Celebrating 40 Years of Advancing an Inclusive and Barrier-free California
For 40 years, Disability Rights California has advanced and protected the rights of Californians with disabilities. We have stopped abuse, obtained critical benefits and prevented the state from cutting important services. Our advocacy and litigation has directly helped almost a million individuals while having beneficial outcomes for millions more. Last year alone, our advocacy resulted in over $5 million dollars in services and benefits to Californians with disabilities.
To celebrate DRC’s 40th anniversary, each week we will feature the moving story of an individual or group that DRC has helped over its 40 years. After each story is released, it will be archived below in chronologically order of when it occurred in our 40 year history.
Join us in our celebration by making a donation and sharing the stories about your work with your network and in your community.
Thank you for your years of support and for helping us advance and protect the rights of Californians with disabilities.
This week Disability Rights California is proud to celebrate the leadership of Catherine Blakemore. She has led DRC from a fledgling protection and advocacy agency to the largest disability civil rights organization in the country.
Disability Rights California investigates conditions in jails, juvenile facilities, immigration detention centers and other facilities that detain people. We started this project in 2015 because we have significant concerns about how people with disabilities are treated behind bars and out of the public's view. For example, people with mental health conditions often end up in solitary confinement for long periods, causing enormous harm to their mental and physical well-being.
Going to the Yolo Adult Day Health Center in Woodland was the highlight of 74-year-old Esther Darling’s day. She had been going there five days a week for more than a decade and the program was the one thing that kept her from ending up in a nursing home. Little did she know she would be at the center of a legal battle to save her program (Darling v Douglas).
Disability Rights California (DRC) has worked for decades to further the personal autonomy rights of all people with disabilities, including the right to equal access to health care and the right to make decisions about one’s own life and body, even when those decisions are not ones others would make.
Disability Rights California diligently works to ensure equal protection for people with disabilities. Many times, DRC has to investigate incidents involving police officers who encounter people who have mental health disabilities. Law enforcement officers are overwhelmingly the first responders to incidents involving persons with mental health disabilities who are in crisis. Despite the frequent interaction between law enforcement and individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, there are minimal training mandates to address these situations. DRC’s investigations of these interactions has improved law enforcement and mental health agencies crisis response.
Katie Bassilios has Cerebral Palsy and it is hard for her to walk more than 50 feet. For a long time Katie could not get from her apartment to her car because she had to walk up a long difficult slope or a flight of stairs to get to her designated parking space behind her complex.