The Arc logo

Statement on the Killing of Tyre Nichols

WASHINGTON, DC – As the public learns more about the killing of Tyre Nichols, The Arc stands in solidarity with his family and friends.

“Yet again, the nation watches another video exposing police violence against a Black man after a traffic stop.  We are horrified to witness the brutalization of an unarmed man. Tyre had Crohn’s disease, which made the blows against his very lean body more damaging. Another dying Black son is crying out for his mother and another Black life ended by people who pledge to protect all of us in our communities.

“We speak out in solidarity with Tyre’s family and friends because so many people in The Arc watch with horror as this happens again, and again – and our minds also go to the fear in all of us that people with disabilities within BIPOC or other marginalized communities can end up in the same deadly circumstances as Tyre, during a routine encounter with police.

“The Arc believes everyone belongs and will advocate tirelessly to make this happen. With their intersecting identities, all members of the disability community are valued, respected, and celebrated for who they are. And that belief is steadfast in solidarity with the Nichols family and friends, whom we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for their loss,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

As the largest community-based organization advocating for and with, and serving, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families, The Arc works tirelessly to uphold our vision “for people with IDD to be valued members of their communities, have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and a future that is secure.”

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

The United States Capitol Building

A Recommitment to Care With the Introduction of the Better Care Better Jobs Act

Today, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced a landmark piece of legislation to invest in the country’s care economy and make important improvements to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS).

The care workforce is a vital part of community living and inclusion for people with disabilities—and yet the system that supports it continues to be underfunded and complicated to navigate. Hundreds of thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities remain on waiting lists for the services they need to live in and thrive in their communities. The new Better Care Better Jobs Act will address these deficits through several key improvements, including a permanent increase in federal Medicaid funding for eligible states, adding over $300 billion toward expanding and improving access to HCBS.

The proposed updates to Medicaid complement President Biden’s American Jobs Plan—which targets the current care infrastructure crisis and aims to fortify it for the future—by expanding eligibility, requiring coverage for personal care services, expanding supports for family caregivers, addressing the direct care workforce crisis by raising wages, and more.

“People with disabilities deserve the supports to live meaningful and dignified lives in their communities. Their care workers deserve the pay and hours to avoid burnout and turnover. And their families deserve the aid of care workers so they do not have to quit or cut their hours to fill in the gaps. It’s 2023, and we should not have to still be fighting for these basic needs so that everyone has the ability to build the life they want.

“The Arc is, as always, ready to rally support for these much-needed changes and looks forward to making sure Congress knows the difference that they would make in the lives of countless people with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The United States Capitol Building

Congress’s End-of-Year Legislation Includes Disability Priorities and Leaves Unfinished Business

As Congress wrapped its work for the year, disability advocates pushed for progress on a variety of priorities. Congress has now passed a package that includes some important victories but leaves others out.

One of the biggest wins is an extension of the Money Follows the Person program, which helps people transition out of institutions and nursing homes, and back to their communities.

The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program provides grants to states to transition Medicaid participants from institutions into the community. MFP has moved more than 107,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities out of these institutions and has helped 43 states and the District of Columbia improve access to home and community-based services (HCBS). Medicaid requires states to provide care in nursing homes, but HCBS is optional. The MFP program is then critical because it incentivizes investment in HCBS by providing federal funding for transitional services for individuals who wish to leave a nursing home or other institution. Congress has now extended it through 2027.

“This program makes it possible for more people with disabilities to change their lives, on their own terms. And it proves what people with disabilities and their families know – the opportunities for a life in the community, with the services to make it happen, are game changers. We will continue to relentlessly advocate for major investments in home and community-based services,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

Other victories in the bill include:

  • Creating a path for a ban on the use of electric shock devices for behavior modification on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The brutal treatment is widely recognized as cruel, harmful, and ineffective. Yet it’s still used at one institution in Massachusetts.
  • Extending the requirement that states apply Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections to HCBS through 2027. A spouse shouldn’t have to live in poverty for their partner to receive services in the community.
  • Expanding ABLE account eligibility. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. This legislation increases the age of disability onset to access an ABLE account from prior to age 26 to age 46, starting in 2026.

Congress’s action or inaction on certain issues creates unfinished business for The Arc and our advocates to rally around in 2023, including:

  • No action to increase to SSI’s asset limits. Right now, people who get SSI can only have $2,000 in assets, and married couples can only have $3,000.
  • Congress is ending important eligibility and funding improvements tied to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This means states may begin to remove ineligible people from their program starting April 1.

