Text only - A Year of Growth Disability Rights Washington 2015 Annual Report

Dear Friend of Disability Rights Washington:

At the signing ceremony for the Education for All Act in 1971, Governor Evans told Disability Rights Washington’s founding mothers that their effort of ushering in the nation’s first state mandatory special education law should be viewed as the beginning of their work not the completion – making the point that a new law is meaningless without enforcement.  He believed the need for diligent advocacy would only grow. Our founding mothers heeded his words and not long after founded The Troubleshooters in 1972, which would later become Disability Rights Washington (DRW).

In 2015, the demand for the protection and advocacy of the rights of people with disabilities has continued to increase, just as Governor Evans forecasted. We have new programs, new staff, a new office in Spokane and an enhanced capacity for using video advocacy to bring about effective change. As new issues arise and more complex barriers emerge, we are better equipped to deliver quality advocacy services.

We are proud of what we accomplished in 2015, and look forward to proving the wisdom of Governor Evans’ prophecy in 2016 and the years to come as we continue to strive for the kind of growth that will better position us to meet the increasing demand for our services.


Mark Stroh

Executive Director, Disability Rights Washington


Board of Directors

Sandra Carr

Dan Frein, Treasurer

Sonja Hardenbrook

Sharon Jodock-King, Vice-Chair

Marie Jubie, Secretary

Ken Larson

Jennifer McAuliffe

Eric Matthes, DAC Chair

Bob Roberts, MHAC Chair

Mary Pat Treuthart, Chair

Disability Advisory Council

Scott Bloom, Vice-Chair

Corinna Fale

Vickie Foster

Dianne Laurine

Nathan Loose, Secretary

Eric Matthes, Chair

Leandro Razo

Mental Health Advisory Council

Tina Fricke

Thomas Gergen

Sonja Hardenbrook

Marie Jubie

Jim Lippold

Tommy Manning

Ryan Nabors

Bob Roberts, Chair

Ketema Ross, Vice-Chair

Kristina Sawyckyj-Moreland, Secretary

Finance, Audit & Development Committee

Dan Frein, Chair

Pam Kil

Jennifer McAuliffe

James Nida

Photo: Young girl smiling into the camera at a disability rights conference.

Photo: Man holding a sign that reads 'Speak up' during a rally in Olympia, WA.

Photo: Young girl putting together a puzzle in her home.

2015 Accomplishments

Opening of the Spokane office

Expanding DRW’s reach

In September of 2015, DRW opened a new office in Spokane to better serve the eastern side of Washington State. The new location will make it easier and less costly for DRW to: monitor conditions for people with disabilities in jails, prisons, residential facilities and other programs statewide; learn about issues in these programs facing people with disabilities and their families; and collaborate locally to address identified needs.The initial plan is to have two full-time staff assigned to the office with extra room for community meetings and workspaces for interns and volunteers. The address of the new location is: The Peyton Building, 10 N. Post Street, Suite 315, Spokane, WA 99201.

Photo: The conference table at DRW's Spokane office.

DRW launches “Rooted in Rights”

Using video and social media for change

In May 2015, DRW’s DisAbility Rights Galaxy was rebranded to Rooted in Rights. Since its launch, Rooted in Rights has produced over 30 original videos, reaching over 140,000 people. Rooted in Rights has collaborated with the Association of University Centers on Disability, and the Protection and Advocacy agencies in Texas, Michigan and Indiana on video projects. Rooted in Rights produced The Right to be Rescued, a short documentary that tells the stories of people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Katrina and demonstrates the need for emergency planning for the kind of natural disasters experienced by Washingtonians. On August 28, 2015, the documentary was screened at Houston’s Getting it Right conference before the Director of FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination. Followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and the Rooted in Rights blog can access original videos, shareable graphics and disability related news from individuals and organizations.

Graphic: The Rooted in Rights logo, with a tree growing out of the 'T' in rooted, and images of roots laid on top of 'Rights'.

2015 Outcomes by Numbers

People receiving information & referral services: 20,773

People receiving individual advocacy services (technical assistance & representation): 1,139

Cases in litigation: 20

People potentially benefitting from litigation: 177,578

People potentially benefitting from other systemic advocacy: 921,000

Abuse and neglect investigations: 15

Trainings/education activities: 76

People trained: 4,664

People signed up for DRW’s email list: 2,095

Stories about DRW’s work in mass media: 111

Social media followers: 5,037

Visits to DRW's websites: 84,477

The alliance to end sexual violence in long-term care

Building advocacy to respond to sexual violence in long-term care

DRW worked with the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, and the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs to build advocacy for survivors of sexual violence in long-term care. The partners developed training and technical assistance to support advocates who work at the intersection of sexual violence, disability and long-term care. The alliance raised awareness of sexual violence in the lives of persons with disabilities, by providing advocacy training related to the state’s long-term care structure, developing an online class, and co-facilitating relevant partner organization trainings and events.

