Know Your Rights
It’s the most basic of positions: People with developmental, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities have all the rights of any American citizen. They’re human rights—civil rights.
In general, three federal laws have been created to protect people with disabilities:
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1972 made it illegal for federally funded programs and institutions to discriminate against people with disabilities.
- The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) was originally passed in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and affirms that children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate education.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, prohibits discrimination in employment, transportation, public accommodations, and more.
You’ll can find more about rights for people with disabilities on our resources page.
All people with disabilities should, as much as possible, be aware of their rights and encouraged to assert them. According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), self-advocates should:
- Know about, understand, and assert their rights;
- Obtain support to be effective self-advocates;
- Practice self-determination and advocacy;
- Learn and develop the skills necessary to advocate for one’s self;
- Practice self-protection;
- Obtain needed services; and
- Fully participate in their community.
In some cases, the person you’re caring for may not be able to assert their rights. It’s important that you always advocate in the best interest of the individual, understanding that your own opinions or desires are secondary to those of the person you’re representing. If what you want and what your loved one wants are in conflict, you may need to withdraw from the decision-making process and find another advocate.
Your Rights in Action
If you believe you or the person with a disability in your care is being discriminated against, you have options. Across the nation, there are statewide and local resources that can help. In Indiana, contact Indiana Disability Rights, whose mission is to protect and promote the rights of individuals with disabilities through empowerment and advocacy.
Becoming a Better Advocate
Want to take your advocacy to the next level? Damar offers training and learning opportunities that can help you be a better advocate for your loved one, educate your community about rights for people with disabilities, and even get involved at the system level. Learn more about how we can help.
Learn Even More
There are great resources behind Damar to help you learn more about people with disabilities and how to support and advocate for them. The more you know, the more you can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a developmental disability? What happens after an autism diagnosis? What services are available and how do you pay for them? What do you do next? We have answers to these questions and many others.
Need more information? Looking for support? Get in touch with us to learn more.