DRM Blog


Protecting the Rights of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities During COVID-19

Posted by Megan Salvin, J.D. on September 08, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to adjust to a “new normal” as we go about our lives. As infection rates begin to decline in harder-hit areas, signs of recovery are emerging. Restaurants, stores and public areas are slowly reopening. Throughout the pandemic, our DD team has been staying in contact with individuals with developmental disabilities and advocating with them for their rights. One area that has been on particular concern to our clients is ensuring that they participate in the process of decision-making when it comes to accessing their communities. Services have not always been truly person-centered ...Read More

The Current Use Exception: Substance Use Disorder’s Uneasy Status as a Disability

Posted on July 26, 2020

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is one of the great civil rights success stories of the last half-century. Its recognition of, and reaction to systemic and individualized barriers at every level of American society serves as an example of how legislatures can remedy centuries of discrimination against a population by public and private actors. The ADA’s stated purpose is to “assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency” for individuals with disabilities. Despite this laudable goal, the ADA explicitly excludes a huge swath of individuals with disabilities from protection. Specifically,individuals with substance use disorders. Why is ...Read More

Learn about Maine Relay Speech-to-Speech!

Posted by Debra Bare-Rogers on July 02, 2020

Are you tired of struggling to be understood over the phone?Want to be free to communicate anytime from anywhere? There is a solution. Try Speech-to-Speech (STS) Relay, a free, confidential service for people with a speech disability. Maine Relay STS provides one-on-one support for telephone calls. A specially trained STS operator simply listens to the conversation and repeats your message, whenever needed. There is no special equipment needed- STS can be used from any telephone. (Spanish language relay is also available). ...Read More

DRM Serves on Mental Health Working Group

Posted by Kevin Voyvodich, Esq. on June 18, 2020

In 2019 DRM was appointed a member of the legislatively-mandated Mental Health Working group. I had the pleasure to be the appointed member from DRM on that group. In the first legislative session of 2019 Senator Cathy Breen presented a bill in the Maine Legislature that would create this working group. In the summer of 2019 we began meeting and the attached report was completed in January of 2020. According to the bill that became law, the working group directed to “review the State's mental health system and propose a mental health plan for the State.” DRM would attend the ...Read More

Q&A: Economic Impact Payments (EIP)

Posted by Meghan Ryan-Rolfe on May 14, 2020

What is the economic impact payment? In March 2020 Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides economic impact payments, or stimulus payments to individuals and families in the United States of America. I receive Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits; will I receive a stimulus payment? Yes. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits, including SSI and SSDI, are eligible to receive stimulus payments under the CARES Act. How will I receive my stimulus payment? You will receive your stimulus payment the same way you receive your monthly SSA benefits. If your regular monthly SSA Funds ...Read More

Protecting the Rights of Students with Disabilities During and After the COVID-19 Educational Disruption

Posted by Atlee Reilly, Esq. on April 21, 2020

Whatever plans you had for April school vacation week, they have changed. We are in the middle of an unprecedented educational disruption. Families across Maine are struggling with the shift to remote learning, which has been particularly difficult for many students with disabilities. And it is now clear that students in Maine should anticipate a remote learning experience through at least the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Schools have not been uniform in their approaches. Some students are receiving daily contact with their teachers. But other students have only received packets to complete with whatever support their families can ...Read More


Pulling Back the Curtain: Maine Children in Residential Placements

Posted by Ariel Linet, Esq. on December 04, 2019

In July, Katrina Ringrose and I traveled to Fordyce, Arkansas, to visit a residential mental health treatment program where three Maine youth were living. In my three years at DRM, I have visited youth with disabilities in out-of-home placements across the state of Maine, from Fort Fairfield to Saco, and many places in between. I have also visited Maine children in residential facilities in New Hampshire and Vermont. We conduct these visits using our federal access authority to connect with children placed away from their families and communities. We work to ensure that their rights are protected, that they have ...Read More

DRM Partners with Self-Advocates at Annual SUFU Conference

Posted by Foxfire Buck, Esq. on October 27, 2019

This fall saw a renewed commitment to partnership between DRM and SUFU (Speaking Up for Us), Maine’s self-advocacy organization for adults with developmental disabilities. DRM’s Protection and Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities (PADD) advocates and attorneys worked with self-advocates from across the state to present trainings and facilitate discussions at SUFU’s annual membership conference in Carrabassett Valley. One of the first sessions of the conference focused on the new Home and Community-Based Settings rule that all states will be required to comply with by March of 2022. The goal of this training was to teach self-advocates about the new rule and ...Read More