“It’s very disappointing that Congress didn’t take the opportunity to help lift people with disabilities out of poverty, by simply bringing the SSI asset limit out of the 1980s into this century. We will continue to push for this change in the New Year,” said Berns.

Comcast logo

Powerful Partnership Leads to Change: Comcast NBCUniversal and The Arc Continue to Make a Difference Through Digital Skills Training

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), digital access and skills are a critical component of gaining independence. In 2022, The Arc and Comcast NBCUniversal once again teamed up to open digital doors for and with people with IDD.

The Arc and Comcast have a long-standing partnership to do this work. The Arc’s national network of nearly 600 chapters provides vital resources and services to individuals with IDD and their families to promote greater independence and opportunity in the community, and through this partnership, since 2017, more than 2,579 clients have received basic digital skills training at 19 sites around the country.

The program continues to expand what’s possible for people with IDD in their professional and personal lives—giving them the tools to chart their own course, just like we all want to do.

Expanding Self-Determination and Independence

Cathy and Ross, The Arc of Greater Indianapolis (Indiana)

Cathy and Ross each live very independent lives in their community, with their chapter supporting their day-to-day activities and routines. Both deeply wanted more time in their respective homes to unwind and safely manage their own needs without staff hovering around them in case they were needed. As chapter staff member Rita Davis noted, “After you’ve been around others all day, as much as you may like them, there are times when you just want to be alone!” However, both of their families were concerned about their safety in the home with no support staff nearby. Each was coached in how to use tools like the Ring Camera and messaging on their phones to monitor their own environments and reassure/check in with family or chapter staff if they needed assistance. Now, Ross is enjoying greater independence and exploring how to self-administer his own medications, and Cathy can decompress by herself home. Their families are thrilled—and relieved—to have a system in place that will keep them safe while supporting them to live more independently and manage their daily lives.

Courtney, The Arc Southern Maryland

Courtney lives with her mother and has been dependent on her for all her scheduling and transportation needs. Unfortunately, her mother was in a car accident which left them without a vehicle. Courtney has many regularly scheduled appointments that she must get to each week. Through her coaching, she was provided with and taught how to use a smartphone that she could use to reach out to others in her network for rides, find and map out public transportation, and schedule and confirm some of her own appointments with her cardiologist, other doctors, and therapists. Her mother has been able to shift some responsibility to Courtney, and an added benefit of her new phone is the ability to stay better connected to friends and family.

India, The Arc Southern Maryland

India lives with her parents and is nonspeaking, so she has historically relied on various vocalizations and pointing to communicate her needs and desires with her caregivers. Her coaching focused on the adoption of new alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) tools to broaden her options for expressing herself. Currently, India is exploring how to use several AAC apps and for the first time ever, she can communicate using words through Touch Chat, which uses a digital word board with photos. This will impact every single aspect of India’s life and give her the tools to advocate for her needs, build relationships, and direct her own life.

Her father John said, “We can better understand her, and we’ll feel more confident she’ll be ok when she’s not with us.”

Professional Development and Furthering Employment Skills

Rochelle, The Arc of Greater Indianapolis (Indiana)

Rochelle’s initial tech coaching sessions focused on completing online employment applications. To her delight, she landed a job at Arby’s consisting of 20 hours a week cleaning the lobby and dining areas. While she was glad to have the job, she was quickly becoming a little bored with it but did not have the computer skills needed to advance in her role. Her coaching sessions continued as staff worked to expand her digital skillset. As a result, after just two months on the job, she was promoted to the drive-through window to take customer orders on the computer. She also uses their computer system to clock in and out, retrieve pay stubs, and complete mandatory trainings. Where Rochelle was initially nervous about using a computer, she now approaches new digital challenges with an improved sense of optimism and confidence and can continue to progress in her career.

Sidney, New Star Services (Illinois)

Sidney wanted to learn how to program his watch to remind him when it was time to go on breaks and lunch and when to clock out for the day and head home, so that he did not have to rely on coworkers or his job coach to remind him. He has learned how to stop, start, and reset timers on his watch and as a result has become far more independent with his time management on the job. Not having to rely on his coworkers or supervisor to keep him on schedule has been a great source of pride for Sidney and has enabled him to turn his attention to learning new employment-based skills.

Bobby, The Arc of Weld County (Colorado)

Bobby has had no access to technology besides his phone. He only recently restarted attending a day program once per week, and his only social interactions were at work. His coaching focused on not only building skills to explore hobbies like music and coding, but also how to expand his network and build relationships he can maintain outside of in-person activities. He learned about internet safety, using various apps, and using Gmail and Zoom. His newfound digital literacy has opened the door for him to take on leadership roles as well. He is now being considered for a board position with The Arc of Weld County, of which virtual access and reviewing materials via email is required. His wife has also received coaching for her needs and goals and is the longest current employee at the agency!

