DRLC’s mission is to champion the rights of people with disabilities, cancer and serious illness through education, advocacy and litigation.
DRLC promotes beneficial change through its precedent setting individual and class action court cases that challenge discriminatory practices by government agencies, businesses and educational institutions. Examples of cutting-edge cases include: inaccessible newly constructed or altered buildings for the mobility impaired, refusal to provide sign language interpreters or alternative communication materials for the hearing impaired, inaccessible government programs for the mentally and physically impaired, inaccessible transportation services for the mobility impaired, policies that exclude people with disabilities, discriminatory insurance and healthcare systems, and barriers to autonomous end-of-life decision making for the terminally ill.
DRLC simultaneously educates disability, business, government, education, healthcare and legal communities on how to avoid discrimination. The organization accomplishes this by promoting, maintaining and cultivating new and existing working relationships with disability commissions, healthcare professionals and advocates, grassroots organizations, post-secondary schools, public interest law offices and private law firms to facilitate its mission. The latter two also assist DRLC in its impact litigation of systemic issues.
DRLC is outcome-focused as it strives to protect people with disabilities, those affected by cancer and the terminally ill from discrimination, abuse and exploitation. The organization attacks attitudinal and programmatic barriers that maintain discriminatory structures, prevent equal access and stop those with disabilities from full inclusion in society. DRLC shifts the paradigm to embrace diversity and does not exclude or patronize people with disabilities, cancer or the terminally ill because of differences.
DRLC’s goal for success is to eradicate discrimination through impact litigation affecting large numbers of people with disabilities, cancer and other serious illness. This involves combatting situations that take advantage of vulnerable people and that put them at risk of ongoing discrimination and lack of access to programs and services. In 2015, DRLC determined that more than 3.5 million people annually could be beneficially impacted through the results of its class action litigation while approximately 4,000 were directly served by its advocacy, education and outreach efforts. The organization provides the highest quality legal representation and counseling to people with disabilities and those affected with cancer and other serious illness. Approximately 75 percent of DRLC clients are indigent – people who would otherwise be unable to access legal representation or counseling. DRLC constantly evaluates its efforts and changes its intake procedures and outreach based on results, community feedback, suggestions from co-counsel and advice of staff.