Into Adulthood program improves disability access for young adults

Young adults with disabilities have the right to live, work, and interact in the community. These rights come from a mix of federal and state laws and policies, including the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and Minnesota's Olmstead Plan. MDLC helps youth with disabilities transitioning into adulthood understand their rights and find the resources they need to thrive. We also provide direct legal services in several areas:

  • Employment: Removing legal barriers to work and securing workplace accommodations. Our Client Assistance Project (CAP) helps people who are applying for or getting services from Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) or State Services for the Blind (SSB) if they are having problems getting appropriate services from VRS or SSB.
  • Community Integration: Advocating for young people with disabilities to live, as much as possible, in the community with people of all abilities represented.
  • Education: Improving access to disability-related services in school or transition programs for young adults aged 18-21; assisting with accommodations in career training programs and college; and helping to navigate discipline problems with schools.
  • Anti-discrimination: Fighting for young people’s access to voting, government services, and public businesses.

Our newly published guidebook, Into Adulthood: Your Guide to Disability Access, outlines programs, services, and contacts that may be helpful for youth with disabilities ages 14-24 as they move beyond high school to live and work independently for the first time. (Note: for a plain Word version of the Into Adulthood guidebook, click here.)

Legal advocacy paves road to brighter future

Will was born with developmental disabilities. He suffered abuse, neglect, and traumatic brain injury as a toddler and had little stability through his early years. At the age of 16, behavioral problems and a lack of advocacy landed Will at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center on a unit with adults who were mentally ill and aggressive. The 40 minutes of “educational services” he received there each day were spent filling out worksheets.

A judge recognized the inappropriate placement and ordered Will’s release and assignment to a group home. The order specified educational services as a top priority. The State Ombudsman involved in the case invited Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) Legal Advocate Cindy Jarvi to help determine what those educational services should be. Since then, Jarvi has been fighting for Will’s right to an appropriate education.

Thanks to the five-year cooperative efforts of Jarvi and community partner KWST Behavioral Development Group, Will, now 21, is transitioning into adulthood with new skills and a developing sense of self-worth. He had a successful experience helping out at a barber shop, and, during the pandemic, has been able to progress with Jarvi’s continued advocacy.

“My job inspires me,” Will says. “Some of the work is hard but it doesn’t make me mad. It makes me happy. I like being here and leaving it clean so when I’m not here, people say, ‘Where’s Will?’ They see the work I’m doing and they like that I’m here, and they want me to come back more.”

“The system cheated this kid at every turn,” Jarvi says. “Additional transitional services are critical for his success and well-being. The system owes him, and I’m committed to ensuring he gets everything he is entitled to by law.”

Resources

Into Adulthood: Your Guide to Disability Access

This publication is available in other formats upon request.

Voting Rights
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Racial Disparities in School Discipline
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Into Adulthood and SAWV (Supporting All Abilities, Welcoming All Voices) Facebook Live presentation
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