Legal Basis for Supporting Dignity of Risk in Schools

Apr 18, 2022

Legal Basis for Supporting Dignity of Risk in Schools
For educators seeking to better understand dignity of risk, one way to think about it is as a subsection of self-determination. The U.S. Developmental Disabilities Act outlines self-determination as individuals with developmental disabilities, with appropriate assistance, having:
  • the ability and opportunity to communicate and make personal decisions; 
  • the ability and opportunity to communicate choices and exercise control over the type and intensity of services, supports, and other assistance the individuals receive;
  • the authority to control resources to obtain needed services, supports, and other assistance;
  • opportunities to participate in, and contribute to, their communities; 
  • support, including financial support, to advocate for themselves and others, to develop leadership skills, through training in self-advocacy, to participate in coalitions, to educate policymakers, and to play a role in the development of public policies that affect individuals with developmental disabilities.
In schools this means making sure students with disabilities have the same opportunities to make their own choices as their peers whenever possible. In a statement on self-determination, the US Congress asserts, “Disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, and to fully participate in and contribute to their communities through full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of United States society.”

Many school leaders and teachers find it helpful to have this information on hand when communicating with families and caregivers. 
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