Our Mission

The Mission of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. is to protect, promote and expand the rights of people with disabilities.


Belief Statement

The ODLC mission reflects the belief that people with disabilities are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect; to be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination.

The ODLC mission also reflects the belief that people with disabilities are entitled to equal rights and to equally effective access to the same opportunities as are afforded other members of society.

The Next DDS Waiting List Meeting is September 6, 2018

okwiatinglist.org

You are invited to a meeting for families who have a loved ones on the DDS Waiting List. DDS (Developmental Disabilities Service) is under DHS and offers assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities to be able to live in the community and stay with their family.  DDS waivers offers job training, skill building and health and medical care.  This Waiting List continues to grow (more than 7,700) with no hope of any help coming to these fragile families.  The WAIT is over 12 years long with no sight of it ending.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 1:30 PM – 3 PM

Sequoyah Memorial Office Building – Room C-47 Basement Level
2400 N Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK

Members of the DHS/DDS leadership team will be present to update families on the status of Home and Community Based Waiver Services and answer questions.  Those attending the meeting, will receive a breakdown of the DDS Waiting List. These handouts detail what services are being utilized during the waiting, the length of time waiting and the number of individuals in each county who are waiting.


 

Let’s Talk Accessiblity

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations to provide goods, services, and programs to people with disabilities on an equal basis with the rest of the public.

Some people think that only new construction and alterations need to be accessible and that older facilities are “grandfathered,” but that’s not true. Because the ADA is a civil rights law and not a building code, older facilities are often required to be accessible to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate.

The ADA has different requirements for state and local governments and for places of public accommodation (businesses and non-profit organizations that provide goods to or serve the public).

State and local governments (ADA title II entities) must ensure “program accessibility.”

Public accommodations (ADA title III entities) must remove structural and communication barriers where it is “readily achievable” to do so.

Want to know if your facility or program is doing enough to ensure people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate?  Use the ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities

Learn more at adachecklist.org 


 

Oklahoma Disability Law Center, ACLU of Oklahoma, Applaud State Officials for Rescinding Termination of Services for Oklahomans with Disabilities, but Note that Major Challenges Remain

March 29, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Allie Shinn, Director of External Relations, ACLU of Okla., ashinn@acluok.org, 405-525-3831
Gary Taylor, Legal Director, ODLC, gary@okdlc.org, 405-436-8211

Oklahoma City, OK – Following the State of Oklahoma’s passage of supplemental funding to avoid its threatened termination of community disability services, the federal district court dismissed Anderson v. Lake, the case challenging the termination.  The Oklahoma Disability Law Center and the ACLU of Oklahoma, representing the plaintiffs in the case, commend state officials for taking the necessary steps to at least delay termination of critical waiver services for thousands of Oklahomans with disabilities, but note that the state has far to go to remedy its discrimination against people with disabilities.

On March 26, 2018, Judge Heaton issued an Order dismissing the case stating, “The harm which plaintiffs sought to avoid — the termination of waiver services — has now been avoided . . .”

“We are pleased to be able to tell our clients our litigation resulted in the State’s commitment to maintaining these vital waiver services,” said Gary Taylor, Legal Director for the Oklahoma Disability Law Center.  “Our clients are relieved to know they are no longer at immediate risk of unnecessary institutionalization.”

However, massive challenges remain, such as the State’s failure to secure alternative services or comply with larger mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The State’s motion to dismiss affirmed the State’s commitment not to terminate waiver services during the current fiscal year,” said Brady Henderson, Legal Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma.  “However, the State must do far more to avoid continuing litigation to protect the rights of people with disabilities.

“The State must also make a genuine, competent effort to implement the State’s Olmstead Plan. This plan is a roadmap for respecting the rights of people with disabilities, but it currently sits on a shelf collecting dust while the promises within it go unfulfilled,” said Amy Gioletti, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Oklahoma.

