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worked with DRTx staff to obtain safety disclaimers needed for a wheelchair lift
Benito had been traveling to and from work in the same van for many years before it started to break down, and he realized he needed to invest in a new vehicle. Because of disabilities resulting from having polio as a child, Benito uses a wheelchair and needed assistance paying for a wheelchair lift for the new van he purchased. He applied for financial support from the Texas Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) for the lift. Based on an outdated document DARS obtained from Ford stating that a wheelchair lift was unsafe for Benito’ new van model, DARS denied his request for services. Benito contacted Disability Rights Texas, and his case was assigned to a staff advocate. The advocate found an updated safety disclaimer from Ford saying that it was, in fact, safe to install a wheelchair lift in his new van. After receiving the new safety disclaimer, DARS reversed its denial of services and Benito expects to receive his wheelchair lift soon so that he continue living and working independently.
received financial support from state agencies to help purchase new clothes
After his release from the Texas Youth Commission, Samuel wanted to start attending college classes and working in the community. Unfortunately, he was released with little more than the clothes on his back and needed support to begin his new life. Disability Rights Texas convened several service providers to develop a plan of action to help Samuel. Through coordination of these providers, the DRTx advocate helped to enroll Samuel in college, reinstate his social security benefits, and improve the mental health services he receives. He also received financial support from state agencies to help purchase new clothes so that he could begin his academic year on the right foot. He started school in the fall semester of 2010 and lives on campus.
secured the right to remain in his general kindergarten classroom and new in-home services
Aaron, a 6-year-old boy with autism, was struggling with behavioral problems and completing assignments in his kindergarten class. School administrators suggested that Aaron be put in a special classroom for children with autism. Aaron’s mom was committed to keeping him in a regular classroom with his peers and sought the assistance of Disability Rights Texas. The advocate assigned to Aaron’s case attended meetings with school administrators and persuaded them to bring in one of the school district’s autism specialists to work with Aaron’s teacher. Aaron will get to remain in the general classroom setting, with a check-in in the near future to determine if the new supports are improving his performance. He is also receiving in-home services to address socialization and behavioral issues.
received a laptop with voice recognition software for help completing school assignments
Briana, a 9-year-old girl with muscular dystrophy, was having trouble completing assignments in school due to limited mobility in her hands. Despite requests to the school administrators that Briana be given frequent breaks from writing, she still continued to struggle. Briana’s mother contacted Disability Rights Texas and was assigned an advocate that connected Briana and her mother with the Paso Del Norte Children’s Development Center and an assistive technology specialist. The specialist evaluated Briana and determined that she would benefit from a laptop with voice recognition so that she does not have to use her hands to complete school assignments. Briana was excited to receive the support and quickly learned how to use the laptop and voice recognition program.
secured increased Medicaid services for improved nursing support
Jonathan is a 14-year-old boy with a complex set of disabilities due to a negative reaction to the Hepatitis-B vaccine. His mother carefully pieced together the medical and therapeutic services he needs to stay in their home. Although his medical needs remained the same, Texas Medicaid continually tried to reduce supports for Jonathan. Each time, his mother appealed the decision; each time, Jonathan’s supports were reduced for the duration of the appeal – at one point, this stretched out to 85 days of insufficient nursing services. In February of 2005, Disability Rights Texas filed a lawsuit. In December 2006, a federal judge ruled that that Texas Medicaid’s practice of reducing services during the appeal process and without advance notice is a violation of beneficiaries’ constitutional rights.
won the right to live in her community after a lifetime of institutionalization
In 1934, 16-year-old Opal had a brief psychotic episode and was committed to the Austin State Hospital. The shame and stigma of Opal’s mental illness and staff’s discouragement of visitation caused her family to drift away from her. Opal did not hear from her family again until 1985, when her nephew — whom she had never met — learned of her at a family reunion and decided to find her. He began a long battle to remove Opal from institutions, where she had been living for more than 50 years. With help from Disability Rights Texas, Opal got out of state institutions and won a $505,000 verdict against the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation for negligently subjecting her to “institutionalization syndrome.” Opal passed away on March 15, 2005, after spending several happy years in the community, reconnecting with old friends and family members.