“Sometimes the most valuable support is helping a person with a disability advocate for himself.”

Supported decision making (SDM) is an effective, less restrictive alternative to guardianship or conservatorship that uses trusted friends, family members and advocates to give people with disabilities the help they need and want to understand the situations they face and the choices they must make, so they can make their own decisions. Supported decision making increases self-determination and improves quality of life outcomes.

How does Supported Decision Making work?

  1. CHOOSE: The individual decides who will be involved in supporting them. The supporters must also agree to be involved.
  2. DISCUSS: The individual and supporters talk about how the individual will be supported, which can include finance, healthcare, employment and others. The individual can choose to have support in some areas but not others.
  3. MAKE A PLAN: The individual and supporters create a document that outlines how the individual will be supported. This is the supported decision making (SDM) agreement.
  4. SIGN: The individual and supporters sign the supported decision making agreement. The agreement can be revised if necessary.

With the Colby Act, courts would recognize the decision-making capacity of the adult when a team of supports are in place. The Colby Act paves the way for supported adults to do the following:

  • Be seen and heard while being acknowledged as a valid decision maker through a team of supporters.
  • Be asked for our views, opinions and ideas before allowing others to make decisions on our behalf.
  • Gain much needed access to the same rights, opportunities and life experiences as other people so that we can learn and grow in the same ways!

For a deeper look into Colby’s story and the Colby Act for Supported Decision Making, watch this short video.