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Appointed by the Office of the Governor as Independent Ombudsman, I am responsible to 2,500+ residents of Texas’s thirteen state supported living centers. I direct the Office of the Independent Ombudsman for SSLCs to serve as an independent, impartial, and confidential resource protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The office is administratively attached to Texas HHS, which provides the necessary resources to fulfill our purpose.

Rights Protection for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Human rights are those basic rights to which every person is entitled and which may not be modified or restricted under any circumstances. Policies describe ways in which staff promote the human rights of individuals served. Human rights include:
 Right to be treated with dignity and respect;
 Right to freedom from fear;
 Right to protection from exploitation and abuse; and,
 Right to a clean, safe, humane environment.

Constitutional rights are those rights to which every citizen of the United States is entitled. Policy specifies that every person with mental retardation in Texas has the rights, benefits, and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights and that no individual will be denied or prevented by circumstance from exercising these constitutional rights because of discrimination, disability, or lack of knowledge unless these rights have been expressly removed or restricted by a Court of Law. Policy describes ways in which staff promote the constitutional rights of individuals served. Constitutional rights include:
 Right to free speech and expression;
 Right to freedom of religion;
 Right to freedom of association;
 Right to vote;
 Right to equal protection and due process;
 Right of fair access to the courts and legal representation;
 Right to contract, own, and sell property; and,
 Right to privacy.

People with IDD have additional rights through special legislation, litigation, and legal reviews. These additional rights may not be modified or restricted without proper due process. Staff are to promote the additional rights of individuals served. Additional rights include:
 Right to be informed of one’s rights in terms and language the individual and/or representative can understand;
 Right to normalization;
 Right to community integration, presence, and participation;
 Right to freedom of movement;
 Right to freedom of choice;
 Right to publicly supported educational services;
 Right to least restrictive environment and treatment approach;
 Right to participate in individualized services;
 Right to give or withdraw informed consent;
 Right to confidentiality;
 Right to medical and dental care;
 Right to be free from unnecessary drugs and physical restraint;
 Right to manage money and be fairly compensated for work;
 Right to participate in planning treatment and habilitation services; and,
 Right to submit grievances and complaints.