Navigating the maze of disability rights and benefits can be very confusing. The purpose of advocacy assistance provided at the Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC) is to make information and support available to consumers so that they can resolve issues, gain access to the community, and obtain needed services and benefits. Advocacy is provided by any Dayle McIntosh Center staff member who works directly with consumers.
Persons, who have a disability and reside in Orange County, are eligible to become consumers of the Dayle McIntosh Center and engage in services including advocacy.
Potential consumers are referred for the provision of advocacy by a variety of sources such as case managers, social workers, community-based organizations, medical personnel, schools, and by word-of-mouth. At times, family members or close friends also make the first point of contact with the center regarding the need for advocacy. Most frequently, individuals are self-referred for this service.
How Advocacy Is Provided
Because advocacy typically relates to a specific area of independent living such as acquisition of services or benefits, discrimination on the basis of disability, or equal access to public facilities and amenities, any service coordinator at the Dayle McIntosh Center may provide assistance. Advocacy is offered at either of the Center’s offices and at other designated sites in the community depending on the consumer’s need.
To initiate the provision of advocacy assistance, the appropriate service coordinator and the consumer discuss the situation to be addressed and decide on a course of action. A goal statement with corresponding tasks to be accomplished and targeted completion dates is developed as a guide for advocacy services.
The following is an overview of the most frequent types of advocacy assistance provided by various DMC service coordinators:
Transition from Institutions: Expressing a consumer’s right to receive adequate services in the least restrictive environment possible, ensuring that personnel at institutions do not interfere with the transition process, representing the desires of the consumer, and arranging for ancillary support.
Aging with Vision Loss: assisting consumers with appealing insurance denials for durable medical equipment (DME), advocating for the provision of adaptive devices, helping consumers to file complaints with public entities in instances where individual rights have been delayed or denied.
Assistive Technology: Aiding consumers, who require telecommunication access or materials produced in alternate formats, to obtain appropriate accommodations; gaining funding approval for needed devices or training; advocating for the provision of assistive technology through schools, employers, and public and private entities.
Housing: Representing consumers, who are at risk of losing rental vouchers or being evicted; assisting with the filing of a fair housing complaint; mediating during disputes between consumers and landlords; and addressing other housing-related issues.
Independent Living Skills: Assisting consumers to acquire previously denied tools or hands-on training relevant to establishing or maintaining independence, advocating for accommodations such as a sign language interpreter or alternate method of communication, providing guidance in the process of filing a discrimination complaint, affirming a consumer’s right to live independently, applying for, or appealing denial of, disability-related benefits and services .
Personal Assistant Services: Helping consumers address conflicts between themselves and attendants, attaining approval for In Home Supportive Services (IHSS), mediating for additional personal assistant hours, and acquiring a housing voucher allowing for a live-in caregiver, etc.
Mobility Management Program: Addressing unsafe issues relevant to public transportation, assisting consumers to obtain services through local agencies providing transportation, filing complaints regarding transportation issues, acquiring funding for transportation services, appealing denial of para-transit services.
Youth Transition Services: Providing guidance with the development of individual education plans, (IEPs), accompanying students to IEP meetings to assure that their desires and concerns are heard, aiding parents or consumers to request new or additional educational assessments, assisting youth to understand their rights and options regarding transition services.
Advocacy assistance continues until the desired outcomes have been reached; the consumer fails to participate over a specified period of time or voluntarily withdraws from the program; or the individual relocates out of the service area. Following case closure, consumers have the opportunity to complete a satisfaction survey in order to express their opinions of the effectiveness of the program.
Program Success Story
A deaf consumer with minimal language skills requested assistance in appealing a decision of denial from unemployment insurance. The consumer was dismissed from his job of eight years on the grounds that a coworker accused him of being aggressive toward him. Based on discussions with the consumer, the Independent Living Services (ILS) Instructor for the deaf reached the conclusion that the consumer had been wrongfully terminated due to lack of information and miscommunication. The consumer did not have proper representation from an advocate or other who was sensitive to the cultural and language barriers of people, who are deaf. The ILS Instructor attended the consumer’s appeal hearing with a skilled Interpreter, who effectively communicated what the consumer was conveying to the Judge. The appeal was decided in the consumer’s favor and he received back unemployment insurance payments to the time of eligibility.