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Message #740 Legal rights of disabled people

mp3 #740 Legal Rights of Californians with Disabilities (mp3 file)

There are more than four million Californians who have physical or mental impairments which substantially limit one or more of their major-life activities, such as caring for themselves, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Disabled Californians are often treated with paternalism, and they are often denied services that they need, and to which they have a legal right. This message will let you know of some publications and organizations that will help you assert your legal rights as a disabled Californian. This will also tell you where you can receive information about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, is currently offering a 4-page document containing information on employment rights of disabled individuals, such as the right to use transportation. The document is available in Braille, large print, electronic file on computer disk, and electronic bulletin board. This document can be acquired by writing to the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, coordination and review section, P.O. Box 66118, Washington, D.C. 20035-6118. The information is also available by calling toll free at 1-800-514-0301. For those individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired, the toll free TTY number is 1-800-514-0383. You can also find information available on their webpage by visiting

The State Bar of California publishes a directory of legal services for the disabled in California. The handbook contains much information of interest to disabled persons, no matter what age. The state bar also publishes a handbook especially for senior citizens. These documents and more may be ordered from the Consumer Education Pamphlet Hotline at 888-875-LAWS, that’s 888-875-5297. They are also available online at

There are many organizations in California which assist people with disabilities to be aware of and to enforce their legal rights. Several such organizations will be described in this message.

Disabled people themselves have formed a statewide network of service organizations called independent living centers, to provide support services for disabled people living in their local communities. The centers currently assist people with disabilities to find housing, secure employment, navigate through the maze of government bureaucracies, and provide other independent living support services. The centers recruit and refer persons to help with personal care and housekeeping. The centers counsel, educate, and represent clients to help them receive medical and other financial benefits. The centers assist disabled individuals to achieve their objectives and goals with the state department of rehabilitation. The centers provide job seekers with vocational counseling, job-seeking skills workshops, job placement and follow-up. The centers help clients to locate and secure accessible, affordable housing, build ramps, and facilitate interior modifications. The centers provide peer counseling and support services, and have special programs for teenagers, seniors, and people who are blind or deaf or mentally disabled.

There are 32 independent living centers in California. They are located in the following cities, listed alphabetically: Altadena, Anaheim, Belmont, Berkeley, Chico, Claremont, Covina, Downey, Eureka, Fresno, Grass Valley, Hayward, Lomita, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Modesto, Pleasant Hill, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Rafael, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Van Nuys.

The names of the centers vary; for example, in Anaheim it is called the Doyle McIntosh Center for the Disabled. In Altadena, it is the Living Independently Valley Center. In Long Beach, it is the Disabled Resource Center. In Pleasant Hill, it is Independent Living Resources. In Riverside, it is the Riverside Center for Independent
Living. In Sacramento, it is the Resources for Independent Living. In San Bernardino, it is Rolling Start.

There are also several public service law offices which are set up specifically to assist disabled person with legal problems which are related to their disabilities.

In Southern California, there is the Disability Rights Legal Center (an affiliate of Loyola Law School) at 919 Albany Street, Los Angeles, California 90015 and online at Their telephone number is area code (213) 736-8104 and their TTY number for the hearing impaired is area code (213) 736-8310. They can also be reached by email at The center represents clients in court, and before federal, state and local agencies. The center also provides a wide variety of community educational activities.

In Northern California, there is the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, at 2212 Sixth Street, Berkeley, California 94710 and online at, Their telephone number for both voice and TTY is area code (510) 644-2555 and their email is The fund offers nine Guides—the "Access Equals Opportunity" series—that provide practical answers to frequently asked questions about a wide variety of business industries and are available at no cost on their webpage at

For mentally ill or developmentally disabled people who need free help with their rights, there is a statewide, nonprofit organization called Protection and Advocacy, Inc. It's staffed by full-time professionals, and has offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. Protection and Advocacy, Inc. provides many services to developmentally disabled persons, their families and their advocates, including: informational materials about legal rights, referral to other advocacy services, technical assistance, advocacy training, and direct representation, including investigation, negotiation, and representation in administrative hearings and in court. Protection and Advocacy, Inc. focuses concerns in the following areas: rights and services guaranteed by federal and state law, due process protections, abuse and neglect in residential facilities, special education, habilitation and rehabilitation, government financial entitlements and benefits, and non-discrimination and the provision of services. For further information, visit their webpage at or call Protection and Advocacy, Inc. at its toll free number, 1-800-776-5746. Their TTY number is 1-800-781-4546.

Finally, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, known as the "ADA", was signed by president bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA applies to state and local governments and employers with 15 or more employees. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training and other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. All programs, activities and services made available by state and local governments are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability, regardless whether these entities receive federal financial assistance. This coverage also extends to all public entities that provide public transportation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act employment provisions have been incorporated into California laws dealing with disabled individuals, and the fair employment and housing act. You may wish to review SmartLaw Message #801, "Fair employment practices in California." If you would like more information about the ADA and how it might affect you or someone you know, please contact the following agencies:




1. For general information contact:

Coordination & Review Section Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice P.O. Box 66118

Washington, D.C. 20035-6118

Or call 1-800-514-0301. For TTY for the hearing impaired please call, 1-800-514-0383 or visit them online at

2. Concerning employment requirements contact:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

1801 "L" Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20507

Or call 1-800-669-4000 for voice or 1-800-669-6820 for TTY.

You can also visit their website at

3. For transportation requirements contact:

The Department of Transportation at

400 7th Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20590

Or call area code (202)366-4000. For TTY please dial 1-800-877-8339 or visit them online at

4. For design guidelines for new construction and alterations contact:

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board

1331 "F" Street, N.W.

Suite 1000

Washington, D.C. 20004

Or call 1-800-872-2253. For TTY please call 1-800-993-2822

5. For telecommunications requirements contact:

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th St, SW

Washington, D.C. 20554

Or call 888-225-5322. For TTY please call 1-888-835-5322 or visit them online at

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