About Us

Disability Rights North Carolina is a legal advocacy agency that fights for the rights of people with disabilities in North Carolina. We handle cases involving discrimination, abuse and other rights violations. All of our services are at no cost to North Carolinians with disabilities. We are a private, independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.

Learn more about our areas of work.


  • Disability Rights North Carolina advances and defends the rights of people with disabilities.


  • Disability Rights North Carolina works to achieve a just society where people with disabilities are free from discrimination and abuse.
  • Our goal is a fully integrated and accessible community – where people with disabilities have power, equal opportunity, and freedom to make their own decisions.


  • We believe that people with disabilities have the right to be heard and a right to live in the world.
  • We increase the power of people with disabilities through advocacy and the relentless pursuit of justice.
  • Disability Rights North Carolina values integrity, creative strategies, and collaboration in our work.
  • We support human dignity, diversity, and civil rights.
  • We fight for full inclusion and self-determination.

Our Story

In the 1970s, a TV reporter took a hidden camera into a school for children with disabilities in New York. Parents thought their children would get treatment there. But the reporter’s investigation told a different story. He showed video footage of children crowded together in filth. Some didn’t have clothes. They were neglected and abused. Some of the children had been intentionally infected with Hepatitis. “We have a situation that borders on a snake pit,” said Robert Kennedy after he visited the place in 1965.

The country was shocked. After the story came out, the parents of the children filed a lawsuit against the state, and Congress passed civil rights laws to protect people with disabilities. They closed places like Willowbrook. They created the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system to make sure that this abuse never happened again. Disability Rights NC is the P&A for North Carolina. We visit and watch the places where people with disabilities live and work to make sure that they are safe and treated well.

Learn more about the Willowbrook State School and the P&A system:

Our Organization’s History

North Carolina’s P&A was a unit of state government (the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities) for 30 years, until it merged with the former Carolina Legal Assistance in 2007 to become a private, independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since that time, DRNC has continued to fight for the rights of people with disabilities in North Carolina.

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