Archive for 2014

People First Wisconsin Shares Biennial Budget Recommendations

People First Wisconsin, a statewide grassroots advocacy group run by and for people with disabilities, shared budget recommendations with Governor Walker’s staff during a December 11 meeting at the capitol in Madison. Click here to read “What Matters to Me – 2015-2017 budget.”

Your donation can help us celebrate “homecoming” for people with disabilities

What do you think of when you hear the word “homecoming”?  A soldier’s return, a dance, a college alumni gathering?

For people with disabilities who have been “placed” in institutions, excluded from neighborhoods, and denied education and work opportunities, “homecoming” means something different. It means stability.  It means working and coming home to a place that you can call your own. It means living with dignity, freedom, respect, support and opportunity.

Your support of Disability Rights Wisconsin helps make this definition of homecoming a reality.

At Disability Rights Wisconsin, we’ve been helping people with disabilities celebrate homecomings for more than 35 years.  We’ve advocated for more than 7000 individuals this year.

We urgently need your help.  Celebrate homecoming with us by contributing to DRW today!  Your generosity makes possible the advocacy, education, and policy work that helps make homecomings happen.

It’s easy to donate.  You can click here to DONATE.  Or you can click on the red DONATE NOW button in the upper right hand corner of this webpage.  Thank you!

Disability Rights Wisconsin Applauds Renewed Investment in Students with Disabilities Budget Proposal Addresses Eroded Funding Concerns; Supports a Better Bottom Line

Disability Rights Wisconsin applauds the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s 2015-2017 biennial budget request released today that includes $108 million in investments for students with disabilities. Children with disabilities across Wisconsin should be able to get the quality education supports they need to achieve educational proficiency with their peers and gain the skills necessary to live independently and be employed – if the special education proposals in the Department of Public Instruction’s budget request move forward in the Wisconsin Legislature.

The budget DPI released today will reverse six years of flat lined funding for students with disabilities. Included among the requests are several jobs-focused proposals that direct and incentivize schools to focus on securing employment opportunities for young adults with disabilities prior to exiting school. These proposals align with Governor Walker’s Better Bottom Line initiative that have increased Wisconsin’s investments in employment of people with disabilities.

Click here to read the rest of Disability Rights Wisconsin Applauds Renewed Investment in Students with Disabilities Budget Proposal Addresses Eroded Funding Concerns; Supports a Better Bottom Line »

Voting in Wisconsin – A Guide for Citizens with Disabilities – 2014

Voting is a constitutional right and responsibility of citizenship. It is an important way to help select the national, state and local officials who make laws, design programs and decide how tax dollars are spent. For information on voting in Wisconsin for individuals with disabilities, download a copy of the manual Disability Vote Guide 2014.

Drafted by the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition.

Report Offers First Statewide Look at Seclusion and Restraint in Wisconsin’s Public Schools

Madison, WI – A new report issued today by Disability Rights Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Ties, and WI FACETS, offers the first statewide look at seclusion and restraint data in Wisconsin’s public schools.  The report, called Seclusion & Restraint in Wisconsin Public School Districts: 2012-2013 School Year Data, is based on open records requests to special education directors statewide, collecting the data they were required to report to their school boards last fall in the wake of the 2012 passage of Wisconsin Act 125, which established crucial regulations on public-school use of seclusion and restraint.  The results provide a baseline of information about current statewide use of seclusion and restraint of students and, more specifically, students with disabilities, who according to the report accounted for a disproportionate 74% of seclusion and restraint incidents in 2012-13.

Click here to view the report.

The three organizations have for years helped amplify the voices of families whose students had suffered emotional and physical injury due to seclusion and restraint, highlighting the need for change that led to the passage of Act 125. The law limits the use of seclusion and restraint to situations in which there is an immediate risk to physical safety, and the intervention is the least restrictive one possible.   The first year of data demonstrates, however, that interpretation and implementation is uneven across school districts.

Click here to read the rest of Report Offers First Statewide Look at Seclusion and Restraint in Wisconsin’s Public Schools »

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 »

Proposed Changes to Family Care and the Department of Health Services 5-year Transition Plan: Questions and Answers

Disability Rights Wisconsin supports changes to services for people with disabilities in Wisconsin that will provide more community-based options for people to live a more integrated life. The Department of Health Services is seeking public comment on these changes through Sept. 2. Use this helpful FAQ to answer some common questions about the change: If you would like to learn more and to use a tool to help you submit comments, go to Find more information about the DHS proposed changes to Family Care and other services, as well as how to comment directly to DHS here:

Managing Attorney Kit Kerschensteiner quoted in prison article by Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Excerpt from article in a series by Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism which appeared in WI State Journal and on WI Public Radio:

Kit Kerschensteiner, managing attorney with Disability Rights Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the allegations of abuse at Waupun are “occurring with such frequency” that they could merit an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department under the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, which was previously invoked to bring about major changes in mental health care and discipline at the state women’s prison at Taycheedah. “We will continue to help individual inmates with their complaints, but we have a peashooter, and they have a cannon,” she said.

With complaints brought by inmates, a key issue is credibility. Kerschensteiner suggested that abuse occurs in part because guards know they have the upper hand in any disagreement. “Regardless of what actually happened, it always boils down to, who is going to be believed: a reputable guard or a convicted felon?” she said. “Corroboration is hard.”

For the full article: