Welcome to the website of Disability Rights Connecticut, Inc. (“DRCT”), a new independent, nonprofit organization established to be the successor entity to Connecticut’s Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities which was abolished by Connecticut law as of June 30, 2017. We are a statewide organization largely funded by federal entities and authorized by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, Rehabilitation Act and Social Security Act. DRCT opened its doors on July 1, 2017 and is hoping to hear from you!!
Words Do Make a Difference - DRCT Issues Press Release
August 10, 2018 - Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT) is aware of the comments reportedly made by a Cromwell City Councilman during a recent executive session. According to sources quoted in the Middletown Press, during the meeting, the Councilman used the word “retarded” as a derogatory slur. As the “protection and advocacy” (P&A) for the State of Connecticut, DRCT is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, their families, and our community as a whole. As an agency dedicated to identifying and eliminating the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities, DRCT was disappointed to hear about the Councilman’s alleged statement. DRCT issues this press release in hopes that it will clarify why it is inappropriate and disrespectful to use the word “retarded,” (“the R-word”) or any word that demeans, disparages, or disrespects an individual on the basis of his or her disability.
Best Buddies, the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), along with The Special Olympics, and their supporters have an ongoing effort, “Spread the Word to End the Word” which addresses this issue. The movement started in 2009 and according to a fact sheet in its resources, seeks to “inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful and disrespectful words can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.” As “Spread the Word to End the Word” recognizes, “[r]espectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities.” You can find more information about the harmful effects of the “R-word,” at: https://www.r-word.org/r-word-effects-of-the-word.aspx.
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have had to overcome negative stereotypes for far too long. Since the Spread the Word to End the Word movement began, over 770,000 people have pledged to “support the elimination of the derogatory use of the R-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.” In 2007, at the insistence of disability advocacy groups like People First of Connecticut, Connecticut lawmakers recognized the importance of eliminating the use of the R-word when they officially changed the name of the Department of Mental Retardation to the Department of Developmental Services. In recognition of the stigma surrounding the “R-word,” all other references to the term “retardation” have also been removed from Connecticut statutes. The federal government also began replacing the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability in health, education, and labor policy in 2010.
DRCT urges Cromwell City Council to take the pledge to “Spread the Word to End the Word,” to recognize the harmful effects that the R-word has for individuals with disabilities, and to promote inclusion, respect and acceptance of individuals with all types of disabilities.
Happy National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) from REV UP Connecticut!
Disability Rights Connecticut and its REV UP partners are celebrating National Disability Voter Registration Week. NDVRW aims to increase the number of voters with disabilities in Connecticut and across the country. It starts by ensuring that people with disabilities are registered to vote! Are you registered to vote?
If you are not already registered to vote, you can go online and register using the Online Registration form on the website for the Secretary of the State. Here is the link:
The site explains the process and the identification requirements. You will note that 2 buttons at the bottom read:
· I do have a valid DMV ID and I do not have a valid DMV ID.
If you click on the first button “I do have a valid DMV ID”, you will be led through the entire online registration process. If you click on the second button “I do not have a valid DMV ID”, you will be led through the process of filling out a registration form, which you will then need to print out and deliver, by hand or standard mail, to your local Registrars’ Office.
Want to register to vote in person? Here are some places that offer voter registration:
· Municipal Town Clerk Offices
· CT Department of Social Services (all offices)
· CT Department of Public Health
· CT Department of Motor Vehicles
· CT Department of Developmental Services
· CT Department of Rehabilitation Services
· Disability Rights Connecticut
· Public Libraries
· Colleges and Universities
· All Armed Forces Recruitment Offices
· Many nonprofit community organizations
REGISTER AND VOTE!
DRCT UPDATE: New Phone System Installed
The new phone system at DRCT went live today. The local and toll-free numbers are the same but the staff now have extensions so you can reach them directly! You can find the extensions by going to the Contact Page or clicking here.
DRCT Welcomes a New Legal Director
Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT) is excited to welcome Catherine Cushman as its New Legal Director. Cathy joins DRCT after many years protecting the civil and human rights of people with disabilities in Connecticut. to read more about Cathy, please go to the "Meet Our Staff" page
Disability Rights Connecticut Files a Complaint Against the Connecticut Department of Transportation
Disability Rights Connecticut, as the "protection and advocacy system" for individuals with disabilities in Connecticut, filed an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint against the Connecticut Department of Transportation. In a Press Release on June 8, 2018, DRCT explained, "Representatives from NHHS Rail have indicated that the service will begin operations in violation of the ADA and ADA regulations when it begins operations on June 16, 2018. The trains which will be used to provide the service on the NHHS Rail do not have accessible bathrooms. No accessible bathrooms will be available on any of the trains until at least November of 2018. CT DOT’s proposed solution was to place accessible bathroom trailers at the train stations to make up for the lack of accessible bathrooms on the trains. This proposal fails to address the lack of accessible bathrooms on the train. It still treats people with disabilities differently and does not afford individuals with disabilities with substantially equal access compared to individuals without disabilities".
DRCT is Hiring Advocates! - Application Deadline is June 26
Disability Rights Connecticut is hiring three (3) Advocates! Each position has a different focus although advocates will also be expected to work in other areas of the agency. Please go to the Job Opportunities Section of this website for more information.
We are People - People First Annual Conference - June 23
Don't Forget to Register!
People First of Connecticut, a self-advocacy group for people with disabilities, is hosting it's Annual Conference on June 23, 2018 from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. The Conference, We Are People, features a keynote speech by Chester Finn, national self-advocacy leader and a speech by Jordan Scheff, Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services. There will also be workshops on Employment, Partners in Policymaking, Housing Options, Board Member Training, and advocacy skills. The cost of the conference is $30.00 if paid by June 19, 2018 and $35.00 after that date.
Click on the link to register: REGISTER HERE
Congressman John Larson Celebrates with DRCT Staff
Congressman John Larson met with staff at the DRCT office to celebrate passage of the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act (HR 4547). Congressman Larson, an author of the Act, celebrated with DRCT and gave them a signed copy for the office. The Act creates better protections for Social Security beneficiaries including improved oversight of the representative payees that are entrusted with managing their benefits. Under the Act, Disability Rights Connecticut will receive funding to provide critical monitoring of Social Security Representative Payees to ensure they are meeting their obligations to beneficiaries.