About Advocacy Resources
SUMMARY: The Northeast ADA Center aims to educate the public in our region about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Much of that education comes through providing technical assistance to individuals who ask us about the law and how it applies to them. Often, we are assisting people who find that they must advocate for their rights. As an ADA center, we are not permitted to advocate and so we direct those people to organizations that can fill that role.
The Northeast ADA Center’s Technical Assistance team has strong expertise in various facets of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (and other disability-related regulations) and responds to direct, on-demand requests from callers, emailers, and visitors to our website. We connect them with targeted resources, and we provide them with referrals and information tailored to their individual questions and concerns on disability-related issues.
Our goal is to educate and empower individuals and organizations in our region to increase their knowledge of the ADA, to support inclusion of people with disabilities in local communities, and to implement the ADA in their own lives, workplaces, businesses, and communities. And yet, while we strive to educate and empower people, our mission as an ADA center does not extend to assistance with advocacy or enforcement. We are prohibited from advocating by our funder. Additionally, despite a common misperception, we are not a part of the government and so have no power to enforce the law. Even so, we want our callers to receive the support they need, and we work to connect them with organizations and resources that can help.
One of the most common needs that we hear about is for assistance in advocating for disability-related rights. Between May 2016 and May 2021, the two highest referral organizations for the Northeast ADA Center were the Centers for Independent Living and the Protection and Advocacy agencies. Of the more than 20 referral entities in our reporting system, these two groups accounted for 25% of our Center’s referrals.
What is a Center for Independent Living?
- According to the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are community-based, cross-disability, non-profit organizations that are designed and operated by people with disabilities. CILs are unique in that they operate according to a strict philosophy of consumer control, wherein people with all types of disabilities directly govern and staff the organization.
- CILs provide peer support, information, and referral, individual and systems advocacy, independent living skills training, and transition information.
- The United States is home to more than 400 CILs. You can find your local CIL here.
What is the National Disability Rights Network and P&As?
- Based in Washington, DC, the National Disability Rights Network works on behalf of the Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) and Client Assistance Programs (CAPs), the nation’s largest providers of legal advocacy services for people with disabilities.
- If you have a disability and are experiencing abuse, neglect, or discrimination, or if you are having a legal problem or difficulty obtaining disability services, you can contact your state/territory P&A for assistance. You can find your local P&A here.
While the Northeast ADA technical assistance team can walk someone through how the ADA applies to their particular situation, the Northeast ADA can educate, but not advocate. Therefore, we often refer individuals to Centers for Independent Living and Protection & Advocacy agencies. Our fact sheet, Advocacy and Independent Living Resources, is a convenient way to locate these resources.