March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a chance to celebrate the over 6 million individuals in the United States that have a developmental disability.
Disability Rights California (DRC) is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. For a detailed description of our advocacy efforts and recent strategies view our Advocacy Platform here.
DRC works to stop disability discrimination and stigma and makes sure people can fully participate in society and be empowered. We focus on disability discrimination law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act.
DRC works to make sure students with disabilities have what they need to do well in school, that they get equal educational opportunities in the most integrated settings, (under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)), and can access educational opportunities that enrich them both academically and socially (as guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
DRC provides advocacy services to people experiencing disability-related barriers to competitive integrated employment (CIE), so they can obtain meaningful work at a competitive wage in integrated settings. Through the Client Assistance Program (CAP), we assist people with difficulties seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services from the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), independent living centers or other Rehabilitation Act funded programs. View more information about the Client Assistance Program (CAP).
We also assist people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in addressing barriers in work, such as reasonable accommodations and transportation. We do not handle failure to hire or termination.
Healthcare/Home & Community-Based Services
We work to ensure that people with disabilities have access to essential health care services and a full range of community long-term services and supports to enable them to live in the community and avoid institutionalization. We believe healthcare is a human right, and fight to preserve that right with our partners in the community.Issues we focus on include:
- Ensuring Access to Medi-Cal Home and Community-Based Waivers that enable people with disabilities who would otherwise need institutional services to live in the community.
- Ensuring Access to Medi-Cal services, including Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) for children up until age 21.
- Ensuring Access to Medi-Cal services, including durable medical equipment.
- Ensuring people with disabilities who want to return home to the community from an institution, or avoid institutionalization have the services and supports they need; and
- Ensuring Access to In Home Supportive Services (IHSS).
DRC advocates for safe and accessible housing so people with disabilities can live where they choose. We advocate to increase affordable, accessible, and safe housing and develop strategies for addressing homelessness, housing discrimination, unfair land use and zoning restrictions, and Not-In-My Back Yard (NIMBY).
Intellectual / Developmental Disabilities
We work to enforce and advance the rights of Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to obtain meaningful work at a competitive wage, access healthcare in home and community-based settings, and challenge civil rights violations. Our staff specializes in the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Service Act and the regional center system, and provides legal assistance to individuals with I/DD who seek to:
- avoid institutionalization
- access regional center services that reflect their needs, choices, and cultural values
- participate to the maximum extent possible in making decisions about their own lives
Regional Center Services
Providing free legal information, advice, and representation to regional center clients. View more information.
Mental Health & Criminal Justice/Juvenile Detention Facilities
DRC works to ensure that people with disabilities have access to mental health services and housing, to avoid institutionalization or homelessness, and that patients’ rights in mental health facilities. We also work to protect the rights of patients in county mental health facilities and state hospitals.
We work in jails, juvenile facilities and detention centers to improve conditions, eliminate unnecessary isolation and segregation and secure adequate medical and mental health treatment. Using our monitoring authority, DRC has investigated conditions in detention facilities across the state. View more information on our investigations.
We advocate to ensure voting is fully accessible for people with disabilities by educating government agencies about best practices and educating voters about their rights, including options that allow them to vote privately and independently, overseeing a hotline on election days, assisting voters with election related complaints, testing accessible voting equipment, training poll workers on making voting accessible, and participating on disability-focused committees in numerous counties.
If You are Having Difficulty Voting Because of a Disability, call: (888) 569-7955; TTY (800) 719-5798