Who We Are

Here is a collection of news stories and editorials relating to our work and the issues we address through our advocacy.

The Saudi Student Association at University of Nebraska - Lincoln staffed the concessions stand at the Guardians of Freedom Air Show, and donated the proceeds of $1,440 to Disability Rights Nebraska. The Association is a 60-student group led by Ahmed Al-Sahari, the President of the association. They chose a disability rights focus for their donation, and are considering doing this again next year.

Thank you to Saudi Student Association at UNL for their hard work and generous donation. Click HERE to watch a conversation with Ahmed Al-Sahari.

Aside from donation, there are many other ways to get involved in advocacy work and defend disability rights. Disability Rights Nebraska provides volunteer opportunities for individuals wanting to join us in our advocacy work. Individuals with disabilities, family members, advocates and persons interested in the legal and human rights of all people with disabilities are encouraged to join us. Get involved today!

A summer self-advocacy course for students with disabilities will be available in July! ‘It’s All About the Plan!’ allows students to learn about and practice self-advocacy. It includes hands-on activities, community speakers, and e-learning tools. It is developed through partnership of Disability Rights Nebraska, Arc of Lincoln, Autism Family Network, and Fritz & O’Hare Associates.

The course will be completed in five days with 2.5 hour daily sessions at Southeast Community College. Students with disabilities, ages 14 to 21 are invited to the course. Parents of students attending ‘It’s All About the Plan!’ are invited to a self-advocacy session on July 6th. Attendance is not mandatory.

Self-advocacy skills help people speak up for what they need and want in life. It is especially important for students with disabilities to learn how they can make their voices heard!

The course will be free of charge. Stipends will be available, upon request, to help with transportation costs.

First National Bank of Omaha and the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office formally invite you and your family to join a celebration announcing the launch of the Enable Savings Plan—one of the nation’s first ABLE plans created to help individuals with disabilities attain financial independence.

The launch event is being held June 30th at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium at 9:30 am. There will be special events, entertainment and lunch. Please stay and enjoy the zoo following the festivities.

Limited space is available. Please click HERE to RSVP by Friday, June 17.

To learn more about the Enable Savings Plan, visit EnableSavings.com

Disability Rights Nebraska is once again participating in Give to Lincoln on May 26th. All donations will be eligible for a portion of the $300,000 match.

Give To Lincoln Day is your chance to make a real impact on Lincoln’s quality of life. We encourage everyone to join us for a record-setting day of giving. Together, we have the power to support Lincoln’s nonprofit organizations and improve lives.

Gifts to Disability Rights Nebraska can be made online at this site beginning May 1 and will qualify for Give To Lincoln Day.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was signed into law on July 22, 2014. The act’s two main aims are to end sub-minimum wage and segregation of those with developmental disabilities from the rest of society, said Amy Scherer, staff attorney for the National Disability Rights Network.

The National Disability Rights Network has issued a statement praising U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) for introducing the Protection and Advocacy for Veterans Act.

Nebraska’s Office of Public Guardian (OPG) is the 50th of state public guardianship offices in the country and is one of only four public guardianship offices under the judicial branch. The OPG is directly responsible to the Supreme Court Administrator. The OPG is assisted by an Advisory Council, appointed by the Administrator of the Courts.

In researching best practices for serving Nebraska’s potentially incapacitated persons in a manner that balances the “two faces” of guardianship, and in accordance with the Legislative intent and requirements of the Public Guardian Act, the OPG researched multiple models of public guardianship.

Congratulations to Senior Staff Attorney Dianne DeLair and our entire Public Policy Team! Their efforts, and those of Senator Kathy Campbell, were rewarded this week with the passing of LB 1033, the Olmstead Plan Bill. The bill passed on a unanimous vote of 49-0 with no abstentions. Disability Rights Nebraska congratulates the Legislature on their recognition of this bill and its importance to Nebraskans with disabilities.

Nebraska's new Aging & Disability Resource Centers will create a "one-stop" system to connect people with services without hunting through multiple systems/agencies. View the employment posting here.

Disability Rights Nebraska has received funding from the Woods Charitable Fund, the Nebraska Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, in addition, in-kind donations from Nebraska Wesleyan University, to support the Inclusive Education Institute this June...

Disability rights advocates and political leaders in Iowa are working together to make sure next month’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are accessible to all.

A troubled past and uncertain future. Lawmakers are trying to decide the Beatrice State Developmental Center's fate. That's brought out passionate voices for and against closing or privatizing the institution for the developmentally disabled.

Nebraskans who experience serious mental illnesses deserve to live in and participate in their communities, just like we do. That’s their right under federal law.

In sheltered workshops, the truth is that many of the people who enter these "job training programs" have no hope of ever graduating or finding competitive employment. They labor away making only a fraction of the minimum wage while many company owners earn six-figure salaries.

The agreement also requires the [San Juan County] sheriff's office, the office of emergency management and the county's detention facilities to adopt policies to address the needs of the physically and cognitively disabled.

In a statement of interest on Friday, Justice Department lawyers said the court needs to decide whether "handcuffing two elementary school children with disabilities, behind their backs and around their biceps, for failure to follow instructions" was "objectively reasonable."

The suit alleges that AHCA has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to adequately administer the program and set standards to ensure people will receive sufficient home and community-based services to ensure their health and safety.

