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Supported Decision Making (SDM)

Supported decision-making (SDM) is a term used to describe a series of relationships, practices, arrangements, and agreements designed to assist an individual with a disability to make and communicate to others decisions about their life. It is based on the common principles affirming that:

  • Everyone has a right to make their own decision(s).
  • People with disabilities have a right to be their primary decision maker.
  • Good decision making is a skill that can be learned.
  • SDM should be available to all who choose to use it.
  • Everyone has a right to fail without serious injury or loss of rights.
  • With good SDM, guardianship should be a last resort. With effective use of SDM, guardianship should not be needed. Relationships need to be valued, created, mentored and supported.
  • All people need help making decisions. We are all diverse, we all make decisions individually and with support, at different times in life.

Vermont established a Task Force on Supported Decision Making in 2015 to design coordinated strategies to advance and strengthen the availability of SDM to all Vermonters who wish to use it. Its members represent a wide array of stakeholders with knowledge about our systems that provide legal services and systems of support to students, elders and peer networks. Demonstration projects are developed by the Task Force to bring permanent change to structures and practices so that SDM has an ongoing presence for all Vermonters.

National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making