The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Protection Advocacy Program is the implementation of the Federal Developmental Disabilities Act of 1970 and 1975 (Public Law 91-571 and P.L. 94-103). The purpose of Protection and Advocacy is to provide a legal advocacy system "outside of the regular service system" to protect and advocate for the rights of the 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. During FY-79 Congress expanded this definition to include the individual who has a severe, chronic disability which:

A. Is attributable to a mental or a physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;

B. Is manifested before such person attains age twenty-two;

C. Is likely to continue indefinitely;

D. Results in substantial functional limitations in three or more areas of major life activity; i) self care, ii) receptive and expressive language, iii) learning; iv) mobility; v) self-direction; vi) capacity for independent living; vii) economic self-sufficiency; and

E. Reflects the need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic care, treatment, or other services to be planned and coordinated during the lifetime of such person or for an extended period of time.


Deborah Gunnison is the Director of the Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy Division of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. She has been with the Commission since May, 1977. Ms. Gunnison came to the Commission from the Office of Planning and Programming. There she played a key role in the construction and implementation of the Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy project. 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 the Commission's 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). Ms. Gunnison was assisted by Angela Mays, Civil Rights Specialist 1, until Mays' resigned in March. Jon Clarkson accepted the position of Civil Rights Specialist I assigned to the DDP&A Division on April 13, 1979. He previously was a veteran investigator with the Compliance Division of the commission.

The federal guidelines for the system required that DDP&A Division possess the authority to utilize legal, administrative, and other appropriate remedies to insure the protection of rights; that the system be independent of any state agency providing treatment, services, or habitation to the developmentally disabled; and that the system have state-wide impact. Upon the recommendation of the Governor's Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities, Governor Robert D. Ray, on May 28, 1977, designated the Iowa Civil Rights Commission as the agency to implement the Protection and Advocacy System. The Commission fit the federal guideline requirements in that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is an enforcement agency with statutory responsibility to protect and defend the rights of grievants falling within its jurisdiction. The Commission also had the facilities to seek enforcement of Chapter 601A of the Code of Iowa on a state-wide basis.

The implementation of the Protection and Advocacy Division brought to the Commission a new facet in its concern for the protected classes throughout the State of Iowa. Now, "Advocacy" has been added to its responsibilities of protection and enforcement. The P&A Division acts as an advocate for the developmentally disabled person. An individual involved in a dispute with the educational system, social services, or any other service-providing agency can receive assistance from the Protection and Advocacy Division staff.

Fiscal year 1979 has been a year of growth for the Protection and Advocacy Division. Its impact has touched all areas of Iowa through its updated pamphlets ("What is the Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy Division" and "Legal Rights of the Developmentally Disabled"), its educational and advocacy outreach, new this year, the Iowa toll free number: 1-800-532-1465, and its ongoing protection and advocacy responsibilities to the developmentally disabled.




Agency Location Type of Presentation Date Number
Linn Assoc. for Retarded Citizens Cedar Rapids Specific Sept. 26 100
Howard Activity Center Sac City In-Service Oct. 12 28
Warren County ARC Indianola Basic Oct. 16 25
Area VIII DD Council Maquoketa Basic Oct. 26 10
Iowa DD Council Glennwood Basic Dec. 5 30
Iowa State Agencies receiving federal funds Des Moines In-Service Dec. 19 65
Mid-Ia. Workshops Marshalltown Basic Feb. 28 50
Mid-Ia. Workshops Marshalltown In-Service Feb. 28 15
Ia. Civil Rights Comm. Des Moines In-Service March 2 10
Ia. DD Council - Area Planning Comm. Iowa City Basic March 13 20
Area XII DD Council Carroll In-Service March 20 35
Linn Cnty. Care Fac. Marion In-Service March 29 25
Hope Haven Rock Valley In-Service April 16 60
Contemporary Management of the Epilepsies II Cedar Rapids Basic May 7 35
Burlington Chamber of Commerce Burlington Basic June 24 144
Ms. Wheelchair of IA, Inc. Des Moines In-Service May 26 25
Ia. Assoc. for Retarded Citizens Ames Basic June 9 40
Public Awareness Day Des Moines Comprehensive June 27 150
18 Presentations       867



