Disability Rights Center – NH protects, advances, and strengthens the legal rights and advocacy interests of all people with disabilities. Each year, we provide legal services to hundreds of people with disabilities across the state in areas like education, accessibility, employment discrimination, home and community-based services and Medicaid.
DRC-NH offers free, detailed consultation and legal advice to callers with disability-related issues. We also address systemic issues via litigation, investigations, monitoring and other policy change efforts, all of which are focused on improving the lives of people with disabilities in our state.
Each year, we face difficult decisions on how to allocate our limited resources to address the most important issues. We want to provide comprehensive legal advice to all eligible clients, but our work is limited by both funding and staff capacity. We considered these challenges as we drafted these priorities.
In addition to our work outlined in this document, in FY 2023-2024 we will embark on a new strategic plan, our commitment to do all that we can to make New Hampshire a more inclusive, accessible, and just society:
- Where all are treated with dignity and respect.
- Where people with disabilities live the lives that they choose, lives that are free from abuse, neglect, and discrimination.
- Where people with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate fully in their community and enjoy their lives.
We continue our commitment to diversity and equity.
We commit to amplifying the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) people with disabilities and people with disabilities from other minority groups in our work and to supporting those who share our values of equality, civil rights, and justice. We commit to examining and changing our internal practices and procedures that may serve as barriers to those who need access to our services. We commit to diversifying the voices at DRC-NH to better reflect the diversity of New Hampshire.
We are committed to the work ahead of us on behalf of people with disabilities in the Granite State.
We welcome your feedback. To share your comments, you may call 603-228-0432, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Disability Rights Center – NH, 64 North Main Street, Suite 2, Third Floor, Concord, NH 03301.
Our priorities document provides detailed information about our work organized by grant/funding source. A summary of our work is below.
Monitoring and Investigations
We are empowered by federal law to access facilities, institutions, programs and schools where people with disabilities live or receive services. We use this access authority to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect and to monitor the rights and safety of people with disabilities.
Legal Counseling and Advice
We provide legal counseling and advice on a variety of disability-related legal issues in the broad categories specified in each grant below for people with disabilities who contact us to request help. This advice is provided free of charge and by appointment. We also provide legal counseling and advice to help disabled people advocate for themselves.
We have limited resources to represent people with disabilities in state and federal court. We utilize a variety of legal strategies in our representation and many of our cases are resolved before going to court. In determining whether to accept a case for representation, we review the following questions:
- Does the case have legal merit?
- Do we have the capacity, funding and expertise to provide quality representation?
- Does the case fit within the specific priorities of the grant?
- Would our advocacy make a positive difference to people with disabilities?
- Would our advocacy result in services being provided in a more integrated setting?
Sometimes our individual representation benefits one person and sometimes it benefits more people.
Class Action Litigation
We use class action litigation to protect and expand the rights of many people with disabilities and to improve systems of services for people with disabilities across New Hampshire. Class action litigation often takes years to investigate, litigate and resolve, but can potentially benefit thousands of people. We currently have 4 class action cases which involve access to mental health services for adults with mental illness who are at New Hampshire Hospital or at risk of being placed there; access to mental health services for older children in the foster care system; participants in the Choices for Independence waiver who cannot get needed services; and teachers and others who are discouraged from talking about disability issues under the state’s “Banned Concepts law.”
Public Policy and Systemic Advocacy
We engage with elected officials, state employees, disabled people and advocates to educate on the impact of proposals and decisions on people with disabilities. We try to work together to improve the services for people with disabilities through our public policy and systemic advocacy work. We also support disabled people to advocate for themselves.
Communications and Outreach
We work with disabled people, advocates, groups and organizations across the state to train people with disabilities and other groups about the rights of disabled people and to educate them about the work of DRC-NH. We also participate in community events and work with the media as they report on issues impacting people with disabilities.
DRC-NH staff serve on a number of committees on a variety of topics. In our committee work, we advocate to expand and protect the rights of disabled people. We also partner with groups and organizations, particularly grassroots groups and groups of people in the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities, as they advocate on issues impacting people with disabilities.