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Year in Review: A Safe Educational Environment

A good education is key to every child’s future—and children with disabilities are no different. Disability Rights Wisconsin has worked hard in 2016 to ensure that children with disabilities have a safe educational environment in which to learn and grow.

In February of this year, we co-published a report based on open records requests to special education directors statewide that shows we still have miles to go on the issue of seclusion and restraint practices used in public schools. Sadly, even with the 2012 passage of Wisconsin Act 125, which established regulations on public schools’ use of seclusion and restraint, our 2016 report details how families continue to report instances in which children are being secluded and restrained repeatedly, sometimes daily—and that 80% of these instances involve students with disabilities.

In concert with partner agencies, Disability Rights Wisconsin held a press conference at the state Capitol to highlight the pervasive use of seclusion and restraint on children with disabilities in our schools. We advocated and intervened on behalf of individual children to develop Individualized Education Plans and Positive Behavior Supports with their schools. And we’ve made specific recommendations on updating the state’s seclusion and restraint law in several areas, including statewide reporting, enhancing parent reporting requirements, and including law enforcement officers as “covered individuals” under the law.

We will continue requesting and monitoring seclusion and restraint data in 2017 and beyond, and holding Wisconsin schools accountable to the letter of the law. But we can’t do it alone.

Join us in our work to give all our children a safe educational environment. With your year-end gift to our “Off to a Good Start” campaign, you will become a member of our Protection and Advocacy Team, and help us continue our legislative and advocacy work in 2017.


Off to a Good Start

Rocket drawn by child with DRW letters on white base and a blue top with red flames and smoke on bottom for blast off.We may not know what the future holds for our children. We do know that Disability Rights Wisconsin will be an outspoken champion, protecting their rights and their futures.

Disability Rights Wisconsin’s 2016 Annual Campaign “Off to a Good Start” highlights our work on behalf of children with disabilities.

Advocates at DRW ensure that our children grow in a safe and nurturing environment, are engaged in their education, have access to the world around them and the supports they need to achieve their potential.


Please give a gift to Disability Rights Wisconsin today to celebrate our children and protect their futures.

Click here to read the rest of Off to a Good Start »

Now More than Ever – On Giving Tuesday: Fund Our Voice!

People with disabilities need their voices heard in Washington and Madison.

Since the election it has become clear that there are big changes on the horizon for people with disabilities. Access to healthcare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Home and Community Based Services are all at stake.

Now, more than ever it is important that people with disabilities have a voice in how, when, and if programs and policies are changed.

At Disability Rights Wisconsin we empower people with disabilities to exercise the full extent of their rights and pursue the greatest possible quality of life.

We work in coalition with people with disabilities, other agencies, and advocates, to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are protected.

We give voice to their concerns with state and national policymakers – and we have incredibly successful.

This year, Disability Rights Wisconsin strengthened the rights of children with disabilities in the child protective services system through legislative advocacy.

In the coming months we will be working hard to maintain the hard won gains and resist changes that will exclude or segregate people with disabilities or weaken programs that support them.

Join our mission! Now more than ever — FUND OUR VOICE.


Disability Rights Wisconsin – Informational Session and Board Listening Session – Wausau – Dec. 2

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 from 4:00 to 6:30 PM

Informational Session: 4:00 – 4:30
Learn about the mission and advocacy work of DRW
Presented by DRW Executive Director Dan Idzikowski

Board Listening Session: 4:30 – 6:30
Help shape our advocacy plans for the future. Come and speak or just listen to what others in your community have to say.

WHERE: North Central Technical College
1000 W. Campus Drive, Wausau 54401
In the Center for Business and Industry – at the north end of the campus—Room #110

BUS: Served by Wausau Metro Ride – Route B
Last stop/pickup at the College bus stop is at 6:15.
All buses run until 6:30.
For rider information call 715-842-9287 or click here.

PARKING: Free parking available by the building—use Lot D

If you need language translation or an accommodation, please contact Mary Sykes at 608-267-0214 or mary.sykes@drwi.org by Nov. 21.

Sign language interpreters will be present.

To submit written comments, email kristine.beck@drwi.org or mail to DRW, 131 W. Wilson St., Suite 700, Madison, WI 53703.

For a flyer with details, click here.

Disability Rights Wisconsin Mourns the Passing of Extraordinary Disability Advocate, Olivia Quigley

Olivia Quigley holding special world olympics medalWisconsin’s Special Olympics World Games gold medalist and outstanding disability advocate, Olivia Quigley, has died at the age of 25. Olivia had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

Olivia was adopted at the age of 3 from China by her parents, Dan and Judy- a former Disability Rights Wisconsin board member. Olivia had a diagnosis of autism, lived in her own apartment and was a success story for the Project Search program that supports young people with disabilities in community jobs. She excelled at her job at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and was a role model for countless other young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In 2015 ESPN named Olivia to their Impact25 list of influential women in sports and she received the inaugural Inspiration Award. She was also honored as a Hometown Hero by the Wisconsin State Assembly and received a standing ovation on the floor of the Assembly.