“When we provide access to digital skills training, we create opportunities and pathways to independence that can be life-changing, especially for those living with disabilities,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “Partnerships like the one we’re proud to share with The Arc – and as a result, the many lives we’re able to help impact – are at the heart of what drives us each and every day at Comcast. We’re so very honored to continue to grow our work together and help enrich even more lives.”

Comcast’s partnership with The Arc is part of Project UP, the company’s comprehensive effort to address digital inequities and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach 50 million people, Project UP is focused on connecting people to the Internet, advancing economic mobility, and opening doors for the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, storytellers, and creators.

The Arc logo

Enough Is Enough. Our Statement on the Club Q Tragedy.

As we grieve yet another mass shooting tragedy in the U.S., thoughts and prayers are not enough. We are heartbroken by the continued harassment, hateful legislation, and exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals that led to the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Sunday.

Enough is enough. Everyone deserves the same respect, opportunities, and safety. Diverse perspectives, identities, and cultures are something to be valued, not feared and shunned, and are an essential part of the fabric of America. The Arc is no stranger to helping people navigate dehumanizing barriers to simply live openly in their communities, and ALL Americans deserve better. We stand in solidarity with the victims, their families, all LGTBQ+ individuals, and anyone who has experienced gun violence.

As each subsequent shooting makes clear, such as that which occurred two days later at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, our elected leaders at the national, state, and local levels must do even more to solve the ongoing problem of gun violence that plagues our nation and often targets vulnerable, marginalized communities, including people with disabilities.

 

Close up of the U.S. Supreme Court, focused on the pillars, and doorway.

Amicus Brief Filed in U.S. Supreme Court Case Emphasizes Harms to People With Disabilities

WASHINGTON, DC – Six leading disability advocacy organizations, with the support of Kellogg Hansen, have filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the estate of Gorgi Talevski, who alleges that the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana (HHC) abused and neglected him while in a nursing home. The amicus brief explains why it is important that individuals, particularly those with disabilities, have the ability to sue state and local governments when their civil rights are violated under Medicaid and other public programs. The case, Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana v. Talevski, is scheduled to be heard on November 8, 2022.

The amicus brief focuses focuses on the harmful impact the case will have on people with disabilities, who have long faced pervasive discriminatory treatment within American society. People with disabilities and their families have relied on lawsuits to enforce Medicaid’s antidiscrimination protections, including the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case. If providers of Medicaid services abuse or mistreat beneficiaries or take away or deny their benefits, private lawsuits – regularly brought by The Arc and its partners – are often the only way to hold government entities accountable and ensure people get the life-saving therapies and everyday living support services they need. Many of these lawsuits will no longer be possible if the Court rules in favor of HHC. Full access to Medicaid services and the right to enforce these services are crucial to achieving community integration for people with disabilities. The brief urges the Court to reaffirm the private right of action to enforce Medicaid guarantees and disability rights.

“This case is a large-scale assault on disability rights around the country,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States. “Medicaid is the primary source of healthcare for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, the vast majority of whom want to live with dignity in their homes and communities. Protecting their right to private action when such rights are violated would ensure they aren’t unnecessarily institutionalized and prevent the unraveling of antidiscrimination progress set forth by the ADA for over 30 years.”

“The Supreme Court has signaled that it may strike another blow against civil rights in this case,” said Ira Burnim, Legal Director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. “An expansive ruling could put at risk the ability of individuals to seek relief in federal court for violations of key civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, or disability.”

“Medicaid covers personal attendants and other in-home services and supports that disabled people need to live in the community and participate in society. Enforcement is a critical right,” said Claudia Center, Legal Director of Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

“Congress intended that people with disabilities have the right to enforce Medicaid, just as they do Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The disability community has used this private right of action to enforce vital civil rights protections repeatedly,” said Maria Town, American Association of People with Disabilities President and CEO. “Any decision from the Supreme Court that does not recognize this right would go against Congress’ wishes, decades of legal precedent, and ultimately, put at serious risk the healthcare, community integration, and civil rights that people with disabilities have long fought to secure.”

In Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana v. Talevski, HHC is appealing a ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that Mr. Talevski and his family could sue to enforce his rights under the Nursing Home Reform Act provisions of Medicaid. For 50 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that people can sue if their rights are violated under safety net programs. The inability to pursue legal recourse will affect millions of people who rely on Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and more.

