Friday, April 26, 2013
I have just returned from the Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind: Push Forward and Push Back--Continuing the Struggle for the Right to Live in the World. The Symposium is an annual event, bringing together disability advocates and scholars to share their work and their progress.
This year's symposium contained several sessions of particular interest to readers of HealthLawProf. One was a discussion of significant litigation raising Olmstead issues about placements in the community (rather than only residential placements). For people with physical or intellectual disabilities, sheltered workshop employment opportunities may be a critical step in achieving work independence especially at the point of transition from school. However, these workshops all-too-often have exploited those they are meant to serve, trapping them in sub-minimum-wage jobs where they fail to receive the support needed to transition into non-segregated workplace settings. Disability Rights Oregon (Oregon's Protection and Advocacy agency) has brought a class action suit against the state's system of sheltered workshops. So far, Lane v. Kitzhaber has achieved a ruling that Olmstead's integration mandate applies to employment services. The Department of Justice initially filed a statement of interest in the case and filed a motion to intervene in March 2013. Kathy Wilde, Litigation Director at Disability Rights Oregon, spoke about the case and its potential to transform the reach of Olmstead from institutions to the community.
The symposium also featured a session on the likely impacts of ACA on people with disabilities--to be discussed in my next post.