*Formal Cases Opened Housing Employment Credit Public Accommodations TOTAL
Physical Disability 0 24 0 0 24
Mental Disability 0 3 0 1 4
Total / Percent of Total 0/0% 29/97% 0/0% 1/3% 30/100%

* Formal Cases Processed Administrative Closure No Probable Cause Satisfactory Adjustment Probable Cause Withdrawl Total
Physical Disability 1 7 0 5 4 17
Mental Disability 0 0 0 1 0 1
Total 1 7 0 6   18
Percent of Total 6% 39% 0% 33% 22% 100%

*There may have been other D.D. Formal Charges handled within the Iowa Civil Rights Commission not reflected in these charts.


  General Information or Referral Employment Termination Employment Failure to Hire Employment Terms & Conditions Employment Other or General
Cerebral Palsy 2        
Mental Retardation   3      
Epilepsy 3   2   2
Deaf 1        
Other 7       1
Ment. Handicap          
Total 12 4 2   3
% 30% 10% 5%   8%

Table Cont.

 Public Accommodation Education Public Accommodation Institution or Placement Public Accommodation State or Local Services Public Accommodation Services to General Public Public Accommodation Other Housing Credit
Cerebral Palsy 1          
Mental Retardation 4 1        
Epilepsy     2        
Deaf 1            
Other 1 1 4   2  
Ment. Handicap 1   1        
Total 8 2 7     2  
% 20% 5% 17%     5%  

Table Cont.

Total %
Cerebral Palsy 3 8%
Mental Retardation 8 20%
Epilepsy 9 22%
Deaf 2 5%
Other 16 40%
Ment. Handicap 2 5%
Total 40  


The above statistics are indicative of a number of trends occurring within the Developmental Disabilities area. Specifically, there has been growing awareness among the Developmentally Disabled of their rights in employment and education.

During fiscal year 1979 the Commission's Compliance Division has taken in more complaints of discrimination based on physical disability than in any previous year. This increase was also reflected in the increased number of cases serviced by the DDP&A Division. The Division serviced thirteen (13) complaints, both formal and informal, during fiscal year 1978. This year, the Division has increased its complaint processing to fifty-eight (58) which does not include thirty (30) DD cases remaining open at the end of the fiscal year.

Complaints in the areas of employment and public accommodations have also been reflective of these increases. The role of the DD-P&A Division as an advocate has been demonstrated many times over as it has attempted to seek reasonable accommodations for the mentally and physically disabled employee. An employer has the responsibility to reasonably accommodate the physical and mental limitations of an otherwise qualified handicapped applicant or employee. Often, it is the DD-P&A Division that will inform an employer how it can make its facilities readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons, or suggest how a job can be restructured or modified without imposing an undue hardship on the employer.

The Division, in eighteen (18) training sessions has reached 867 people from all over the State of Iowa with the message of Protection & Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled person. There has been growth in the number of formal and informal complaints brought to the attention of the Division, and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of complaints based on a denial of public accommodation in the area of education.

Education facilities offering services to the public have also been challenged during fiscal year 1979. One specific and repeating concern has been that of proper placement within special education programs and getting these programs restructured to meet the unique needs of the individual. The DD-P&A Division has responded to this most pressing need by attempting to get parents aware of their due process rights. Since the Developmentally Disabled are not just children, the Division has also assisted Area Education Agencies, local school districts, and communities throughout Iowa to establish residential programs and sheltered workshops. It is with this concentrated effort that Iowa communities will become more prepared to successfully mainstream those individuals who had only had a future of institutionalization to look forward to.

1979 Annual Report Main Page