Debunking the Myths of Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship

Being able to make your own decisions about your own life is one of the most important rights that people have. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have the same right to make decisions about their lives as people without disabilities. However, their ability to make their own decisions is often questioned by teachers, doctors, family members, and others. Research has shown that individuals with reduced self-determination have diminished quality of life outcomes and are less likely to live and be integrated into their community. Guardianship can be an obstacle to the development of self-determination skills. However, people with IDD are at an increased risk of being placed under guardianship, and guardianship is frequently still the only option presented and utilized by families and supporters of people with I/DD. This webinar will describe guardianship and less restrictive decision-making alternatives, as well as help debunk some of the myths about guardianship and supported decision-making that persist.

View the webinar’s slide deck here.

See a Q&A with links and resources here.

Speaker Bios:

Morgan Whitlatch
Morgan Whitlatch is the Legal Director of Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, a non-profit advocacy organization that has advanced the interests of people with developmental disabilities since 2002. She is also the Lead Project Director of the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making. Morgan has devoted her legal career to working with and on behalf of people with disabilities in matters involving capacity, guardianship and alternatives, and the right to self-determination; community integration; living free from abuse and neglect; and accessing public benefits and services. Prior to joining Quality Trust in 2009, Morgan was an attorney at Disability Rights Rhode Island, the state’s protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities. Morgan graduated with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, and with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from Wesleyan University.

Shawn Ullman
As Senior Director of National Initiatives, Shawn Ullman leads The Arc’s individual and family support initiatives, which seek to provide reliable information and assistance to people with I/DD, their family members, and the professionals who support them on topics such as navigating special education and disability services, healthy aging, housing, decision-making, financial planning, and healthy relationships. Prior to joining The Arc, Shawn was a staff attorney with Disability Rights DC, the protection and advocacy agency for the District of Columbia, for 11 years where she advocated for children and adults with developmental disabilities to obtain the services and supports they need to live, learn, and work in the community. Shawn received her bachelor’s degree in political science from DePauw University in 1997 and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2001.