November 2021 Newsletter

"Disability Rights Advocates November 2021 Newsletter"
“Disability Rights Advocates November 2021 Newsletter”

In This Issue

Letter From the President & CEO

Portrait of Kathy Martinez
Image: Portrait of Kathy Martinez

Dear Friends,

As many people across the country prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, I find myself filled with gratitude.

To start, I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead and work with a team of dedicated professionals with whom I share a common passion and purpose. I’m also grateful for DRA’s many partners and supporters, without whom we simply would not be able to achieve our mission.

As evidenced by our high-impact, precedent-setting work, in recent months, we’ve helped advance the rights and inclusion of, and equity for, people with disabilities across the nation through a number of settlements and new case filings addressing everything from emergency planning to transportation and technology.

I’m also grateful for the success of our annual gala last month, during which we had the opportunity to showcase the depth and breadth of our reach as well as raise funds to support our work. On behalf of everyone at DRA, let me say a sincere thank you to all who attended and contributed to the event, whether through speaking, donating or simply tuning in to learn more about DRA. We are happy to have you as part of the DRA family. Click here to experience and share the gala!

On that note, we recently welcomed a fabulous new DRA board member Morgan Duffy, who you can learn more about in this issue of our newsletter. In recent weeks, we’ve also welcomed several new staff members: Christina Espinosa, Erin Gallagher, Dale Rabinov, and Julia Robaidek.

As we close the books on 2021, we have our sights firmly set on the future. We’re working hard to finalize objectives for our strategic plan, which will guide our work going forward and assist us in ensuring we meet the needs of people with disabilities from all backgrounds. We also continue our work on a brand refresh, including a new, more accessible website that we hope to unveil soon. Stay tuned for DRA’s 2021 annual report coming soon.

With gratitude and hope for the future,

Kathy Martinez signature
Image: Kathy Martinez signature


Thomson Reuters Public Interest Profile: Stuart Seaborn

Portrait of Stuart Seaborn
Portrait of Stuart Seaborn

DRA’s Managing Director of Litigation Stuart Seaborn was profiled by Thomson Reuters Practical Law Journal.

Check out the interview with Stuart for an inside look at what it’s like to oversee litigation at the nation’s leading nonprofit disability rights legal center.

Washington Post: Prefer to Keep Your Vote Private? Those of Us with Disabilities Do, Too

Paper with "Bill of Rights" and small text from US Bill of Rights (via iStock)
Paper with “Bill of Rights” and small text from US Bill of Rights (via iStock)
The Washington Post published an op-ed by DRA’s President and CEO Kathy Martinez.

Read Kathy’s op-ed in the Washington Post about DRA’s ongoing nationwide battle for voting accessibility and the critical need for persons with disabilities to be able to vote privately and independently.


New Board Member Profile: Morgan Duffy

Portrait of Morgan Duffy
Portrait of Morgan Duffy

DRA is excited to welcome Morgan Duffy to our board of directors!

Morgan is a proud disabled woman currently working in health technology. She is the Strategy Lead at OneFifteen, a learning health system for addiction treatment and the Sr. Program Manager for Behavioral Health at Verily, an Alphabet Company.

Why did you decide to join DRA’s Board of Directors?

“I firmly believe that change happens best when it is grounded in grassroots movements, fueled by personal experience, and addressing problems at their source. DRA is doing all of that and I’m excited to support its mission however I can. Additionally, I’m thrilled to see the representation of disabled people on the Board and across staff.”

Read the Entire Conversation Here

Impact Report


Outside view of PS 43/Jonas Bronck School in The Bronx NY
Image: Outside view of PS 43/Jonas Bronck School in The Bronx NYC (via Wikimedia)

In July, a U.S. District Court approved a landmark settlement agreement with NYC Department of Education that will result in a variety of changes to NYCDOE’s policies and practices that deny legally mandated special education services to Bronx students with disabilities.


Emergency Preparedness

Flooding and submerged benches in Buffalo, NY during April 2018 windstorm
Image: Flooding and submerged benches in Buffalo, NY during April 2018 windstorm, via Wikimedia

Thanks to a critical September settlement agreement, people who are blind and use screen readers will now have independent access to life-saving information offered by “NY-Alert,” New York State’s Mass Notification System.




Hands of a woman and child using colored pencils to draw on paper on a desk with building blocks and other art supplies
Image: Hands of a woman and child using colored pencils to draw on paper on a desk with building blocks and other art supplies (via Synergos/Hallie Easley)

In July, DRA filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County for withdrawing employment offers following invasive and unnecessary psychological evaluations. And in October, DRA filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Insurance for its failure to ensure the accessibility of its insurance agent licensing exam for blind applicants. 


Close-up of an open book atop a closed book atop a table
Image: Close-up of an open book atop a closed book atop a table (via Pxfuel)

New Jersey Department of Corrections will drastically improve special education services for people in its prisons, thanks to a settlement agreement that was preliminarily approved in July.

In August, DRA filed a class action lawsuit against New York Department of Corrections on behalf of people with disabilities who are incarcerated at Five Points Correctional Facility and have been denied accommodations for their mobility disabilities.


Inclusive Fitness Equipment Symbol
Image: Inclusive Fitness Equipment Symbol

In September, DRA and partners secured a commitment from Planet Fitness to expand access to accessible exercise equipment nationwide.