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Protection and advocacy agencies (P&As) were created in the early 1970s, following a media investigation of Willowbrook, a New York State institution for children with mental disabilities. The press exposed deplorable conditions and inhumane treatment of residents at the government-run institution. In response, Congress passed legislation in 1975 designating an organization within each state to protect and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

In 1977, Disability Rights Texas opened its doors as the Texas state protection and advocacy organization, designated by then-Governor Dolph Briscoe. Over time, our mandate has grown with the passage of laws that have expanded rights and services for people with disabilities.


In March 2011, Advocacy Inc. changed its name to Disability Rights Texas. Similar name changes were made by state P&As across the country in order to better align themselves with the larger National Disability Rights Network, the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated P&A systems and client assistance programs.


The Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program was expanded to include investigations of Social Security representative payees.


Advocacy Inc. began the Colonias Family Outreach project with funding from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to extend services to families living in impoverished areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.


Advocacy Inc. received funding from several state and national organizations to initiate and sustain efforts to support people with disabilities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to ensure that people with disabilities are fully included in the voting process.


Congress established the Protection and Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) to protect the rights of people with traumatic brain injury.


Congress created the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program as part of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act. This program assists people with disabilities to begin or return to work.


Congress funded the Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) program to advance the right of people with disabilities to acquire technology that will support them in daily activities.


Congress provided full funding for the Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR) program. PAIR provides protection and advocacy for individuals with disabilities who are not captured under CAP, the DD Act or PAIMI.


The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) joined forces with Advocacy Inc. by providing funding to increase legal services for low income Texans with disabilities.


Congress passed the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (PAIMI) to protect the rights of people with mental illness by providing mechanisms for the investigation of abuse and neglect.


Congress created the Client Assistance Program (CAP), which helps individuals who have difficulty applying for or receiving rehabilitative services from the state.


Congress passed the Developmental Disabilities and Bill of Rights (DD Act), which created the protection and advocacy system. Protection and advocacy organizations are required by the Act to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities.


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An Overview of Disability Rights Texas

Transcript File: An Overview of Disability Rights Texas