The Seattle 2000 Declaration on Self-Determination & Individualized Funding

The First International Conference on Self-Determination & Individualized Funding
Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
July 29-31, 2000

Over l,000 people from around the world participated in this groundbreaking conference, including people with disabilities, family members, community advocates, professionals, service providers, researchers, administrators, and government officials.

The conference was rich in opportunity and outcomes, with topics and speakers being broad enough to encourage participation from varied disability areas including developmental disability, the independent living movement, seniors, and people involved in the mental health movement.

During the past decade individualized funding (also known as direct payments or individualized budgets) and self-determination has become a focal point or the worldwide disability movement. Individualized funding is now recognized as a fundamental requirement for self-determination, enabling people to purchase, and therefore gain control over, the supports needed to enjoy meaningful lives in the community. This conference provided a forum for: sharing experiences and lessons learned from them any demonstration projects and research initiatives that are underway around the world; discussing critical political, policy and implementation issues; participating in international consensus building activities to arrive at a shared view of the fundamental principles and critical components of individualized funding and self-determination; and building collaborative partnerships that will energize the international movement in the new millennium.

Desired outcome of the conference was to yield an international "Declaration" through the use of three small groups called Prospectors Groups. The groups were so named, because, like people sieving a stream for grains of gold, they were searching for the special grains of truth from the information shared at the conference that needed to go into the Declaration. Participants had ample opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions about the Declaration.

During the Closing Presentation/Luncheon on Monday, July 31, 2000, the Conference Declaration was presented to conference participants by the 18 members of the 3 Prospector Groups.

The Seattle 2000 Declaration on Self-Determination & Individualized Funding


This conference has been founded on the certainty that people with disabilities have the same rights as other citizens to freedom, equality, equal protection under the law, and control over their own lives.

These rights must be honored if people who have disabilities are to be fully included as valued citizens in the relationships and opportunities of community life.

Many people require personal supports or other services to ensure their full citizenship and inclusion. These supports and services must be funded and provided at a level and in ways that uphold the rights of the individual.

This conference is no less certain that these rights have often been disregarded. Citizens who have disabilities experience oppression in many aspects of their lives.

The causes of oppression include poverty, other people's attitudes, and the systems of publicly and privately funded support services, compromising Laws, policies and regulations; State and private sector funding bodies; - Agencies which provide services.

These systems operate in ways that deny control to those they are intended to serve. Without accountability to those who require their assistance, these systems decide how, where and with whom people shall live and spend their days. While this situation persists, people of many nations will not be able to exercise their rights or fully participate in their communities.

For these reasons, this conference calls on policy makers in all countries, at all levels of government, and on agencies which provide support, to ensure that the assistance made available to all citizens is based on the following principles:

Meaning, Importance, and Principles

Key Requirements:
1. Money and Power
2. Accountability and Results
3. Roles and Responsibilities

Money and Power

That people not have to give up their right to develop wealth in order to access public funding for disability supports.

That those excluded/disadvantaged on the basis of ethnicity, culture, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and other grounds be reached out to.

That the system of individualized funding and planning be flexible and responsive to individual's family cultures, values and preferences.

That individuals be able to pay providers of their choice, including family members.

That individuals have full control over their supports including planning supports, and choosing and directing their support providers.

That individualized funding be straightforward and easily understood by everyone.

That people with disabilities and their families are present and central at all planning and decision-making tables in policy development.

That self-determination be the basis of all public policy.

That service agencies be required to endorse and put into action principles of self-determination and individualized funding.

That people with disabilities be actively recruited and employed in the administration of individualized funding systems.

Accountability Results & Evaluation

• Build the system based on trusting people.
• Honor people's vision.
• See IF as an investment in people.

Interdependent - Self to others w/disabilities to community to government & back again.

Must recognize contribution to community (e.g. innovation problem solving, general access & contribution to humanity).

• Must be person-driven

• Qualitative evaluation is key
-Sense of belonging

Helps & Hindrances

Citizens w/disabilities & their supporting networks & organizations are in charge of developing & promoting public policy and their individualized supports.

People are given the opportunity & support to explore options and make choices (brokerage & advocacy, etc.).

Risk taking is acknowledged and honored as an important part of life.

Legislative mandate grounded in human rights and social justice.

Universal access based on individual need defined through collaborative processes.

A choice of budgetary and administrative support choices.

Peer support


Consistent guiding principles with flexible practice.

Avoid commodification of self-determination to be delivered to individuals as a " service".

No arbitrary funding limits.

No " capacity" based eligibility.

Tackling negative/entrenched attitudes.

Challenging the assumption that the current system works.

Valuing personal experience & expertise over professionalism.

Promote dominance of social model of disability over medical model.

Reject demands for higher standards for self-determination.

Roles & Responsibilities in Achieving Progress

All people, including individuals with disabilities, have rights and responsibilities to live as full citizens and we must eliminate barriers that stand in the way.

Governments must make funding contingent on providing individualized self-determination based supports. This requires innovation, a focus on results, and employing persons with disabilities and their families.

Service providers and organizations, in an expanded organizational role, will deliver supports to minimize dependency and strengthen partnerships with the larger community to address barriers to freedom and opportunity.

Fellow citizens accept that people with disabilities are entitled to access, accommodation or supports, and that Individualized funding is the best way to target supports that meet people's needs.

"Reprinted with permission from Inclusion Daily Express, a commercial-free daily email news service focusing on disability rights and the movement toward community inclusion and self-determination for people with developmental and other disabilities. Individuals and organizations can sign up for a two-week free trial at" 

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