Priorities

Priorities 2018-07-25T19:21:49+00:00

Each year objectives are established for our agency and each of our programs. As part of the process of establishing these objectives, Disability Rights Montana seeks input from our clients, their families, and the public. Click here to see our 2018 priorities sheet.

Disability Rights Montana staff are divided into workgroups: Core Services; Abuse & Neglect; Discrimination, Employment, Benefits, and Access; Education; Outreach and Training; Policy; and Civil Rights.

The following are vision statements and objectives for each workgroup:

Core Services

Disability Rights Montana will provide information, referral, and short-term assistance and will develop and provide resource materials to people with disabilities. Timely and accurate information and referral services will be provided to every person that contacts Disability Rights Montana.

DRM will develop and provide resource materials to people with disabilities, and assist people with disabilities to register to vote, and promote independent and private voting for people with disabilities, through education and training activities.

1. Provide reliable, timely information and referral services to all callers.
2. Provide short-term assistance for non-priority issues to eligible persons with disabilities.
3. Provide and sponsor voter education and registration events for people with disabilities throughout Montana.
4. Work with Secretary of State, Clerks and Recorders, election officials, disability community and the general public to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the voting process.

Abuse & Neglect

Disability Rights Montana will protect people with disabilities in community settings or facilities from abuse, neglect, seclusion/restraint, violations of civil rights and protect their rights to: live, work, learn, recreate in the least restrictive environment with privacy, dignity, and autonomy, and protect people with disabilities right to be discharged and transitioned from institutions to community services with appropriate supports.

1. Identify and monitor all instances of abuse, neglect, seclusion, restraint (+chemical restraint), and violation of civil rights, affecting people with mental illness receiving services and pursue legal remedies. Identify systemic issues to effect change in practice, policy, rule or law.
2. Identify and monitor all instances of abuse/neglect, seclusion, restraint (+chemical restraint), and violation of civil rights at the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) and pursue legal remedies. Identify systemic issues to effect change in practice, policy, rule or law.
3. Monitor DD community services, investigate, advocate, and bring legal action when appropriate to protect the rights of people living in community services.
4. Monitor, investigate, advocate, and bring legal action when appropriate when a person from Montana State Hospital (MSH) is not discharged appropriately and timely.
5. Monitor the transition for all residents from the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) to community services.

Discrimination, Employment, Benefits, Access, and Voting

Client Assistance Program Pamphlet

People with disabilities who want to work will have access to rehabilitation services and benefits. Disability Rights Montana will: 1) provide technical assistance to people with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodations to maintain their employment; and 2) represent people who experience difficulty accessing vocational rehabilitation services, independent living services, and other services funded under the Rehabilitation Act.

People with disabilities often experience difficulty in physical and program access to public and government facilities and programs. Disability Rights Montana will continue its county services access monitoring project to assure people with disabilities can physically enter and access government services located in county courthouses and buildings.

People with disabilities often experience difficulty in their return to work efforts. Disability Rights Montana will ensure that Social Security Beneficiaries (SSB) are supported in their return to work efforts by providing accurate information or available work incentives and providing advocacy and legal representation when their rights are violated.

1. Review cases, provide short-term assistance, technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been discriminated against on the basis of disability or denied reasonable accommodations by employers, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
2. Review cases, provide technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been denied or have been prohibited from using assistive technology or auxiliary aids by various entities including Medicaid, Medicare, governmental entities, public accommodations or other entities, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
3. Represent qualified individuals in accordance with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) requirements to include applicants and clients of the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
4. Address institutional concerns and issues with the delivery of services by the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program through periodic communication with the Chief of Field Services for Montana Vocational Rehabilitation and participation on the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
5. Participate in training, outreach, and communication to address services to under-served populations including American Indians and individuals age 14 – 24.
6. Review cases, provide technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been denied meaningful access to benefits or services or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of disability by governmental entities, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
7. Review cases, provide technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been discriminated against or denied meaningful access to benefits or services of places of public accommodation, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
8. Investigate and review any complaint of improper or inadequate services provided to Social Security Beneficiaries (SSB) with disabilities by service providers, employers, or entity involved in the SSB’s return to work effort.
9. Provide information and referral to Social Security Beneficiaries (SSB) with disabilities about work incentives and employment, and other SSA-related issues.
10. Provide consultation to and legal representation on behalf of Social Security Beneficiaries with disabilities to protect their rights.

Education

DRM Special Education Pamphlet

Every student deserves the opportunity to succeed. Disability Rights Montana receives calls nearly every day from families of people with disabilities requesting assistance regarding education services, particularly in public elementary and secondary schools. Specific learning disabilities and speech-language impairments continue to represent the largest proportion among those disabilities identified under the special education laws. It is our belief that these disabilities, along with autism spectrum disorders and emotional disturbance, continue to be inadequately addressed in schools, although significant shortfalls exist across all disability categories. With the increased diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders and Montana’s growing population of school aged children, Disability Rights Montana expects the number of students receiving special education services to continue to grow. Through collaboration, advocacy, and litigation Disability Rights Montana will protect the rights of students with disabilities to access educational programs, services, activities, and benefits free from discrimination on the basis of disability and to receive a free and appropriate public education.

1. Provide information and referral to students with TBI, DD/ID, ASD, ED, and other qualifying disabilities to obtain the supports and services they need to progress in their education.
2. Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in cases that present Child Find and evaluation issues.
3. Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in cases that present restraint, seclusion, discipline, and school removal issues.
4. Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in transition planning for post-secondary education for failure to conduct and implement age appropriate transition plans.
5. Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in cases that present other education, school-related issues of particular severity as determined by the Education Work Unit.
 6. Collaborate with community-based groups to improve educational and transition outcomes for students with disabilities of all ages.

Outreach and Training

Click here to request a workshop or have your site surveyed for accessibility. 

In order to fully participate, exercise choice and self-determination, people with disabilities and the general public can benefit from disability rights and awareness training. Disability Rights Montana will sponsor disability rights and awareness training throughout the state with an emphasis on minority, under-served communities. Disability Rights Montana will produce and distribute an electronic newsletter quarterly and enhance its electronic presence.

1. Provide and sponsor disability-rights-related awareness and training events throughout the state targeting minority and under-served persons with disabilities.
2. Produce and disseminate an electronic newsletter and publications.
3. Enhance DRM’s interactive electronic presence (website) to leverage technology to distribute information and receive input.

Policy

Disability Rights Montana pursues policy work to preserve the gains made through individual advocacy and to address and correct system issues. Disability Rights Montana will monitor: 1) Monitor and participate in law, policy, and rule changes affecting the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities, and affecting the ability of DRM to serve people with disabilities; and 2) Educate law and policy makers through oral and written communications in legislative and executive branch forums.

1. Monitor and respond to law, policy, and rule changes affecting the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities, and affecting the ability of DRM to serve people with disabilities between legislative sessions.
2. Educate law and policy makers through oral and written communications in legislative and executive branch forums during the state legislative session and in legislative interim committee forums.