The government has a profound effect on all of our lives and it is important to stay informed of the current issues and legislation being discussed and voted upon. People with developmental disabilities and their families are directly impacted by the decisions made by our governing officials. Therefore, it is imperative to stay abreast of public laws and legislation pertaining to disability issues and to use this vital information to educate our representatives on the unique needs of people with developmental disabilities.
Laws That Protect People with Disabilities
There are three laws that protect people with disabilities from discrimination:
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 (PL 105-17) provides for special education and related services for children and young people with disabilities up to their 22nd birthday. IDEA provides for a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and for an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (PL 93-112) prohibits discrimination against children and adults with disabilities. It guarantees that persons with disabilities have equal access to programs and services that receive federal funds. This includes public and private schools and colleges. It also applies to employers who receive federal funds.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (PL 1-1-36) protects children and adults with disabilities from discrimination in employment, public, and privately-operated settings. The law applies to all public and most private schools and colleges, testing institutions, and licensing authorities. It also applies to state and local governments and to private employers with 15 or more employees.
Tips for Writing a Letter or E-mailing Your Senator
- State your purpose for writing in the first sentence of the letter. For example: As your constituent, I am writing to urge your support for increased funding for health care.
- If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it. Be courteous. If appropriate, include personal information about why the issue matters to you to make your point.
- Address only one issue in email.
- Close your letter with a restatement of your purpose and indicate the response that you expect.
- To write a letter to your Nebraska state senator, send your letter to: Name of Senator and District # , State Capitol, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE. 68509-4604
To use the Legislature’s web-site – http://nebraskalegislature.gov/
To find out more about your senator visit this website: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_list.php
Tips for Phoning Congress or your local Legislature Telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress/Legislature. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment. After identifying yourself as a constituent, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: “Please tell Senator/Representative [Name] that I support/oppose legislative bill #…….” State your reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Ask for your senators’ or representative’s position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your telephone call.