The Hawaii Disability Rights Center is the designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System for Hawaii’s estimated 180,000 residents with disabilities.
P&A systems are authorized by Congress in each state and territory of the United States to defend and enforce the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities and to protect them from discrimination.
- HUMAN RIGHTS are those natural rights that are accorded to all human beings, stated in the Declaration of Independence as the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
- CIVIL RIGHTS are an expansion of basic human rights and are stated in the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Hawaii State Constitution. They include the rights to: Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly; Petition for Change; Equal Protection under the Law; Privacy; Confidentiality; Appeal Decisions; Freedom from Oppression, Unlawful Search and Seizure; and Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
- LEGAL RIGHTS are an expansion of our human and civil rights as established by specific laws, such as those laws which authorize Protection & Advocacy for people with disabilities.
IT IS THE POLICY OF HDRC to advocate for as many people with disabilities in the State of Hawaii, on as wide a range of disability rights issues, as our resources allow; and to resolve rights violations with the lowest feasible level of intervention; but, if necessary, to also provide full legal representation to protect the rights of people with disabilities, consistent with authorizing statutes and Center priorities.
Federal laws and regulations specify that HDRC should have the capacity to:
- Resolve client's problems with the lowest feasible level of intervention, such as counseling/professional assistance, investigation, monitoring, mediation, negotiation, arbitration, administrative reviews; and administrative appeals.
- Provide full legal representation for its clients, including litigation, if necessary.
HDRC strives to provide services that are:
- Sensitive to the personal dignity, choice and cultural/ethnic diversity of each client.
- Offered with appropriate accommodations.
- Distributed based on the needs of people with disabilities.
- Consumer driven and consumer responsive.
HDRC strives to achieve the following outcomes to advance the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities:
- Freedom from Abuse and Neglect - People with disabilities are free from acts, or failures to act, which result in their physical, psychological or financial harm or death.
- Accessible Communities - People with disabilities gain access to employment, public facilities, programs and services and transportation as established in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Independence, Productivity, Integration and Inclusion - People with disabilities have the right to live freely; to enjoy the opportunities to experience personal growth, to work and contribute to society; and to be accepted and recognized for their abilities. They have the right to accept challenges, to take risks, to learn from mistakes and to experience success. They have the right to live in interdependent relationships in their own homes and communities.
- Self Determination - People with disabilities advocate and make choices for themselves; select, control and evaluate the services they receive; and demonstrate their own competence.
- Provision of Information - People who do not qualify for HDRC services are provided with information about and referral(s) to other sources of assistance so they may continue to pursue resolution of their problem(s).
HDRC engages in the following activities to accomplish our objectives:
- Outreach - Identification of and outreach to un-served and under-served (racial, ethnic, geographic) groups. Service on councils, groups, task forces concerned with disability issues.
- Provision of Information - Provision of information, and referral to other sources of assistance when HDRC is not able to help an applicant.
- Education and Training - Education and training activities for people with disabilities, families, communities, legal professionals and service providers.
- Individual Casework - Provision of advocacy to resolve issues or problems for individuals with disabilities. Individual advocacy includes: Technical Assistance for Self Advocacy, Short Term Assistance and Comprehensive Advocacy.
- Systemic Casework - Activities undertaken to implement changes in policies and practices of systems that impact people with disabilities. These "systems" include State agencies, residential facilities, and other service providers. Systemic advocacy may include legal activities such as class action litigation or advocacy on legislative and regulatory issues that affect people with disabilities.