Advancing person-driven practices to promote leadership development and social inclusion with individuals with disabilities.
For more than three decades, individuals with disabilities, their families and other allies have advocated for individualized services and supports as the single most effective path leading to social and community inclusion. Response to the demand for person-driven, or person-centered support has been inconsistent and primarily system driven. In 2014, federal authorities governing disability services throughout the United States passed regulation requiring that all federally funded disability service programs design and deliver person-driven services that result in greater opportunity and experience in typical community life for individuals with disabilities. For many disability organizations, meeting the regulation requires system enhancement and service delivery transformation.
The Yang-Tan Institute recognizes that to be person-driven means to assist the person with a disability and his or her family to be the authority in their own life and that resources are used to support the individual's pursuit of a good life. This requires service providers to fully explore and understand what a person wants for their life and offer assistance that opens equal access to opportunities through which to explore, discover and find expression for individual interests, potential and capacity for contribution as a citizen in society. This is a hands on practical approach that gathers important information and direction from the person by "doing with." In this way, the person becomes the leader and the service provider assists.
We have witnessed positive exponential impact for enhancing community membership opportunities and experiences for people with disabilities as a result of using this approach. This has been especially evident in the international Citizen-Centered Leadership Development distance learning course through which participants from around the world access expert theory and connect to relevant resources and tools explicitly designed to empower people with disabilities to assume important and respected roles in society. A critical discussion point that runs throughout the course asks participants to reflect upon and take action around this question: What kind of leadership needs to be activated today that will promote the focus of mainstream social inclusion in generations to come?
Similarly, the Yang-Tan Institute is the host to an innovative national model of leadership training for people with developmental disabilities, parents and family members through the New York State Partners in Policy Making learning community, This project provides state-of-the-art knowledge and field-based exercises to participants who aspire to influence policy development at all levels in New York State.
Long considered a resource to service provider organizations wishing to enhance or improve person-driven community membership opportunities, we have spearheaded ground breaking initiatives such as a five year Inmate to Citizen Project initiated and implemented within maximum and medium security correctional facilities serving individual with developmental disabilities. Currently the Yang-Tan Institutes provides system impact and system transformation consultation and training resources to state operated psychiatric centers whose goal is to transform traditional center-based services to inclusive community-based.