November 2016 eNews

Disability Rights NC eNews

Vote buttonKnow Your Voting Rights

Our website,, has everything you need to know about early voting, same-day voter registration, voting from home or a facility, and voting on Election Day.

The site has information about your voting rights and how you can report any violations of your rights.

Early Voting

Early Voting is underway and runs through this Saturday, November 5 at 1:00 p.m. If you are registered to vote, you can vote during Early Voting. If you are not registered, you can register to vote AND vote at a One-Stop Early Voting site in your county. But you only have until Saturday!

The State Board of Elections website has a list of early voting sites, or you can call your local county board of elections. Your usual polling place may not be an early voting site, so check first. Also check the days and times that the early voting sites in your county will be open.

Voting from Home or a Facility

If you are registered to vote, you can vote from home or from a facility with an absentee ballot. Your form requesting an absentee ballot must be received by your local board of elections by Tuesday, November 1 at 5:00 pm. That's today! There's no time for the mail. You need to submit your request in person or by fax or email. Go to our Access the Vote NC website for more information on how to vote from home or how to vote from a facility.

Your Rights at the Polling Place

If your disability makes it more difficult to vote, you can bring someone to help you vote. This is true even if you have a disability that is not visible. Almost anyone can help you vote, such as a relative, a friend, a support worker, or someone working at the polls. The only people who cannot help you vote are your boss or a union representative.

The polling place must be accessible. Curb-side voting should be available—that means you can vote from your car. Also, the polling place should have at least one accessible voting machine that is working.

You DO NOT need to show a photo ID to vote. The only case in which you do need an ID is if 1) you did not provide a voter registration number, driver's license number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number when you registered to vote, and 2) this is your first time voting. If this is your situation, bring a photo ID or something like a utility bill or a pay stub that has your name and address on it.

You may want to print out the North Carolina Voter's Bill of Rights and take it with you to the polls.

Reporting Violations of Your Voting Rights

If you think your voting rights have been violated, you need to report it right away.

  • You can call your local county board of elections.
  • You can call the State Board of Elections at 919-733-7173 or 866-522-4723.
  • You can call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).
  • You can call Disability Rights NC at 877-235-4210 (TTY 888-268-5535).

Election Day is your chance to make your voice heard. Get to the polls and vote!


Logo for NC DHHSImportant Information about the Innovations Waiver

The day many people with disabilities and their caregivers have been nervously anticipating is here. Today, North Carolina's new Innovations Waiver goes into effect.

The Innovations Waiver is a home- and community-based Medicaid program. It provides services and supports to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who are at risk of needing institutional care. The Waiver services are managed through the state's seven LME/MCOs.

The big change in the new Waiver is the use of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) and Individualized Budgeting Tools for every Waiver recipient. The LME/MCO considers the intensity of services you need, your age, and where you live (in a home or in a residential placement like a group home). Those factors are used to come up with a dollar amount called the base budget.

Here is the most important thing you need to know—the base budget amount and other limits on services outlined in the Waiver are guidelines only. They do NOT actually limit the services you can request. You should request all of the services you believe you need, in any amount or duration, even if that means you will exceed your base budget.

Make sure that every service you believe is medically necessary is in your Individual Support Plan. Your Care Coordinator must assist you in requesting those services, even if the cost of the services will exceed your base budget. Even if the Care Coordinator says that a service will not be approved, you should insist he or she include the service in your Individual Support Plan. The Care Coordinator's job is not to deny or approve services but to help you request all services or supports you need.

Never sign an Individual Support Plan that does not include all of the services you need. It is against the law for anyone from an LME/MCO, including your Care Coordinator, to tell you that you cannot request a certain service or a certain amount of a service. It is against the law for them to threaten you in any way or demand that you sign an Individual Support Plan that you do not agree with.

Contact Disability Rights NC if you believe the LME/MCO has violated your rights—including if the LME/MCO has denied you a service that you and your medical provider believe is medically necessary.


Silhouette of boySettlement with NC DHHS Benefits Children with Complex Behavioral Needs

There are hundreds of children in North Carolina who have complex behavioral health needs—meaning, they have a developmental or intellectual disability and a mental illness. Many of them end up in emergency rooms, institutions, and even prisons because they cannot get the care they need in their communities.

Now there will be help for those children, thanks to a settlement reached by Disability Rights NC and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) in October. These kids will soon have access to better services and supports that will keep them out of institutions and help them live at home.

For children with complex needs who receive Medicaid, federal law requires North Carolina to provide mental health services to diagnose and treat their conditions. These children are supposed to get those services in their community—meaning while they're living at home, in a group home, or in some other place that is not an institution.

But North Carolina's mental health system is severely underfunded, so finding trained professionals to help children with complex needs is difficult or, in some communities, impossible. In addition, North Carolina's mental health services and developmental disability services are separate systems, and the children can get lost in the bureaucratic mess.

The agreement reached by Disability Rights NC and NC DHHS will address gaps in services for children with complex needs. Under the agreement, NC DHHS commits to the following measures:

  • Establish a uniform process for identifying and assessing children with complex needs, so care is consistent across the state
  • Ensure these children receive appropriate services
  • Authorize case management services to assist the children's parents or guardians in identifying and coordinating services
  • Begin operation of one outpatient clinic dedicated to serving children with complex needs, staffed by experienced clinicians, no later than April 1, 2017

In addition, NC DHHS has agreed to seek funding from the NC General Assembly to expand its community crisis support program for children statewide. NC START—Systemic, Therapeutic Assessment, Respite and Treatment — is an essential service for children with complex needs who are in crisis, but is only available in limited areas in North Carolina.

In the coming years, Disability Rights NC will keep an eye on the State to ensure that it lives up to its promises.


Public BusParticipate in Survey on Accessibility of Public Transit

The nation's seven Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Regional Centers have a collaborative research project called the Participatory Action Research Consortium (PARC). ADA-PARC looks at factors that prevent people with disabilities from being employed and participating in their communities.

Currently, ADA-PARC is conducting a survey looking at accessibility of public transportation. This is a great opportunity for you to share your experiences with public transportation and let public officials know how they can improve accessibility.

You can find the survey in English and Spanish at


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