Over the past 30 years, significant advances for the civil rights of people with disabilities have been secured. All were achieved through the efforts of individuals with disabilities, their families and supporters. Disability Rights Nebraska is proud to be a part of that history.
Our organization was created and incorporated on September 26, 1977, as Nebraska Advocacy Services for Developmentally Disabled Citizens, Inc., to "assure the representation of the rights, needs and interests of developmentally disabled persons in an effort to bring about change both individually and systemically, which will promote the full participation of these individuals in society."
On July 17, 1978, Nebraska Governor J. James Exon designated Nebraska Advocacy Services as the protection and advocacy (P&A) system in Nebraska. As the P&A, we are mandated to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies and approaches to ensure the protection of, and advocacy for, the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Since 1978, Congress has enacted several key pieces of legislation that have further expanded the role and responsibility of the protection and advocacy systems. With each new authorization, the P&A systems embraced a greater number of individuals with disabilities. Today, we are truly a cross-disability advocacy organization.
On July 26, 2012 Nebraska Advocacy Services, Inc., changed it's name to Disability Rights Nebraska so that the name would better represent the work of the agency.
Disability Rights Nebraska actively works with individuals who experience disabilities to build a secure and dynamic future. Our Vision Statement sets out a perspective that guides us in all of our efforts. We see a future where all people with disabilities "are valued within their communities, have control over their own lives and have the necessary resources available to experience a life of quality." Our Board and employees have dedicated their efforts and have joined with people who have disabilities to create just such a future.
We offer protection and advocacy services through these federal programs:
The Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) Program was created in 1994 when Congress expanded the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (Tech Act) to include funding for P&A systems to "assist individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates and authorized representatives in accessing technology devices and assistive technology services" through case management, legal representation and self advocacy training.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) administers the PAAT program.
Assistive Technology Act, 29 USC 3011,3012, PL 105-394.
The Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) Program provides assistance to eligible Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) recipients who are interested in obtaining, regaining or maintaining employment. Services provided by the P&A systems include rights education, outreach, short-term assistance, direct legal representation and systemic advocacy. Individuals eligible for assistance through the PABSS program are any Social Security beneficiary who wishes to work including: former beneficiaries who may become re-entitled to benefits as a result of job loss, those re-entering the community following discharge from an institution or other facility, and those facing some other change in their life situation which entitles them to benefits. Eligible service recipients may also include individuals who retain their Social Security benefits and desire P&A services due to threat of job loss, failure of an employer to provide reasonable accommodations, or other forms of discrimination. The P&A is also authorized to assist beneficiaries of SSI or SSDI benefits with over payment issues.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the PABSS program.
Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, 42 USC 1320b-20, PL 106-170.
The Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD) Program was created by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975. It authorized each state and territory to create a protection and advocacy system (P&A). The P&As are required by the Act to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities under all applicable federal and state laws. In 1994, the Act was amended to expand the system to include a Native American P&A program.
The Administration for Children Youth and Families, Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) administers the PADD program.
Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, 42 USC 15001, PL 106-402
The Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program was established in 1986. Every state and territory has a PAIMI program which receives funding from the national Center for Mental Health Services. The PAIMI programs are mandated to (1) protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness and (2) investigate reports of abuse and neglect in facilities that care for or treat individuals with mental illness. The P&A system designated as the PADD program in each state and territory is also responsible for operating the PAIMI program.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) administers the PAIMI program.
Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act, 42 USC 10801, PL 106-310.
The Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) Program was established by Congress as a national program under the Rehabilitation Act in 1993. PAIR programs were established to protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of persons with disabilities. Although PAIR is funded at a lower level than PADD and PAIMI, it represents an important component of a comprehensive system to advocate for the rights of all persons with disabilities. The P&A system designated to serve as the PADD program in each state and territory is also responsible for operating the PAIR program.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) administers PAIR.
Section 509 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29USC 794e, PL 106-402
The Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) Program is one of the newest of the P&A programs. Recognizing the significant impact that a traumatic brain injury has on individuals, families, and society, Congress passed the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-166) "to provide for the conduct of expanded studies and the establishment of innovative programs with respect to traumatic brain injury." When Congress reauthorized the Act as part of the Children's Health Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-310), it also authorized the Health Resources and Services Administration to make grants to P&A systems for the purpose of ensuring that individuals with traumatic brain injuries and their families have access to (1) information, referrals and advice; (2) individual and family advocacy; (3) legal representation; and (4) specific assistance in self-advocacy.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through its Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) administers the PATBI program.
Children's Health Act of 2000, 42 USC 300d-53, PL 106-310
The Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access (PAVA) Program is the newest protection and advocacy program. The purpose of the program is to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places. The PAVA program may serve any person with a disability when the issue involves access to the electoral process. The most significant restriction on the PAVA program is that none of the funds shall be used to initiate or otherwise participate in any litigation related to election-related disability access. This restriction does not prohibit the P&A from using funding from another source to pursue such activity.
The Administration for Children Youth and Families, Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) administers the PAVA program.
Help America Vote Act of 2002, 42 USC §15461-62, P.L. 107-252
Protection and advocacy systems are enabled under these federal laws and are designated in each state and territory of the United States. For more information on P&As visit the web site of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) at www.ndrn.org.
Each federal program has an appropriations component which helps to fund the work of Disability Rights Nebraska. We receive funding from the State of Nebraska which is integrated with the federal funds to carry out a broad range of other advocacy approaches to promote empowerment of people with disabilities within Nebraska. Disability Rights Nebraska also pursues a variety of public and private grants to further enhance our services. Individual donations are gratefully accepted and very important to maintaining flexibility in our advocacy work and our independence.