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BIRG speaks out to bring public attention to the challenges and works to change education policy confronting New York’s most educationally vulnerable students, so that schools serve ALL children to reach their maximum potential possible. BIRG’s team works with families to eliminate obstacles they are faced with and advocates to eliminate problems through effective and pragmatic policy change, when we spot trends in the problems facing the families we serve. Some examples of initiatives we feel are important to our families include:
The National Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury Plan was created by Patrick Donohue and the National Advisory Board for the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation. Mr Donohue submitted an open letter to President Barack Obama, in which he introduced his plan, the National PABI Plan Act. The act would have provided almost $3 billion in federal funding for complete national coverage and the ability to standardize a system of care while still providing the flexibility for each state to have its own pathway to universal accessibility. This act sought to provide healthcare to any child affected by brain injury, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. All funds would be drawn from the discretionary budget of the Department of Health and Human Services, thereby adding no additional monies to the national debt. The Bill was introduced to Congress on July 20, 2011 as HR 2600 by Rep. Leonard Lance (R, NJ-7) with 50 original bi-partisan co-sponsors.
In 2006, Zackery Lystedt a 13 year old star football player was tackled near the end of the first half of a game. He immediately suffered a brain injury and was rolling on the ground holding his head. The game took an injury timeout and minutes later Zackery returned to the game. After the game, Zackery collapsed and had to be airlifted to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where he underwent life saving surgery. The injury caused such a severe brain bleed that surgeons were required to remove bone from the left and right side of his skull to reduce the pressure on his brain. He spent 9 months in rehabilitation re-learning how to walk and talk. No one knew Zack had a concussion, but if he was taken out of the game after the initial hit, he may have never suffered from a severe brain injury.
The Lystedt law requires high school athletes who have sustained a concussion to be removed from practice and play and not to be allowed to return until cleared by a medical professional. The Zackery Lystedt Brain Project was formally announced in 2010 during the 44th Super Bowl, at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The Zachery Lystedt Law achieved a huge milestone of passing concussion laws in almost all 50 states. Concussion laws to each state can be found here.
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury or PATBI is a federally funded program authorized by the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 and its reauthorization as part of the Children's Health Act of 2000. The PATBI program ensures that individuals with TBI and their families have access to: information, referrals and advice; individual and family advocacy; legal representation; and specific assistance in self-advocacy.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the nation’s special education law. IDEA is composed of six main elements: Individualized Education Program (IEP); Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE); Least Restrictive Environment (LRE); Appropriate Evaluation; Parent and Teacher Participation; and Procedural Safeguards. The IDEA guides how states, school districts, and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
FAPE stands for Free and Appropriate Public Education, which is to be provided to all students under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Under this act, children who have disabilities are able to get educational support free of charge. Support includes special education and related services. The preference under IDEA is that children with disabilities be educated in regular classes with their nondisabled peers with appropriate supplementary aids and services, to the maximum extent appropriate or in the “Least Restrictive Environment”(LRE). A student's IEP should outline what is most appropriate and be decided on an individual basis.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the nation's main education law for all public schools. The law holds schools accountable for how students learn and achieve. ESSA aims to provide an equal opportunity for students who get special education services.
Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, (PADD) is the first Protection and Advocacy (P&A) program, created by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights (DD) Act of 1975. P&A agencies are required by the Act to pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities under all applicable federal and state laws.
The Americans with Disabilities Act passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in July 1990, the ADA is the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. The ADA protects the civil rights of people with disabilities in all aspects of employment, in accessing public services such as transportation, and guaranteeing access to public accommodations such as restaurants, stores, hotels and other types of buildings to which the public has access.
The Client Assistance Program (CAP) is a federally funded program that provides information, assistance and advocacy to people with disabilities who are applying for or receiving services under the Rehabilitation Act. Programs under this Act include: Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Independent Living Services (ILS) and Projects with Industry.
The P&A for Assistive Technology (PAAT) Act provides protection and advocacy services to assist individuals of all ages with disabilities in the acquisition, utilization, and/or maintenance of AT services or devices from federal funding to each state. AT devices enable persons with disabilities to more fully participate in daily activities such as vocational rehabilitation, employment and education - early intervention, K-12 and post-secondary. Some examples of assistive technologies are: mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids to help people hear or hear more clearly or cognitive aids like a computer to help people with memory, attention, or other challenges in their thinking skills.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. The nondiscrimination requirements of the law apply to employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal department or agency. These organizations and employers include many hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers and human service programs. It continues to play an important role in education, especially for students with disabilities who may not qualify for special education services under IDEA. A Section 504 Plan provides accommodations based on the child's disability and resulting weaknesses, but does not require academic improvement. Examples of accommodations in 504 plans include: preferential seating, extended time on tests and assignments, reduced homework or classwork, verbal, visual, or technology aids or modified textbooks or audio-video materials.
Brain Injury Rights Group
300 East 95th Street – Suite #130 New York, NY 10128