This week marks the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an annual celebration of an important civil rights law that works to ensure all people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. We caught up with Lisa Primm, Executive Director at Disabilities Rights Tennessee to discuss the importance of protecting and advocating for the civil and legal rights of individuals with disabilities.
What does Disability Rights Tennessee work to achieve, and what support do you provide for people with disabilities?
Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) works to protect and defend the legal rights of people with disabilities to live a life free from harm, free from discrimination, and free to fully participate in their communities.
DRT helps a wide range of issues which may include education, barriers to work, long-term services and support, community living, vocational rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury, abuse & neglect, residential services, and assistive technology. DRT may provide the following FREE services: Referral and Resource Connection, Investigation of Abuse & Neglect, Advocacy Services, Legal Representation, Education & Outreach, and Public Policy Advocacy. Each issue is unique and will be considered for available services.
How is Disability Rights Tennesse providing an inclusive experience for all?
DRT is rooted in the values of equality, justice, and inclusion. DRT’s services are provided for free to all Tennesseans with disabilities regardless of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or immigration status. Furthermore, our work is driven by an understanding that people with disabilities are complex and unique individuals with intersecting identities whose distinctive needs must be taken into consideration to provide effective services. And we acknowledge that people with disabilities, particularly people of color with disabilities experience abuse, neglect, and discrimination disproportionately against White/Caucasian people with disabilities. This context and vision drive all our work to be rooted in person-first and client-led services and guides our organization’s structure and hiring practices.
How does accessibility play a part in disability advocacy?
Accessibility is essential in advocacy work. DRT strives to make its spaces, services, and communications accessible to all abilities by anticipating the needs of clients, staff, collaborators, and community partners. DRT follows ADA guidelines for physical accessibility, provides effective communication through interpreting services, bilingual staff, licensed ASL staff, the use of plain language in internal and external communications, accommodates the needs of the blind and visually impaired, considers and accommodates the needs of neurodiverse populations, and so much more.
DRT prioritizes interpretation of our events and videos into ASL and Spanish. Visit DRT’s Youtube.
DRT’s website also provides the Recite Me accessibility toolbar software for accessibility and language options that allow visitors to access the information in their own language, and it includes the option to have the text read aloud. Visit our website to learn more!
What do you hope for the future of disability advocacy?
Disability Rights Tennessee hopes to continue to expand the reach of its advocacy services by focusing on those issues that are systemically rooted and affect large numbers of people with disabilities. DRT hopes to continue to use the human, financial, and legal resources available to influence policies, protocols, practices, and laws for the benefit of all Tennesseans with disabilities and their families.
If you want to make your website more accessible, feel free to start with our web accessibility checker.