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About the Council


About the Michigan DD Council


The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council’s mission is to support people with developmental disabilities to achieve life dreams.


The Council’s vision is that all citizens of Michigan have the opportunities and supports to achieve their life hopes and choices.  

The Overarching Principle

People with disabilities are supported across their lifespan to live self-determined and self-directed lives in a diverse and inclusive community


The Council’s core values are:

Including People with High and Complex Support Needs in all Activities. This population is the Council’s core constituency. Developing supports that help them to live self-directed inclusive lives automatically demonstrates that other people with disabilities can live self-determined lives in inclusive communities. Including this population requires an on-going commitment to continuing to learn to provide better supports and accommodations for them.


Self-Direction and Self-Determination. The Council advocates for systems and communities that support people with developmental disabilities to live the lives they choose, living where they prefer with the people they decide to live with, doing what they choose, and receiving services the way they choose to have them delivered.


Consumers’ Voice at the Policy Table. People with developmental disabilities and their families must be able to participate in the design of the services and supports they need. They must also be able to make their voices heard as citizens across the landscape of policy development. Support of this value also requires ongoing commitment to improving supports and accommodations to allow full access to the policy table, especially for those with high and complex needs.


Economic Justice and Addressing Poverty. A very high proportion of people with disabilities live in poverty, and a high proportion of people living in poverty have disabilities. Improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities requires attention to economic justice and poverty. This attention adds an important perspective on the issues of people with developmental disabilities and opens opportunities for building partnerships with other poverty advocacy groups.


Community Inclusion. The Council works for people with developmental disabilities to exercise their right to full community inclusion, including inclusion in social and civic life, in the world of work, in access to community living, and in access to community programs and services.


Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities. The Council’s ongoing tasks include helping people learn to understand their rights and exercise them. In addition, the Council campaigns for accountability when governments and others ignore the rights of people with developmental disabilities, lose track of them or violate them.


Implementation of the Statement of Values

Taken together, the Mission, the Vision, the Overarching Principle and the Values serve as criteria to which all of the Council’s activities must conform.

Council Structure

 The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council) is a group of 21 Michigan citizens. Members are appointed to the Council by the governor. They come from across the state and are: 

  • people with disabilities;  
  • family members, mentors, guardians and advocates of people with disabilities; and  
  • professionals from state and local agencies who assist people with developmental disabilities. 

Members operate the Council by providing advice and consent to its committees and staff. People throughout Michigan depend on the DD Council getting results, and its members work diligently on behalf of those people. 

The Council holds public meetings throughout the year, generally in the Lansing area. To learn more about the Council, call the office at (517) 335-3158.  If interested in becoming a member please fill out form.

Defining Developmental Disabilities

A developmental disability, as defined by state and federal law, is a severe, chronic disability: 

  • attributable to a mental or physical impairment, or a combination of such impairments;  
  • manifested before the person is age 22;   
  • likely to continue indefinitely; and resulting in substantial functional limitations in three or more of these major life activities: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.  





Position on Inclusion
It is the position of the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council that disability is a part of the human experience. People with disabilities have specific rights as well as responsibilities. Disability is an ongoing factor in people's lives, occurring at any age, on a temporary or permanent basis.

Fundamental concepts regarding the rights of individuals with disabilities, indeed for all individuals, include, self-determination and choice-making; independent living; and the opportunity to be fully included in the social, educational, political, economic and cultural mainstream of society.



People with disabilities and their families are capable and creative. They must have key decision-making roles in policies, programs, and services that affect their lives.

Our challenge is to ensure that true choices exist and barriers to full inclusion are eliminated.


Position on Supported Decision - Making 


“Giving people the help, they need and want to understand the situations and choices they face so they can make their own decisions”

Every adult has the right to make life decisions, to direct his/her life and to be treated with dignity, as an autonomous adult. All adults need and get advice and counsel when making different life decisions.  Many options, other than guardianship, are available to provide counsel, guidance and assistance with making decisions. Person Centered Planning and Self-Determination require that adults with disabilities are respected and honored to make life decisions with the support and counsel they need and to remain as independent and autonomous as possible. Multiple avenues are available to support individuals to make decisions and direct his/her own life:

  1. Person Centered Planning and Self Determination
    1. It is a process for an individual to plan for and direct his/her life.
    2. It strengthens the supports around a person, providing both the counsel and the framework for preserving the person’s autonomy and decision-making, thereby rendering guardianship unnecessary; and
    3. It documents who the person has authorized to assist them in making life decisions (such as authorizations to share information, representation agreements, powers of attorney).


  1. Families, friends and allies (or Circle of Support)
    1. Provide more protection for an individual with disabilities than guardianship can provide through their guidance, counsel and expertise.
    2. The supports negate the need for evaluation of an individual’s competence, as the family, friends and allies provide competent guidance and counsel to the individual.


  1. Formal Systems of support
    1. Young adults engaged in school, and their families, can use the Individualized Education Program to educate and provide experiences supporting autonomy, decision-making, and self-determination.
    2. Assistance, education and advocacy are provided by a variety of Advocacy organizations.
    3. Community Mental Health programs are obligated to support and help implement the principles and practices of Self Determination.


  1. Safeguards to maintain decision-making authority and civil rights protections
    1. Guardianship is a restriction on a person’s freedom to make their own decisions.  As such, it should be considered only as a last resort.
    2. Guardianship should only be considered when no other alternatives are available to help a person protect their health, safety, and overall wellness.
    3. Family members should receive information and support about alternatives to guardianship to help them assist people with disabilities in planning for decisions about health care, money, education, housing, relationships or other areas.
    4. A court should only grant a guardianship after a full and fair court hearing that includes the person with a disability.
    5. A guardianship should be narrowly tailored to address only the individuals needs and expressed wishes of each person.
    6. Guardians should support and nurture each person’s independent decision-making ability to the maximum extent possible.
    7. Guardianships should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are still necessary.  A guardianship should be terminated when a person regains their capacity to make decisions or when alternatives to guardianship are identified.


Approved  by the DD Council 11/13/2018

Position Statement PDF