Disability Rights Legal Center in California to Receive National Recognition through ABA Award
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25, 2010 — The American Bar Association Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law has selected the Disability Rights Legal Center of Los Angeles to receive the 2010 Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights.
For 35 years the DRLC, a nonprofit legal services program, has advocated on behalf of people with disabilities with the mission of eliminating discrimination and other legal barriers that keep these individuals in poverty. The DRLC litigates in federal and state court to enforce various disability anti-discrimination laws, and educates and conducts outreach to the public on compliance with these laws. The center also provides legal services and programs such as: civil rights litigation, a Cancer Legal Resource Center, education advocacy, community outreach, options counseling and a lawyer referral service. Its Inland Empire Program facilitates interagency cooperation among agencies charged with providing programs, services and supports to children and adults with disabilities.
The center’s recent efforts include filing class actions alleging failures to provide special education at the Los Angeles County jail and ensuring that the county’s emergency preparedness plans address the needs of people with disabilities.
Additionally, DRLC lawyers have been counsel on cases that have included a million dollar settlement with broad injunctive relief addressing systemic failure to provide reasonable accommodations and habitable living conditions for low-income tenants with disabilities at the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, and have successfully settled a class action case on behalf of students with disabilities on systemic failure to provide accommodations and physical access on the California State University San Bernardino campus, resulting in $11.7 million worth of improvements and an overhaul of the accommodations’ procedures for students. The DRLC also served as co-counsel on a case that resulted in a preliminary injunction enjoining cuts to California’s In Home Support Services program, which affects approximately 130,000 low-income people with disabilities.
The award will be presented at the commission’s annual reception during the ABA 2010 Annual Meeting on Aug. 9 in San Francisco. The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Moscone Center West, 3rd floor, room 3020.
Each year the ABA presents the Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights to an individual or organization that has performed exemplary service in furthering the rights, dignity and access to justice for Americans with disabilities. The award is co-sponsored by the Starbucks Coffee Company.
About the Award
Paul G. Hearne (1950-1998), for whom the award was named, was born with a connective tissue disorder that physically limited his growth and restricted his movement. Through tenacity, intelligence and initiative, he created opportunities for himself and others, and proved a leader for all people with disabilities. Hearne’s life was marked by many pioneering endeavors in the legal and disability communities. He served as the director of Just One Break, Inc., the nation’s first private job placement agency for people with disabilities; the National Council on Disability; the Dole Foundation for Employment of People with Disabilities; the International Center for the Disabled; the Very Special Arts International Fund; and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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