Lanterman Act

Our Commitment & Support

The San José Public Library is a proud supporter of the Lanterman Act of 2022, which—in conjunction with our Insiders program—affirms our commitment to support individuals with developmental disabilities in the San Jose area.

Summary of the Lanterman Act of 2022

The Lanterman Act is a new piece of legislation that guarantees the rights of people with developmental disabilities to be treated fairly and equally in society. I’ve written before that the most difficult part of having a disability is not the limitations posed by the disability itself, but by how one is treated in society. While no piece of legislation can comprehensively prevent abuse or mistreatment of others based on their disability, the Lanterman Act of 2022 does attempt to address equal rights for people with developmental disabilities within society. Even more importantly, this codifies rights for people with developmental disabilities into law, giving them protections that most of us take for granted.

Three Key Aspects of the Lanterman Act

Least Restrictive Environment

One key aspect of the Lanterman Act is that of “least restrictive environment”. This is a concept introduced in the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1973, in which every child is encouraged to learn at their maximum potential, and to provide inclusive support services for them to do so. The Lanterman Act takes this concept one step farther, out of the school system and into the community. The level of independence and associated goals is determined in a written document called an Individual Program Plan (IPP), which is specific to each individual based on their own unique needs and abilities. This gives people with developmental disabilities, in conjunction with their regional center, the support to live as independently as possible and to support them to achieve their full potential as an individual within society.


The Lanterman Act also provides protections for people with developmental disabilities. These protections include the following:

  • the right to take only those medications which are medically necessary;
  • the right not to be abused, either by health care professionals or people within the larger community;
  • the right to self-determination and to guarantee housing, food, and necessary essential medical care.

These protections are now legally recognized and provide an umbrella that can shield people with developmental disabilities from institutional abuse.


But perhaps the most important part of the Lanterman Act is that it legally recognizes people with developmental disabilities as full citizens that have a right to access services available to everyone, and to recognize their right to self-determination. This is an important legal milestone. Many people with developmental disabilities are unable to speak up for themselves, or may not be aware of their rights. This assists regional centers for the developmentally disabled to support their clients to achieve their personal goals. Like any other individual, people with developmental disabilities want to live full and productive lives. Achieving personal goals in life is important to everyone, but the Lanterman Act recognizes that, as full individuals, people with developmental disabilities also have personal goals with which they might need outside assistance in achieving.

Supporting Independence

While independent living may not be possible for all people with developmental disabilities, it is possible to help folks live as independently as possible based on their abilities. This is both a win for society and for the individual. By guaranteeing services and support through the regional center with the Lanterman Act, this legislation brings that goal one step closer to a reality.

About Rights Under the Lanterman Act