The amici are also concerned that a broad ruling in favor of HHC may undercut individuals’ rights to sue to enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting discrimination based on sex), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, or national origin), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (prohibiting disability discrimination).

Major health organizations, legal experts, and scholars also uphold the importance of private suits under Medicaid and other federal statutes. Over twenty other amicus briefs have been submitted in support of the defendant, Gorgi Talevski, who is being represented by Ivanka Talevski in his death.

 

 

Media Contacts: 

Jackie Dilworth, The Arc of the United States, dilworth@thearc.org

Jalyn Radziminski, The Bazelon Center, jalynr@bazelon.org

Claudia Center, The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, ccenter@dredf.org

Rachita Singh, The American Association of People with Disabilities, rsingh@aapd.com

Steven Schwartz, The Center for Public Representation, sschwartz@cpr-ma.org

 

About The Arc of the United States: The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of 600+ chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis. Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

About The Bazelon Center: Since 1972, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has advocated for the civil rights, full inclusion and equality of adults and children with mental disabilities. We envision a society where Americans with mental illness or developmental disabilities live with autonomy, dignity, and opportunity in welcoming communities, supported by law, policy, and practices that help them reach their full potential. The Bazelon Center accomplishes its goals through a unique combination of litigation, public policy advocacy, coalition building and leadership, public education, media outreach and technical assistance.

About The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund: The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) is a national, nonprofit law and policy center led by people with disabilities and dedicated to advancing and protecting the civil and human rights of disabled people. As a Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) funded by the US Department of Education, DREDF serves families of children with disabilities and disabled young adults in 33 California counties.

About The American Association of People with Disabilities: The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 61 million Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com

About The Center for Public Representation: The Center for Public Representation (CPR) is a national public interest advocacy organization assists people with disabilities to control their own lives, to make their own decisions, and to fully participate in their communities. CPR has litigated numerous cases to ensure that people with disabilities can leave nursing facilities and other segregated institutions, and live productive lives in the community.

The Arc logo

Congress Fails to Block Use of Shock on Residents with Disabilities at Judge Rotenberg Center

Washington, DC – Medical and disability leaders have worked for years to ban the use of electric shock devices for behavior modification on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The brutal treatment is widely recognized as cruel, harmful, and ineffective. Yet the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), an institution in Massachusetts for people with IDD, still subjects its residents to this extreme practice. We prevailed in 2020, but the Food and Drug Administration’s ban of the use of the device was overturned on a technicality just one year later. The Arc and our advocates have been asking Congress to put an end to this barbaric treatment in the 2022 FDA User Fee Package – and they have failed to stand up for the basic human rights of people with disabilities.

Today, Senate and House leaders announced they are moving a bill forward to fund the FDA for another five years without the ban. Initial versions of this bill that passed the House and the Senate HELP Committee with bipartisan support included the ban on the shock device. The Arc of the United States, its 600+ chapter network, and people with IDD and their families are devastated by this omission.

“This practice is torturous and a violation of basic civil rights. We will continue fighting for justice for JRC’s residents by working with our partners to get a ban into the end-of-year spending package and ensuring every single representative prioritizes the health and safety of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc logo

The Arc Applauds New Effort to Reduce Red Tape in Medicaid and Other Federal Health Programs

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Biden Administration proposed a new rule finally updating the eligibility and enrollment processes for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This is welcome news to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families, who navigate a complicated bureaucracy to access the health and community-based services they need for their wellbeing and independence.

This announcement is the culmination of efforts by The Arc and many other organizations and individual advocates to raise the struggles that people face with accessing and maintaining eligibility for these critical programs. In addition to covering basic health care, Medicaid also provides home and community-based services, or HCBS, which make life in the community possible for millions of people with disabilities who often need help with things like eating, dressing, personal hygiene, working, and managing health care or finances. CHIP is an important health coverage program for kids with disabilities who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

This rule, if finalized, would standardize and improve eligibility and enrollment policies, such as limiting renewals to once every 12 months, allowing applicants 30 days to respond to information requests, requiring prepopulated renewal forms, and establishing consistent renewal processes across states.

