FROM OUR COMMUNITY: One Minnesota provides a path for state residents with disabilities

In Minnesota, we know we are all better off together. Our state must be a leader in ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to thrive. Disparities in Minnesota, including those based on race, geography and economic status keep our entire state from reaching its full potential. As long as inequities impact Minnesotans’ ability to be successful, we have work to do. Our state will recognize its full potential when all Minnesotans are provided the opportunity to lead healthy, fulfilled lives.

That is what Gov. Tim Walz said when he issued Executive Order 19-01, establishing the One Minnesota Council on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.

In April, the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities released a survey, sharing personal perspectives and experiences from people with developmental disabilities, advocates and family members from around the state. Six people were interviewed by phone, with none taking part in inperson interviews and 28 responding in online focus groups. The responded were chosen to be a cross-section of Minnesota. The intent was to gain insights into what must happen for One Minnesota to be implemented across state agencies, while being inclusive of people with developmental disabilities.

The vision of One Minnesota provided the opportunity for people with developmental disabilities and family members to share their experiences and insights with the Governor Walz administration. Here is what we heard directly from the 45 respondents selected to match the state demographics:

“There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way the state perceives individuals with developmental disabilities – from a cost to society, to an opportunity for inclusion that will enhance the quality of life for all Minnesotans.”

“Create awareness among all Minnesotans of the importance of including people with developmental disabilities in the One Minnesota promise.”

“Focus resources and efforts on identifying fulfilling opportunities for employment and earning a livable income, which will drive inclusion and enable more independence for people with developmental disabilities.”

“Educate service providers on the importance of having a customer service mentality and proactively informing people with developmental disabilities of the services and supports to which they are eligible.”

“Assure that all services and supports for people with developmental disabilities are equally available and easily accessible everywhere in the state.”

“Include people with developmental disabilities and/ or their families and advocates in policy-making processes and decisions.”

Inclusion is so very important in Minnesota, and in the efforts toward One Minnesota. Including people with developmental disabilities in the One Minnesota promise would benefit all Minnesotans.

If people with developmental disabilities were provided with the services and accommodations they need, the state would save money and not waste it. People with disabilities want to work, and with the right accommodations would become more independent, productive members of the community.

However, it is a constant struggle for people with developmental disabilities and their advocates to get the services they need and for which they are eligible. Read the full report here.