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Overview of Agency

Since 1977, ODLC has helped people with disabilities achieve equality, inclusion in society and personal independence without regard to disabling conditions. We are a system of protection and advocacy for people with disabilities in the State of Oklahoma. We are federally funded through the Administration for Children and Families, the Center for Mental Health Services and Health Resources Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and the Social Security Administration.

ODLC is a member of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), an association of protection and advocacy systems across the country.

ODLC is considered a sibling agency to the Oklahoma University Center for Learning and Leadership and the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council because we are related under one law. The siblings make up Oklahoma’s developmental disability network, known as the Redlands Partners.

ODLC works in conjunction with the federally funded Oklahoma ABLE Tech to provide protection and advocacy services for individuals needing assistance to access assistive technology. Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.provides a wide array of support services to allow advocates from protection and advocacy programs such as ODLC to better serve individuals with disabilities. The national project has a goal to foster the notion that AT advocates are part of a larger national effort to effectuate lasting change in the ability of persons with disabilities to obtain AT to enhance their lives.

ODLC works in conjunction with Oklahoma’s federally funded statewide parent training and information center. Their services cover a full range of disabilities and help parents and professionals get the information, resources, training or support that they need.

ODLC utilizes the Alternative Dispute Resolution System affiliated with the Oklahoma Supreme Court through the Administrative Office of the Courts. They offer all citizens convenient access to conflict settlement proceedings over issues related to special education, guardianship and disability rights.

What service does ODLC provide?

Individual Case Services: ODLC provides legal services to eligible clients consistent with the established priorities and objectives. When we cannot provide legal representation, we frequently can offer information and provide referrals to other agencies that might be able to help. ODLC can provide a variety of forms to enable you to prepare complaints to appropriate federal agencies if you believe that you have experienced discrimination based on your disability.

Systems Advocacy: ODLC works closely with consumer groups and disability rights organizations to advocate for progressive changes in the systems that affect people with disabilities, such as health care, mental health, education and welfare.

Community Legal Education: Our staff speaks to groups of clients, their family members, advocates and others about the legal rights of people with disabilities.

Access Authority of ODLC

The P&A system is authorized under federal law to access facilities or programs providing care and treatment to persons with disabilities, for the purpose of conducting the following activities:

  1. Provide information, referral and training concerning programs and services for eligible individuals, and training about individual rights and services available from ODLC.
  2. Investigate incidents of abuse and neglect if the incident is reported to ODLC, or if ODLC determines that there is probable cause to believe the incident occurred.
  3. Pursue administrative, legal, and other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of rights of eligible persons with disabilities.
  4. Monitor facility or program compliance with respect to the rights and safety of service recipients and individual treatment plans.

Below are links to court decisions and other documents that detail the P&A Access Authority:

State of Connecticut Office of Protection and Advocacy (HHS and DOE Amicus Brief (June 2, 2005)(PAIMI Act covers non-residential facilities; P&A Acts override FERPA)

Protection and Advocacy Systems v. Freudenthal (D. Wyo. January 6, 2006) (HIPAA and Medicaid Act do not bar P&A access as long as P&A complies with access provisions of PAIMI, DD and PAIR Acts)

HIPAA and P&A Access:  May covered entity disclose PHI to a Protection and Advocacy system where the disclosure is required by law?  (FAQ #909, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, June 2005)

Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. v. Dillon Family and Youth Services, 879 F.Supp. 1110 (ND Ok. 1995) (PAIMI Act preempts, or overrides, state statute barring access without court order)

Self Advocacy Materials

ODLC develops self-advocacy materials to assist people with disabilities and their representatives with advocacy to achieve equality, independence and inclusion.  The materials are updated to reflect changing laws and practices.  The materials are not intended as legal advice on any particular situation and are not intended to create a legal relationship.  If you are eligible for services through ODLC’s protection and advocacy program, you should contact the office directly for legal services.

Self-advocacy materials are available under the following categories.  If you want additional areas covered for self-advocacy materials, contact ODLC.

  1. Discrimination by Government Agencies or Public Accommodations
  2. Employment Discrimination
  3. Housing Discrimination
  4. Public Benefits and Personal Planning
  5. Voting
  6. Education

Looking for information on how to respectfully write or report about disability issues?

Read Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about people with disabilities

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