Disability Rights NC Clients and Staff

Disability Rights North Carolina is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Raleigh. Its team of attorneys, advocates, paralegals and support staff provide advocacy and legal services at no charge for people with disabilities across North Carolina. As the state’s federally mandated protection and advocacy system, Disability Rights North Carolina is charged with protecting the rights of children and adults with disabilities living in North Carolina.





Disability Rights NC Urges Governor to Declare Hiring Emergency to Protect Prisoners with Mental Illness

In the wake of the tragic death of Michael Anthony Kerr, a prisoner at Alexander Correctional Institution, Disability Rights NC calls on Gov. Pat McCrory to take immediate action to authorize the Department of Public Safety to implement an emergency hiring process to fill longstanding mental health vacancies. The vacant positions have created understaffed facilities where humane care and treatment of inmates with mental illness is jeopardized. Immediate hiring is necessary to assist DPS with its dedicated effort to improve the provision of care for prisoners with mental illness.

“We applaud the Department for announcing several reform measures yesterday,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC. “However, they will not achieve their goals until the crisis in staff vacancies is addressed.  Staff vacancies are a fundamental and crucial barrier to the Department’s  success. Currently the bureaucratic and protected hiring process cripples its ability to adequately care for prisoners with mental illness.”

Staffing vacancies have been identified as a critical issue for the Department. In 2012, consulting experts found that staffing vacancies in the NC prison system had "a very negative impact on mental health services in the facilities." At that time, the consultants said necessary reforms would "not be accomplished unless the vacancy rate is significantly reduced."

Letter to Gov. Pat McCrory from Disability Rights NC, October 3, 2014
Recommendations of Disability Rights NC delivered to NC DPS, June 27, 2014

Court Finds NC DHHS Improperly Excluded Certain Workers with Disabilities from Medicaid

An Order filed this week brings to a conclusion a lawsuit filed by Disability Rights NC that sought access to Medicaid for working people with disabilities. Disability Rights NC filed suit in June 2013 alleging that the NC Department of Health and Human Services had wrongly suspended implementation of the Health Coverage for Workers with Disabilities Act. The law allows people with disabilities to work and maintain Medicaid coverage. In November 2013, a Superior Court judge issued a Preliminary Injunction requiring DHHS to make the program available to all eligible individuals. As a result, DHHS amended the Medicaid State Plan and took other steps to make the program available to the named Plaintiffs and other qualified individuals. Today’s ruling confirms that DHHS’s suspension of the law violated the North Carolina Constitution. DHHS may no longer exclude eligible individuals, as it had prior to the action, based on earned income or on whether the individual participates in a Medicaid waiver program. Read full press release here.

Federal Judge Allows Lawsuit to Proceed Against the NC Divsion of Motor Vehicles

August 21, 2014: Yesterday, US District Court Judge Terrence Boyle denied the NC Division of Motor Vehicle’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges it systemically discriminates against people with disabilities. This ruling could have widespread implications for drivers with disabilities. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by drivers with disabilities who were subjected to unnecessary road testing and medical exams based on stereotypes and generalizations about people with physical disabilities. Read the full press release. Read the Judge's order.

Disability Rights NC Sues Duke University for Failing to Provide Accommodations to a Student with Disabilities

August 18, 2014, Raleigh, NC: Last week, Disability Rights North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Duke University for discriminating against a student with Dyslexia in its Master of Divinity program. The lawsuit alleges that Duke University made false and deceptive statements to Plaintiff Bradley Elmendorf about its ability to accommodate him. Read the full press release here.

Disability Rights NC Is Here for You -- New Partnership Expectations

As a young agency, Disability Rights NC frequently reviews how it provides services to people with disabilities. We consider every person with a disability living in North Carolina to be our client. While our limited resources do not allow us to provide direct advocacy to everyone who calls us for assistance, we strive to provide as much help as possible in every case.

We recently developed a set of principles to guide our work. We set high expectations for ourselves. We want you to know what those expectations are, and we invite you to hold us accountable.

Click here to see the Partnership Expectations. You'll find the NDRN Protection and Advocacy Standards here. Or, call our office at 877-235-4210 to request a copy be sent to you by email or US postal mail.

Disability Rights NC Sues DMV Over Discriminatory Licensing System

Press Release, February 18, 2014 - The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles systematically discriminates against drivers with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, according to a lawsuit filed by Disability Rights NC today. The lawsuit alleges that drivers with disabilities are subjected to unnecessary road testing and medical exams, based on stereotypes and generalizations about people with physical disabilities.

The DMV Medical Review Program is a mechanism for the DMV to identify unsafe drivers. Doctors, family members, and others may suggest that a driver is no longer capable of safely driving, and the DMV may require that individual to undergo medical screening. However, the DMV has extended the program to drivers, like the Plaintiffs in this case, who are capable, safe drivers but who have a physical disability. Each individual Plaintiff was referred for testing or medical review by DMV staff based on the DMV’s policies towards drivers with disabilities. “We can’t sit by and allow the DMV to stereotype and demean North Carolina drivers with disabilities,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC. “We are taking this action to protect and promote the dignity of these individuals and all individuals with disabilities, and to enforce the right to be free from discrimination on account of disability.”

Read full press release and stories of the six individual plaintiiffs.  Read Complaint filed in court.

Special Edition of Newsletter Available Now - 2014 Targets Presented and Explained

We get a lot of questions about our Targets so we have presented our 2014 Targets in a special edition of our newsletter that answers many of the questions we have received, including:

- What Is a Target?
- What are the 2014 Targets?
- Why Does Disability Rights NC Need Targets?
- Does Disability Rights NC Do Any Work Not Covered by the Targets?
- Who Responded to the 2014 Target Survey?

View and download the special publication on the 2014 Targets here. (PDF version) Check out this page on our website for more information about our Targets.

Have You Lost Eligibility for Medicaid Reimbursement of Your Personal Care Services?

The State Division of Medical Assistance estimates that between 10,000 and 12,000 people will lose eligibility for Medicaid reimbursement of personal care services as a result of a change in state law. About 1,000 of the people at risk live in group homes with the remainder in adult care homes and family care homes.

If you received a letter that says the Medicaid-funded service or equipment you asked for is denied, terminated, suspended, or reduced, you have the right to appeal within a specific amount of time. Check out the fact sheets on our Resources page for guidance on how to appeal a Medicaid determination.

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