In the 2000s, a collaborative group of statewide disability advocacy organizations formed to focus on advancing self-determination for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. The choices offered individuals and families in employment, day, and residential areas were narrow, tended not to leverage community relationships, and lacked flexibility and personalization. In 2008, joined by four additional organizations, we named our collaboration the Mass Alliance for 21st Century Policy or “MA21”.
MA21 alliance developed a number of trainings and products. It developed a policy booklet, “Implementing a 21st Century Disability Policy” promoting our guiding principles and strategies to achieve a society that views disability as natural, where self-direction is available to all individuals and families, and supports needed to live integrated lives are provided. You can find the MA21 policy booklet here. The Arc developed a new version of “Tools for Tomorrow”, a planning tool that uses “Charting the LifeCourse.” Here is another tool for students with disabilities developed by NESCA.
One area of MA21 policy advocacy is for more flexibility utilizing service funds. Related to more flexible funding was MA21 advocacy for passage of the Real Lives bill. In 2014 Real Lives was passed, placing the choice to self-direct into law and ensuring its permanence. Currently MA21 is focused on educating individuals and families about the option to self-direct and identifying any barriers to implementation.