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Letter From The CEO

Election results have been certified.  Nearly every challenge to Pennsylvania’s election has been dismissed by state and federal Judges across our Commonwealth.  It is time to move to forward.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, Mental Health Advisory Council, and staff, we congratulate our newly elected officials and look forward to working with them on a range of proposals that will benefit Pennsylvanians with disabilities as well as the issues across the intersection of our lives; Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, other people of color, gender, and LGBTQ lives. 

While this election was more about the presidential candidates; it was, and still is, about our communities.  Elections are just one way we express our voice and power. 

Our work at Disability Rights Pennsylvania is rooted in the value that someday people of all abilities will be equal and free.  This is possible because we can create a Commonwealth where everyone feels welcome and can live the lives they choose.  Disability Rights Pennsylvania is, and has been, the best organization to accomplish this change because we can change laws because of the congressionally mandated tools we have to utilize. Unfortunately, Congress does not provide enough resources to help every person who calls our office seeking assistance.  You can help.

Please join our efforts to make Pennsylvania a Commonwealth where people of all abilities are equal and free.

A generous supporter has made a commitment and is challenging other Disability Rights Pennsylvania supporters to match their support.  All donations between now and the end of the month will go twice as far.  Every donation made in December will be matched up to $1,000.  Any amount will be matched.

Thank you for your ongoing support in 2020.

May you have a joyous and safe holiday season.



Peri Jude Radecic

Chief Executive Officer

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Disability Advocacy in the Year of COVID-19

By, Kelly Darr | Legal Director

The end of the year is a time for reflection, and this year at DRP has been full of challenges.  The pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our work on behalf of people with disabilities.  Our clients have faced additional barriers related to health care, employment, housing, education, and voting.   Those barriers are further exacerbated by systemic racism which was brought to the fore by the tragic killings and protests of the summer.  COVID-19 raised novel disability rights issues that had not been encountered by our staff, the courts, or policymakers.  Many of our staff or their immediate family members have disabilities or health conditions that make COVID-19 an increased risk.  Since abruptly transitioning to remote work in the spring, many staff are juggling the care of elderly family members, tutoring their virtual school children, or covering for inconsistent childcare options, all while working from home.

One challenge from 2020 stands large in my mind.  In early March, reports surfaced that hospitals in Italy were so overrun with COVID-19 patients that doctors were making decisions about who would receive life-saving care that was in short supply, such as ventilators.  Soon, the possibility that hospitals in areas hit hard by the pandemic all over the world would run out of space, ventilators, or other resources was covered daily in the media.  By late March, many states had begun developing health care rationing policies to deal with the impending surge and potential shortfall of resources.  Some of those policies contained provisions that discriminated against people with disabilities in the rationing of care, including the policy first circulated by our state.  The urgency of the situation created momentum within the advocacy community in our state and across the nation to address these critical issues. 

DRP, along with a large group of disability advocates, filed a complaint with a federal civil rights department and were able to successfully address the discriminatory aspects of Pennsylvania’s healthcare rationing policy.  In doing this work, we grappled with novel and complicated legal issues in a system that was not familiar to us.  The heart-wrenching stories from clients vulnerable to such discriminatory rationing policies brought these issues into sharp relief and propelled us forward.  Never in my career have I witnessed and felt the palpable fear created by the threat of rationing.  The prospect of having a positive impact on this life-or-death issue helped to keep us focused on those first few weeks of the pandemic.   

I am incredibly proud of our staff, as I believe we not only rose to the challenges of 2020, but we are thriving.  Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.  Novel issues created by the pandemic strengthened our collaborations with disability rights advocates from around the state and country and helped us forge connections to new allies.   To be able to provide information and advice to the many clients who contact DRP, we have navigated new issues not only in healthcare rationing, but with visitation polices, mask requirements, virtual special education, and much more.  The pandemic halted our in-person outreach, so our staff figured out how to use virtual tools to accomplish our work.  This year, we monitored more facilities where people with disabilities reside than ever before.  Our work to eliminate barriers to voting for people with disabilities in 2020, while all virtual, far surpassed our efforts in any other election year. 

We are certainly not out of the woods yet, but I am writing this with cautious optimism as the first COVID-19 vaccinations are being administered in the U.S. We hope the new year brings health and justice for all.  But no matter what 2021 brings, DRP is here with you, ready to continue the fight for disability rights. 

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Dear friends and supporters of Disability Rights Pa,

Our mission at Disability Rights Pennsylvania is to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities. Our services are statewide and available at no cost to people with disabilities. We offer legal and advocacy services, training, information, referral, and outreach. The work we do is enabled by people like you. People who believe in our mission and want equal opportunity & achievement for individuals with disabilities.

In 2020, DRP connected, engaged, and changed Pennsylvania for every person with a disability. Our work focused on the response to COVID-19. When no one thought healthcare would be available to people with disabilities at the beginning of this pandemic, DRP lead the fight to change the medical rationing policy set by the state. When people with disabilities were left on their own, without support or effective communication inside medical care facilities. DRP lead the fight to change statewide “no medical visitation” policies. We helped directly impact so many others in special education, long-term care settings, voting, and much more. When this pandemic hit, DRP took immediate action.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the DRP Mental Health Advisory Council, our staff, and especially, the individuals we serve, we “thank you” for your ongoing support. Your commitment and financial contributions enable DRP. to continue to promptly respond to the needs of individuals with disabilities. Please consider a gift to DRP in your year-end giving.


We wish you a safe, healthy, and happy Holiday Season!!


Suzanne Erb, Board Chair

Peri Jude Radecic, CEO

COVID-19 Resources

Know Your Rights According to the Americans With Disabilities Act During COVID-19

We as an organization feel it is necessary to equip our community with the information you need to seek care amidst the pandemic. With that in mind, please see below for our COVID-19 healthcare resources. If you need advocacy as it pertains to seeking care, please call our COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-692-7443 EXT. 402... Read more

Join Our Team

Join Our Team and Help Advocate for the Rights of Pennsylvanians with Disabilities

Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) seeks a managing attorney for investigations and monitoring and experienced litigators to work on innovative and sophisticated impact litigation aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilities to be free from discrimination, abuse, and neglect in the receipt of government services and in public accommodations, employment, voting, education, and housing...  Read more

Disability Rights Pennsylvania
301 Chestnut Street Suite 300 | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
800-692-7443 |

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