We began in 1977 as Advocate for the Developmentally Disabled (ADD). At that time our services were limited to people with developmental disabilities. Over the years we have expanded our advocacy to include vocational rehabilitation clients, elderly people, people with mental illness, people with other disabilities, people in nursing homes, people in group homes.
We have served more than a million Louisiana residents: protecting the legal rights of clients; providing information and referrals to others; reaching out to people in residential facilities and helping them with whatever problems and needs they face; educating many in training sessions or with printed materials.
Click here for a printable Timeline of Major Events in the History of the Advocacy Center December 1973 - December 2010
We are proud of our accomplishments that have brought about positive changes for people with disabilities and elderly people in this state. Some of the changes resulting from Advocacy Center work are:
- The Civil Rights for Handicapped Persons Act is passed by the Louisiana Legislature, largely as a result of efforts by ADD and our collaborating agency, Louisiana Center for the Public Interest. (1980)
- A statewide system is established to eliminate waiting lists for special education evaluations. (1982)
- Thousands of people across Louisiana are introduced to the self advocacy movement by virtue of several of our initiatives, including the publication of a consumer manual on special education and another one on youth with disabilities in the juvenile court system; a one year self advocacy project involving 24 consumers, called the Practicum in Self Advocacy; the Consumer Empowerment Project, a one year project to increase the knowledge of parents of disabled children about their legal rights; a minority outreach project designed to involve minority persons in the self advocacy movement. (1983-86)
- A report about young people in Louisiana nursing homes, Those Who Sit and Wait, is published, directly impacting the decision of the Louisiana legislature to allocate funds for personal care attendant services for people desiring to stay out of nursing homes and live in the community. (1986)
- Special education students are ensured access to extended year programs based on individual need. (1987)
- The state agrees to make all polling places accessible. (1988)
- Children can no longer be held in Charity Hospital's Crisis Intervention Unit, and conditions for adults in the CIU are improved. (1988)
- A demonstration guardianship program is launched, ultimately leading to the establishment of Louisiana's only non profit guardianship program, Louisiana Guardianship Services, Inc. (1989-1992)
- Several more self advocacy manuals are published, including SSI Benefits for Children with Disabilities (1992); Education is For All Children (1992); On Your Own Behalf (1992); Choosing a Nursing Home and Making It Work for You (1993).
- For the first time in the history of group homes, they are regularly visited by advocates as a result of the establishment of the Community Living Ombudsman Program. (1994)
- The New Orleans transportation system for persons with disabilities comes under federal court scrutiny as a result of a law suit filed in 1993. A Consent Decree is signed in Tubre v. RTA. (1995)
- Cuts in services for children in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver program are restored. (1995)
- People with severe disabilities can no longer be disqualified for services in the community based on unjustified concerns about health and safety. (1997)
- Hundreds of buildings throughout Louisiana - everything from Taco Bells, to doctor's offices, to colleges and universities, to state parks, to the state capitol building - become accessible as a result of our ADA Campaign. (1997 - present)
- Medicaid reverses its position on augmentative communication devices, agreeing to provide them to persons over the age of 21. (1998)
- Children with disabilities are afforded health services as a result of a consent decree in Chisholm v. Hood.
- Thousands of people who would have had to go to a nursing home are provided services in the community as a result of a consent decree in Barthelemy v. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
- People with mental illness who require and choose nursing home care are able to receive it through a fair screening process and without discrimination as a result of Cawthorn v. Hood & Price (2001).
- The rights of deaf inmates in Orleans parish prison are protected as a result of a consent decree in Jiles v. Charles Foti (2001).
- In Sharp v. DHH et. al., the Advocacy Center challenges a Louisiana Medicaid policy allowing power wheelchairs only for people over 21 who are currently in school with a plan to achieve self support or are working. Now, more Medicaid-eligible individuals are able to obtain power wheelchairs even if school or work is not an option (2003)
- Advocacy Center staff and volunteers survey over 500 restaurants to determine basic accessibility. This information is published in Zagat's Restaurant Guide for New Orleans making it the only Zagat guide in the country to offer accessibility information (2003).
- Advocacy Center issues report: Mental Health Rehab: Rehab or Get Rich Quick Scheme. This report is a catalyst for the state to completely revamp the MHRS system (2003).
- Advocacy Center established Katrina workgroup and immediately begins to offer services to victims of both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in shelters, at Disaster Recovery Centers and via normal intake procedures (2005).
- Advocacy Center works to ensures people with disabilities have access to accessible trailers, as a result of Brou v. FEMA (2006).
- Advocacy Center hosts an Employment Summit, an initiative designed to increase the employments of persons with disabilities in Louisiana. The participants adopt “Work Pays” as their theme and motto. (2007)
- Advocacy Center files a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana against the Capital Area Transit System (CATS). Suit alleges failure of CATS’s paratransit program to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act. (2007)
- Advocacy Center launches its social networking pages on Disaboom and Facebook. (2008)
- Advocacy Center releases a report on Child Residential Facilities. The report, Out of Control: Louisiana's Failure to Insure Health and Safety of Children in Residential Facilities, cites widespread abuse and neglect of the children who reside in these facilities throughout Louisiana. (2008)
- AC staffs election hotline for the presidential election, receiving the most calls since the initiation of the hotline in 2007. 430 people called the hotline for information about voting issues. (2008)
- The Advocacy Center issues a report entitled “Beyond Repair,” documenting abuses at the Northeast Supports and Services Center, an institution for people with intellectual disabilities in Ruston. (2009)
- Act 194 of the 2009 Legislature gave the Department of Social Services the power to promulgate regulations governing Child Residential Facilities, and to revoke facility licenses, without the approval of an external committee. This was one of the recommendations in our June 2008 report, “Out of Control.” (2009)
- The Advocacy Center files suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (Matthews v. City of New Orleans) under the Americans with Disabilities Act against the City of New Orleans on behalf of a patron of the Mahalia Jackson Theater, alleging that the theater has insufficient wheelchair seating and ticketing practices that violate the ADA. (2009)
- AC files suit (Borne v. Kirkpatrick, et al.) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Thibodaux doctor and medical clinic on behalf of individual in wheelchair due to inaccessibility of office, lack of accessible parking, and denial of services due to client’s having made complaints about inaccessibility. (2009)
- Advocacy Center (along with ACLU and Kirkland & Ellis) files suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against DHH (Advocacy Center et al. v. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, et al.) for failing to admit pretrial detainees who have been found incompetent to stand trial and ordered to Feliciana State Forensic Facility for restorative treatment. (2010)
- Advocacy Center files class action suit against DHH in in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, Pitts et al. v. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, et al.) to enjoin cuts in the maximum number of hours of Medicaid long-term personal care services that can be provided to persons otherwise eligible for nursing home care. (2010)
- AC hosts its first annual “No Boundaries Tennis Tournament” in City Park in New Orleans. This is a fundraising and general outreach event. (2010)
- Northeast Supports and Services Center is slated to close, in part due to the Advocacy Center’s June 2009 report, “Beyond Repair.” (2010)
We are proud, too, of achievements won in collaboration with other advocacy groups - like the restoration of Adult Protective Services in Louisiana, the sponsorship of statewide conferences for persons with disabilities, and the issuance of reports and recommendations, such as the Legally Adequate Consent Task Force report.
Our work continues, of course. There are problems not yet solved, issues not successfully confronted.
We are still making our history!