Debbie Gunnison, Developmental Disabilities Director

Angela Mays, Civil Rights Specialist I


Ms. Gunnison has played a key role in the construction of the Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy Division. Originally she was in charge of the development of the project as a Planner for the Office for Planning and Programming. So, when the first director of the DD P&A Division left shortly after the project started, Ms. Gunnison was the logical person to step into the position on short notice. She did so in May, 1978, through an employee loan arrangement with the Office for Planning and Programming. As of this writing (September, 1978) Ms. Gunnison has been hired permanently as Director of the DD P&A Division. Prior to her work with the Office for Planning and Programming, she helped to pilot a project on Adaptive Behavior Scale Development which was funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council in Wisconsin.

The Director of our newest division is a native Of Superior, Wisconsin. She attended the University Of Wisconsin at Superior where she earned a Bachelor Of Science degree in psychology and social welfare (1974) and a Master's degree in counseling (1975). She is a member of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization of Women.

In July, 1977, Governor Ray designated the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to implement a system that would advocate for and protect the rights of people who are developmentally disabled. There are six types of developmental disabilities: epilepsy, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, dyslexia (if it results from the above) or similar conditions that begin in childhood and affect growth and development. The problems the P&A Division is established to combat cover a wide gamut of needs and life activities:


The services rendered by the P&A Division would be fitted to the particular problem involved. Some might be informal intervention and negotiation. Other action might be more formal, such as helping the person file a complaint through the commission.

The program began operating in January of 1978 when a program director and one investigator were hired. The director was Mr. Jesse Graves and the investigator was Ms. Angela Mays. Mr. Graves left the position after two and a half months and the program was without a director until May. At that time Ms. Gunnison assumed the position on loan from the Office of Programming and Planning.

Despite these staffing problems, the three people who have worked in the program have been able to accomplish quite a bit in its first six months of operation. The division has serviced thirteen (13) complaints, both formal and informal. Staffers have published two folders. The first, "What is the Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy Division?" is an overview of the division and its services. The second, "Legal Rights of the Developmentally Disabled," outlines both federal and state laws under the authority of which clients can exercise their rights. These publications are distributed at workshops, investigative interviews and upon request. In addition, Ms. Gunnison and Ms. Mays have devoted considerable effort to public education and training,

During the last three months the P&A Division initiated the education component of its program. As a result, they were able to reach about 450 people from throughout Iowa. Basic presentations on the role and responsibilities of the P&A Division and the legal rights of developmentally disabled citizens in general were given to the following groups:

Epilepsy Foundation of America - Iowa Chapter

Epilepsy Foundation of America - Des Moines Chapter

Area 12 (Carroll) DD Council

Iowa DD Council Ad Hoc Deinstitutionalization Committee

In-depth training sessions dealing with federal and state laws pertaining to the developmentally disabled were given to these groups:

Iowa Association of Rehabilitation Facilities -Des Moines

Muscatine County Workshop - Muscatine

Also, the P&A project co-sponsored a statewide legal rights symposium for lawyers, social workers, and other professionals working with the developmentally disabled. Approximately 300 individuals attended this event in Des Moines. The P&A project will continue to emphasize education/training during the next quarter of its operational year. This component of the project serves a public awareness function and serves as a preventative to future abuse of the legal rights of DD citizens.

A complete review of the P&A Division is also included in this section of the Annual Report. It includes a profile of clients, services and budget.



  # Open at Start of Period # New Cases # Closed or Resolved # Still Open
# This Period 3 2 1 4
# Yr.-to-Date 1 7 1 7


B. DEMOGRAPHIC DATA (By #s of Clients:)*

# New Cases # Closed or Resolved # Still Open
1. By type of DD:      
a) MR     1
b) CP     2
c) Ep.   3 5
d) Autism      
e) Dyslexia (If associated with above (a)(b)(c)(d))     1
f) Others (If associated with above (a)(b)(c)(d))      


# New Cases # Closed or Resolved # Still Open
2. Geographic Areas (where cases originate)      
a) Urban   3 8
b) Suburban    
c) Rural  
d) Out-of-State      
e) Institutions    
f) Others      


# New Cases # Closed or Resolved # Still Open
3. Who initiates requests for services      
a) family  
b) friend  
c) consumer (self)   3 8
d) Service Provider Agency      
e) Others      



Problem Areas Identified # This Period # Year-to-Date
1. Abuse/ Neglect    
2. Inappropriate Institutionalization 1 1
3. Discrimination in Employment, Housing, etc. 3 8
4. Non-provision of services mandated by law, e.g., right to education, etc. 1 1
5. Other needed services not being provided, e.g. housing, transportation 1 1
6. Need for financial resources, e.g., Welfare, SSI, VA, etc. 1 1
7. Others    



1. Complaints re: Rights & Services # This Period # Yr.-to-Date
a) Education 1 1
b) Employment 3 8
c) Residency 1 1
d) Support or Financial Assistance    
e) Case Management    
f) Supervision/Monitoring 1 1
g) Others    

* Statistics for this section may reflect duplicated counts, i.e. a single individual who has more than one problem or grievance and is counted more than one time.


2. Complaints re: Equal Protection & Opportunity # This Period # Yr.-to-Date
a) Physical Safety    
b) Income 1 1
c) Judicial Process    
d) Property Rights    
e) Licensure    
f) Privacy    
g) Medical Treatment 1 1
h) Dignity    
i) Voting    
j) Others    

3. Intervention and Remedies # This Period # Yr.-to-Date
a) Information 4 4
b) Training 8 10
c) Encouragement/Support 1 1
d) Negotiation    
e) Legal remedies, (due process cases) 3 8
f) Referrals to Other Agencies for Action    
g) Others    



  # This Period # Yr.-to-Date
ACTUAL number of individuals served, counted once ONLY. 7 13



Federal Resources / P & A Federal Resources / Others Non-Federal Resources / State* Non-Federal Resources / Local * Non-Federal / Others* Totals
1. Resources (Annual Total)            
2. Commitments This Quarter For:            
(1) Legal Remedies            
(2) Administrative 37,308   17,000     54,308
(3) Informational     2,000     2,000
(4) Public Awareness     12,500     12,500
(5) Training     3,500     3,500
(6) Publications, etc.     4,000     4,000
3. CUMULATIVE Commitments Year-to-Date (totals) 37,308   39,000     76,308

1977/78 Biennial Report Main Page