POSTPONED – new date to be announced soon.

Join us for the 7th Annual Disability Advocacy Conference
Voices. Votes. Values.

In light of recommendations regarding large gatherings issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, DRNC has decided to postpone our disability advocacy conference previously scheduled for April 30. We want to do our part to keep the community safe and stop the spread of this disease. We are coordinating with the venue and keynote speaker Judith Heumann, and will announce a new date soon.

New date to be announced soon
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
at the Raleigh Hilton North Hills
3415 Wake Forest Road | Raleigh, North Carolina

Register Now 

Questions? Email

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Plenary Speaker – Judy Heumann

Judy Heumann

Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people.

As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Judy Heumann is an internationally recognized disability rights activist. She is a lifelong civil rights advocate and leader in the disability rights movement. Heumann’s incredible record of accomplishment has advanced the rights of people with disabilities in the U.S. and abroad.

Disability Rights North Carolina is thrilled to feature Judy Heumann as our plenary speaker in a conversation with DRNC Chief Executive Officer Virginia Knowlton Marcus. Hear Judy talk about how she has spent her life challenging assumptions about people with disabilities and advocating for equal rights. Judy’s memoir “Being Heumann,” published in February 2020, will be available for sale.

Session Topics Include:

  • Access the Vote NC 2020
  • Lack of Healthcare and Humane Treatment in NC Jails
  • Medicaid Transformation and Other Medicaid topics
  • Special Education: Allergies and the ADA
  • Disaster Preparedness and Response for People with Disabilities
  • Employment: When do Fitness for Duty Examinations Cross the Line
  • Ethics and Assistive Technology: Lawyers and Clients with Disabilities
  • Guardianship 101
  • And much more! (See draft agenda below)

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Sponsors and exhibitors are key to the success of our conference. View our sponsorship opportunities packet for details or you can make your sponsorship payment online. Exhibitors are asked to sponsor at least at the advocate ($600) level. For questions or to discuss how you can support the 2020 Disability Advocacy Conference, email Susan McLean at or call 919-856-2195 x294.

Thank you to our 2020 Disability Advocacy Conference SPONSORS!


PARTNER ($1000)
NC Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NC NAELA) · 

Bayada · Dr. Crystal Bowe · Mutual of America · The Corporation of Guardianship ·

Steve Byrd, Hill Chesson & Woody · F I R S T · Evan Lewis · Cheryl Mulloy-Villemagne · WCPSS Food Allergy Famiiies"

Request an Accommodation

Individuals requiring accessibility accommodations should note specifics on the registration form or email


Access to all conference materials will be made available to participants online. A printed version of the materials book is offered for an additional fee of $20. Scholarship recipients, and participants who require a printed version for accessibility purposes, can request a materials book at no charge as part of registration or by emailing

Continuing Education 

Lawyers and paralegals licensed in North Carolina can receive up to 5.0 CLE credit hours, including 1.0 hour of ethics credit (approval pending with the NC State Bar). The National Association of Social Workers – NC Chapter has endorsed this program for CE credit for social workers. Social workers and peer support specialists will be provided certificates of attendance (5 hrs) that may be used to obtain course credit.


The Raleigh Hilton North Hills, our host property, offers a discounted conference rate of $159 including a full breakfast. Call 1-800-HILTONS (445-8667) or 919-719-4929 and reference the group code: DRNC or access our conference link on the Hilton website.


Individuals with disabilities unable to pay the full registration fee may apply to Disability Rights NC to receive a discounted registration. These discounts are available through the generous support of our sponsors. Application forms are available on our website. All applications for scholarships must be submitted by April 15.

Scholarships are not available for individuals whose registration will be paid or reimbursed by an organization, corporation, or other corporate entity (such as a school, church, state or local agency, or nonprofit).

Residents of Mecklenburg County are eligible for scholarships through Mecklenburg First in Families.

Refund Policy

Full registration refunds minus a $25 handling fee will be given until April 15, 2020. After April 15, a refund of $75 (or the amount paid minus a $25 handling fee, if less than $75). Refunds will be issued by check within 21 days of receipt of a written request for a refund mailed to the attention of Susan McLean, or emailed to

Authorization to Photograph and Video

By registering, participants provide their consent for Disability Rights NC to photograph and record video images at the event, and to use and publish such images.


· REGISTRATION (8 – 8:30 AM) · 

· SESSION 1 (8:30 AM) · 

Lives Worth Living Documentary
Lives Worth Living tells one of the greatest civil rights victories of all time. This film is told by the movement’s heroes themselves through historic footage and interviews, and features today’s plenary speaker, Judith Heumann. Begin your conference experience with a step back in history as we look towards what lies ahead in the disability advocacy movement. This exceptional documentary is guaranteed to stimulate your human rights activism. 

·  SESSION 2 (9:50 AM)  · 

Access the Vote NC 2020   
Presenter: Kenya Myers

Allergies and the ADA (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenters: Virginia Fogg, Lucy Hatchell
When students with allergies do not get the right accommodations, it can be life-threatening. But many people are confused about the protections these students have under the law. In this session, we will discuss the responsibilities of school staff and districts and go over the rights of students with allergies.

