What Is the Census?

The 2020 census is coming! It’s important to be counted. Learn about the census and how to complete it in this video (también disponible en español)

Achieving Healthier Futures One Step at a Time

The purpose of this toolkit is to familiarize the user with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). It provides communication techniques so you can successfully include people with I/DD in community programs and activities, including a healthy living program. These are suggested techniques particularly helpful for those who don’t have any experience working with individuals who have I/DD.

Airport Virtual Reality Video

This virtual reality video, created by Interactive Media Institute, details step-by-step the air travel process so that individuals can become acquainted with a generic airport environment prior to taking a flight to help prepare them for their trip.

En Español:

In the Matter of Marian T.

State: New York

Filed: December 31, 2019

Court: New York Court of Appeals

Overview: This brief argues that New York’s adoption statute requires the informed consent of adult adoptees. The lower court held that the consent of the adult adoptee is properly dispensed with where adoption would further the person’s best interests.

Excerpt: “In dispensing with Marian’s consent to her own adoption, the lower courts embraced the outdated-and discriminatory-view that adults with intellectual disability may be treated as perpetual children under the law. Despite changes in law, policy, and societal attitudes regarding the treatment of adults with intellectual disability, outmoded stereotypes of adults with intellectual disability as lacking personhood and the ability to exercise self-determination linger. The lower courts’ decisions reflect those outdated views and threaten a dangerous reversal of advances made by people with intellectual disability.”

Status: Awaiting decision

Case Documents

Amicus Brief

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

State: Montana

Filed: November 15, 2019

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Overview: The brief argues that voucher and tax-credit programs like Montana’s redirect public funds to private entities largely unbound by the federal laws that for generations have guarded the rights and futures of students with disabilities. Allowing such programs to proliferate would significantly harm students with disabilities.

Excerpt: “For nearly fifty years, children with disabilities have relied on key federal laws to ensure that they receive the education to which they are entitled and are protected from discrimination and segregation in public schools. School voucher and tax-credit programs, including the Montana program at issue in this case, risk eroding these decades of progress. They redirect public money to private schools, which often fail to offer appropriate or integrated education to students with disabilities and commonly exclude them outright. And they deplete funding for public schools, which remain bound to comply with the comprehensive federal laws ensuring that students with disabilities are properly served. In the process, more and more students with disabilities will be excluded, neglected, and segregated—precisely the harms that Congress has repeatedly acted to stop.”

Status: Awaiting decision from the U.S. Supreme Court

Case Documents

Amicus Brief 

Related Media

Press Release: Advocacy Groups File U.S. Supreme Court Brief Warning That School Vouchers Harm Students With Disabilities

Training Needs of Professionals Who Serve People With I/DD and Mental Health Needs and Their Families

Up to 40% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) experience co-occurring mental illness. Despite the prevalence of mental health needs among people with I/DD, little is known about the best approaches for supporting the needs of people with I/DD and co-occurring mental health challenges and their families. This uncertainty has led to the dependence on outdated and potentially bad approaches to mental health care, such as seclusion, restraint, and psychotropics, which may cause individuals with dual diagnosis an increase in their struggles with poor mental health, as well as a lack of family support resources and services available for people and their families.

Previously, The Arc explored the family support needs of families that include a person with the dual diagnosis of I/DD and mental health needs. One critical recommendation coming from this investigation was the need for more training around I/DD and mental health for disability, mental health, and education professionals. In 2019 as part of its work as an FSRTC partner, The Arc conducted focus groups that probed the training needs of and barriers that disability, mental health, and education professionals face when serving people with I/DD and co-occurring mental health challenges. The focus of these groups included:

  • Discussing and better understanding the training needs and challenges that disability, mental health, and education professionals face when serving people with I/DD and co-occurring mental health challenges and their families;
  • Identifying key topics and issues that professionals should be trained on regarding serving people with I/DD and mental health challenges; and
  • Developing recommendations on the best opportunities for training format and delivery across all professionals.

Public Charge Amicus Briefs

States: California, Washington, New York, Illinois

Filed: 2019

Courts: Northern District of California, Southern District of New York, Eastern District of Washington, Northern District of Illinois

Overview: A coalition of national disability advocacy groups filed four amicus briefs in support of litigation to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its new “public charge” rule. Twenty-one states–led by California, Washington, and New York–as well as Cook County, Illinois, have filed cases against the Trump Administration to block the new rule. The advocacy groups – representing tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families across the country – claim that the new public charge rule will prevent people with disabilities from entering this country or becoming legal residents in violation of federal disability law.

Status: The public charge rule is currently temporarily enjoined from being implemented nationwide during the national public health emergency declared by the Trump administration.

