Mission & History
To protect the legal rights of people with disabilities through individual and systems advocacy.
Disability Rights North Carolina is a resource for people with disabilities and those whose decisions affect people with disabilities, focusing on practical solutions through systemic change. Disability Rights North Carolina is credible and responsive to the communities we serve. We operate in a transparent and fiscally responsible manner that promotes collaboration across disability communities and always includes the people affected by our work in our decisions. We are good stewards of our resources and maximize the impact of our work. We are champions for equality and justice.
Disability Rights NC values the dignity of ALL people and their freedom to control their own lives. We work for justice, upholding the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to live free from harm in the communities of their choice with the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society.
Disability Rights NC evolved from Carolina Legal Assistance (CLA), a nonprofit legal services organization that provided 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 (P&A) system was the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities (GACPD), which was an agency of State government. For years, disability rights stakeholders in North Carolina had advocated for an independent P&A that would be separate from State government. In 2005, Governor Mike Easley started the process to close GACPD and redesignate the P&A to an independent nonprofit agency. With the assistance of Vicki Smith, who was a consultant at the time, CLA applied for and was approved as the new P&A in North Carolina. It opened its doors as the new P&A on July 1, 2007.
Shortly after becoming the state’s P&A, Carolina Legal Assistance changed its name to Disability Rights North Carolina.