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    12.05.17 Clinic Successes are Highlighted at 4th Annual Disability and Civil Rights Roundtable
    Clinic Successes are Highlighted at 4th Annual Disability and Civil Rights Roundtable

    On a recent morning at Brooklyn Law School’s Forchelli Conference Center, Daisy Concepcion stood before more than a hundred members of New York City’s disability rights community to tell her story of how the Law School’s Disability and Civil Rights Clinic helped to transform the quality of life for her daughter with severe disabilities. Thanks to the work of students in the clinic, under the supervision of Professors Natalie Chin, who serves as director, and Amy Mulzer, Concepcion’s 30-year-old daughter had her right to a private duty nurse restored and is no longer confined to her home.

    “The work the clinic has done for my family has been nothing short of transformational,” Concepcion told participants at the fourth-annual Disability and Civil Rights Clinic Roundtable, detailing how the clinic successfully challenged the discriminatory actions of two private health insurance companies that left her daughter homebound despite her ability to participate in the community.

    Concepcion was the keynote speaker at the annual roundtable, which brings together people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their family members and legal advocates, and the community and government organizations that support them. The first roundtable took place in 2014 after Chin created the clinic with the help of a $1 million grant from the Taft Foundation, represented by Howard Rothman ’71 and Joan Rothman.

    “The roundtable has become an important conversation for all those who work in this field that touches the lives of so many New Yorkers,” Dean Nick Allard said. This year’s gathering included representatives from the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Mental Hygiene Legal Services, judges, attorneys, social workers, educators, self-advocates, service providers, and parents, as well as Brooklyn Law School students.

    “I loved hearing different perspectives on issues facing the disabled community from a variety of people at the roundtable,” said Raine Henry ’19, a member of the clinic. “I also enjoyed the number of hands-on experiences I got with the clinic, such as interviewing skills I was able to use to gather information to write our report to the court.”

    One of the most unique aspects of the clinic is its commitment to serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities based on that community’s specific needs. Since the beginning, Chin has kept an open dialogue with stakeholders to determine and continually reaffirm the greatest needs.

    “I felt that one of the most important things in designing the clinic was to determine what the community needs were, as opposed to just deciding on my own what kind of cases we would take,” Chin said. “I did a ton of outreach, went out and met with community groups, parent groups, and educators who worked with this population.”

    The clinic also works on issues involving parental rights and discrimination regarding access to services. They have filed amicus briefs and appellate briefs arguing that the Administration for Children’s Services must provide accommodation to help parents with disabilities meet requirements to maintain custody of their children under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and they are currently defending a deaf client who lives in a nursing home that they argue is not providing appropriate and consistent interpreting services.