You can read more about Olivia’s extraordinary life and advocacy for people with disabilities here: Remembering Special Olympics World Games gold medalist Olivia Quigley

Disability Rights Wisconsin shares condolences with the Quigley family and honors Olivia’s memory.

US Department of Justice Issues Guidance on ADA Integrated Employment Mandate

The United States Department of Justice this week issued a “Statement on Application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C. to State and Local Governments’ Employment Service Systems for Individuals with Disabilities.”

The Justice Department clarified that the Americans with Disabilities Act’s integration mandate applies in all aspects of a person’s life, including the employment context. “The civil rights of persons with disabilities, including individuals with mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or physical disabilities, are violated by unnecessary segregation in a wide variety of settings, including in segregated employment, vocational, and day programs.”

As the Protection and Advocacy system for Wisconsin charged with advancing the civil rights of all people with disabilities, Disability Rights Wisconsin has consistently advocated for state and local governments to ensure that taxpayer funding is being used to advance, and not impede, individuals with disabilities’ right to live, work, and recreate in the most integrated environment possible. Click here to read the rest of US Department of Justice Issues Guidance on ADA Integrated Employment Mandate »

Medicare Training for Professionals – Fall 2016 – Link to Webcast

To watch the webcast of this year’s DHS-sponsored Medicare Training for Professionals, click here.

Take a Minute for Medicare

This month we will conclude the topic on Extra Help with Medicare Part D costs. We will focus on Medicaid eligibility and what it can do to help you with your Medicare and Part D costs. If eligible, you will pay the lowest costs for your Medicare Part D drugs and eliminate the coverage gap.

What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that assists with the medical costs of people with low income, and low resources. Each state establishes its own eligibility guidelines, administers its own program, and determines the covered services. You can have both Medicare and Medicaid. If you are a dual eligible beneficiary –a person enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid– Medicare pays first, and Medicaid pays second. Medicaid may cover services that Medicare does not, like some dental, vision and personal care. It can also help cover Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, coinsurances, and copayments.

What is a Medicare Savings Program (MSP)?
Also administered by Medicaid are the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) which help pay for some of your Medicare health costs if you have limited income. There are three types of MSPs, and each helps pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium and one also helps pay Medicare costs like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurances. To qualify for a MSP, you must have Medicare Part A and meet the income and asset eligibility guidelines. If you’re unsure of whether you qualify, you should still apply because certain types of income and assets do not count when determining whether you qualify for a MSP.

Types of Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) in Wisconsin:

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) • Pays your Medicare Part A and Part B premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurances.
• You can have both QMB and Medicaid.
• Coverage is not retroactive. Benefits begin on the first of the month after your eligibility is approved.
• Income eligibility at or below 100 percent of FPL.

Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) • Pays your Medicare Part B premium.
• You can have both SLMB and Medicaid.
• Offers 3-month retroactive coverage prior to application date, as long as you were eligible during those months.
• Income eligibility set at 100 percent to 120 percent of FPL.

Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Plus (SLMB+) • Pays your Medicare Part B premium.
• You cannot have both SLMB + and Medicaid.
• Offers 3-month retroactive coverage prior to application date, as long as you were eligible during those months. However, coverage can only be provided within the current calendar year. For example, if you apply in January, you will not receive retroactive coverage.
• Income eligibility set at 120 percent to 135 percent of FPL.

For general Medicare questions, call DRW at 1-800-928-8778. For Medicare Part D questions, call the Disability Drug Benefit Helpline at 1-800-926-4862. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or visit www.medicare.gov to find out if Medicare covers your test, service, or item.


DRW’s 2017 PADD Program Goals & Priorities

DRW seeks public comments on our proposed 2017 Goals and Priorities for our protection and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These goals and priorities will determine how DRW will allocate its resources on behalf of people with IDD during the next year. These goals and priorities were developed with input from the public obtained at DRW Board listening sessions and are also based on the intake and case experience at DRW. These goals and priorities will be finalized after all public comments are analyzed. Click here to read the document.

Comments should be submitted to DRW’s PADD Coordinator Mitch Hagopian via email at:

or via U.S. Mail at:
Disability Rights Wisconsin
Attention: Mitch
131W. Wilson St., Suite 700
Madison, WI 53703

To assure consideration, comments must be received by November 30, 2016.

Disability Rights Wisconsin 2017-2019 Biennial Budget Priorities

Disability Rights Wisconsin advocates across a wide variety of issues. See our priorities for the 2017-2019 biennial budget here:

Quality Community Supports and Institutions


Mental Health


Youth in Transition and Employment

Direct Care Workforce

Children’s Supports


Juvenile Justice and Corrections

Voting Housing Access to Justice

See the complete document of priorities here.