Case Documents

Briefs:
California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (District Court)
New York v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (District Court) 
Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (District Court)
Cook County, Illinois v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (District Court)
California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Ninth Circuit)
New York v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Second Circuit)
Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Ninth Circuit)
Cook County, Illinois v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Seventh Circuit)

Decisions:

California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Cook County, IL v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

New York v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Related Media

Press Release: The Arc Applauds Federal Injunctions Against Public Charge Rule

Press Release: Disability Advocacy Groups File Amicus Brief Opposing the Administration’s Public Charge Rule as Illegal Disability Discrimination

Press Release: Supreme Court Lifts Stay on Public Charge Rule: Implementation Will Have Chilling Impact on People with Disabilities

The Hill: Disability rights groups join challenge to ‘public charge’ rule

Undisclosed Podcast: State v. Rocky Myers – Episode 4: Of Mice and Men

Through a review of Rocky Myers’ case in Alabama and a discussion with The Arc’s legal director, this episode explores the Supreme Court’s opinion in Atkins and later decisions holding that executing people with intellectual disability violates the constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

G.T. v. Board of Education of the County of Kanawha

State: West Virginia

Filed: 2020

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia

Plaintiffs: Parents of children with disabilities in Kanawha County Schools

Defendant: Kanawha County School District

Counsel: The Arc, Mountain State Justice, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Disability Rights West Virginia, Latham & Watkins

Overview: In 2020, The Arc, along with other local and national disability advocacy organizations filed a class action complaint in federal court alleging that Kanawha County Schools (KCS) has failed to educate children with disabilities, including autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health concerns, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Specifically, the groups assert that KCS—the public school district serving the Charleston metro area—has failed to provide behavioral and academic supports to students with disabilities and is instead segregating them into separate schools and classrooms, or sending them home because KCS schools will not educate them. The advocates allege that KCS has violated federal laws protecting students with disabilities.

As described in the complaint, scores of children with disabilities enrolled in KCS have been separated unnecessarily from mainstream classrooms in their schools. Instead, the students are segregated for years in separate classrooms where they interact only with other students with disabilities, and receive an inferior education; placed on “homebound” status where they may only receive a few hours of tutoring each week; or suspended or even expelled from school for behaviors that are caused by their disabilities. The students are not receiving critical behavioral supports that can help them be successful in the general education classroom with their classmates without disabilities.

Specifically, the complaints allege that KCS is: 1) violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to provide children with disabilities with the special education they need to receive a “free appropriate public education” in the least restrictive environment; and 2) violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the West Virginia Human Rights Act by failing to educate children with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, and denying them equal educational opportunity.

Status: Plaintiffs overcame a motion to dismiss in July 2020. Litigation is ongoing.

Case Documents

Due Process Complaint

Federal Court Complaint

Amended Federal Court Complaint

Order on Motion to Dismiss

Related Media

Press Release: Class Action Complaint Filed in West Virginia Alleging Systemic Disability Discrimination in Kanawha County Schools

Press Release: West Virginia, National Disability Advocacy Groups File Complaints Alleging Systemic Disability Discrimination in Kanawha County Schools

Press Release: Court Rules that Federal Disability Rights Class Action Against Charleston, West Virginia School District Can Proceed

Washington Post: ‘Warehousing at its worst’: Rights groups say W.Va. school system gives inferior education to special-needs students

West Virgina Record: Special needs student sues Kanawha County Schools for not properly providing for students

 

Do Your Part: Engage With Your Members of Congress

Sharing your point of view with your Members of Congress is an important part of our democracy – it’s their job to represent you and they want to hear from you! There are so many important issues at stake: affordable health care coverage, access to Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, paid family and medical leave, funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, civil rights protections, and much more.

Do you tell your Members of Congress what it takes to live an independent life in your community? Your Members of Congress need to hear directly from their constituents on how these programs and laws make a difference – and that they should be preserved, not cut.

Tip: Connect with your local chapter. You can find the one closest to you at arcmini.wpengine.com/find-a-chapter.

Reminder: You have three Members of Congress: two Senators, who represent the entire state, and one representative in the House of Representatives. It’s your responsibility as a citizen and disability rights activist to connect with your Members of Congress.

Find your Senator
Find your Representative

1. Pick up the Phone: The easiest way to tell your Members of Congress how you feel about an issue, or ask their support or opposition for a bill, is to call their office.

2. Request a Meeting: In-person meetings are a very effective way to educate elected officials and/or their staff about The Arc and current issues. Contact your local chapter (find yours here) to find out if they have a meeting coming up. Often, your Senator or Representative will not be available. Request a meeting with a member of their staff. Staffers make recommendations and advise their Members of Congress regarding particular issues. Meeting with a staff member is worthwhile.

3. Attend a Town Hall: Showing up matters! Members of Congress often host town hall meetings to hear from constituents during Congressional recess. Find out if your Members are hosting one at townhallproject.com, show up, and ask them where they stand on issues that are important to you.

4. Connect Online: Do you follow your Members of Congress on Facebook and Twitter? Are they posting about topics that are important to you? Comment with your opinion or tag them in your posts.