Advocacy Strategies for School

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Who can I contact if I am having problems getting or staying in school?

Your State Protection and Advocacy (P&A)

Click here for P&A website

Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. The National Disability Rights Network serves a wide range of individuals with disabilities – including, but not limited to, those with cognitive, mental, sensory, and physical disabilities – by guarding against abuse; advocating for basic rights; and ensuring accountability in health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

  • You can call your State Protection and Advocacy (P&A) about education when:

  • You want to know what help is available to get or keep a job.

  • You have transportation problems getting to and from work.

  • You believe you were not hired or given a different job because of your disability.

  • You were not given the help you needed to do your job.

  • You think people at your job are bothering you or not treating you fairly because of your disability.

You want to know what will happen to your benefits if you go to work. Benefits may include: (Social Security, Medicaid, TANF, Medicare, Housing, Food Stamps, Transportation).

Your State Client Assistance Program (CAP)

Client Assistance Program helps in many paths to reaching employment goals including school assistive technology and more. You can call your Client Assistance Program (CAP)for help when:

  • You need help getting services from VR (Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services).

  • You have been told you cannot get help from VR to go to school or get a job.

  • No VR plan has been developed because you and your counselor disagree about your education or job goal or other help you need.

  • VR services have been denied or delayed.

  • VR is not helping you find a job.

  • Your VR counselor will not return your calls.

  • You got a new VR counselor and she/he wants to change your plan to get a job.

Your Regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC)

Click here for DBTAC website

The Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC) is a national network of 10 regional DBTAC: ADA Centers that provide the most complete and experienced services for up-to-date information, referrals, resources, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to businesses, employers, government entities, and individuals with disabilities, as well as media and news reporters.


Office for Civil Rights

U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights

Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202-1100

Telephone: 1800-421-3481

Fax: 202-453-6012; TDD: 1800-877-8339



You may file a complaint to your Regional Office of Civil Rights—form available online– if you believe you have experienced discrimination while a student. A complaint must be filed within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. If your complaint involves matters that occurred longer ago than this and you are requesting a waiver, you will be asked to show good cause why you did not file your complaint within the 180-day period.

  • How to File a Complaint:

You may file a complaint with OCR using OCR’s electronic complaint form at the following website:

Mail or Fax: You may mail or send by facsimile information to the address or phone number available at this link.  You may use OCR’s Discrimination Complaint Form or write your own letter.  If you write your own letter, please include:

  • The complainant’s name, address and, if possible (although not required), a telephone number where the complainant may be reached during business hours;
  • Information about the person(s) or class of persons injured by the alleged discriminatory act(s) (names of the injured person(s) are not required);
  • The name and location (city and state) of the institution that committed the alleged discriminatory act(s); and
  • A description of the alleged discriminatory act(s) in sufficient detail to enable OCR to understand what occurred, when it occurred, and the basis for the alleged discrimination.

Email: You may email OCR’s Discrimination Complaint Form or your own signed letter to If you write your own letter, please include the information identified above.

For those without current email accounts, Internet access may be freely available from your local public library, and free email accounts are available from several large providers.

Note: A recipient of federal financial assistance may not retaliate against any person who has made a complaint, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an OCR matter or to interfere with any right or privilege protected by the laws enforced by OCR. If you believe that you have been retaliated against for any of these reasons, you also may file a complaint with OCR.

Your Local Center for Independent Living

Click here for website

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are located across the country, making it easier to find a center in or near the area you reside. To assist you visit Virtual CIL, a comprehensive listing of Centers for Independent Living in all 50 states.  CILs can assist you in many ways. Whether you are searching for a support system, looking for assistance in making your new home accessible, learning how to self-advocate for yourself, need help finding a job, or need to hire a Personal Care Assistant.  A Center for Independent Living, or CIL as it is more commonly referred to, is just what the name implies: a center that helps individuals with disabilities to live as independently as possible.   CIL services vary according to the center you contact.

You may also contact the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) in Washington, DC:

  • Website:
  • Address: National Council on Independent Living, 2013 H Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20006
  • Email:
  • Voice: 202.207.0334
  • Toll free: 1.844.778.7961
  • TTY: 202.207.0340

NCIL coordinates national support efforts to the independent living centers by providing technical assistance, public education, evaluates national policy, and provides other services.   You may also contact the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC),

Additional Resources

  • Adaptive Aids & Devices
  • Articles and Books
  • Bibliography for Legal Cases
  • Job Accommodation Network
  • Legal, Employment & Accommodations Resource
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation Programs
  • Students With Disabilities
  • The Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center
  • Website for Students with Disabilities
  • Interested in College
  • FIND Your State P&A/CAP
  • FIND Your Regional DBTAC

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