DRM Death Investigation Leads to Recommendations for Increased State Oversight of Maine’s Progressive Treatment Program

Posted by Kevin Voyvodich, Esq. on September 10, 2019

Disability Rights Maine (DRM) was contacted by the mother and legal guardian of John Doe[1], a 40 year old man who had been found unresponsive in his apartment and was later declared dead. The mother stated that her son was an individual with mental illness and was living in an apartment that had been staffed by a community residential provider on a 24-hour basis. She stated that approximately a month prior to her son’s death, without warning or notification to her, the residential provider reduced this level of observation from 24 hours to every 15 minutes and then every 3 ...Read More

Issue Spotting in Rep Payee Relationships

Posted on August 27, 2019

For those who may be unfamiliar, a representative payee, or “payee”, is an individual or an organization who manages the Social Security benefits of a person who SSA has determined unable to manage, or direct the management, of their own benefits[1]. You may be wondering how and when SSA decides to appoint a payee. It depends on the situation, but SSA policy presumes that adults are capable of managing their own benefits. However, if there is evidence that an individual may need assistance in managing their finances, SSA will make a “capability determination” to decide if that person needs a ...Read More

3rd Annual Disability Pride Maine a Success!

Posted on August 09, 2019

On Friday, July 19th, Disability Rights Maine hosted its 3rd Annual Disability Pride Maine event. The event brought together more than 150 people with disabilities and supporters of people with disabilities at Mill Park in Augusta. As DRM’s Executive Director, Kim Moody, expressed in an interview with a local news station, we at DRM “are often in the position of fighting for the rights of people with disabilities and advocating for people at the legislature and opening cases to help people who have been discriminated against,” and Disability Pride Day “is a break from all of that for all the ...Read More

Bold Action Needed to Address Overuse of Restraint and Seclusion in Maine Schools

Posted by Benjamin Y. Jones, Esq. on June 19, 2019

In May 2019, DRM released the report Restraint and Seclusion in Maine Schools: Reviewing the First Six Years of Data Required by MDOE Rule Chapter 33. DRM found that during the 2017-2018 school year, Maine schools used more than 20,000 restraints and seclusions on Maine students. When DRM compared Maine to the national numbers, we found that Maine students are restrained and secluded at rates over four to eleven times the national average. As DRM found with the Chapter 33 data, the GAO recently reported that the national numbers are inaccurately low. And, DRM documented the significantly disproportionate rates these ...Read More

Governor’s Budget Repeals Legal Interpreting Fund

Posted by Riley Albair on May 21, 2019

Access to justice is vitally important. Without it, individuals are unable to have their voices heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination, or hold decision-makers accountable. For Mainers who are deaf[1], access to justice includes the elimination of communication barriers when attempting to obtain legal services and representation. Attorneys have a responsibility to provide deaf clients with accommodations that they may need to communicate. For nearly 30 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has required public accommodations, including attorneys engaged in private practice, to provide equal access to their services.[2] This includes providing sign language interpreters, real-time captioning, or ...Read More


Disability Rights Maine Complaints Lead to First Steps In Stopping the Criminalization of Mental Illness In the Lewiston-Auburn Area

Posted by Mark C. Joyce, Esq. on August 30, 2018

Disability Rights Maine (DRM) is the federally-mandated and State-designated nonprofit agency tasked with protecting and advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities in the State of Maine. DRM’s primary responsibilities include preventing and responding to the abuse, neglect, discrimination, and other violations of the rights of individuals with disabilities. Under both its federal and state authority DRM monitors the treatment of individuals with disabilities, including those with mental illness, to ensure that the services they receive are delivered in conformity with standards mandated by various state and federal laws and regulations. This includes individuals receiving treatment at hospitals ...Read More

Cross-Program Collaboration at DRM

Posted on June 20, 2018

Recently, I had the opportunity meet with Debra Bare-Rogers, DRM’s Communication Technology Specialist, over lunch. Deb works out of DRM’s Falmouth office and I’m based out of Bangor, so it was lovely to be able to get together. We had a great time talking about our families and our preferences regarding cheese-flavored puffed snacks. Then, because I simply can’t help myself, I started talking shop. DRM staff brings with it a wide range of expertise. Part of Deb’s job is to work with individuals with hearing loss to identify assistive technology solutions that will help them to communicate with ...Read More

May is Better Speech & Hearing Month!

