Expectations Matter


Expectations are important. They are what we think we can do and what we think other people can do.

If we have high expectations for ourselves, we are more likely to try new things and more likely to succeed. If we have high expectations of other people, we are more likely to support them to try new things, take risks, and learn and grow. When we have high expectations that people with and without disabilities can live, learn, work, and play together, it is more likely to happen. That’s why expectations matter.

Help us spread this message

  • Add #ExpectationsMatter #ExpectAbility to Facebook and Twitter posts.
  • Use this Facebook frame.
  • Use the images below in your presentations, or print them out and hang them in your office, classroom, or even on your refrigerator.
  • Check out these resources that can be used for educating and training.



Use these images in your presentations, social media, emails, and website. You can also print it and hang it at home, school, or work. Spread the message!

Expectations Matter Expect Ability Logo:

Expectations Matter Expect Ability Logo



Facebook Frame:
Use this Facebook frame with a picture.

Expectations Circle:
This image shows how higher expectations lead to more inclusion.

Expectations Matter Circle Graphic








I’m not Your Inspiration, Thank you Very Much
“Stella Young is a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn’t, she’d like to make clear, automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this very funny talk, Young breaks down society’s habit of turning disabled people into ‘inspiration porn.’ ”

A Teen Who Is Unable To Speak Has Become A Rapper
“You should always rise to be able to do what you want. And you know, never let the opinions of others hold you back.” This video is about a young songwriter/rapper who was born without a jaw.

Deej’s Story: a First-Year College Student who has Autism
This is the story of DJ Savarese (“Deej”), a writer and advocate for nonspeaking people who have autism.  “Once a “profoundly disabled” foster kid on a fast track to nowhere, Deej is now a first-year college student who insists on standing up for his peers: people who are dismissed as incompetent because they are neurologically diverse.” 


Council’s story/photo contest winner
A short story written by a mom of a young man with Down syndrome. She tells us how her low expectations of her son almost got in the way of him succeeding.

The Relationship Between Parent Expectations and Postschool Outcomes of Adolescents with Disabilities (PDF)
From abstract: “. . . parent expectations significantly predicted levels of autonomy, and autonomy predicted a number of postschool outcomes. Together, these findings suggest a need for interventions that support and foster positive parent expectations and parental supports to promote autonomy development.”

The Voices of Parents: Post-High School Expectations, Priorities, and Concerns for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (PDF)
“The expectations of parents can shape the post-school pathways of young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Yet little is known about how parents view the employment prospects and priorities of their sons and daughters after high school.” 

Tennessee Works: Raising Expectations
This website provides a wide range of resources for parents in raising expectations. Check out the sidebar: “Ten Ways to Foster High Expectations for Work” for parents with tips such as “Ask the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?” and “Praise efforts rather than outcomes.”


Taking Charge: Stories of Success and Self-Determination
Students with disabilities sharing tips for success. 

The Power of Expectations
An editorial about expectations and higher education – “Expectations are an extremely powerful force in determining whether a young person goes to college. And they are equally, if not more powerful, in determining if young people with an intellectual disability will go to college.”

Expectations of Families with Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities for Postsecondary Education (PSE)
This article is about a study conducted “to examine parental expectations for PSE as a post school outcome.” “Parents pointed to access to information as a key conduit for growing their parental expectations for PSE; information that came from connections they had in the community with other parents and with family organizations, such as an Arc chapter.”

Preparing Students with Disabilities for College and Career—Why Alternate Assessments Should Only Be Used for Up to 1% of Students
This one-page handout from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities explains how students with disabilities must be meaningfully included in the assessment system. It lists “10 Reasons Why and Alternate Assessment Should Only Be Used for Up to 1% of All Students” and provides first-hand accounts of the power of high expectations in education.

The Path to Higher Education With an Intellectual Disability
This May 2017 article in The Atlantic takes a look at how the number of degree-granting institutions for people with intellectual disabilities is growing.

The Power of High Expectations for Special Education Students
This blog discusses the progress that has been made and the significant work that is still to be done in improving special education practices and improving outcomes for students and adults with disabilities.


Tennessee Works: Raising Expectations in the Workplace
This resource includes videos, success stories, and research that support raising expectations in the workplace.

Predictors of Postschool Employment Outcomes for Young Adults With Severe Disabilities
“Although entry into the world of work is a prominent marker of postschool success in the United States, students with severe disabilities often leave high school without the skills, experiences, and supports that lead to meaningful employment. The authors examined the extent to which an array of student, family, and school factors was associated with employment during the 2 years following high school. Having held a paid, community-based job while still in high school was strongly correlated with postschool employment success. In addition, being male and having more independence in self-care, higher social skills, more household responsibilities during adolescence, and higher parent expectations related to future work were all associated with increased odds of employment after school for young adults with severe disabilities.”

Raising Expectations for U.S. Youth with Disabilities: Federal Disability Policy Advances Integrated Employment
The article “examines how contemporary U.S. federal disability policy has heightened expectations that youth with disabilities – including those with significant disabilities – can and should be prepared to work in integrated workplaces.”