Advocacy & Issues

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Human Rights

TASH is committed to preserving the human rights of individuals with significant disabilities.

Despite being the largest minority population in the U.S., individuals with disabilities continue to have their human and civil rights abridged and ignored through stigmatism, segregation, abuse and neglect. Persons with disabilities are far too often viewed and treated as second-class citizens, and far too often discriminated against in our society. Over the years, TASH has gained international acclaim for our uncompromising stand against separatism, stigmatization, abuse and neglect. TASH actively promotes the full inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. No one should be forced to live, work or learn in a segregated setting, and all individuals have the right to direct their life.

For the past 35 years, our human rights record has been exemplified by legislative victories, landmark court cases, commitment to progressive scientific inquiry, dissemination of best practices and advocacy. A major issue to which TASH devotes an ongoing effort is the abolishment of the use of aversive procedures to control the behavior of children and adults with disabilities. In public and private schools and in residential facilities across the country, people with disabilities are subjected to electric shock, sprayed with water, forced to inhale ammonia and ingest pepper sauce, and are pinched and hit — all in the name of treatment. It is well established that it is not necessary to use pain or intimidation to change even the most difficult behavior problems.

People with disabilities, by virtue of their disability, are often unable to speak out against abuses that would not be tolerated if they were imposed on the elderly, school children, prisoners or even animals. TASH actively works to abolish the use of aversive procedures by exposing these abuses and organizing in support of protective policy and legislation. We were the first national organization to publish a statement calling for the cessation of such techniques and continue to take the most stringent position toward eliminating mistreatment of this type.

TASH leads the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), a national coalition to protect children with significant disabilities from abuse in schools, treatment programs and residential facilities.

Read more about TASH’s stance on human rights in the APRAIS section of this site.


TASH Human Rights Resolutions

Cessation of Capital Investment in Segregated Settings


Positive Behavioral Supports


Unnecessary and Dehumanizing Medical Treatments

Alternatives to Guardianship

The Right to Communicate

Additional Resources

A survey of parents and guardians of children with disabilities was undertaken to document the use of restraints, seclusion and aversive procedures. The results include nearly 1,300 responses to a 23-question survey, announced in Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, Volume 35 #3-4. The responses provide detail about the nature of the procedures and the associated conditions of when they were used.

Interviews with four mothers were conducted to gain understanding of the educational and behavioral history of their children leading up to placement in a residential facility that used aversive interventions, including electric skin shock. The interviews uncover the lack of support felt by the women, who felt they had no real choice in placing their children in these facilities. The article is found in Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, Volume 35 #3-4.

In 1986, TASH and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association organized the National Joint Committee for the communicative needs of persons with severe disabilities to advocate for individuals with significant communication support needs. Information and resources can be found at the committee’s website.

Breaking the Barriers is an initiative of TASH to explore the barriers that have stood in the way of people with disabilities and communication differences. This effort reinforces the right that all individuals have a means of communication which allows their fullest participation.

TASH Train the TrainerThe TASH Train the Trainer program is aimed at keeping all students safe in school by connecting people with information and resources to prevent restraint, seclusion and other aversives.

If you have any questions about TASH’s position or involvement on human rights issues, be sure to contact us.