Future Directions in Supported Decision-Making

Arstein-Kerslake, Anna; Watson, Joanne; Browning, Michelle; Martinis, Jonathan; Blanck, Peter
Disability Studies Quarterly

Supported decision-making is at the forefront of modern disability research. This is due to Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which creates a state obligation to provide support for the exercise of legal capacity. This turned the practice of supported decision-making into a human rights imperative. Government and funding agencies are increasingly focusing their attention on the area. Researchers are similarly increasing their interest in the field. The impending danger is that the rush of interest in the area will overshadow the original intention of supported decision-making: to ensure that people with cognitive disability are provided with the freedom and the tools to participate as equal citizens and for every individual to be free to direct their own life. This article explores the theoretical foundations of supported decision-making and the evolution of supported decision-making research. It explains the research that is emerging in leading jurisdictions, the United States and Australia, and its potential to transform disability services and laws related to decision-making. Finally, it identifies areas of concern in the direction of such research and provides recommendations for ensuring that supported decision-making remains protective of the rights, will and preferences of people with cognitive disability.