Posted by Debra Bare-Rogers on May 14, 2018

For those of you with a hearing loss who are reading this, welcome to the club.  For those who do not (yet!) have a hearing loss, odds are you know several people who do.  Hearing loss affects as many as 1 in 6 Americans.  Only 20% of individuals who benefit from hearing aids actually have them. Many people with hearing loss cannot afford high-priced hearing technology or do not have access to the few income- and age-based programs that provide hearing aids at low or no cost. Perhaps you are already familiar with the pocket-sized devices that people with hearing ...Read More

ADA Coalition Member Profile: Sally Walsh

Posted by Rick Langley on April 25, 2018

DRM’s ADA Coalition is a cross-disability group of allies dedicated to fulfilling the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Maine. The coalition meets bi-monthly to identify and address ADA issues in the community, and to foster awareness of accessibility requirements and rights.  The coalition advocates for policies and initiatives that promote Mainers’ full and equal access to businesses, employment, voting, or any other aspect of community life. Sally Walsh, a member of the board of directors at Disability Rights Maine, has a commitment to disability rights activism rooted in her personal experience.  After breaking her leg and having ...Read More

Institutionalizing Children is Not the Answer to Maine's Challenges

Posted on March 09, 2018

The term “crisis” may be over-used, but sometimes it’s the only term that captures the moment. Right now, Maine's behavioral health system for children is in crisis. At DRM we know firsthand that young people with disabilities are languishing for days and months in emergency departments and hospitals. Families in Maine must contend daily with the failure of the service system to provide them and their loved ones desperately needed crisis and supportive services. DRM has been pushing Maine DHHS to expand access to services for Maine families. We have outlined enormous frustrations with provider agencies that cherry pick ...Read More


Bullying in Schools: Strategies for Effective Intervention

Posted by Benjamin Y. Jones, Esq. on August 28, 2017

When you think of bullying, you may picture a bigger student demanding lunch money from a smaller student at the back of a bus.  Or, perhaps a demeaning comment made by one student about another’s clothing in a high school hallway.  In reality, bullying is often subtle, persistent, and online.  Maine law recognizes the many forms that bullying can take: a written, spoken, electronic, or physical action which harms, or causes a student to fear harm to their body or property.  It also includes an action that interferes with the rights of a student by creating an intimidating or hostile ...Read More

Riverview Patient Advocacy: A Changing of the Guard

Posted by Caleb Baker, J.D. on August 16, 2017

As one of the advocates based at Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC), I can say that every day here is different.  That has been especially true this summer as long-time DRM advocate and notable Riverview presence Kristina LaChance stepped down from her role after 13 years with the agency in June.  I had the pleasure of working alongside her for her last two years and I think it is well worth taking a moment to reflect on the difference she has made in the lives of our clients and the mental health system that affects them. Kristina first came to ...Read More

After DRM Brings Suit, DHHS Agrees to Accommodation Process for Sec. 19 Recipients Affected by 40 Hour Cap

Posted by Peter M. Rice, Esq. on July 31, 2017

MaineCare members who direct their own services under Section 19, the Adults with Disabilities Waiver, may be able to get some help staying in their own home as a result of a case brought by Disability Rights Maine (DRM).   MaineCare members who receive Sec. 19 services meet nursing home level of care, but are able to, and choose to, live in their own homes.  In order to stay in their homes under Sec. 19, members have help with activities of daily living, such as walking, bathing, eating, etc.  They get the help from Personal Attendants (PAs).    According to ...Read More

My NARPA Experience

Posted on July 05, 2017

By Elizabeth Kramer, DRM PAIMI Advisory Council Member It was hot in Arizona last summer when folks from around the country gathered for the annual NARPA conference held in Phoenix.  The palm trees, the piercing red sky and the striking morning heat were strong reminders that I had traveled far from my New England home.  Similarly, the themes and topics that I found at NARPA were refreshing reminders that I had also traveled far from the mainstream world of Social Work (my chosen profession) to reach a place far more concerned with liberation and community than with compliance and diagnosis ...Read More

And Now for Something Completely Different…NARPA!

Posted on June 19, 2017

I am thrilled to talk to the DRM community this week about something big—really, really big!    As some of you may know, I came to DRM a little over three years ago - only a few days after I graduated from the University of Maine School of Law.  Since that time, I have been working as the patient advocate up at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor.  I love my job:  there is never a dull moment!  As an advocate I spend my days meeting with clients in the hospital and the community to assist them with individual issues ...Read More

​Do You Have Combined Hearing & Vision Loss? iCanConnect Can Help!