Photo: Woman wearing pink washing dishes in her home.

Technical Assistance in action

Ensuring rights to assistive technology

DRW provided technical assistance to a legal services attorney in preparation for an administrative hearing appeal of denial of funding for a power wheelchair. The client was denied funding for a replacement power wheelchair of the same class and features of his current wheelchair. DRW provided legal consultation, referrals, strategy discussion, a medical justification letter, and other specific legal advice and consultation. After consultation and assistance in negotiation and preparation of a comprehensive medical justification letter, the attorney achieved settlement and full funding for the new power wheelchair with all features as requested.

Photo: Two people in mobility devices crossing the street in Seattle, WA.

Service & companion animals explained

Developing resources collaboratively

The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Traumatic Brain Injury Council of Washington State and DRW collaborated to develop two educational videos on service and companion animals. WDVA staff, who work directly with veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, identified the need for more education related to the rights of service and companion animal owners. Some veterans with service dogs are turned away from businesses, housing and other places because of their service or companion animals.  One video specifically targets business owners to raise awareness about service animals and the regulations surrounding service and companion animals. The second video targets people who own or would like to own service or companion animals to educate them on their rights, definitions and best practices concerning service and companion animals in Washington State. Both of the videos are available on the Rooted in Rights YouTube channel.

Photo: A man in the park looking at his hearing dog.

AVID Jail Project expands

Strengthening advocacy and monitoring capacity

The AVID Jail Project works to improve the conditions and treatment of people with mental illness incarcerated at King County Jail and South Correctional Entity. In 2015, AVID Jail Project visited these jails over 100 times and provided technical assistance services to over 300 inmates. The AVID attorneys worked collaboratively with jail administrators to find solutions to issues identified during their regular jail visits. The AVID Jail Project produces videos as part of an ongoing effort to give jail inmates with mental illness an opportunity to tell their own stories in their own words. The videos can be found at www.avidjailproject.org.

Photo: A DRW attorney speaking to someone through the window of a jail cell door.

Judge rules excessive competency evaluation delays must end

Prioritizing disability rights in the criminal justice system

People with disabilities who are arrested must receive a mental health evaluation if there are questions about whether they are competent to stand trial. If they are determined not competent to stand trial, the state psychiatric hospitals provide mental health services to try to restore the individual to competency. Unfortunately, in Washington State there have been excessive delays in providing both competency evaluations and restoration services causing people with disabilities to wait in deplorable jail conditions for weeks and months. DRW successfully challenged these delays. On April 2, 2015, a federal court ruled that people with disabilities are "deserving of protections of the Constitution that our forefathers so carefully crafted." The court ordered DSHS to provide both competency evaluation and restoration services within seven days. The state appealed a portion of the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but are still required to comply with the court’s order pending the outcome of the appeal.

Photo: The Seattle Times newspaper with headline 'Federal judge loses patience with state over mentally ill' between a legal writing pad and a DRW folder.

DRW increases volunteer attorney capacity

Developing a sustainable future

Over the past year, DRW has made successful strides stretching our limited resources to provide legal advocacy by increasing the number of pro-bono attorneys DRW utilizes. In 2015, DRW’s volunteer attorneys contributed 2,435 hours of work towards ensuring the rights of Washingtonians with disabilities. DRW plans to continue its growth in this area. If you, or anyone you know, would like to volunteer for DRW, please fill out DRW’s volunteer application which can be found by clicking on the About Us tab on DRW's website home page at www.disabilityrightswa.org.

DRW receives national recognition for AVID Prison Project

Continuing work for the rights of inmates with disabilities

In May 2015, DRW received the “NDRN Advocacy Award” at the National Disability Rights Network 2015 P&A/CAP Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana for its AVID Prison Project and innovative video advocacy work. Mark Stroh and Heather McKimmie accepted the award on behalf of the AVID Prison Project team. DRW has investigated the conditions of correctional settings across Washington State and worked on creative solutions to some of the most serious problems faced by inmates with mental illness, brain injuries, and physical and intellectual disabilities. Through prison monitoring and technical assistance, as well as individual and systemic advocacy, DRW will continue to help inmates with disabilities understand and exercise their rights. Use of video so inmates can tell their own stories is a key component of this project. Visit DRW’s Rooted in Rights YouTube channel to find related videos.

Photo: Mark Stroh and Heather McKimmie smiling to the camera after accepting advocacy award.

Following up

Children’s mental health

T.R. v. Quigley litigation updates

DRW worked with T.R. co-counsel to continue monitoring implementation and roll out of the Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) required by the T.R. Settlement Agreement. In FY 2015, a total of 925 youth in nineteen counties received intensive outpatient mental health services through the WISe program, which will be continuing to roll out statewide in 2016 and 2017. As a result of monitoring and advocacy by DRW and its co-counsel, the Defendants have completed the following: 1) revised its WISe practice manual; 2) developed a quality assurance plan; 3) developed and distributed WISe fact sheets for twelve different audiences relating to youth or family services; and 4) drafted a more robust contract and manual for Regional Family Youth and System Partner Round Tables (FYSPRTs) that provide for youth and family voice in the Systems of Care Governance structure.

