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Passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 marks the first big achievement of the disability rights movement. The Act, particularly Title V and Section 504, for the first time confronts discrimination against people with disabilities. Section 504 prohibits programs receiving federal funds from discriminating against “otherwise qualified handicapped” individuals. Litigation arising out of Section 504 will generate such central disability rights concepts as “reasonable modification, reasonable accommodation, and undue burden”, forming the framework for subsequent federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


U.S. Congress passes the Developmental Disabilities Assistance Bill of Rights (DD) Act. The DD Act provided federal funds to programs serving people with developmental disabilities and outlining a series of rights for those who are institutionalized.


The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) is passed. This act established the right of children with disabilities to a public school education in an integrated environment. The act is a cornerstone of federal disability rights legislation. In the next two decades, millions of disabled children will be educated under its provisions, radically changing the lives of people in the disability community.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision (O’Connor v. Donaldson) ruled that people cannot be institutionalized against their will in a psychiatric hospital unless they are determined to be a threat to themselves or to others.


Passage of an amendment to Higher Education Act of 1972 provides services to physically disabled students entering college.


The Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD) program was established in West Virginia. 


West Virginia Advocates, Inc. (WVA), a private non-profit agency incorporated in 1977 as West Virginia Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled (WVADD), was designated by then Governor Jay Rockefeller as West Virginia’s arm of the federally mandated protection and advocacy system. The PADD program insured that individuals (adults and children) with developmental disabilities are afforded appropriate services in accordance with their individual needs.


The Medley Class Action Suit was filed.

Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1978 established the first federal funding for independent living and created the National Council of the Handicapped under the U.S. Department of Education.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, programs receiving federal funds must make “reasonable modifications” to enable the participation of otherwise qualified disabled individuals. This decision is the Court’s first ruling on Section 504, and established reasonable modification as an important principle in disability rights law.


Congress passed the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, authorizing the U.S. Justice Department to file civil suits on behalf of residents of institutions whose rights are being violated.


The Medley Consent Decree was signed, and began changing the conditions in all of West Virginia’s institutions, closing several. The Medley Decree mandated that assessments be made and that individualized services be delivered in the “least restrictive environment”. The Order meant that the WV Departments of Health and Human Resources, the WV Department of Education and the WV Division of Rehabilitation Services had to develop and coordinate specific community-based services for individuals with developmental disabilities who were school-aged and lived in institutions for more than 30 days.

The Hartley Class Action Suit was filed.


The Hartley plan was implemented. The Hartley program helped persons with developmental disabilities get services from behavioral health centers so they can live in their communities. The Hartley Plan ordered even more sweeping reforms of the behavioral health system.


Governor Jay Rockefeller designated WVA to administer the Client Assistance Program (CAP). The CAP Program was formed to help individuals who have applied for or are getting services from the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (WVDRS), a Center for Independent Living, supported employment programs, and other programs funded under the federal Rehabilitation Act.

Colin Anderson Center’s Ward Building closed.

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Colin Anderson Center’s Big Boys Ward. This photo illustrates many beds in close proximity.


More Medley class members now in the community than in facilities.


The Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act is passed, setting up protection and advocacy agencies for people who are in-patients or residents of mental health facilities.
WVADD was designated as the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI). PAIMI was formed to help individuals with mental illness and to carry out abuse and neglect investigations on their behalf. WVADD contracted with the Mental Health Association to provide PAIMI program services.


The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986 define supported employment as a “legitimate rehabilitation outcome.”


WVADD’s general membership approved a name change to West Virginia Advocates (WVA).

The Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities (the “Tech Act”) is passed, authorizing federal funding to state projects designed to facilitate access to assistive technology.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act adds people with disabilities to those groups protected by federal fair housing legislation, and it establishes minimum standards of adaptability for newly constructed multiple-dwelling housing. FHAA prohibits discrimination towards people with disabilities in the sale or rental of housing and in the terms, conditions, services or facilities provided.

The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, broadened the application of civil rights laws, including Section 504 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to recipients of federal funds.


