Through numerous collaborations and partnerships, DRT works to advance the Disability Rights Movement in Tennessee. Current projects include:
Legislative Tracking & Education
Tennessee’s legislators file an average of over 1,500 pieces of legislation each year. Many of these bills have the potential to impact Tennesseans with disabilities, their families, and communities. During the legislative session, DRT staff comb through these bills and follow their progress. We pull this information together into a weekly report “DRT Policy Watch” and share it with our staff, partner agencies, and community members. Join the “watch”!
DRT staff also develops policy statements and collaborates with other disability focused organizations in educating policy makers about the potential impact of proposed legislation on Tennesseans with disabilities. We pride ourselves on being a resource for our community and our state’s policymakers.
DRT works to ensure all poll sites in Tennessee are accessible. On Election Day, we survey poll sites for access. Between elections, we work with county and state officials to make better use of space and resources. DRT staff also works to keep Tennesseans up to date with the latest trends in voting and accessibility options for voting.
Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs)
DRT has developed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with several state agencies. A way to signify our collaborative working relationships, these documents outline how we will work together to ensure the safety and rights of Tennesseans with disabilities, as well as help us navigate our relationships and enhance our collaborative efforts. The MOUs include areas of collaboration, such as opportunities for cross training and joint program initiatives, the potential to share information, and to identify trends and plan interventions. We currently have MOUs with the following Tennessee state agencies:
- Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- Department of Children’s Services
- Department of Health
- Department of Human Services
DRT staff develops policy statements to inform policy makers about the needs of Tennesseans with disabilities and potential solutions to these barriers. DRT also collaborates with other disability focused organizations to educate policy makers about the potential impact of proposed legislation on Tennesseans with disabilities.
While we collaborate with a broad range of agencies, much of our policy initiatives center around our work with the following groups:
Disability Policy Alliance of Tennessee
The Disability Policy Alliance of Tennessee is comprised of Disability Rights Tennessee, The Arc Tennessee, and the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. The Alliance is committed to working collectively to advance the values of independence, productivity, and community inclusion for all Tennesseans with disabilities.
Disability Coalition on Education (DCE)
The Disability Coalition on Education is a statewide alliance of family members, educators, and advocacy organizations, focused on bringing about positive change in the education of students with and without disabilities. DCE creates partnerships among families, schools and communities to ensure that all students receive quality education, enjoy a high level of quality of school life in all its aspects, and that rules, regulations, policies and practices provide for equal opportunities for all children.
Tennessee Coalition for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Since 2000, the Tennessee Coalition for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has worked to identify and advocate for good behavioral health policy. Last year the Coalition had a major impact on maintaining Level Two Case Management and promoting the benefits of Insure Tennessee. In recent years we have fought against reductions of provider reimbursement, taken a stand for parity, opposed the merger of TDMHSAS into DOH, and submitted white papers on pressing issues. For several consecutive years we have been credited, in part, for protecting funding for Peer Support Centers. Together we stand as a 30-member coalition that is concerned about the continuum of care. All populations deserve to be heard in public policy discussions. It is vital that we speak with one voice.