Although our areas of focus may change from year to year, we remain dedicated to enforcing and strenghtening laws that protect the opportunities, choices, and legal rights of people with disabilities in Utah. We always welcome suggestions for new areas of focus. If you would like to suggest a new area of focus, please complete the form found at the bottom of this page.

To view previous year priorities, visit our Priorities Archive at http://disabiltylawcenter.org/priorities-archive.

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Abuse & Neglect

Goal: Adults or youth with disabilities living in or being treated in facilities or correctional institutions, will be free from abuse and neglect and will receive appropriate services.

  • Area of Focus 1: Investigating abuse of individuals in county jails or in the custody of Utah Department of Corrections (UDC). DLC will provide legally-based advocacy to inmates in the county jails or UDC custody who, as determined by the team, are allegedly being seriously abused or neglected.
  • Area of Focus 2: Monitoring facilities and services. Based on complaints, incident reports, resident/patient advocate referrals, or survey results from facility licensing, and as determined by the DLC, the DLC will monitor facilities and institutions for serious abuse or neglect, and provide legally-based advocacy to residents of facilities who are allegedly being seriously abused or neglected.
  • Area of Focus 3: Individual Advocacy. Although focusing primarily on systemic work during FY17, the DLC will conduct investigations of suspected serious abuse, as determined by the team. In addition to cases from the facilities or institutions above, we will investigate concerns arising from the Community Integration Team’s work with DSPD residential or community-based providers, private ICFs/ID, nursing facilities, or assisted living facilities.

Access & Rights

Goal 1: Reduce or eliminate architectural and programmatic barriers faced by people with disabilities using public buildings, public accommodations, transportation and Post-Secondary Education.

  • Area of Focus 1: Architectural Accessibility. Focus on places of public accommodation in rural Utah, specifically where the DLC has begun building relationships with community officials through the voting program or encountered pervasive accessibility violations. Continue to survey and address ADA/ADAAG compliance in Salt Lake City for public buildings or private businesses, including filing DOJ complaints where noncompliance is not remedied after notification.
  • Area of Focus 2: Programmatic Accessibility. Continue to build relationships with Salt Lake City Mayor’s Accessibility Council; continue to monitor city street parking for ADA/ADAAG compliance.
  • Area of Focus 3: Higher Education. Determine appropriate methods to reach post-secondary education students regarding available accommodations, procedure and DRC resources.
  • Area of Focus 4: Transportation. Continue to participate in Wasatch Regional Coordination Council for Community Transportation (RCC) meetings and the Bear River Association of Governments Mobility Management Council to organize and guide local and regional coordination efforts that directly or indirectly improve transportation options for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans and/or persons with low income.

Goal 2: People belonging to protected classes will be free from housing discrimination.

  • Area of Focus 1: Housing Advocacy. DLC Housing program will 1) conduct outreach and training to individuals about their fair housing rights, 2) complete fair housing tests, 3) mediate cases and file administrative complaints, 4) orient testers, and; 4) survey design and construction of new apartment construction sites to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Goal 3: Address barriers which prevent people of all abilities the right to vote privately and independently.

  • Area of Focus 1: Full Electoral Participation. Ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities including: registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places. Activities may include: systemic advocacy, consumer education/training, assisting individuals in the state-based administrative grievance procedure required by HAA, and representing individuals with disabilities in any hearing that may be held regarding the complaint.
  • Area of Focus 2: Accessible Voting Experience. Improve voting accessibility by working with election officials to ensure: polling places and equipment are accessible, poll workers and volunteers understand how to provide an accessible voting experience, and state policies and practices are consistent with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Community Integration

Goal 1: Advocate for Utahns to live and receive services and supports in the most integrated and least restrictive settings appropriate to their choices and needs.

  • Area of Focus 1: Services and Supports in the Most Integrated Settings. The DLC will provide systemic, legally-based advocacy to ensure that individuals with disabilities are being served in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs and preferences.
  • Area of Focus 2: Implementation of CMS’s Home and Community Based Settings (HCBS) Rule. The DLC will conduct systemic advocacy to ensure the Utah Department of Health (DOH) will develop and carry out a transition plan to become fully compliant with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Service’s HCBS Settings Rule. As a part of this continuing advocacy, the CI team will develop a plan to monitor the State’s implementation of the heightened scrutiny process.
  • Area of Focus 3: Outreach & Education. The DLC will continue to do outreach to individuals receiving DSPD services as well as expanding outreach to individuals receiving services through the Aging and New Choices waivers. This will include a focus on outreach and trainings to consumer groups, professionals, those living in and/or working in programs receiving waiver dollars, including those in rural areas.

