History and Impact

Disability Rights NC evolved from Carolina Legal Assistance, an independent program that provided statewide policy advocacy, litigation, training, and individual assistance to people with disabilities for more than 30 years.

During those three decades, North Carolina’s Protection and Advocacy agency (P&A) was the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities (GACPD). The governing board of GACPD recommended that the organization’s P&A designation be transferred to Carolina Legal Assistance because of its long history advocating for people with disabilities. Governor Mike Easley agreed, and the new designation went into effect in July 2007.

Shortly after becoming the state’s P&A, Carolina Legal Assistance changed its name to Disability Rights North Carolina.


Systemic Impact

Disability Rights NC provides direct legal services to hundreds of individuals with disabilities each year whose rights have been violated or who faced discrimination. (See Client Stories.) We also provide information and referral services to thousands of people each year.

Here is a look at some of our big cases that created systemic change in North Carolina. (For more details, see Big Cases.)

  • Secured services for children who have both a developmental or intellectual disability and a mental illness (DRNC v. Brajer)
  • Ended discriminatory practices by the NC Division of Motor Vehicles against drivers with disabilities (Wilson, et. Al. v. NC Division of Motor Vehicles)
  • Ended the state’s process of determining eligibility for person care services using more restrictive criteria for people living at home than for those living in institutional settings—a policy that forced some people into adult care homes (Pashby v. Cansler)
  • Established due process rights for individuals with disabilities who have the Innovations Waiver, and ensured that their services would not be limited due to artificial budget caps (L.S. v. Wos)
  • Stopped the state from transferring mental health patients from Dorothea Dix Hospital to Central Regional Hospital until safety concerns were addressed


Investigations and Reports

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