Court Ordered moratorium on building of 8-bed ICF/MR group homes for developmentally disabled adults in favor of small (1-3 bed) individualized residences. Supported by Governor Caperton and signed into legislation 1990.

Last locked residential door unlocked at Colin Anderson Center.

Spencer State Hospital closed.

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Spencer State Hospital


Congress passes the ADA.  The Americans with Disabilities Act is signed by President George Bush on July 26th in a ceremony on the White House lawn witnessed by thousands of disability rights activists. The law is the most sweeping disability rights legislation in history, for the first time bringing full legal citizenship to Americans with disabilities.

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act is amended and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities; Education Act (IDEA).


Implementation of WVDHHR policy requiring safeguards for persons with developmental disabilities during change of community residence.


Last child left West Virginia state institutions.


West Virginia Advocates was designated the Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR). The PAIR program was formed to assist individuals with disabilities who were not already eligible for other advocacy programs within WVA.

WVA was also designated the Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) program. This program was formed to help individuals with disabilities obtain assistive technology devices and services.

Greenbrier Center in Lewisburg closed.

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Greenbrier Center in Lewisburg

Old Weston State Hospital closed and new William R. Sharpe Hospital opened.

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Old Weston State Hospital

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William R. Sharpe Hospital

Old Huntington State Hospital renamed Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital.

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Huntington State Hospital.jpg
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Old Huntington State Hospital

Old Huntington State Hospital Interior

Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital


Court ordered comprehensive plan for adequate residential settings and requirements for long term care with respect to persons with disabilities living in personal care homes, residential board and care homes and adult family care homes.

WV Legislature passed a bill ordering the closure of Colin Anderson Center.


Colin Anderson Center was closed.

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Cribs at Colin Anderson Center

Court order requiring Mount Olive Correctional Complex, Division of Corrections to normalize the treatment of inmates who have mental illness and to afford them rights created by State and Federal Law.


In Olmstead v. L.C, and E.W., the Supreme Court decided that individuals with disabilities must be offered services in the most integrated setting.

The Work Incentives Improvement Act (Ticket to Work) becomes law, allowing those who require health care benefits to work.

In Benjamin H. vs. Ohl, the court found that Medicaid beneficiaries were waiting too long for home and community based services, and ordered WVDHHR to provide timely services to individuals with DD who were waiting for services.


WVA was designated as the Protection and Advocacy to Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS). This program provides assistance and advocacy to individuals with disabilities that receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and need assistance with breaking down barriers to employment.

Court order providing sanctions to behavioral health providers when client complaints involving violation of the Interdisciplinary team process are not resolved in a timely and effective manner.


The Help America Vote Act was signed into law. The purpose of the act is to improve the administration of elections in the United States.

WVA was designated as the Protection and Advocacy for persons with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) This program was formed to work with individuals with TBI their families and other stakeholders to develop self advocacy skills and to ensure that needed services are available throughout the state.

Behavioral Health Ombudsman position established via order under Hartley.


Under the provisions of HAVA, WVA was designated to provide Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access (PAVA) to ensure the full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities.

As a result of a 2001 court order, WVA is awarded a state contract to provide advocacy services to the resident children of the Potomac Center in Romney, WV.


The Individuals with Disabilities; Education Act (IDEA) is reauthorized by Congress.


WVA releases position paper supporting the closure of the West Virginia Rehabilitation Center and recommending appropriate services be provided in the community.

West Virginia Rehabilitation Center in Institute closes.


ADA Act Amendments Become Law. On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed into law (Public Law 110-325) the ADA Amendments Act (S. 3406). This law specifically overturns Supreme Court decisions that have caused too many people with disabilities whom Congress intended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to cover to lose important protections.

Mental Health Parity Law. October 1, 2008. Breakthrough legislation for the estimated 113 million Americans suffering from mental illness – a provision making it illegal for health insurance companies to discriminate against patients suffering from psychological or behavioral disorders. The law requires health insurance companies to charge the same deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-pocket expenses for mental health treatments as for all other illnesses.

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