Disability Rights of West Virginia
Successful Client Resolutions
With the closing out of Fiscal Year 2022, I want to take the opportunity to thank the staff of Disability Rights of West Virginia. We have an amazing team dedicated to working hard every day for people with disabilities in West Virginia.
With the easing of COVID 19 restrictions, the staff were eager to provide in person monitoring at many facilities throughout the state, as well as attend in-person meetings. My hat’s off to this amazing team!
I want to share some examples of positive outcomes for our clients through our advocacy efforts, as well as some of the other types of work that we did. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as we loved getting the results.
Susan Given, Executive Director, MSW, LSW
In FY 2022, DRWV conducted 327 monitorings of 151 state and private facilities. These monitorings were conducted over eleven major categories including: Assisted Living Facilities; Forensic/Behavioral Health Group Homes; Intermediate Care Facilities; Specialized Family Care Homes; State and Privately Operated Children’s Residential Facilities, Psychiatric Hospitals, and Nursing Homes; WV Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Jails and Prison; and an Intellectual/Development Disabilities Waiver Group Home.
In FY 2022, DRWV opened 1,050 federally funded Service Requests for 777 clients.
DRWV staff set up our outreach display table at ten events in FY 2022. Staff also provided fifty-one outreach presentations and seventeen trainings to various groups throughout the state.
The parent of a child requested assistance regarding a restraint incident that occurred at the client's school. DRWV reviewed records, filed a state complaint with the WV Department of Education, and attended Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. DRWV advocated for appropriate services and goals to be added to the IEP, including appropriate behavioral interventions. As a result, the client began to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in his Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), the teacher resigned her position, and a new teacher was placed in the client's classroom.
A client requested assistance regarding accessibility to a state university basketball game venue. DRWV found that the university's policy was that a general ticket would be purchased, then if an accessible seat was needed, the guest would have to exchange tickets at the ticket office, subject to availability. There was no guarantee that an exchange would be possible as there are a limited number of seats available. DRWV communicated with the Mid-Atlantic ADA, then provided the university with information on accessible seating policies and procedures. DRWV's staff attorney worked with the university's General Council regarding their accessible seating policy. As a result of DRWV's advocacy, the university updated their online ticketing program. The ticketing software is capable of separating purchases for accessible seats, asking if purchaser or member of party requires this type of accommodation, and allows a notice which is initialed or signed by purchaser saying they understand they are subject to removal if they do not require accessible seating. The university will also post signage notifying fans of the new policy. Security will be trained to enforce the policy of removing individuals who inappropriately use accessible seating. The university also holds back a certain percentage of accessible seating tickets for fans who purchase over the phone or in person. They will adjust that percentage based on demand. This will affect not only the client but all individuals with disabilities who attend the university's sporting events including basketball, football, baseball, etc.
Access to Services
A transition aged client and his father requested assistance in getting more transition services and job training for post-graduation. He was about to graduate high school and they felt that the school was not providing proper transitions services. The WV Division of Rehabilitation Services (WVDRS) was not yet involved as they had a difficult time getting the client to come in to complete an application. DRWV arranged an interview for the client with WVDRS and attended with him at his request. As a result, WVDRS provided the client with options for future job training and employment.
A client requested DRWV's assistance with getting a CPAP. DRWV communicated with the durable medical equipment (DME) provider, Pulmonologist, and Neurologist. DRWV ensured that the client's physicians provided the DME provider with the needed orders. While working on this case, the client's Neurologist recommended an updated sleep study which found that he required a BiPAP. Due to advocacy provided by DRWV, the client has received the BiPAP as ordered.
A client who had recently become an adult and had to move requested assistance with getting the high school in her previous county of residence to take her back or to get enrolled in the high school in her current county. Both counties appeared to be discouraging her from finishing school. DRWV communicated with the Special Education Directors of the client's previous and current school districts and advocated for the client to be enrolled in high school to complete the credits she needs to graduate with the senior class. As a result of DRWV’s advocacy, the client was enrolled in high school in her new county and graduated with her senior class in May 2022.
In July 2022, DRWV submitted comments to the WV Department of Education as they were planning to make changes to Policy 2419, the Special Education policy for WV. DRWV suggested several modifications to the existing language as well as comments on proposed changes.
A Social Security benefits recipient requested assistance regarding allegations of employment discrimination. DRWV spoke with the client and employer to determine his current employment status. DRWV assisted the client with obtaining necessary medical information regarding his ability to perform essential job functions with reasonable accommodations. DRWV was able to assist the client in meeting with his employer to discuss returning to work with appropriate accommodations in place. As a result, the client was able to return to his previous employment with appropriate reasonable accommodations in place.
Due to education provided by DRWV, the State Treasurer’s Office proposed a bill at a special session of the legislature to expand the definition of legal representative to include representative payees. The bill passed unanimously in October 2021. After the law went into effect, DRWV worked with the WVABLE Savings Program Director to identify entities to provide outreach and education regarding the changes in the law. As a result, many individuals who otherwise would not have had access to ABLE accounts now have open accounts.
DRWV submitted comments to the WV Bureau for Medical Services (BMS) related to the Statewide Transition Plan for the Title XIX Medicaid Waiver including: Aged and Disabled Waiver (ADW); Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Waiver; and Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver. We expressed concerns about the conflict-of-interest standards and home and community-based service requirements. In addition, we advised that the document that BMS put out for public comment was not presented in a manner that the public could easily follow.
A client requested assistance regarding her service animal being denied access to a business. DRWV educated the owner of the business on service animal access, different types of service animal functions, and handler rights and responsibilities. Due to advocacy provided by DRWV, the business owner now has a greater knowledge of service animal access rights. He agreed to train his employees on service animal access.
Due to DRWV’s Advocacy under the Medley Hartley Advocacy Program (MHAP) a Medley Class Member who had been in a nursing home for years was able to move back into the community with assistance from the Take Me Home program. He is now living happily with his wife.
DRWV assisted two clients in registering to vote, one client in updating their voter registration, and one client with requesting an absentee ballot in FY 2022. In FY 2022, DRWV staff conducted accessibility studies of the external access to eighty-nine polling sites in five counties in WV. A detailed process was also put in place to guide these studies and act once they were completed. Plans of correction were agreed upon by some of the counties. Several DRWV staff attended a County Commission meeting in one of the counties that was surveyed in hopes of addressing several accessibility issues. DRWV's legal team intervened in this as well.
Why we do what we do
"We sincerely thank you for you participation in the Jackson/Roane County's Transition Event. Many of the students listed "Disability Rights" as a session that they enjoyed and learned from. In providing an informational event to these students as they begin their transition into adulthood, they were able to make a greater connection with our community and with the services and supports that are offered. You have helped us succeed in our mission of increasing awareness of after high school employment/career options and available community supports.
On behalf of the Transition Committee of Jackson County, thank you."
"Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication. We are in a very difficult situation and any and all input was very much appreciated."