Disability Rights Guide
This is an instructional guide to your disability rights. Please begin by reading the descriptions of each button from top to bottom. Relevant statutes and case law are provided to support litigants, advocates, access coordinators, and all legal representatives.
- Standard of Care for the Justice System
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as Amended (ADAAA), Title 42: The Public Health and Welfare and Chapter 126: Equal Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities mandates accommodating non-apparent disabilities.
A ‘Standard of Care’ for the justice system was created by Dr. Karin Huffer, after a ten-year unpublished longitudinal study, “Survey of Court Litigation Participants Measuring Perceived Legal Abuses and Public Health Risks,” and conducted between 1997 and 2007. It targeted the understudied population of those who seek justice and their dissatisfaction with the court system. The objective was to determine the nature and validity of those dissatisfactions as well as noting the health consequences of being a disgruntled litigant.
Equal Access Advocates promotes a ‘Standard of Care’ that:
- Reduce stigma, bias, protect dignity, and show respect
- Protect against discrimination and protect the equal rights of the disabled
- Increase compliance with ADA, economize court time, and lesson complaints
The relevant statutes that create the ‘Standard of Care’:
- 42 USC 12101 The Basic American’s with Disabilities Act.
- 42 USC 12102 Congressional Purpose
- 42 USC 12103(1)(a-d) Accommodations for persons with Disabilities. This includes ADA Assistants and disability Advocates.
- 42 USC 12203 Liability for denial, discrimination or retaliation for not allowing persons with disabilities to have their accommodations.
Relevant Case Law:
- Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004) The ADA circumvents 11th Amendment Immunity.
- Forrester v. White, 484 US 219 (1988) Judicial Liability for Administrative actions including actions against persons under the ADA.
- Supportive Counseling
Keep in mind:
- Crying, anger, body aches, and all other symptoms are a natural reaction to an unnatural circumstance.
- Have a dedicated writing notebook and pen/pencil for your case and daily activity.
- Reminding yourself to BREATHE needs to be annotated.
- Reminding yourself to EAT needs to be annotated.
- You will need WATER.
- The primary duty of an ADA advocate is the constant awareness of your state of being and to apply skilled interventions.
- The secondary duty of an ADA advocate is to translate your disability or non-apparent disability to the court.
- Depending on the disability, symptoms vary from tolerable to intolerable, quiet to loud, sporadic to constant, manageable to unwieldly. Symptoms will not only impact your performance but the function of the court.
- Prearrange to have a certified advocate on case before litigation.
- Certified ADA Advocate
An ethical standard of care is promoted through the support of a certified ADA advocate by the modeling and teaching of learned skills for the benefit of the invisibly disabled facing or participating in the judicial system.
A certified ADA advocate sets a new standard for the second 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mental health has parity with physical health under the law. The benefit is twofold – improving due process of law for millions of Americans by implementing the ADAAA while avoiding the risk of federal civil rights litigation. The ADAAA mandates that avoiding discrimination includes even the appearance of indifference to persons with disabilities.
The world of invisible disabilities includes: traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, physical conditions, i.e. cardiac conditions and development disorders.
- Litigants are vetted by ADA advocate as per the ADA 42 USC §12101(b).
- Eight-Step therapeutic mental health coaching/counseling steps, skills learned through the certification process, broaden and strengthen the ADA advocate as a service provider.
- Recognition of impaired communication associated with disabilities and the need to accommodate by providing equal access to services.
- Ability to act as liaison/interpreter with medical and legal providers in stressful settings for persons with disabilities.
- Characteristics and symptoms of common invisible disabilities are discussed and at hand leaving you with practical and reasonable responses and alternatives.
- Advocates will be trauma-informed based upon the latest scientific research regarding neurological functioning of human beings under stress focusing on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), plus the range of invisible disabilities.
- A common accommodation is an ADA advocate seated next to the disabled litigant.
- The ADA advocate serves as an ethical choice in an adversarial arena by their very presence.
- Equal Access Advocates' List
The most effective way to improve the justice system is to have Equal Access. Meaningful access is defined as follows:
- Assurance of confidentiality as provided by law
- Completion of case by pre-planning with an advocate
- Reasonable maintenance of health throughout the process
- Full knowledge of rules that are to be followed equally by both sides
- Full ability to pay the costs and fees through good personal business policy
- Attention to tenets of honest services, good faith, fair and ethical dealing, and good will free from oppression from an adversary with more money, more power, and/or corruptive motives
- Testimonial and participatory access
- Full emotional ability to perform
- Full cognitive and mental capability with concentration
- Full ability to communicate, verbalize, and form concepts
- Full ability to get into the courtroom, physically maintain an executive functionality
- Access Coordinator
ADA advocates work through the access coordinator. The key is to have common caution. It is the judiciary’s policy to provide sign language interpreters or other auxiliary aids and services to participants in court proceedings who are deaf, hearing-impaired, or have other communications disabilities, as set forth in the Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 5 § 255, Services to the Hearing Impaired and Others with Communication Disabilities. Almost every disability affects communication under stress.
Participants needing these or other services to access court proceedings should contact the Access Coordinator promptly after their case has been scheduled.
- The vetted litigant or advocate requests accommodations through the Access Coordinator, not in court; not by filing a motion. They will be either granted or denied and re-arranged to suit the needs of the disabled as agreed upon with their health professional.
- If the Access Coordinator accepts a licensed medical professional’s diagnosis, it is not to be challenged in the adversarial environment unless the adversary has been accused of causing the disability.
- Ethical Obligations
Ethics directly relate to quality of life. That means reducing discrimination and the stigma attached to disabilities. While licensed professionals are compelled to study ethics on a regular basis and there are ethical expectations, it is time to pause and revisit the reason for ethical requirements to be embedded in our culture.
Why it matters to the United States of America:
42 USC §12102 – Definition of disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual. Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the list provided by Congress lists many of the major life activities. The Code of Conduct guides courts and the court sets the proceedings.
The ADA advocate serves in a role that reminds court personnel the adversarial system too often challenges ethics for a win. How the most vulnerable are treated in that courtroom reflects the values of the nation. Ethics are a choice. It is often made in private and those decisions may be made under great pressure to bend and join the trend toward ethical relativism.
- Become an ADA Advocate
ADA advocates have immeasurable value to the economy of the court and are critical to justice in America. They bring concepts of equal access and fairness backed by federal mandate into the fray of the adversarial system.
Once the courts experience the ADA advocate in action with a litigant that is symptomatic and the symptoms subside allowing the momentum of the court to resume, the courts will welcome and find the ADA advocate as essential to protecting civil rights.
To begin this incredible journey please visit our Level 1 ADA Advocacy course by clicking here.