One of the great equalizers for people who are blind is the computer age, which has increased their ability to be competitive; however, blind persons who are graduating from high school do not have the Braille skills of prior generations and there is a severe shortage of teachers qualified to teach Braille.

Linda Weston of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on September 8 to all charges in a case that involved holding disabled adults captive in locked closets, basements and attics. Weston pleaded guilty to racketeering, kidnapping resulting in the death of the victim, forced human labor, involuntary servitude, multiple counts of murder in aid of racketeering, hate crime, violent crime in aid of racketeering, sex trafficking, kidnapping, theft of government funds, wire fraud, mail fraud, use of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime and false statements. Weston has agreed to receive a sentence of life plus 80 years in prison, restitution, fines, supervised release and special assessments.

Colorado inmates are languishing in local jails without mental health evaluations or mental health care because the state hospital is short-staffed, an advocacy group charged Tuesday.

The Obama administration is warning state and local officials not to discriminate against people with disabilities who have children or would like to.

A federal appeals court has upheld a rule requiring that in-home care workers assisting people with disabilities be paid minimum wage and overtime.

"Mr. Walls is severely mentally ill. To lock him in a prison cell, when he does not understand what is going on around him, is inhumane and inappropriate," writes Assistant Public Defender Andrew Capone.

ABLE accounts could benefit hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities across the country.

In an often self-absorbed Silicon Valley, where startups are sometimes accused of obsessing on petty first-world problems instead of making the world a better place, several Bay Area entrepreneurs were honored this week in New York City for doing the latter.

An epidemic of school cultures is bullying. Many school-aged kids go to school, every day, facing threats, taunts, verbal and physical assaults. Bullying is unwanted and degrading attention by another classmate. It is important to talk to your kids to see if they are a bully, if they’re being bullied and how to prevent bullying.

The nation’s governors are being asked to establish policies within their states that promote integrated employment at or above minimum wage for people with significant disabilities.

Kansas Protection & Advocacy System CEO Rocky Nichols notes people with disabilities have dropped out of the program because of the administrative hurdles they have to surmount to keep their services.

A call to remove the prejudice, barriers and stigma that keep people from getting the mental health assistance they need. More than 43 million adults in our country struggled with mental illness in the past year and half of us will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in our lives; one quarter by the age of 14.

Experts said that some states, like New York and Wisconsin, have a record of releasing offenders once they have undergone treatment and meet certain criteria, but in many states only a fraction of those committed ever finished treatment to the point where they were sent home, free and clear.

A 127-page investigative report released by Human Rights Watch describes the criminal justice system in America and its use of excessive force, even systemically brutal and malicious. The report charges that, "Jails and prisons staff throughout the United States have used unnecessary, excessive and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities."

"...in 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the largest prison or jail held more people with serious mental illness than the largest state psychiatric hospital..."

Nearly 568,000 uninsured people who have been diagnosed with a serious mental health condition would have received treatment in 2014 if their states had chosen to expand Medicaid, according to the American Mental Health Counselors Association, a professional organization that does advocacy and education.

Children who are bullied by their peers may be more likely to suffer mental health problems later in life than kids who are abused by adults, a study suggests.

A plan to rewrite the nation’s primary education law is set to go before the U.S. Senate and it now includes a provision related to restraint and seclusion in schools.

The Obama administration is proposing new regulations that would sharply limit people with disabilities from entering employment situations where they earn less than minimum wage.

When direct support staff, who work hard for very little compensation, have access to affordable health care, the benefits extend far beyond just one person.

We’re all people. The same rules apply. We’ve all got things to deal with in life. Some people’s are just a bit more visible.

Isaac Zablocki co-founded a film festival to showcase films made by and about people with disabilities. The festival, called ReelAbilities, is now in its seventh year. "We tend not to like the films that show disability in a more clichéd sense," he says. "We like a more nuanced sense — or possibly even films that are not about the disability, but rather just happen to have disability in them."

The United Nations focuses strongly on “the pursuit of happiness” as “a fundamental human goal.”

The number of unresolved cases has mushroomed, as complaints have poured in from around the country about students from kindergarten through college facing discrimination on the basis of race, sex and disabilities.

Jean Vanier, a Canadian, founder of L'Arche network of communities for people with mental disabilities, has won the 2015 Templeton Prize worth $1.7 million.

A U.S. district judge has struck down Nebraska's voter-approved ban on same sex marriage.

Will reform happen? The automatic triggering of draconian cuts makes it seem more likely, but the nearly 60-year history of SSDI suggests five major obstacles listed in this blog post from the Washington Post

As people with Down syndrome live longer than ever before, the National Institutes of Health is looking to reshape its efforts related to the chromosomal disorder.

A Social Security fund that provides benefits to nearly nine million people with disabilities is projected to run out by the end of 2016, and a new House rule could cause headaches for majority Republicans during the upcoming push to shore it up.

Film critic Scott Jordan Harris, who himself has a disability, approaches the validity of having non-disabled actors play persons with disabilities onscreen.

As a result of actions brought by the Pennsylvania Disability Rights Network, Pennsylvania prison inmates with serious mental illness who misbehave will be diverted to special treatment units instead of being put in isolated cells, according to a settlement released Tuesday.

The ABLE Act allows people with disabilities to set aside money, safe from the IRS, for certain purposes, without sacrificing their benefits.

A report showing students with disabilities and students of color are being suspended and expelled in the state's public schools at much higher rates than their non-disabled, white peers.