DRVT provides information, referral and advocacy services, including legal representation when appropriate, to individuals with disabilities throughout Vermont. DRVT also advocates to promote positive systemic responses to issues affecting people with disabilities.
Disability Rights Vermont’s work is defined by each of the grants we receive. We currently operate under the following programs:
PAIMI – Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness
To protect and advocate for persons with “serious mental illness” in order to prevent or redress abuse, neglect and serious rights violations, including violations of state, federal and Constitutional law.
A person that has a significant “mental illness or emotional impairment” as determined by a mental health professional.
PADD – Protection & Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled
To protect and advocate for persons with developmental disabilities in order to prevent or redress abuse, neglect and serious rights violations, including violations of state, federal and Constitutional law.
An individual who has a severe disability which is manifested before the age of 22 and results in substantial limitations in 3 or more specified major life activities, or an individual before the age of 9 who does not have 3 or more such limitations if he or she has a substantial developmental delay who without support would have a high probability of developing those limitations later in life.
PAIR – Protection & Advocacy for Individual Rights
To protect and advocate for persons with disabilities other than those covered by either the PAIMI or the PADD Acts in order to prevent or redress abuse, neglect and serious rights violations, including violations of state, federal and Constitutional law.
Individuals with disabilities who are not eligible under the PAIMI or PADD programs.
PAAT – Protection & Advocacy for Assistive Technology
To provide assistance and advocacy to persons with disabilities in the acquisition, utilization, or maintenance of assistive technology or assistive technology services, such as augmentative communication devices, closed captioned television, hydraulic lifts, scooters and mobility devices, TTYs, etc.
Any person with a disability who needs assistive technology devices or services to enhance their daily living and independence.
- Individual Advocacy to Increase Access to Durable Medical Equipment by People with Disabilities. Advocacy methods will include informal advocacy, negotiation and mediation, and initiation of administrative and judicial hearings.
- Systems Advocacy to Increase State, Federal, and Private Funding for Access to Assistive Technology. Increase access to assistive technology for people with disabilities through changes in laws, regulations, policies and practices, in conjunction with consumers and consumer organizations through informal advocacy with Vermont policy makers and formal advocacy in all forums including legislative, judicial and administrative.
- Access to Assistive Technology for Individuals who are Eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare (dual eligible). Individual and system advocacy to ensure that individuals who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare (dual eligible) have access to assistive technology which is equal to that of individuals who are eligible only for Medicaid.
PATBI – Protection & Advocacy for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury
To provide advocacy to persons with TBI and to enhance and improve access to services, including providing training for self-advocacy.
Persons with traumatic brain injury.
- Individual Advocacy for TBI Survivors Living in a Facility: Identify and provide individual advocacy to TBI survivors in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, the Vermont State Hospital and private inpatient facilities to obtain appropriate community based services and supports.
- Individual Advocacy for TBI Survivors Living in the Community: Provide individual advocacy to TBI survivors living in the community to obtain appropriate services and supports.
- Education and Training: Increase awareness of TBI through education, trainings and media.
- System Advocacy: Enhance access to comprehensive and coordinated supports and services for people with TBI and their families through system advocacy with partner agencies.
PAVA – Protection & Advocacy for Voting Access
To advocate for improved access to the electoral process by individuals with disabilities, working on systems change and outreach to individuals.
All individuals with disabilities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Voter Registration: To promote and assist in voter registration activities during all outreach to potential voters with disabilities.
Voting Rights Presentations: To provide presentations to self-advocacy and service provider groups to educate them on issues relating to voting rights and people with disabilities.
State-wide Access to Voting Committee: Participate with other disability rights advocates on the Secretary of State’s Access to Voting Committee where issues such as accessible voting technologies, voting official training and voter outreach are discussed.
Polling Place Accessibility and Voting Official Training: Systemic review of polling places throughout the State that was begun in the 2004 election year, with intense activity starting in June 2006. The goal of this project is to visit polling places identified in state self-surveys, or by DRVT constituents or other interested parties, as having less than fully accessible polling places. Using the US Department on Justice ADA Checklist for Polling Places our staff will determine current accessibility and communicate our findings to local polling officials and the Secretary of State’s office. Staff will make suggestions for improvements and provide additional disability awareness training to polling officials encountered during this process.
Availability for Information on Election Day: Approximately two weeks prior to election day, DRVT will distribute posters notifying individuals with disabilities that DRVT will have a toll-free phone number and attorneys available on election day to answer any questions voters with disabilities have on that day.
Working with GMSA: DRVT will support the Green Mountain Self Advocates to continue their efforts to encourage civic participation among their membership with technical support, training and a small grant to support “train-the-trainer” activities.
Raising Awareness of Voting Rights for People with Disabilities: As part of an overall effort to raise awareness in Vermont’s general population about the rights and struggles of Vermonter’s living with disabilities, especially regarding voting rights, DRVT will have outreach and education booths at several State and regional fairs this summer. While present at these large community gatherings, DRVT staff will register voters who identify themselves as having a disability, and will provide information and referral sources to all members of the public, but especially Vermonters with disabilities, about the rights of Vermonters with disabilities to vote without obstructions and prejudice, and will publicize the availability of DRVT’s Voter Hotline two weeks prior to the November elections.
