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Librarian's Picks: Advocacy.

'Quick picks' from librarians at the National Rehabilitation Information Center.

Federal and state laws passed in the last 40 years were written to protect the rights of citizens with disabilities regarding housing, employment, education, and access to services, amenities, and public spaces. The Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and its amendments, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act serve to protect the rights and responsibilities of all US citizens. Understanding these and other laws and policies will help you access the services you need to live, learn, and work independently. The organizations, agencies, and online resources listed in this brochure will start you on your way to understanding your rights.

For more resources, visit the Ready Reference topic on Legal and Advocacy Resources or search the Knowledgebase. You may also download the brochure in PDF format. Disponible en Español.

Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Accessibility Legislation

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the most comprehensive federal civil-rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities. It affects access to employment; state and local government programs and services; access to places of public accommodation such as businesses, transportation, and non-profit service providers; and telecommunications.

Regional ADA Technical Assistance Centers
Ten regional centers assist businesses, agencies, and people with disabilities to understand their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Center staff members provide information and referral, publication, inservice presentations, and consultations. The toll-free number will connect you with the center in your region. For ADA publications, factsheets, documents, and web resources, visit

Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (The Access Board)
800/872-2253 (V), 800/993-2822 (TTY)
The Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. Staff members develop and maintain accessibility requirements for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology; provide technical assistance and training on these guidelines and standards; and enforce accessibility standards for federally funded facilities.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (employees). (employers).
800/669-4000 (V), 800/669-6820 (TTY)
The EEOC is the oversight agency for issues relating to employment and the ADA. The pages listed here contain frequently asked questions regarding the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees with disabilities. If you feel you have been discriminated against regarding employment, contact the EEOC.

One Stop Career Centers are also available in every state. These are funded by the Department of Labor. Go to to find the One Stop Career Center near you. Disability Program Navigators (DPNs) are available in these Centers in some states. DPNs who are located in One-Stop Centers are able to assist individuals with disabilities and the One-Stop staff with a variety of employment related services. DPNs are not available in every state.

IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability towards "otherwise qualified" people with disabilities by recipients of federal financial assistance. Four years after enactment of the Rehabilitation Act in 1973, the first set of regulations implementing Section 504 were issued by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 94-142, as it is commonly known, mandated that all children with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. IDEA was the first federal law mandating that children with disabilities be provided an education.

Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF)
510/644-2555 (V/TTY)
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF) is a national law and policy center dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities through legislation, litigation, advocacy, technical assistance, and education and training of attorneys, advocates, persons with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities.

Finding Representation

  • For problems or complaints regarding vocational rehabilitation services in your state, contact the Client Assistance Program and/or Office of Protection and Advocacy. State listings can be found at the National Disability Rights Network at
  • For assistance with Social Security claims, contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives at 800/431-2804 or visit
  • The American Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Directory can help you find lawyer referral programs from eat state at


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