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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Submit Comments in Support of the Food and Drug Administration’s Ban on Electrical Stimulation Devices!

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published proposed regulations that would ban electrical stimulation devices used as behavioral “treatment.” These devices are used to deliver electric shocks as punishment for behaviors in both children and adults with disabilities, and disability advocates have been fighting to end the use of these devices for decades.

This is an issue that has received much attention from NCIL and other disability rights groups over the last several years. Many of you are familiar with the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Massachusetts. Despite opposition from previous residents, parents, and disability advocates around the country, JRC continues to use electric shock devices. It is the only institution in the country that still uses them. NCIL, along with other members of the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), has advocated many times for the JRC to end their use of these devices and for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to stop funding the JRC (PDF).

In 2011, NCIL adopted a resolution of opposition to involuntary electroshock. Decades of evidence has shown that the use of these devices is incredibly dangerous, posing risks to both psychological and physical health. Additionally, and equally important, the use of electric shock devices is incredibly cruel and dehumanizing.

The FDA has finally determined that these devices present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury, and they are proposing to ban both new devices and those already in distribution and use. This ban is long overdue, and we need to let them know that we strongly support this decision!

Please submit comments in support of the ban. Comments are due on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. You can submit them online at (click the “comment now” button), or you can mail your comments to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. If you are submitting comments that you would like to be held confidential, you must submit them by mail.

We urge you to take a few moments to express your support of this ban. We know that the JRC and their supporters will be flooding the FDA with comments opposing this ban, and we need to make sure they hear from all of us who support it!