Changing lives, changing attitudes.
The Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) is the designated Protection and Advocacy System (P&A)
for Minnesota and addresses the unique legal needs of Minnesotans with disabilities. MDLC provides free civil legal assistance to individuals with disabilities statewide on legal issues related to their disabilities. All individuals with
disabilities are eligible to receive help, regardless of age or income level.
The Disability Law Center represented people in 74 of MN's 87 counties on issues related to their disabilities in 2012. The largest need (52%) was related to access to health services such as Personal Care Assistants, assistive technology, and mental health services.
Working to ensure clients' rights
Legal Aid attorneys work with people with disabilities to ensure they: 1) receive the necessary support and services to live independent and productive lives in the community; 2) are not victims of abuse or discrimination; and 3) receive vocational rehabilitation services to which every individual is entitled.
Services range from educating clients about services that are available to them, to advocating on their behalf and representing clients in court and hearings. We also offer access to community legal education resources and other materials to help inform people with disabilities about their rights to services.
We support clients in these areas:
- Abuse and neglect: including physical abuse, improper use of seclusion or restraints and lack of needed healthcare
- Self-determination: violation of privacy rights and access to voluntary treatment
- Community-based services, supports and health care: assistive technology, medical assistance and independent living support
- Accessibility and discrimination: access to public services, voting and help with discrimination issues
- Special education: suspension and expulsion for school-age children and help fighting inappropriate practices
- Employment: access to rehabilitation services and assistance with work-related problems such as social security benefits
To learn more about understanding your legal issue and to find Disability Law Center factsheets and other resources, visit www.lawhlepmn.org and read more about current MDLC priorities and objectives. To help us determine next year's priorities and objectives, take this quick survey.
School Restraint and Seclusion Project
The Minnesota Disability Law Center has issued a report on the use of restraint and seclusion on students in Minnesota Public Schools. The report is based on a review of MDLC intakes, analysis of state complaint and hearing decisions and survey responses from special education directors, advocates and parents. In addition to offering recommendations to policy makers and school districts, the report provides estimates of restraint and seclusion use, shows patterns of use and discusses promising practices.
Children and adults with mental illnesses have been able to use Personal Care Assistant (PCA) services as part of a plan of care to help them function in their homes and communities. PCA services are available statewide, and are an important support even when an adult or child is receiving other community-based mental health services. However, eligibility criteria were made more restrictive beginning January 1, 2010.
Legal Aid has been advocating on behalf of these Minnesotans with disabilities to help them retain PCA services.
ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) Work Group
The MDLC and the Mental Health Consumer Survivor Network of Minnesota (CSN) are co-chairing a Work Group to explore possible policy and legislative changes to the involuntary use of ECT in Minnesota. Other participants in the Work Group include the office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, NAMI, the Mental Health Association, the Ombudsman for Long Term Care, the Hennepin County Commitment Defense Panel, physicians from Allina, the Minnesota Department of Human Services State Operated Services, Lutheran Social Services, members of the Minnesota chapter of Mindfreedom, the Wellmind Association and the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) authorizes Protection & Advocacy Agencies to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places.