Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is part of the human right of legal capacity—that everyone has the right to make his or her own decisions, regardless of disability.

Female Eleanor Roosevelt holding up universal declaration of human right document
  • A Fundamental Principle of Human Rights: Dignity

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…”

      – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (UDHR), Preface (1948)

In the past, parents and others have been concerned that their children with I/DD can’t make decisions, or can’t make good decisions. They have been told that getting guardianship is the best way to protect their children, even as those children become adults.

Looking at people with I/DD through a human rights lens, we are able to see that by giving them appropriate supports to make their own choices, they can become more self-determined, more integrated into the community, and so also safer and better able to protect themselves.

  • U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Article 12

1. States Parties reaffirm that persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law.

2. States Parties shall recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.

3. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.

SDM has the potential to transform how we see, understand and treat people with I/DD, and so also how we educate them to lead inclusive and fulfilling lives.