The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council is trying to navigate how to investigate claims of mistreatment in care facilities, schools or wherever an entity is responsible for providing care.

The council and other organizations that serve people with developmental communication disabilities have received reports of communication devices being confiscated.

We had families with caregivers looking after their loved one that let others know in the community that this is an issue, said Steven Freeman, the communications director for the council.

These communication devices are called AAC devices, or Augmented and Alternative Communication devices. The council created a Google form, but havent received many responses on the record compared to what people are reporting to them.

Freeman has a daughter with Down Syndrome, so he understands some of the barriers that could interfere with making reports on the record.

They [entities providing service] might retaliate against their loved one, even though the loved one might not be the one telling their story,” said Freeman. “They might find ways to retaliate, whatever that may be.”

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals have the right to effective communication with people providing care.

Freeman provided an example of this issue and how that goes against that. He said,If I take this device from that individual, how are they going to communicate and tell me their needs?

Freeman said for this reason, its important for families to report whats going on and there are resources available for reporting any type of mistreatment.

You saw your family member go through that, and you had to go through that, and you know how bad that was, you wouldnt want another family to have to go through that.”