Transition Workshop (Half Day, Afternoon)

A Future of Guardianship Alternatives

Transition workshop 2014

Presenters will discuss alternatives to guardianship to ensure people with disabilities have full inclusion in the community.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone who is interested in facilitating and supporting self direction as a tool for improved human rights for people with disabilities.  This event is strongly recommended for those in the following professional and personal roles:

  • State agency leaders and senior staff (Education, DD Council, VR Counselors,  Disability Rights and more)
  • Educators, Education Leaders and Resource Professionals
  • Adult Service Professionals
  • Attorneys and Advocates
  • Parents and Family Members
  • Self-Advocates


Tentative Agenda (subject to change):

 A panel of experts will discuss:

  • the history of guardianship and how it affects human rights;
  • data regarding about guardianship;
  • landmark cases that improved the lives of people with disabilities; and
  • best practices for appropriate supports in favor of guardianship alternatives.


12:30- 1:10 Introduction by Dohn Hoyle

Rethinking Guardianship/Conservatorship

Establishing guardianship or conserving a person with disabilities is demeaning and contrary to current best practices.  The outcome for the person is devastating and stigmatizing.  We must rethink this pervasive, but outdated methodology and instead use alternatives and provide the supports, assistance and accommodations persons need to exercise choice, have their preferences honored and to participate in our communities as equal citizens.

As a result of this discussion people with be able to:

1.  Explain the history of guardianship, how it started and how it has changed over the years;

2.  Point out that guardianship or conservatorship is the needless removal of rights for people with developmental disabilities;

3.  Identify and use alternatives to guardianship or conservatorship, including providing accommodations, assistance and supporting people with developmental disabilities in decision-making;

4.   Respond to people who think guardianship or conservatorship is needed for medical emergencies or to be able to attend and participate in individual educational planning meetings;

5.  Respond to people who think people with developmental disabilities will get into financial trouble signing contracts, using credit cards, buying items with monthly payments, etc.


1:10-1:50 Results and Discussion on National Guardianship Survey

J. Matt Jameson, Barbara  Trader, Tim  Riesen, Shamby  Polychronis, Susan  Mizner, Jonathan Martinis, Dohn Doyle

Even though guardianship is a profound decision with serious implications both for and about the person labeled as having a significant disability, the concept of guardianship has received little emphasis in the literature of the special education field. This presentation will share data from a national survey and have a structured discussion with national experts exploring both the current state of guardianship and explore alternatives.

Participants will:

1) Be exposed to National Data on guardianship and people with disabilities.

2) Understand the concept of guardianship and the implications for and about individuals with disabilities. 3) Understand and discuss alternatives to guardianship.

1:50-2:30 It Takes a Village:   Guardianship Alternatives for Young Adults with Significant Disabilities 

Kate Richmond

This study focused on the beliefs and experiences of one young man with an intellectual disability, and his supporters, who transitioned to adulthood without the appointment of a guardian. Lessons are derived that can assist educators, families, and supporters of young adults with significant disabilities to develop alternatives to guardianship and ensure the voice and dreams of the student is central to the transition process.

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. 1. Summarize what guardianship is and how participants of the study perceive its impact on the life of an individual
    Identify both legal and informal alternatives to guardianship and be knowledgeable about where and how to receive more information about these alternatives
  2. 2. Identify 5 ways educators and families can work together to implement early and on-going supports for transition that assist individuals in developing self-determination skills
  3. 3. Summarize the concept of interdependence, particularly as it relates to transition to adulthood and the lives of individuals with significant disabilities.


2:30-3:10 Supported Decision-Making: Protecting Rights, Respecting Choices

Jonathan Martinis

Supported Decision-Making is a cutting-edge alternative to guardianship where people with disabilities use trusted friends and family members to understand the situations they face and choices they must make, so they can make their own decisions.  Using the “Justice for Jenny” case as a guide, this presentation will teach people the importance of choice and self-determination and ways to incorporate Supported Decision-Making into their lives.

After this session, participants will be able to:

(a) Understand how guardianship can limit the lives of people with disabilities – with a focus on the real-life example of Jenny Hatch in the “Justice for Jenny” case;

(b) Identify and understand less-restrictive alternatives to guardianship, with a focus on Supported Decision-Making and how Jenny Hatch uses it in her day to day life and used it to defeat an attempt to put her under guardianship;

(c) Explain how people who have more control over their lives have better life outcomes, with a focus on (1) studies showing that people who exercise greater self-determination have more community integration, are better employed and enjoy a higher quality of life and (2) a “before and after” look at Jenny’s life when she was in a temporary guardianship versus today, when she uses Supported Decision-Making;  (d) Understand how to access and use less-restrictive alternatives to guardianship across the experiential and lifespan, with a focus on (1) using Supported Decision-Making in areas such as Special Education, Vocational Rehabilitation and Health Care planning and (2) how Jenny Hatch uses Supported Decision-Making in her day to day life.

3:10-3:50 Self-Advocates Supporting Self-Determination by Teaching Attorneys Person-Centered Practice

Erin Leveton, Morgan Whitlatch, Thelma Green, Steven Powe, Phillip Donoho

Attorneys can play a big role in the lives of people with disabilities, representing them in cases promoting systems reform, decision-making, the right to parent, access to public benefits, and community integration.  In D.C., self-advocates partnered with law schools, an advocacy organization, and the state to teach attorneys about people-first language and how to effectively work with people with IDD to support self-determination.

Participants will

a. Understand the role attorneys play in working with people with IDD to maintain and build their decision-making capacity, access public benefits and community supports, parent their children, and reform the systems that support them.

b. Discuss the importance of people with IDD directing lawyers on individual cases and system reform litigation efforts.

c. Support people with IDD to be recognized as the experts in how attorneys should represent them.

d. Organize presentations for law students and attorneys on how to effectively work with people with IDD.

3:50- 4:30 Open Discussion between all presenters and audience. Facilitated by Dohn Hoyle

All presenters will come on stage and participate in an open discussion with the audience about any questions they may have and what actions they can take to make guardianship alternatives more available to all.