Disability Rights Washington’s 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.


Disability Rights Washington envisions a society where all people are treated with equality, dignity and respect for their expressed choices, and who have equal opportunities to participate in a society where abilities, rather than disabilities, are recognized.


DRW does not discriminate in its programs, services, policies, hiring practices and administration on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability.

Definition of Advocacy

Advocacy is problem solving used to:

  • protect rights;
  • stop discrimination;
  • prevent abuse;
  • ensure fair, equal and humane treatment;
  • improve services;
  • gain eligibility to services;
  • change the amount or quality of services;
  • make sure services meet the needs of an individual; and
  • remove barriers which prevent access to full participation in community life.

What We Value

We at Disability Rights Washington value:

  • taking direction from people with disabilities;
  • plain and straight-forward language;
  • diversity of cultures, education, disabilities and life experiences;
  • keeping our commitments;
  • partnerships with people with disabilities;
  • celebrating our victories and learning from our failures;
  • respect for co-workers and members of the community;
  • quick, effective responses to individuals and groups, with no duplication of services;
  • a “get things done” approach to meeting our goals;
  • a responsible use of limited resources; and
  • the power of team work.

Access to Advocacy

All eligible individuals and their families and concerned others in the State of Washington should have access to the services of trained local advocates in seeking collaborative support and assistance in resolving existing problems within the community. The agency is committed to devoting substantial resources to foster and develop this capacity in the community.

Prepared by: DRW Board of Directors at the initiative of and in cooperation with the DRW Disability Advisory Council. This statement was adopted by the Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors on April 13, 1994.


Whereas, all people have preferences and express those choices in all aspects of their lives; and

Whereas, the natural opportunity for making choices begins early in life; and

Whereas, freedom of expression and choice are fundamental human rights which should be shared by all people worldwide; and

Whereas, historically, some families, professionals, and policy-makers have incorrectly assumed that people with mental and physical disabilities are not capable of making choices in their own best interest; and

Whereas, in the past, decisions have often been made by professionals, families, policy-makers and others, based primarily on the assumption of what is in the best interest of the person with a mental or physical disability; and

Whereas, programs and activities that relegate individuals with mental and physical disabilities to a passive role do not encourage or allow a full range of choices that exist; and

Whereas, active attempts by people with mental and physical disabilities to exercise choice or modify programs designed by professionals and families have often been interpreted as non-compliance, resulting in development of behavior programs to decrease the presumed “maladaptive” behavior;

Therefore be it known: Disability Rights Washington affirms the right of people with mental and physical disabilities to freedom of choice in all types of settings; families and professionals should systematically work toward development of real opportunities and programs across all ages for choice; and individuals with mental or physical disabilities should be encouraged and supported to make choices through such activities as exposure, awareness, interaction and instructional opportunities and research should be supported on successful methods that empower people with mental and physical disabilities to make choices.

Be it further known in cases pursued by Disability Rights Washington within our priorities, we will represent the choices of our clients.

Prepared and approved by Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors on April 4, 1990. This statement was adapted from a resolution passed by The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps (TASH) in 1988.

Community Imperative

All people have fundamental moral and constitutional rights. These rights must not be abrogated merely because a person has a mental or physical disability. Among these fundamental rights is the right to community living.

In the domain of Educational Programming and Human Service: All people, as human beings, are inherently valuable. All people are entitled to conditions which foster their development. Such conditions are optimally provided in community settings.

Therefore: In fulfillment of human rights and in securing optimum opportunities for growth, all people, regardless of the severity of their disabilities are entitled to community living.

Prepared and approved by the Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors on April 4, 1990. Originally published by the Center on Human Policy, Syracuse University in 1979.

Universal Accessibility

Disability Rights Washington has long provided flexible access and accommodations, so individuals acquire needed disability rights information, advocacy or supports in a relevant, respectful manner, and so individuals participate fully in agency priority setting, meetings, collaborations and advocacy efforts.

Disability Rights Washington recognizes:
Disability conditions may be permanent or may come and go. Disability manifests uniquely in each individual, and whether or not one identifies with disability, accommodation and accessibility needs are ever changing.

Humans need flexible and varied access to programs, facilities, materials and information, regardless of disability.

Technology and systems are evolving, advancing and streamlining accessible features and supports, expanding universal use and access.

Proactive access consideration in design can reduce costs, planning, and time incurred in reasonable accommodation provision.

Accessible design of products, facilities, environments, services and systems fosters inclusion, dignity, respect and belonging.

Therefore: Disability Rights Washington proactively considers accessible use in development of any products, facility, environments, services and systems. Disability Rights Washington publicly promotes welcome and inclusive environments, products, facilities, services and systems, designed for easy use by diverse individuals.

Prepared by: Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors. This statement was adopted by the Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors on March 4, 2015.

Use & Abuse of Chemical and Physical Restraints

Disability Rights Washington deplores the use and abuse of physical and chemical restraints and is tired of observing people being maimed, injured, abused, and dying because of these restraints. Disability Rights Washington shall take responsible action, including, but not limited to, putting a stop to the misuse and abuse of chemical or physical restraints in all state facilities and community programs.

Prepared by: Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors at the initiative of and in cooperation with Disability Rights Washington Disability Advisory Council. This statement was adopted by the Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors on February 2, 1994.