How Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson Changed Thousands of Lives…and Counting

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This week marks the 20th anniversary of a very important legal decision regarding the rights of people with disabilities. On June 22, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in “Olmstead v. L.C.” that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities.

The case involved Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, two women with disabilities living in Georgia nursing homes, who asked state officials to allow them to move into their own homes in the community. After the State refused, Atlanta Legal Aid attorney Susan Jamieson filed a lawsuit on their behalf. After appeals, the case was heard by the Supreme Court. 
Lois Curtis
Lois Curtis

In the words of the Court, services to persons with disabilities must be provided “in the most integrated setting possible.” The Court ruled that there should be community options for Curtis and Wilson.

Community integration of people with disablities based on this landmark decision has come a long way. 

Elaine Wilson
Elaine Wilson

But thousands of Americans with disabilites still unlawfully and unnecessarily remain in nursing homes and institutions. Protection and advocacy aqgencies like Disability Rights Texas in every state and other disability advocacy groups continue to work to ensure people with disabilities are able to exercise their legal right to live and work in the community.