Both organizations will be continuing the fight to remedy the state’s failure to fulfill its obligations to ensure equality for Oklahomans with disabilities. According to Taylor, “ODLC and ACLU of Oklahoma remain committed to protecting the rights of Oklahomans with disabilities as long as those rights are threatened by the State of Oklahoma.”


 

Systemic Advocacy Projects

ODLC engages in systemic advocacy as a means of achieving our mission of protecting, promoting and expanding the rights of people with disabilities in Oklahoma.  Through systemic advocacy, we seek to influence and change  systems such as legislation, government or agency policy, services practices and community attitudes.

In order to effectively address systemic issues, ODLC often needs people directly affected by a particular problem or issue to contact our office and share your experience with our staff who are working on long term solutions.

Our current projects include:

  • ABA coverage for SoonerCare recipients
  • Hepatitis C treatment for Oklahoma Inmates

For more information on these and other systemic projects please visit our Systemic Projects page.


 

Former ODLC Executive Director Passes Away

It is with heavy hearts and great sadness ODLC announces the death of our long time Executive Director, Kayla Bower.  Kayla passed away yesterday following a long and brave battle with cancer.  Kayla served as the Executive Director of ODLC from 1995 until her retirement last year.

Kayla was a charismatic leader and caring, compassionate professional who devoted more than twenty years of her career to promoting, protecting and preserving the rights of Oklahomans with disabilities.  The ODLC staff will honor her life and professional mission by continuing the implementation of her professional vision and upholding the philosophy she instilled within us.  Kayla will be greatly missed; our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.

Arrangements for services are still pending, we will pass information along as it becomes available.

Melissa Sublett, Executive Director

Update 3/5/18

Kayla’s life will be celebrated at Trinity Church of the Nazarene
7301 S. Walker Ave., Oklahoma City 73139 on Friday, March 9th at 2:00 pm.


 

ODLC Investigates Allegations of Discriminatory Practices in State Scholarship Program

January 22, 2018 – ODLC was alerted to a series of articles written by Oklahoma Watch reporter Jennifer Palmer regarding disability discrimination by schools that offer tax credit tuition scholarships, which are administered by the Oklahoma’s Opportunity Scholarship Fund (OSF).

Following publication of these articles, ODLC received a complaint regarding these schools and the alleged discriminatory practice of rejecting students based on disability.  ODLC Managing Attorney, Joy Turner contacted Rob Sellers, Executive Director of OSF, to address the issues raised in the Oklahoma Watch article.

Mr. Sellers informed Ms. Turner his organization is working with all recipient schools to assure their policies and practices are in complete compliance with the anti-discrimination policy required by law.  Requirements for schools’ participation in OSF funding listed on the organizations website state the following:

A school must sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the OSF setting out each party’s responsibilities.

A school must: be accredited by the State Board of Education or an accrediting association within the Oklahoma Private School Accreditation Commission; be in compliance with all applicable health and safety laws and codes; have a stated policy against discrimination in admissions on the basis of race, color, national origin or disability, and ensure academic accountability to parents and guardians of students through regular progress reports.

Mr. Sellers went on to say, “In Ms. Palmer’s article, there were several member school’s websites that held non-discrimination wording in their policies that were not in compliance and/or appropriate.  We are working with all our member schools to review their non-discrimination policy, ensure that the policy conforms to the discrimination policy required by this law and provide a period to cure any deficiencies.  We will continue to work with our member schools to remedy this situation as quickly as possible – with proper approvals of their schools’ governing board – to ensure the schools that take advantage of the state’s tax credit scholarship program are doing so within the law.  Any schools that don’t conform to the legislation we operate under will be required to cease participation in the Opportunity Scholarship Fund.  We will continue to monitor this matter in the upcoming months.”

ODLC will continue to monitor this issue to assure schools receiving these funds are in compliance.  ODLC will work with the OSF to resolve any future complaints. If you have a specific complaint of discrimination based on disability related to one these scholarships, please contact our office.

January 31, 2018 –   Read the Oklahoma Watch follow up article which discusses ODLC’s investigation.