Protection & Advocacy, The ADA National Network, And The Next 25 Years

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on July 30, 2015 # Advocacy and Policy

As the nation celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this week, our friends at the ACL continues their guest blog series with blogs from leaders in the disability community.

In this piece, Curt Decker, who leads the National Disability Right Network, describes the history of the protection and advocacy network and why these programs are so critical to ensuring the safety and independence of people with disabilities.Below is an excerpt from blogger, Curt Decker, Executive Director, National Disability Rights Network:

Protection and Advocacy: A Foundation for Disability Rights

By Curt Decker, Executive Director, National Disability Rights Network

“A snake pit.”

That’s how Sen. Robert Kennedy described Willowbrook, a state institution for people with developmental disabilities on Staten Island, in 1965. Seven years later, Geraldo Rivera, then a young investigative reporter with ABC News in New York City, smuggled cameras into Willowbrook. For the first time, Americans were able to see the filthy, squalid conditions in which children and adults with developmental disabilities were forced to live receiving very little services and supports.

These broadcasts galvanized the state’s senior senator, Jacob Javits, to action and the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) network was born...

Today, P&As continue to monitor, investigate, and attempt to remedy abuse and neglect in all facilities that care for people with disabilities. But over the years, Congress has broadened the work of the P&As. P&A agencies now have the authority to provide legal representation and other advocacy services to all people with disabilities wherever they reside on a range of issues

Read the rest.