For information on press releases and/or statements please contact:
Katelynn Schultz, Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disability Rights Iowa – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Iowans with disabilities. DRI’s mission is to defend and promote the human and legal rights of Iowans with disabilities.
DRI will regularly issue Press Releases and/ Statements on Disability Rights issues of concern to the Disability Rights Community.
Assistive Animals and Mental Health – a panel conversation hosted by Disability Rights Iowa
This event- under one week away – will take place from 12 – 1:30 p.m. on May 10th in Iowa City.
IOWA CITY, DES MOINES, OTTUMWA, CEDAR RAPIDS, and CHARITON, IA –Disability Rights Iowa will host an in-person panel presentation in Iowa City on Assistance Animals for Mental Health. In person satellite viewings of this panel conversation will take place in Des Moines, Ottumwa, Cedar Rapids and Chariton. The panel conversation will be also live-streamed. DRI anticipates the panel conversation will be impactful, lively, engaging, educational and fun.
Disability Rights Iowa’s Second Annual National Mental Health Awareness Event: Assistive Animals and Mental Health
IOWA CITY, DES MOINES, OTTUMWA, CEDAR RAPIDS, and CHARITON, IA –Disability Rights Iowa will host an in-person panel presentation in Iowa City on Assistance Animals for Mental Health. In person satellite viewings of this panel conversation will take place in Des Moines, Ottumwa, Cedar Rapids and Chariton. The panel conversation consists of six individuals who collectively have legal expertise, mental health expertise, and lived experience. The panel will also be moderated by a legal expert. To register to attend any in-person viewing location, or for the online streaming of this event follow the URL linked in the next sentence.
“Advocating for justice. Advancing human and legal rights. Protecting Iowans with disabilities.”
IOWA — Disability Rights Iowa is excited to announce their new vision, mission, and core values to the public. The updates made to these statements more directly represent the new areas of focus decided on through public survey, our Board of Directors, and Mental Health Advisory Council. The new statements highlight Disability Rights Iowa’s new focus on systemic advocacy.
Thank you to all Iowans with Disabilities!
Following your input during our Public Survey, Disability Rights Iowa has added a focus on Systemic Advocacy to their work, and updated their Areas of Focus.
IOWA — Disability Rights Iowa continues to serve Iowans with Disabilities. Following the high survey response, the Areas of Focus were updated to reflect the Disability Communities most pressing disability rights issues. The new Areas of Focus are; accountability of systems, civil rights, and community inclusion. These new Areas of Focus went into effect in October, 2022.
Advocates Sue the State of Iowa over Failure to Provide Mental Health Care for Medicaid-Eligible Children
TW/CW: suicidal ideation and thoughts, self-harm, and mentions of mental health disorders. If you or a loved one are experiencing a non-life threatening mental health crisis please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 for English; 1-888-628-9454 prestamos Servicios en Español; 1-800-273-8255 for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, or individuals living with hearing loss.
Des Moines, IA — Iowa is denying Medicaid-eligible children their legal right to mental health care, according to a class action lawsuit filed today by Disability Rights Iowa, Children’s Rights, National Health Law Program, and Ropes & Gray, LLP. The filing comes as children in the U.S. face unprecedented mental health challenges, and the need for mental health services among Iowa’s children has reached crisis levels. Iowa is ranked 41st worst in the nation for number of children suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the last year.
Reproductive Rights are Disability Rights
Friday, June 24, 2022 the Supreme Court of the United States decided in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn the previous court decision in Roe v. Wade.
The Roe decision provided legal protections for reproductive health, rights, and autonomy for every individual on a federal level. Dobbs v. Jackson concluded that the protections provided through the Roe v. Wade decision were not provided within the text of the constitution and therefore removed protections for reproductive health at the federal level. Disability Rights Iowa is greatly concerned for the thousands of Iowans with disabilities and the implications the Dobbs decision has on their bodily autonomy and medical rights.
Disability Rights Iowa to open to the public for the 32nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
DES MOINES, Iowa — July offers our community a time to celebrate the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to reflect on the advancements of Disability Rights and to discuss opportunities for further advancement and protection of Disability Rights. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and prohibits discrimination against a person with a disability. To celebrate this time in Disability Rights history, DRI will host an Open House on July 25th, from 2-4pm in their offices and open to the public permanently starting the day after. DRI invites everyone from our community to join us during the open house. Once there, guests can tour offices, meet the DRI team, the new executive director, celebrate the signing of the ADA, and experience the “F E E L” exhibit from Jill Wells – on tour at the DRI offices.
Disability Rights Iowa releases Public Survey asking – ‘how can we best serve you?’
