Skip to main content

Expert Q&A

What is being done in the legal community to advocate for children with disabilities?

There are law firms who are teaching school districts how to find loopholes in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Parents are having to drain their already depleted bank accounts to defend their children’s rights. Tax payers don’t want to pay for services for the disabled adults in their community, but they want to discard the rights of children with disabilities to get the tools to become high functioning adults. Seems a bit hypocritical to me. Society wants the word “disability” eradicated from society so they don’t have to come to terms with their imperfections. This is far more detrimental to our reaching our full potential than the disability itself. What is being done in the legal community to combat violations?

Dear Christopher:

I agree that there is a huge gap between what the law requires and how it is implemented. Sadly, the burden is primarily placed on the person with a disability or their family to advocate for their rights under both laws. In most cases, the ability to effectively enforce these laws is difficult, even with a knowledgeable attorney. This is even more difficult because there aren’t enough attorneys familiar with these laws. Some work for not-for-profit agencies and are often overloaded, and others are in private practice and, as a result, typically have to charge for their services. There is much work still to be done to make the system work they way we want it to. This will require personal, political, and legal advocacy, certainly, but it will ultimately require our society to recognize that we need to change our attitudes about people with disabilities.

There are a number of organizations that work on disability issues on a national level that are trying to address these concerns. These include the Council of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates(opens in a new window), the National Disability Rights Network(opens in a new window), the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund(opens in a new window), the Bazelon Center of the American Bar Association, and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia(opens in a new window).

Back to Top