“The bottom line is these proposed changes are going to help a lot of people navigate getting the benefits they need and keeping them. We frequently hear from people with disabilities and their families how incredibly overwhelming it is to get started, and once they have Medicaid or other federal health benefits, maintaining eligibility is a struggle due to red tape. We look forward to working with the Administration to finalize these changes to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

The United States Capitol Building

Senate Leaves Out of Reconciliation Bill a Badly Needed Investment in Disability Services

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the U.S. Senate’s vote today on the Inflation Reduction Act, people with disabilities, their support staff, and families will continue to fight for desperately needed resources for the home and community-based services system that has been strained to the breaking point throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the budget reconciliation process, The Arc and our allies in the disability, labor, and direct care worker communities has been advocating for a historic investment in home and community-based services. But the legislation that just passed the Senate completely left out the needs of the disability services system, and the workforce that is disproportionately women of color, who are long overdue for the recognition and benefits of a raise for their important work. It also fails to address other longstanding needs of people with disabilities, family caregivers, and workers, such as paid leave. The bill does help our community in other ways – it will directly impact people with disabilities and their families by lowering drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, continuing health insurance subsidies, and taking steps to address climate change.

“We are deeply disappointed that Congress is not taking this historic opportunity to provide people with disabilities and their families the services and supports they need to live as independently as possible.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the disability services system has been teetering on the brink of collapse. The entire care infrastructure already had huge gaps and cracks, and the unprecedented pressure of this crisis galvanized people with disabilities, their support staff, and their families to advocate for the investment needed to help people now and into the future.

“For the first time, many people who don’t have a personal connection to disability became aware of the needs of our community, thanks to advocates willing to share their deeply personal struggles with legislators, the media, and their neighbors. The uprising generated hundreds of thousands of pleas to Congress to enact a care package that would provide more access to services in the community, and pay the people doing the work a fair, living wage.

“We will not stop pushing for what we need because home and community-based services for people with disabilities make all the difference in the quality of life for a person with a disability and their family,” said Bethany Lilly, Senior Director of Public Policy, The Arc.

Roll of red, white, and blue "I voted" stickers on a white table

Federal Court Strikes Down Texas’ Election Law Provisions Restricting Assistance for Limited English-Speaking and Disabled Voters

Washington, DC – A federal court has struck down provisions of Texas’ election law, S.B. 1, that illegally restrict necessary assistance to limited English-speaking voters and voters with disabilities. Last week, Texas officials declined to appeal this ruling. This means that these provisions of S.B. 1 are now permanently enjoined and cannot be enforced.

The order from Judge Robert Pitman prohibits Texas from limiting voting assistance to only reading and marking the ballot and from requiring individuals assisting voters to sign an oath requiring them to confine their assistance to reading the ballot to the voter, directing the voter to read the ballot, marking the voter’s ballot, or directing the voter to mark the ballot. The court further ordered Texas to revise its training and instructional materials for state and county officials, and to distribute notice to all county elections departments clarifying the S.B. 1 provisions that they should not enforce. The provisions at issue directly violated a 2018 injunction holding that such limitations on assistance violated the Voting Rights Act.

In September 2021, The Arc, Legal Defense Fund (LDF), and Reed Smith filed a separate federal lawsuit on behalf of the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and The Arc of Texas challenging S.B. 1, which includes a series of suppressive voting-related provisions that will make it much harder for Texas residents to vote and disenfranchise some altogether — particularly Black and Latino voters and voters with disabilities. The lawsuit alleges that several provisions of S.B. 1, including the provision recently struck down, violate the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Among other violations, Plaintiffs claim that the law imposes barriers that discriminate against voters with disabilities and deny people with disabilities full and equal opportunities to participate in the state’s election process. This complaint remains pending before Judge Xavier Rodriguez.

“This is a significant victory for voters with disabilities in Texas,” said Shira Wakschlag, Senior Director, Legal Advocacy and General Counsel for The Arc. “Texas voters with disabilities who need assistance to vote will now be able to receive that assistance without illegal restrictions placed on their fundamental right to access democracy. At the same time, many discriminatory aspects of S.B. 1 currently remain in place and we will continue fighting to ensure equal access to the polls for voters with disabilities.”

“Judge Pitman’s order is an important victory for people with disabilities in Texas,” said Georgina Yeomans, Assistant Counsel at LDF. “But there is still work to be done to completely eradicate the discriminatory effects of S.B. 1. That these provisions directly conflicted with a federal injunction at the time they were drafted and passed only highlights the Legislature’s disregard for the law when it enacted S.B. 1.”

“While this order is an important early victory in our challenge to S.B. 1, many egregious and anti-democratic restrictions still remain in violation of the law by intentionally targeting and burdening methods and means of voting used by voters of color, limited English-speaking voters, and those with disabilities,” said Reed Smith partner Ken Broughton, who will argue the plaintiffs’ case in a trial set for next summer. “As we’ve said before, a true democracy seeks to increase voter turnout, not inhibit it, and these restrictions remain fundamentally anti-voter.”

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.