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Most Recent DRW Announcements

Disability Rights Wisconsin Listening Session – Kenosha – Friday, December 5, 2014

The Board of Directors of Disability Rights Wisconsin will conduct a Listening Session on Friday, December 5, 2014 in Kenosha from 4:30 to 6:30 at the Gateway Technical College.

Come and share your ideas for the future of disability advocacy and the issues that need to be addressed in the areas of special education, developmental disability, mental health and physical disability services and disability rights.

Click here for more information about the Listening Session.

New Fact Sheet to Help Understand Important Changes Coming to Wisconsin

Disability Rights Wisconsin and the statewide Survival Coalition encourage you to help educate people with disabilities and their families about changes to home and community based services that are occurring due to a new federal rule. DRW believes the necessary shift to more community-based supports (less isolating settings) and funding has the potential to be a very positive change for Wisconsinites with disabilities that help everyone to participate more in our communities and have a higher quality of life. The Survival Coalition developed an FAQ to help better inform the public, including people with disabilities and their families, about these changes. Please consider sending this FAQ to your organization’s email list, posting on social media or sharing with others in your network. Click here for the FAQ.

Announcing two new Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women Project Resources available through Disability Rights Wisconsin

Conversations about Interpersonal Safety:  Helping individuals create more safety for themselves and talk about events that concern them                                     June 2014

Developed through the Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women Project of Wisconsin and authored by Mark Sweet, Trainer and Consultant at Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), this resource is designed for advocates, friends, family members and others to guide conversation and invite thinking about social situations and issues of personal safety involving people who have difficulty with abstract language, learning and social interactions — many individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  In response to the Project’s 2011 publication, Creating Safety by Asking What Makes People Vulnerable?, requests poured in asking for specific language and sample questions that one could use to talk about issues of safety and harm directly with people with intellectual disabilities.  This resource responds to those requests and provides “conversation starters,” questions covering a myriad of themes designed to stimulate thought about what conversations might be helpful or of interest to people you know and support.  Click here to read the rest of Announcing two new Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women Project Resources available through Disability Rights Wisconsin »

Volunteer Opportunity – Medicare Part D Disability Drug Benefit Helpline.

Looking for a fulfilling way to donate your time? The Milwaukee office of Disability Rights Wisconsin needs compassionate, dedicated individuals who enjoy helping others to volunteer for our Medicare Part D Disability Drug Benefit Helpline.

We will train you to help our callers navigate Medicare Part D and choose a plan that is best for them. Basic computer, internet and telephone skills helpful; a willingness to make a difference in the lives of others a MUST.

Fill out the application: Med D volunteer Application and submit to for more information. Thank you!

A War Worth Fighting – Blog Post about Voucher Schools

DRW has long been concerned about voucher schools discriminating against students with disabilities and the impact that the increased concentration of students with special education needs has on the diminishing resources of the public schools. Click the following link to read a blog by one of the attorneys who is working on the voucher case with us: A War Worth Fighting.

Disability Rights Wisconsin 2013 Annual Report

Expect More, Disability Rights Wisconsin Report to the Community 2013 annual report cover pageDisability Rights Wisconsin has issued its 2013 Report to the Community: “Expect More.” The 2013 annual report highlights advances made in fair employment practices, youth transition, mental health services, and end of life protection for people with disabilities. Read the full report here and share in DRW’s good work.

DRW’s Elise Cassidente receives Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award

DRW Milwaukee Office Coordinator, Elise Cassidente, is the first recipient of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award. Elise captures the essence of Ryan’s selflessness, work ethic, and humor in working to seek justice for our low-income neighbors, family, and friends. Letters nominating Elise noted that: “Her formidable intellect, passion for social justice, and tireless dedication to the people we serve truly capture the essence of Ryan Klesh’s tremendous legacy.  Elise has dedicated her professional life to public interest law and to seeking justice for low income people”.  This new award is named after Ryan Klesh, an administrative staff person for SeniorLAW at Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office from 2001 until his death in 2006.

DRW Public Policy Director Lisa Pugh’s Hometown Newspaper Celebrates her Appointment to Presidential Committee

Reprinted courtesy of the Dodge County Pionier:



Daughter’s rare disability sparks passion and vision

by Gayle Rydstrom

Shortly after Erika Pugh was born 14 years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare disability called Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS).

According to the RTS website, the disability ‘refers to a specific pattern of physical features and developmental disabilities which occur together in a consistent fashion. Individuals with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome have short stature, developmental delay, similar facial features, and broad thumbs and first toes.’

“[Erika’s] early years were tough on our family,” said Horicon native Lisa Pugh, Erika’s mother. “She was fed through a tube for the first three years of her life and had many therapies and doctor appointments.”

Lisa discovered her strong views regarding inclusion for people with disabilities and her passion for advocating on behalf of other families because of Erika’s disability. Erika does not speak and has a significant disability, but she is the core of the Pugh family.

“My husband [Michael, a Mayville native] and I have a vision for including Erika in everything we do and to support her to live as independent and fulfilling life as possible,” said Lisa. “We strongly believe every person with a disability has something to contribute to our communities and they should not be segregated in our schools, our workplaces or our places of worship.”

On May 9, Lisa was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. It is a two-year term. Although Lisa will visit Washington at least twice each year, she and her family will continue to live in Madison.   Click here to read the rest of DRW Public Policy Director Lisa Pugh’s Hometown Newspaper Celebrates her Appointment to Presidential Committee »

Save the Date: 2014 Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force Summit- Understanding Recovery

2014 MILWAUKEE MENTAL HEALTH TASK FORCE SUMMIT Understanding Recovery: Health Home Purpose Community - Making Our Lives Better   September 10, 2014 Italian Community Center, 613 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee   This year’s Summit will focus on educating the audience about recovery and furthering dialogue within the community about recovery.   TARGET AUDIENCE: peers, providers, advocates, family members, policy makers, educators   KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  Paolo del Vecchio, MSW and Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services. A self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, Paolo has been involved for over 40 years in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and policy maker.   Other speakers to date include Reverend Walter Lanier and Mike Phillips, LCSW, AODA counselor with Quad/Graphics EAP and AODA Services.   Participants will work together to develop an action plan to promote recovery in Wisconsin.   For sponsorship opportunities visit   SAVE THE DATE – ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION COMING SOON AT WWW.MILWAUKEEMHTF.ORG

Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force – Nominations for Karen Avery Award

The Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force is seeking nominations for the Karen Avery Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to advancing the rights of people with disabilities and to the consumer movement. Given the mission of the Task Force, we are especially interested in nominees who have been active in advancing the rights and independence of people with mental illness.

If you were inspired by Karen Avery and her passion for advancing the rights of people with disabilities, please consider nominating someone for the first annual Karen Avery Award. Self nominations are also welcome.  Click the following link for more information on the nominating process: MMHTF Karen Avery Award 05142014.