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July 20, 2001

Ryan Signs SB 816 Increasing Efforts to Prevent Unnecessary Institutionalization of Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly

SPRINGFIELD-Governor George H. Ryan today signed Senate Bill 816, creating the Prevention of Unnecessary Institutionalization Act as a critical piece of legislation to assist individuals with disabilities and those over the age of 60 to remain in their homes. SB 816 is related to the Olmstead Decision. The Olmstead Decision of the United States Supreme Court, provides that individuals with disabilities should be able to live in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, taking into account the resources available to the state and the needs of others with disabilities.

"This legislation allows us to help more individuals remain in their own homes and be as independent as possible," Governor Ryan said. "This is an extension of the Americans with Disabilities Act which helps to ensure that individuals with disabilities benefit from the same opportunities as non-disabled individuals."

The grant and loan program to prevent unnecessary institutionalization is being funded with $1 million in General Revenue funds. It will offer grants and loans for the purchase of assistive technologies. Assistive technologies are defined as almost any device that helps a person with a disability to perform a task or live more independently. Assistive technologies encompass a wide range of devices including but not limited to wheelchairs, scooters, ramps, lifts, magnifiers, hearing aids, adapted driving controls and specialized computers.

"Because more than 2 million Illinoisans have some kind of disability, this Act addresses an important need in many of Illinois' communities," said Secretary Linda ReneƩ Baker. "We know from experience that assistive technology is a good investment of public resources from the perspective of the taxpayer as well as the program participants. Like the ADA, this program will provide a "win-win" for everyone."

SB 816 was sponsored by Senators David Sullivan (R-Mount Prospect) and Adeline Geo-Karis (R-Zion) and in the House by Representatives Elizabeth Coulson (R-Glenview), Mary Lou Cowlishaw (R-Naperville), Doug Scott (D-Rockford), Mary K. O'Brien (D-Coal City) and Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest).

The American with Disabilities Act marks its 11th anniversary on July 26. The Department of Human Services will host an event in Chicago featuring free workshops, an art exhibit with visual and literary works by artists with disabilities and live entertainment by performers with disabilities. ADA-related information highlighting other services for people with disabilities will also be available in alternative formats such as Braille and large print.


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