Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems are part of a nationwide network of Disability Rights Agencies which are mandated by Congress to provide advocacy services and legal representation on behalf of all persons with disabilities. Almost every state in the nation has a P&A dedicated to protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Michigan’s P&A is Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc.
When the Protection and Advocacy System first began, it primarily served people with developmental disabilities. Later, Congress expanded its mandate to serve all individuals with physical or mental disabilities of any kind. Collectively, P&As are the largest provider of legal services to people with disabilities in the United States.
P&As serve people with physical and mental disabilities in a variety of ways, including:
- Individual case representation
- Information and referral services
- Education and training
- Individual and class-action litigation
- Monitoring of correctional and mental health facilities
All P&A work is governed by the values of equity, meaningful choice and empowerment, and the presumption that people with disabilities are entitled to equal opportunities and full integration into society.
P&As promote these values for persons with disabilities in areas of employment, education, rehabilitation and community-based service. P&As also assure that persons with disabilities receive needed services in environments which are appropriate, culturally competent, humane and dignified.
The National Disability Rights Network(link is external) (NDRN) which is based in Washington, DC, is the voluntary membership organization for Protection and Advocacy agencies. NDRN facilitates coordination among its members, represents their interests before Congress and the Executive Branch of government, and provides extensive training and technical assistance services. If you are not from Michigan, check NDRN’s website to locate your P&A.