Questions of Discrimination

Revising Washington State Bar Association’s application

In June 2014, DRW launched a video and social media campaign challenging discriminatory questions on the Washington State bar application. The response was overwhelming. In July 2014, DRW sent a letter to the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) that was signed by the deans of all three law schools in Washington as well as over a hundred law firms, agencies, attorneys, and advocates. In response, the WSBA formed a stakeholder group and asked DRW to join. After a thorough and extensive review, the group agreed that the WSBA should not be asking questions of applicants who seek mental health treatment. In May 2015, the WSBA sent our proposal removing the discriminatory questions to the Washington State Supreme Court, which is currently seeking public comment to the proposed revisions.

Hours that Count

Meaningful work opportunities for people with developmental disabilities

Last year, DRW shared, in its annual report, the release of Hours that Count, an extensive report on employment supports and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Since the release of this report, DRW has continued its efforts to advocate for people with disabilities to have integrated work opportunities and fair wages. DRW provided extensive comments to the state’s proposed transition plan to ensure Medicaid-funded home and community based services, including employment supports, are provided in integrated settings rather than isolating crews or sheltered workshops. DRW also has been advocating to enforce minimum wage rights for workers with disabilities through a class action lawsuit, which is currently pending. In response to this wage and hour lawsuit, the defendant and several other organizations approached the Washington Legislature to seek an exemption from Washington’s Minimum Wage Act requirements. DRW defeated these efforts by educating the appropriate legislators about its lawsuit, the rights of individuals with disabilities under the Minimum Wage Act, and the need for a stakeholder process for evaluating the current subminimum wage approval process. The State Department of Labor and Industries convened this stakeholder process to discuss ways to protect against unjustified subminimum wages and invited DRW to participate.

2015 Financial Information

Expenditures by program

Individuals with Mental Illness — PAIMI: 525,639

Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities — PADD: 514,539

Legal Foundation of Washington — LFW: 439,692

Northwest Advocates for Legal Justice — NWAJ: 324,434

Individual Rights — PAIR : 247,808

DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women — OVW: 212,721

Beneficiaries of Social Security — PABSS: 104,409

Assistive Technology — PAAT: 60,573

Traumatic Brain Injury — PATBI: 53,193

Voting Access — PAVA: 48,503

General & Administrative Total : 384,679

Total: 2,916,190

Total expenditures combined program & general

Salaries and benefits: 2,078,142 or 71%

Occupancy: 147,476 or 5%

Contractual costs —  Program: 204,678 or 7%

Travel: 129,626 or 5%

Sub-grantee: 66,505 or 2%

Contractual costs — Operations: 62,515 or 2%

Other: 227,248 or 8%

Total program: 2,916,190

Balance sheet

Cash & short term investments: 2,148,597

Program receivables: 173,388

Prepaid expenses: 30,095

Furniture & equipment net of depreciation: 59,645

Total Assets: 2,411,725

Accounts payable: 28,264

Salaries & other accrued: 110,766

Total liabilities: 139,030

Net assets: 2,272,695

Total liabilities & net assets: 2,411,725

Looking Ahead

Here are a few of the issues DRW plans to increase its efforts on in fiscal year 2016:

  • Help people with developmental disabilities move out of institutions.
  • Improve access to public venues for people with mobility and sensory disabilities.
  • Mobilize people with disabilities to exercise their right to vote.
  • Monitor rights violations for people with disabilities in all Washington county jails.
  • Ensure Washington provides youth with community-based mental health services.

DRW's ability to affect positive change on a wide range of issues is limited only by the lack of resources to do this important work. To learn how you can help, visit www.disabilityrightswa.org.

Disability Rights Washington: 206.324.1521, 800.562.2702


315 5th Avenue S, Suite 850

Seattle, WA 98104

Disability Rights Washington (DRW) is a private non-profit organization designated by the Governor in 1977 to protect the rights of people with disabilities statewide. Our mission is to advance the dignity, equality, and self-determination of people with disabilities. We work to pursue justice on matters related to human and legal rights. We provide free services to people with disabilities.

The following federal funding partners shared in the cost of producing this material: the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities AIDD (1501WAPADD); the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA (15SMP05397); and the Rehabilitation Services Administration RSA (H240A140048). These contents are the sole responsibility of Disability Rights Washington and do not necessarily represent the official views of SAMHSA, AIDD or RSA.

Photo: A young man holding a sign that reads 'Different not Less'.

Photo: Young woman smiling during a disability rights conference.

Photo: DRW attorney tapping on glass of jail cell window.

Photo: Young man at rally in Olympia, WA holding sign that reads 'I'm happy, friendly, funny, kind, and I'm outgoing and I'm smart'

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." - Benjamin Franklin