Iowa — Disability Rights Iowa releases a public survey every other year and asks Iowans “What should we focus on to best serve your community?” This year the survey includes a question on how Disability Rights Iowa can maximize its resources to provide assistance across the entire state of Iowa. In other words, should Disability Rights Iowa focus on helping to remove large barriers and discriminatory practices that impact a large group of individuals? Fixing and/or removing the barrier and discrimination would help all individuals that are experiencing or may experience this problem in the future. Disability Rights Iowa is a small agency with limited capacity – i.e. not all individual requests for services can be accepted or taken on.
Disability Rights Iowa’s First Annual National Mental Health Awareness Event with Keynote Speaker Dior Vargas
DES MOINES, SIOUX CITY, MASON CITY, DUBUQUE, FAIRFIELD, DAVENPORT, and COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. — Eighteen Co-Sponsors representing State-wide Disability Rights, Latinx, LGBTQ, and mental health organizations are partnering with Disability Rights Iowa to host an in-person presentation in Des Moines from Dior Vargas. In person satellite viewings of Dior’s Keynote take place in Sioux City, Mason City, Dubuque, Fairfield, Davenport, and Council Bluffs. Dior Vargas is a queer Latina feminist mental health advocate from New York who has been repeatedly recognized as one of the most prominent Latinx mental health advocates in the country. She will share her story of growing up at the intersection of being a queer Latina feminist while experiencing mental health symptoms for the first time without community or family support. To register to attend any viewing location, follow our event updates, access a full list of co-sponsors, or watch the Livestream from home – please visit the event website.
State announces closure of Glenwood Resource Center
GLENWOOD, Iowa. — Governor Reynolds announced today that Glenwood Resource Center, a well-known institution for Iowans with developmental disabilities will begin the process to be fully closed by 2024. This comes as a direct result of the DOJ Report from December 8th, 2021 that condemned the treatment of individuals with disabilities within institutions like Glenwood.
Disability Rights Iowa writes Amicus brief in 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Case
DES MOINES, Iowa. — People with disabilities have long fought for their right to reasonable accommodation. In a case that has been appealed to the 8th Circuit, an Iowan woman is requesting a reasonable accommodation that her landlord accept a Housing Voucher to pay her rent in full, due to her inability to work caused by her disability.
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DECISION ENSURES IOWA SCHOOLS CAN REQUIRE MASKING TO PROTECT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
DES MOINES, Iowa — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit today ruled that the Rehab Act requires schools to impose universal masking rules where necessary to ensure students with disabilities have access to public school education.
Department of Justice Report Findings: Iowa is in Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
DES MOINES, Iowa. — The Department of Justice filed a report on Wednesday stating that the State of Iowa is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Within the ADA is the integration mandate which states that the State must provide “community based services to people with disabilities when: a. such services are appropriate; b. the affected people do not oppose community-based services; and c. community-based services can be reasonably accommodated…” The integration mandate of the ADA requires the State to reasonably modify its service system to provide meaningful alternatives to institutional care.
 Olmstead vs. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, 607 (1999)
Get to Know Your Rights: A Conversation on Equal Access to Healthcare and Special Education
Dubuque, Iowa. — Disability Rights Iowa with Mental Health and Disability Services, Dubuque County Health Department, Visiting Nurses Association, and Dubuque County Emergency Management is hosting an in-person Accessible COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic alongside an Equal Access to Healthcare and Special Education presentation. This event is a part of an initiative to inform individuals with disabilities of health information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. This clinic is free and open to the public.
Disability Rights Iowa Announces Changes in Leadership
After nearly a decade of protecting and advocating for the rights of Iowans with disabilities, Jane Hudson is retiring as the executive director of Disability Rights Iowa on June 17, 2021. Catherine Johnson will be starting on June 15, 2021.
Disability Rights Iowa Urges State to Develop System to Vaccinate Homebound Iowans
(March 19, 2021 – Des Moines, IA) – Iowa currently does not have a system for vaccinating Iowans with disabilities who cannot leave their homes to get vaccinated. Disability Rights Iowa – the federally mandated protection and advocacy system for Iowans with disabilities – urges the state to immediately implement a system for reaching out to homebound Iowans and give them the opportunity to get vaccinated.
First Monitor’s report Shows Substantial Progress toward Compliance with Court-Ordered Reform Plan for Iowa Boys’ State Training School
(February 3,2021 — Des Moines, IA) – An independent Monitor today filed the initial report on Iowa’s efforts to imporve conditions and services at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, Iowa, noting that the State has made progress in accordance with a Court order to reform the School’s practices.
Disability Rights Iowa Completes Inclusive Disability Mural for New Offices
(February 19, 2021 – Des Moines, IA) Disability Rights Iowa recently moved to new offices in the central downtown area. As a result, DRI had the unique opportunity to create a welcoming, inclusive, and representative mural in our lobby. This mural will help usher in the next chapter for DRI as we continue to advocate for Iowans with disabilities and mental illness. The mural depicts important progress in the disability rights movement as we dedicate our work to ensure the disability community has equal access in all aspects of their lives.