Self Determination

The dictionary defines self determination as the process by which a person controls their own life. This is important to everyone, and Ohio is focused on helping individuals with developmental disabilities have that control.

According to Tom Nerney, Executive Director of the Center for Self-Determination, the five principles of self determination are:

  • Authority        
  • Confirmation
  • Support
  • Freedom
  • Responsibility

He says that the developmental disabilities system supports self determination when:

  • People have the freedom to plan their own life and to pursue the things that are important to them with the support of independent planning and support coordination.
  • People have the freedom to experience the same life opportunities as other people their age, connected with others in their communities.
  • Each person has authority over his own individual support budget.
  • All those involved demonstrate confirmation of the critical role self advocates and their families must play in making decisions in their own lives and in designing and operating the system they rely on.
  • People have the freedom to choose and set up the support they need to pursue the life they envision.
  • People enjoy the freedom of economic independence and security, with opportunities to earn adequate income.
  • People take responsibility for decisions in their lives and for the support money allocated to them with the assistance of an independent fiscal intermediary.


  • Self-Determination: Principles for Evaluating Your System (PDF) describes how the principles of self determination relate to individuals, family members, and people who work in the developmental disabilities system. It is a guideline for encouraging our system to be more self directed, and to help individuals to make their own choices about their lives.
  • Ohio Self Determination Association: OSDA, a non-profit organization, believes that individuals with disabilities should have the freedom to plan their own lives and to pursue things that are important to them with the support of independent planning and support coordination.  OSDA has  information, resources, and supports to expand awareness of self-determination, provide training, assist advocates in connecting with policymakers, and provide input to policymakers.