SDMNY is charged with creating an educational campaign to introduce supported decision-making to a large variety of stakeholders including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; their families; service providers; education and special education professionals; lawyers; judges and the court system; legislators and the general public.
We will do so through:

  • Information sessions for stakeholder groups and organizations;
  • Written and print materials, including plain language materials;
  • The SDMNY website, forums, blogs and social media;
  • Presentations at professional conferences;
  • Articles in professional and more popular journals and publications;
  • Videos and webinars.

For a general introduction to supported decision-making, you might want to listen to Gabby’s story or Michael Bach, check out the tool bar at the top of this page, or visit our Resource Library.


Supported decision-making (SDM) is the process by which a person with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD) makes decisions with the assistance of a trusted supporter or supporters.

SDMNY is currently running two pilot facilitation projects to demonstrate how SDM can divert persons otherwise at risk of guardianship from losing their rights, or how effective use of SDM can be employed to restore rights to persons currently subject to guardianship, using a three-phase facilitation model.

In a series of meetings that may last over several months, a trained SDMNY facilitator will work with the person with I/DD, who we call the Decision-Maker, to identify areas in which he or she wants support, who she or he wants to support him, what kinds of support she or he wants, and how he or she wants to get that support. The facilitator then works with the supporters to educate them about SDM, and then, with everyone together to facilitate negotiation of a Supported Decision-Making Agreement (SDMA) that reflects their understanding and that can be used with third parties.

Different facilitation models have been used in SDM pilot projects in the US and around the world, and we have drawn on them to design a way of facilitating SDM that will best serve New Yorkers with I/DD to avoid guardianship and maximize self-determination and inclusion.


Supported decision-making (SDM) is part of the human right of legal capacity—that everyone has the right to make his or her own decisions, regardless of disability.

In the past, parents and others have been concerned that their children with I/DD can’t make decisions, or can’t make good decisions. They have been told that getting guardianship is the best way to protect their children, even as those children become adults.

Looking at people with I/DD through a human rights lens, we are able to see that by giving them appropriate supports to make their own choices, they can become more self-determined, more integrated into the community, and so also safer and better able to protect themselves.

SDM has the potential to transform how we see, understand and treat people with I/DD, and so also how we educate them to lead inclusive and fulfilling lives.