PABSS – Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security
To provide information, referral and advocacy services to beneficiaries of Social Security Benefits in order to assist those beneficiaries in overcoming barriers to employment.
An individual must be a recipient of Social Security disability benefits, including SSDI, SSI, Medicaid and/or Medicare.
Vocational Rehabilitation/Employment Networks (state or private)
Collaborate with professionals to explain how returning to work affects benefits and future planning;
- Employment Discrimination (includes, but is not limited to discrimination in hiring, promotions, benefits, termination and denials of reasonable accommodations);
- Transition services from school to work;
- Post-Secondary education;
- Supported employment.
Refer Beneficiaries to Benefits Planners to better understand the impact employment would have on their financial status.
- Provide information on programs, services and supports available;
- Refer beneficiaries to benefits planners to ensure that impairment-related work expenses and subsidies are calculated in determining benefits;
- Refer beneficiaries to benefits planners to assist them in understanding their status in TWE (trial work periods) or EPE (extended periods of employment);
- Refer beneficiaries to benefit planners for assistance writing a PASS plan.
Investigate Complaints and Provide Legal Consultation and Representation Regarding Barriers to Employment.
- Provide information about work incentives helpful in obtaining meaningful employment;
- Medicaid/Medicare services (including personal assistant services);Assistive Technology (includes, but not limited to assistive technology, durable medical equipment and van modifications);
- Housing (when lack of housing is an as obstacle to obtaining, maintaining or regaining employment);
- Transportation (work-related);
- Other work-related barriers:
- Assist beneficiaries in protecting disability information which becomes public through court action;
- Assist beneficiaries in removing obstacles to licensing or bonding requirements for certain jobs;
- Assist beneficiaries in restoring/repairing damaged credit which impedes job opportunities;
- Assist beneficiaries in asserting self advocacy skills to express independence and freedom of choice to parents and guardians;
Assist beneficiaries in securing independent living services.
Assist in Reducing or Eliminating Unwarranted Obligations to Social Security Resulting from Allegations of Overpayments.
- Assist beneficiaries in properly and accurately reporting their wages and planning for anticipated overpayments;
- Assist beneficiaries in preparing to self advocate in meetings with SSA;
- Assist beneficiaries to identify subsidies, and other work-related costs which could be used to offset their wages;
- Assist beneficiaries in securing needed accommodations for effective communication.
Information and Referral to other Agencies: Providing information and technical assistance on work incentives to governmental agencies, employment networks and other service providers, and advocacy organizations.
MHOP – Mental Health Omudsman Project
To provide information, advice and advocacy to patients voluntarily admitted to inpatient psychiatric facilities or who are held on an involuntary 72-hour hold as part of an Emergency Examination.
Individuals in inpatient psychiatric units either as voluntary patients or as patients undergoing an Emergency Examination.
Outreach Programs & Advocacy: Outreach to individuals with mental health issues at designated hospitals across the State of Vermont.
Provide information, advice, and advocacy.
Investigate individual cases of serious abuse, neglect, and rights violations against persons with mental illness who may not otherwise have access to DRVT services and are:
- Admitted for an emergency examination (EE) or
- Are on a 72 hour hold at a designated hospital within the State of Vermont.
VOCA – Crime Victim Services
To provide information, referral, and advocacy services to children and adults who have suffered physical, sexual, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a crime. This includes victims and survivors of domestic, sexual, dating, stalking, elder abuse, financial, exploitations.
An individual must be a victim of crime with disabilities.
We are able to offer the following services:
1. Safety planning
2. Supporting victims and survivors to gain independence by accessing community and legal services
- Assistance as non-mandated reporter/Attorney client privilege
- Identify victim’s concerns in person or by phone, identify disability related supports
- Investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, domestic violence when appropriate to assist victim with identifying needs and services
- Collaborate with statewide victim services including the Network Against Domestic and Sexual Assault agencies, APS, police, etc.
- Provide training on disability rights information as needed.
- Assistance and sometimes representation with applying for Relief from Abuse Orders and maintaining defendant’s compliance
- Support around how to navigate the legal system (reporting to the police, communicating with the State’s Attorney’s Office, etc.)
- Provide support and collaboration with individual community supports (therapists, case managers, employment, etc.) to ensure victim is safe and receiving services that moves toward healing
- Assist with reporting to state agencies (APS, DA case manager, etc.) & following up on report status.
- Assist with maintaining employment (sometimes employers discriminate against victims)
- Provide long-term emotional and legal support as required
VCSP – Vermont Communication Support Project
Visit the Vermont Communication Support Project website at http://vermontcsp.org for more information.
To explore each of our programs in detail (purpose, eligibility & priorities) please click on the buttons for a dropdown with information.