Disability Community Remembers Pioneering Advocate Lois Curtis

From ACL: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- Lois was the LC Plaintiff in the Olmstead Case…

The Administration for Community Living, Office for Civil Rights, Office of General Counsel, and HHS leadership and staff join the disability community in mourning the loss of one of our nation’s greatest advocates, Lois Curtis, who passed away last evening. Her impact on our nation’s effort to achieve justice for all cannot be overstated. Because of her advocacy, millions of people with disabilities can live in their own homes and fully participate in their communities, with the services and supports they need.

Lois Curtis is remembered as “L.C.” in Olmstead v. L.C., the Supreme Court decision often regarded as the Brown v. Board of Education of the disability rights movement.  Olmstead recognized that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protect the right of people with disabilities to live in their own homes and receive services in their own communities. Lois was a child when she was institutionalized for the first time and fought for almost two decades to be allowed to return home. She and Elaine Wilson, the other named plaintiff in the Olmstead case, worked with attorney Sue Jamieson of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society to convince the Supreme Court that their civil rights were being violated by being unnecessarily segregated in an institution when they could and wanted to live in the community. 

An entire generation has grown up since the Olmstead decision – a generation that has always had the right to live, work and participate in their communities. Yet there are still far too many people who could – and want to – live in the community, but who are instead living in institutional settings because of a lack of access to the home and community based services they need. Disability advocates and federal agencies, including HHS, remain committed to enforcing the promise of Olmstead for people across the country who continue to be unjustifiably segregated, as Lois Curtis was decades ago.  

“Lois Curtis and her steadfast advocacy has profoundly shaped the disability rights movement.  Our community has lost one of our heroes,” said ACL Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging Alison Barkoff. “I was lucky to have personally seen what a vital part of her community Lois became, as an advocate, artist, and beloved friend. Let us all carry on her work to ensure the right to community living for all.”

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