The Top Three Referrals We Make
As part of the ADA National Network, we are the most credible resource for information and guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. We strive to be as helpful as possible. Unfortunately, we do have some limitations. Our grant prevents us from providing advocacy or enforcement. Our charge is to provide guidance, information and training on the ADA. We also offer referral services to people who call with an issue that isn’t covered by the ADA or who are looking for more hands-on help than we are able to provide.
After working at the Rocky Mountain ADA Center for almost a year, it’s become clear that there are three main referrals that we make each day.
Fair Housing Accessibility First
One of the things misunderstood about the ADA is that it doesn’t apply to residential situations. The ADA protects people’s rights in areas of public life, such as employment, government services and access to businesses. There is, of course, a law that protects people in housing situations, called the Fair Housing Act (FHA). It applies to people when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance or engaging in other housing related activities.
The top question we get on housing is about service and emotional support animals in housing situations. Now, we do have some knowledge about this because the ADA and the FHA are related. Yet, there are some key differences, so we suggest people get answers from the corresponding experts. This is where Fair Housing Accessibility First comes in. They are our counterpart agency. What we do for the ADA, they do for the FHA. Their website states, “The program consists of a comprehensive training curriculum, as well as a toll-free information line and website designed to provide technical guidance to the public.”
State Disability Protection and Advocacy Systems
Throughout the U.S, Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As) work at the state level to protect and empower people with disabilities by providing legal advocacy services. P&As provide a range of services centered on navigating the legal system to achieve resolution on civil rights matters. They can work on issues pertaining to the ADA, as well as the FHA and other laws. This makes them a great referral for people who are not just wanting information but wanting to take action and achieve a specific outcome.
There are 57 P&As throughout the country. For Region 8, they are:
Centers for Independent Living
Often people call us in search of personal advocacy or enforcement. They’d like someone to go with them to a meeting with their employer or write a letter on their behalf for reasons of accommodation. Although we sometimes want to help in this way, we’re not allowed to. So it’s great to refer folks with these needs to their local Center for Independent Living (CILs). Each state has several CILs which usually serve a few counties. They provide tools, resources, and supports for integrating people with disabilities into their communities to promote equal opportunities, self-determination, and respect. They offer skills training, peer counseling and individual and systems advocacy. An added benefit of these organizations is that they work on a local level. This means that they often have insight into resources and networks in a person’s community that we may not be aware of.
You can find a directory of CILs at the Independent Living Research Utilization website.
That’s not all.
This is only the tip of the ice burg when it comes to the many wonderful organizations that we partner with and refer to. It does take a village to take care of each other.
For calls that we get where we ultimately must refer them on, there is something we do that is helpful beyond measure – we listen! People can expect a sounding board and compassionate ear when they contact us. We pride ourselves on our ability to hear people out, answer their questions when we can, research and point them in the right direction when needed. Don’t hesitate to give us a call. As we often say, “If we can’t help you, we’ll find someone who can.”