MA21)

The mission of the Massachusetts Alliance for 21st Century Disability Policy (MA21) is to advance full community participation for individuals with disabilities.

If you are interested in joining this Alliance or hosting a workshop, please contact:
MFOFC ~ 1-774-855-6001 or Email: