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The ADA at 25

image of NDRN report cover

The Americans with Disabilities Act is 25 years old. Where do we go from here? Is the ADA under threat? Find out in NDRN's latest report: The Americans with Disability Act at 25: Cause for Celebration and Renewed Resolve.

In the 25 years since the historic enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there has been an increase in the number of people with disabilities participating in all aspects of community life, from home ownership and employment, to sports and the arts. But where to we go from here? 

In the report, NDRN reviews the progress our nation has made since the historic enactment of the ADA in 1990. It highlights the critical role that P&As have in enforcing the ADA integration mandate, protecting and advocating for people with disabilities still trapped in institutions and ensuring those now living in their community of choice are able to access the supports and services they need to be successful. The report calls attention to disturbing national trends that threaten to distort and weaken the promise of full community integration. Please click here to read the entire report.


The President Speaks on the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

President Obama delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. July 20, 2015. 

President Obama said in part "So on a sunny day 25 years ago . . . President George H.W. Bush stood on the South Lawn and declared a new American Independence Day. “With today’s signing of the landmark Americans [with] Disabilities Act,” he said, “every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, freedom and independence.”

Twenty-five years later, we come together to celebrate that groundbreaking law and all that the law has made possible.  Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life -- schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks -- they truly belong to everyone.  Millions of Americans with disabilities have had the chance to develop their talents and make their unique contributions to the world.  And thanks to them, America is stronger and more vibrant; it is a better country because of the ADA. That’s what this law has achieved.


Governor Steve Bullock signs SB 411 into Law

Montana Capitol BuildingOn Wednesday, May 6, 2015, Gov. Steve Bullock signed into law a bill that calls for the state to close the Montana Developmental Center in Boulder by 2017.

"Senate Bill 411 has inspired passionate and heartfelt debate on both sides of the issue. Proponents and opponents alike are genuinely motivated by the best interests of the current and future residents of the Montana Developmental Center (MDC). Indeed, even family members of the residents are divided on this bill. Like them, first and foremost, I am committed to ensuring that the population served at MDC has access to the safest and most effective treatment possible."

Steve Bullock, Governor

To view the Governor's Signing Statement Text, click here.

To view SB 411 as signed into law, click here. 


Billings Gazette Opinion: Better care for Montana's disabled residents

"The state of Montana has taken on an urgent mission to do better by our most severely disabled residents.

'Bullock signs bill to close Montana Developmental Center in Boulder,' a Gazette headline said last week. The bigger story is the state accepting responsibility to create better services for each of the 53 men and women - all seriously developmentally disabled and some with mental illnesses as well - now housed at this institution in a small community in Western Montana."

The opinion goes on to read:

"As seriously disabled adults are transitioned to new community services, new jobs will [be] created. They should be created closer to clients' families. New services should take advantage of other community strengths, such as a sufficient labor pool, availability of physical, speech, psychiatric and occupational therapists, nurses and physicians, as well as opportunities to interact positively with family, friends and neighbors."

"We agree with Caffero, who said Bullock put 'people ahead of politics.'"

Billings Gazette Opinion May 11, 2015

Click here to read the Opinion in its entirety.

Disability Rights Montana Seeks to Hire an Advocacy Specialist for its Education Unit

Disability Rights Montana seeks to hire an Advocacy Specialist to primarily work in our Education Unit. Individual will assist persons with disabilities to enforce their rights and obtain needed services. This position handles cases under the supervision of an attorney, primarily in the area of special education, but also relating to traumatic brain injury, developmental disabilities, and mental health services for both children and adults.  Individual will provide direct advocacy services and also support the supervising attorney in managing and prosecuting cases through administrative and judicial enforcement actions. 

Individual must have good interpersonal communication skills; the ability to analyze and investigate complex factual situations, problem solve and negotiate for solutions; be self-motivated and demonstrate excellent organizational, oral and written communication skills, and competent use of Windows, Windows Explorer, and Microsoft Office Suite (primarily Outlook, Word, and Excel) and WordPerfect. Knowledge of Adobe Acrobat a plus.  

Bachelor’s Degree required. Knowledge of K-12 special education and/or federal and state special education law (IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), traumatic brain injury, mental health and developmental disabilities services preferred. Experience working with children with disabilities and/or working with school districts a plus. 

Valid Montana driver’s license required because of substantial instate travel. Excellent benefits. Salary DOE.  

Send resume and cover letter to Kelli Kaufman, Disability Rights Montana, 1022 Chestnut Street, Helena, MT 59601 or email to kelli@disabilityrightsmt.org by August 7, 2015.


Get Your Raffle Tickets Now to Support Disability Rights Montana

Support Disability Rights Montana and become eligible for great prizes by entering the 21st annual Montana Shares Raffle. Montana Shares is a partnership of nonprofit organizations working to build better communities across Montana.

Contributions to member groups are made through Montana Shares each year during statewide workplace giving campaigns. All donations to the raffle support Montana Shares in its efforts in helping Disability Rights Montana and other nonprofits diversify fundraising and raise public awareness.

We urge you to make your donation today and help support this great organization. Through Montana Shares, DRM is able to raise thousands of additional dollars through workplace giving each year and raise public awareness within state and federal agencies and the more than 150 other workplaces that take part in the annual giving campaign.

The raffle will be held September 12, 2015.

Click here to download the raffle ticket to submit with your donation and to see a list of raffle prizes.

DRM Releases Updated Rights Manual

This mental health rights handbook is for persons who use public or private mental health services or experience mental health problems while in the State of Montana.  This handbook will provide you with information about your rights and make you aware of what action you can take if you think your rights may have been violated. Most people with mental illness have the same civil rights as anyone else — civil rights do not disappear because you are receiving mental health treatment. We recommend that you read this handbook now, even if you don’t need to use it at the moment.

It is important to remember that the first step in protecting your rights is to educate yourself about these rights. The second step is to be willing to .....More

Per Person - The Most Expensive Facility in the State

In 2013 and 2014, Montana Developmental Center (MDC) had an average of 50 residents in its facility. Every day for the past two years on average, 24 of the 50 residents have been determined eligible for and referred to the community for services. In other words, everyday 24 residents are ready and waiting to move into community services. Many of the 24 have been waiting two years. See Exhibits 1 and 2 attached to the link to the complete article below. 

The waiting cost is $849 per day or $310,074 per year, per person. Per person, MDC is the most expensive facility operated in the state of Montana with an operating budget that exceeds $17 million. Click "View Attachment" below to read the entire opinion and attached exhibits. 

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Filing Details Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners with Mental Illness at...

On October 31, 2014, Disability Rights Montana (DRM) filed an amended complaint in federal district court detailing the circumstances of 10 prisoners with mental illness who have suffered because of the prison’s failed mental health treatment system.  The amended complaint also renews its due process claims against officials from Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

“We have seen that staff routinely lock inmates with serious mental illness away in solitary confinement 22 to 24 hours a day for months, and in some cases, years at a time, which only makes their mental illnesses worse,” said Bernie Franks-Ongoy, executive director of DRM.  “The prison psychiatrist has also deliberately refused to diagnose prisoners as having ment .....More