Employment Essentials: When do Fitness for Duty Examinations Cross the Line (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenter: Chris Hodgson
Fitness for duty examinations screen out people with disabilities from job opportunities. This session details how the Americans with Disabilities Act balances the business community’s desire to examine the abilities of its employees with the Act’s goal to eliminate disability-based discrimination in the workplace.

Guardianship 101 (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenter: Larkin Taylor-Parker
Come and learn about adult guardianship: its origins, what it is, what function it serves, where it falls short for some people with disabilities, and what alternatives are available.


A Conversation with Judith Heumann and DRNC Chief Executive Officer Virginia Knowlton Marcus
Among the most successful disability rights activists of all time, Judy Heumann is a powerful communicator not to be missed. Through her fierce advocacy, Judy has risen to international prominence, led massive systemic change, and sparked countless other disability rights advocates. Her recently released memoir, Being Heumann, and the film Crip Camp have re-launched Judy into the mainstream spotlight, and landed her a place in Time magazine’s Top 100 women for 2020. Judy joins longtime friend and fellow human rights warrior, Virginia Knowlton Marcus, in a conversation about her life, work and role in the disability rights movement.

· LUNCH (12:10 PM) ·

· SESSION 3  (12:50 PM) ·

EPSDT: Medicaid for Children (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenter: Emily Kim, Iris Green    
This session provides an overview of Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit for children and youth under age 21. This will include an overview of the basics of EPSDT, a review of EPSDT under the 1115 Waiver, and leading cases enforcing the EPSDT’s mandate that children receive necessary examinations and treatment.

Ethics and Assistive Technology: Lawyers and Clients with Disabilities (NC CLE Technology 1.0)
Presenters: Kristine Sullivan Durzy and Larkin Taylor-Parker
Assistive technology is an increasingly prevalent phenomenon that facilitates independence and improves quality of life for people with disabilities. Kristine Sullivan and Larkin Taylor-Parker will teach attendees how assistive technology can help fulfill legal and ethical obligations, facilitate good client relations, and make their practice run more smoothly.

NC Ability to Lead Project: What’s on the Horizon for North Carolina’s Disability Advocacy Movement
Presenter: Corye Dunn    
Funded through a grant by the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities, this ground breaking project brings self-advocates, family members and professionals together to be trained as our next generation of disability advocates. Alumni of Partners in Policy Making and Advancing Strong Leaders, as well as anyone interested in learning more about the initiative and joining the pilot class of trainees, are encouraged to attend.

Animals as Accommodation in Housing – Know Your Rights (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenters: Elizabeth Myerholtz and Lisa Nesbitt

· SESSION 4 (2:10 PM) ·

Functional Assessment Support Teams (FAST) in Disasters – What are they and how do I sign up?
Presenters: Sheri Badger and Lauren Howard        
Functional Assessment Support Teams (FAST) are teams of trained social and human service professionals who deploy to shelters during disasters to help assess and procure resources for people with access and functional needs. The goal is to help individuals remain as independent as they can in shelters by identifying and providing needed services, equipment, and supplies. Come and learn how the teams work and how you can become a FAST responder.

Medicaid Waivers: Emerging Issues & Appeal Strategies (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenters:  Lisa Gessler and Emma Kinyanjui
This session explains general information about currently available Medicaid Waivers including the Innovations, Community Alternative Program for Disabled Adults, TBI Waivers, and Community Alternative Program for Children Waivers. The presenters will briefly explore the eligibility requirements for each waiver and (b)(3) services and discuss emerging issues with regard to each.

Untried, Untreated, Unseen: The Lack of Healthcare and Humane Treatment in North Carolina Jails  (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenters: Susan Pollitt, Luke Woollard
Suicide rates in North Carolina Jails continue to exceed the national average, and deaths due to overdoses are rising at an alarming rate.  With advocates pushing for treatment innovations and changes to outdated regulations, there are many opportunities for people of all backgrounds to get involved in the crucial campaign to improve conditions in our jails.  In this session, DRNC’s Criminal Justice Team will review jail oversight mechanisms, offer insight into investigating claims of mistreatment and wrongful death, and highlight recent successful cases and settlements. We will also identify problematic issues with jail conditions in North Carolina, including failure to provide healthcare and disability accommodations.  Finally, the session will outline strategies for effective advocacy through policy change, local action, and litigation.

What’s on the Way at the GA? (NC CLE 1.0)
Presenters: Corye Dunn and Meisha Evans
DRNC’s Public Policy Team discusses legislative highlights from the 2019 Long Session like Raise the Age, Medicaid Managed Care, and Threat Assessment Teams while also previewing what we’re likely to see during the 2020 Short Session.

·  SESSION 5 (3:30 PM) ·

Our Voices Tour 2020
DRNC wants to hear from people with disabilities and those who support them to better understand the most helpful work we can do. We want to know what challenges you are facing, and what issues are important to you. Pick one of the sessions below. This is your chance to tell us how we can help you!

  • Listening Session for Access to Your Community
  • Listening Session for Education
  • Listening Session for Services, Including Medicaid

Legal Advocacy in North Carolina – Attorneys’ Forum (NC CLE 1.0)
This interactive discussion focuses on issues that impact individuals with disabilities in our state and what attorneys can do to address these needs. What are the issues that are important in the disability community in North Carolina?  What issues are people working on locally and statewide?  Who are the leaders? And how can we unite as a legal community to foster change.

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