Goal 2: People with disabilities facing denial, reduction, or termination of healthcare and/or assistive technology services will receive appropriate healthcare services.

  • Area of Focus 1: Access to Healthcare and Assistive Technology. The DLC will advocate on behalf of Individuals to receive healthcare/assistive technology services that have been denied or reduced. This includes Medicaid and Medicare as well as assistive technology denials through various sources. Clients and potential clients will be served through a clinic model.
  • Area of Focus 2: Inappropriate discharge from residential healthcare services. The DLC will investigate allegations of inappropriate discharge of those receiving inpatient residential healthcare services in long-term care and skilled nursing facilities. Clinics will be held over the phone with the intent of ensuring that the process is being followed.

Community Relations

Goal 1: Increase awareness of the DLC as the disability law authority in Utah.

  • Area of Focus 1: Community Relations. Lead activities using a variety of strategies to increase 1) the communication skills of staff 2) the variety and reach of communication methods, 3) educate people with disabilities about their rights.
  • Area of Focus 2: Ethnic Outreach. Reach out and establish relationships with Latino communities in order to increase the percentage of ethnic callers to 11%.
  • Area of Focus 3: Rural Outreach. Increase the percentage of calls received from counties outside the Wasatch Front to 22%.

Goal 2: Advance the mission of the DLC by engaging in strategic public interest communications.

  • Area of Focus 1: Inclusion. Pursue systemic changes designed to facilitate the full inclusion of Utahns with disabilities at home, in the workplace, and in the community.
  • Area of Focus 2: Systemic Change. Translate the information and policy recommendations we provide to policymakers into concrete action and positive systemic change.

Education

Goal 1: All Utah students with disabilities will have available to them a free, appropriate public education designed to meet their unique needs.

  • Area of Focus 1: Self-advocacy. The DLC will assist self-advocates and also implement systemic legal efforts with issues related to: eligibility, placement in the least restrictive environment, suspension, expulsion, and highly intrusive interventions.
  • Area of Focus 2: Training & Direct Advocacy. Efforts to train and advocate on behalf of students with disabilities will focus on issues related to eligibility, placement in the least restrictive environment, suspension, expulsion, and highly intrusive interventions.

Employment

Goal 1: People with disabilities will have equal employment opportunities and be free from discrimination.

  • Area of Focus 1: Client Assistance Program. The DLC will help applicants or clients of programs under the Division of Rehabilitation Services achieve high quality employment outcomes consistent with their primary employment factors. Strategies will include providing outreach and education to individuals about: 1) employment rights, 2) employment discrimination, and; 3) the services available through the Client Assistance Program and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security programs (CAP & PABSS).
  • Area of Focus 2: Integrated Employment. The DLC will embark on a systemic project implemented across teams to monitor and provide follow up advocacy services for people residing in ICF/ID facilities and/or working in sheltered workshops to ensure they have information on how to obtain the services they need to find integrated employment in their community.
  • Area of Focus 3: Beneficiaries of Social Security. The DLC will advocate for people who receive SSI and SSDI – who either wish to return to work or are struggling to maintain their current employment – will have the information they need to do so, and are not penalized in the process by an unfair or incorrect overpayment with the Social Security Administration.
  • Area of Focus 4: Employment Discrimination. Advocating for people with disabilities on a one-to-one basis with issues related to discrimination and other barriers to employment, while providing education/training to consumers, service providers and other employment related agencies about the rights of people with disabilities in employment.

Short Term Assistance

Goal: The DLC will provide information about disability rights and disability law as well as gather information from individuals about legal issues they are experiencing related to their disability.

  • Area of Focus 1: Information and Short Term Assistance. A team of DLC employees will provide up-to-date relevant information to individuals seeking information about disability rights/disability law and disability services available in the community.
  • Area of Focus 2: Intake. Legal issues brought to the attention of the DLC by callers seeking assistance will be reviewed by an intake team. The team will evaluate the issue to determine if it meets the case criteria developed by DLC teams, consult with DLC attorneys as needed and bring issues of critical need to the attention of DLC teams.

Adding Areas of Focus – Executive Director’s Discretion

Throughout the year, the Executive Director (ED) of DLC may add areas of focus to address emergent issues that arise. These additional areas of focus shall be in writing and posted to the DLC website. The ED shall seek ratification of any additional areas of focus at the Board of Trustees next regular meeting.


Suggest a New Area of Focus

Complete this form if you would like to suggest additional areas of focus to Disability Law Center. We appreciate all suggestions and we will carefully consider each one. If you wish to follow up on your suggestion, please contact us at (800) 662-9080.