DRA is Arkansas’s protection and advocacy organization. We help people with disabilities. Sometimes they need legal representation, or information, or referral to another agency for services. We provide information about voting rights, self-advocacy, and laws and policies that affect the lives of people with disabilities. We can intervene in cases of abuse or neglect. We monitor facilities to ensure that they are accessible, and that they are providing appropriate services.
But one of the most important things that we do is to advocate for their civil and legal rights both in the courts, in the legislature, and sometimes, in the media. 2021 was a very eventful year in disability rights in Arkansas. We had the pandemic, of course, and the response to it, as well as working to ensure that people with disabilities knew their rights regarding the vaccine and how to access it. The PASSE went through some things this year, and that’s still playing out. We continued to work on guardianship issues, not only providing support and resources about guardianship, but continuing to advance alternatives to guardianship that would allow those with disabilities to make their own decisions about their own lives, with support as needed.
We worked to ensure that people with disabilities had access to resources that help folks gain and keep competitive and integrated employment. We continued to stand in the gap so that all children have equal access to free and appropriate public education, and we continued to monitor facilities to make sure that the people housed there are safe and receiving the services they and their families were promised. And tragically, that wasn’t the case for many people receiving services in facilities.
And this year saw a regular session of the 93rd Arkansas General Assembly. DRA was there, advocating to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities were not forgotten by the legislature. There were a couple of wins for people with disabilities, but for the most part, civil rights took a hit as legislators concerned themselves more with assaulting the civil rights and limiting the voting rights of Arkansans. But advocates stood together and stood up.
To listen to our Year in Review show for disability law and policy in Arkansas, tune in tonight at 5:00 p.m. to KABF 88.3-FM, or livestream on kabf.org. And as always, after the show airs, you’ll find it on our website at http://disabilityrightsar.org/speak-up-arkansas. And check out the videocast on our YouTube channel, too!
For information on how to access the COVID-19 vaccine, call DRA at 800-482-1174.
Download a copy of DRA’s guardianship resource packet: https://disabilityrightsar.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Guardianship-Resources-Booklet-V.3.pdf
Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center (PRTF) database: http://www.disabilityrightsar.org/prtf
Speak Up Arkansas #17, May 19, 2021: Legislative Wrap-Up show here – https://disabilityrightsar.org/speakupararchive/