Posted by Scott Murray on May 15, 2017

Sending an email or talking on the phone can be challenging for people with significant combined vision and hearing loss who don't have access to the right equipment. iCanConnect can help. This program is also known as the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), and in Maine is administered by DRM Deaf Services. Since 2012, more than 80 Mainers with combined hearing and vision loss have received free equipment and training to help them stay connected with family and friends, and to take care of all their distance communication needs, including email, texting, and video communication services. We provide free ...Read More

April is Fair Housing Month!

Posted by Mark C. Joyce, Esq. on April 18, 2017

The Fair Housing Act was signed into law as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 on April 11, 1968.  This Act is celebrated each April as Fair Housing Month. This law and its later amendments prohibit housing discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin and disability. As part of the Fair Housing Month activities, I was one of three speakers on a panel that presented a three hour seminar designed for landlords and property managers. The seminar was conducted by the Maine Human Rights Commission in conjunction with ...Read More

Deaf Man Prevails in Movie Theater Case as Department of Justice Issues Rules

Posted by Kristin Aiello, Esq. on March 22, 2017

2017 has so far been a good year for Portland movie buff Greg Scheuer. Greg, who is Deaf, has been advocating for equal access to movie theaters for years. He treasures the opportunity to head to the movies, especially with his hearing son, eat popcorn and enjoy the show. Greg firmly believes that all people, including the Deaf, should have equal opportunity to enjoy a movie, just like everyone else in the community.   In July 2015, Greg was excited about going to the movies at the Nordica Theatre in Freeport, Maine. The Nordica was a new (built in 2011) ...Read More

Why the AMHI Consent Decree Matters

Posted by Kevin Voyvodich, Esq. on March 13, 2017

Recently, DRM made a presentation to the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee about the history of the AMHI Consent Decree and where it stands today.  Signed in 1990, the Consent Decree is an agreement between residents of the Augusta Mental Health Institute and the State of Maine.  The Decree resulted from a lawsuit that was filed in response to problems at the state hospital, including the deaths of a number of patients in the summer of 1989, and problems with the lack of resources in community mental health system.  The agreement required the creation of a new comprehensive state ...Read More

Seclusion and Restraint in Maine Schools

Posted by Atlee Reilly, Esq. on January 30, 2017

I. A sneak peak at DRM’s report on restraint and seclusion In early 2017, DRM will release a report on the use of restraint and seclusion in Maine schools.  The report, which was based on the analysis of four years of data reported by school districts across Maine to the Maine Department of Education (“MDOE”), and data requests by DRM to 42 school districts, as well as the review of individual case files, will contain conclusions that might trouble parents, advocates and policymakers.  Although the report has not been finalized, we are providing an advance look at some of ...Read More

Q&A: Guardianship, Supported Decision-Making, and Powers of Attorney in Maine

Posted by Staci K. Converse, Esq. on January 09, 2017

Some of the most frequently-asked questions of attorneys and advocates who work with adults with developmental disabilities involve decision-making.  These include questions about guardianship, supported decision-making, and other tools to assist people in making decisions about their lives. Historically, decision-making has been thought of as a linear process that relies on two conceptual flaws. That there is a right and a wrong choice to every decision. That people can either make the right decision or they cannot.  Under this paradigm, substitute decision-making was thought of as the answer for people who needed assistance with decision-making.  Frequently, this was done through the ...Read More


The Landscape of In-Home & Community Services for Children

Posted by Katrina Ringrose on December 13, 2016

Many families who struggle to meet the needs of their children with behavioral health challenges are unaware of the intensive in-home and community services they may be eligible to receive.  Or, they may be too intimidated by the complicated systems that provide these necessary services.  There are many types of behavioral health services and the services and providers available to a child and family are based on the child and family’s individual needs.  Services can take place while the child is living at home – providers may come into the home, or may see the child for outpatient appointments at ...Read More

Election 2016: Access at the Polls

Posted by Sara Squires on November 15, 2016

In the weeks and months leading up to the November 2016 Election, Disability Rights Maine worked with individuals with disabilities, their supporters, and state and local officials to make sure people were aware of their voting rights.  We visited vocational clubhouses, held voting fairs, spoke with voting clerks, and hosted demonstrations of Maine’s new accessible voting system, the ExpressVote.  Our goal was to ensure that people with disabilities knew they had a right to vote – independently, at their polling place, on Election Day. Although we consider our efforts to have been successful, DRM also knows that many individuals still ...Read More