We’re in the news

Recent media stories about DRO’s work

ODOT takes on the largest disabilities project to make the state ADA compliant (KTVL, 02/02/2017)

Man in motorized wheelchair gets DUII conviction thrown out (The Oregonian, 12/29/2016)

Brown right in closing JC hospital (The Register-Guard, 12/19/2016)

Marion Commissioner nominated for State Hospital board (Statesman Journal, 11/23/2016)

Report: Solitary confinement used too much in Oregon prisons (Statesman Journal, 11/21/2016)

Bend housing crisis extreme for the disabled (Bend Bulletin, 11/04/2016)

ODOT Reaches Settlement Over Disability Rights (OPB, 11/03/2016)

Disability advocates, ODOT settle lawsuit; $23 million committed for sidewalk improvements (The Oregonian, 11/03/2016)

ODOT, Disabled Rights Oregon have $5 mil. for curb and accesibility improvements (KATU, 11/03/2016)

Disabled-access lawsuit against ODOT settled (KTVZ, 11/03/2016)

ODOT settles over highway crossings for the disabled (The Columbian, 11/06/2016)

Measure 97 letter to senior living residents (KOBI, 10/26/2016)

Senior Care Company Investigated After Urging Residents To Vote No On Measure 97 (KOPB, 10/24/16)

Two groups that serve as watchdogs over senior care, the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman and Disability Rights Oregon, notified the Secretary of State about the letter sent by Brookdale Senior Living. The watchdog groups said Brookdale might have violated a state law against exerting undue influence over how a person votes.

People with disabilities excited about self-lacing shoes (KGW, 10/05/16)

Oregon voter registration deadline 3 weeks away; State offering alternative ways to cast your ballot (KOIN, 09/27/16)

All single-user restrooms in Portland city facilities now gender-neutral (KATU, 09/23/16)

“If you’re a person with disabilities or you’re older and you need the help of someone else to use the bathroom, having full access to a bathroom is absolutely essential for you,” said Bob Joondeph, executive director of Disability Rights Oregon.

Child will stay small forever (Portland Tribune, 08/04/16)

“If she is being treated differently because of her intellectual disability, that would violate her human rights and perhaps her legal rights,” Joondeph says, noting that a typically developing child could conceivably also have a medical need for sterilization or growth stunting, preventing her from becoming a fully grown adult. “The question is whether that type of experience for her is being discounted (because of her disability).”

Oregonians with disabilities can soon save money (Bend Bulletin, 08/04/16)

Groups help Oregonians with disabilities to vote (KTVZ, 07/13/16)

New Report Shines Light on Mistreatment of Deaf Prisoners in Oregon (Willamette Week, 06/23/16)

Is Biketown bike share for all? Or only the able-bodied? (Bike Portland, 06/02/16)

DOJ Agreement with the State of Oregon Mental Health System (Voices from the Edge, KBOO, 02/11/16): Audio interview with Bob Joondeph. (Audio, no transcript provided)

My View: Disabilities don’t negate human rights (Portland Tribune, 02/04/16): Opinion by Bob Joondeph.

Blue, a person with a disability, is first and foremost a person who is entitled to the same legal and ethical protections as anyone else. We urge those involved to honor her human rights.

Improving Care for Mentally Ill Prisoners (KBOO, 02/03/16): Karen James interviews Bob Joondeph, Executive Director, Disability Rights Oregon (DRO), about a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it recently entered into with the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC). (Audio, no transcript provided)


Bringing Sheltered Workers Into the Light (Jefferson Public Radio, 01/27/16): Audio interview with Bob Joondeph, does not include audio transcript

Oregon prisons need mental-health improvements (Statesman Journal, 01/22/16)

Editorial: An Important Change for Prisoners (Bend Bulletin, 01/17/16)

State agrees with advocacy group to reduce isolation, improve care of Oregon inmates with severe mental illnesses (Oregonian, 01/13/16)

“People end up in this unit because of mental health-associated behaviors,” Joondeph said. “So it’s important that those people receive the treatment that they need so that they have the opportunity to get better and improve their health and not be isolated and be in situations where their health may deteriorate.”

Oregon Department of Corrections will improve care for mentally ill (KGW, 01/13/16)

Oregon Dept. of Corrections to improve care for mentally ill (KTVZ, 01/13/16)

Judge Approves Shift Away From Sheltered Workshops (Disability Scoop, 01/06/16)

Judge Weighs Disabled Workers Deal (The Register-Guard, 12/08/15)

The minimum wage fight you don’t know needs to be fought (Street Roots, 12/07/15)

Reducing Oregon’s Reliance On Sheltered Workshops (OPB, 09/11/15): Audio interview with Bob Joondeph includes transcript

Our expectation is that as that choice becomes real and the services are better, that more and more people will choose the community option. Then it really sets up a true competitive situation in which some people may continue to choose segregated employment. But we expect that more and more people will, as they see their peers succeed and making more money, that they will be attracted to that option.

Legal Settlement for People with Intellectual Disabilities Opens Door for Real Jobs (The Lund Report, 09/10/15)

“You’ll see people in workshops for years who never got a chance to do competitive work who will thrive in it,” said Bob Joondeph, the director of Disability Rights Oregon, one of the chief plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

An intermediate goal will reduce the number of people employed in workshops from 1,925 to 1,530 by 2017.

The shift marks the most dramatic policy change for Oregonians with intellectual disabilities since the closing of Fairview Training Center, which freed thousands of Oregonians from a lifetime in an institution. The agreement aims to end daytime institutionalization, providing meaningful opportunities to join the regular labor force and leave segregated workshops where people toil at menial jobs for trivial pay — again bending the arc of history toward justice for this group of Oregonians.”

Oregon’s sheltered workshops for the disabled to be phased out under terms of settlement (Oregonian, 09/08/15)

Settlement Calls For Cuts To Sheltered Workshops (Disability Scoop, 09/09/15)

Over 1,000 people with developmental disabilities will be able to leave sheltered workshops for competitive employment under a proposed settlement in a first-of-its-kind class-action lawsuit.

Gov. Kate Brown, Plaintiffs Announce Settlement of Long-Running Disability Rights Lawsuit (Willamette Week, 09/08/15)

DOJ Deal Resolves Row Over Ore. Disabled Worker Practices (Law 360, 09/09/15)

Oregon settles lawsuit alleging mistreatment of disabled workers (Portland Business Journal, 09/08/15)

State Reaches Settlement for Lane V. Brown (Go Local PDX, 09/08/15)

Oregon to improve work settings for disabled in lawsuit settlement (The Register-Guard, 09/09/15)

Oregon, disabled workers end suit (Statesman Journal, 09/08/15)

Oregon Agrees to Improve Work Settings for the Disabled (KDRV, 09/09/15)


In US prisons, psychiatric disability is often met by brute force (Truthout, 07/18/15)

According to a new investigative report published by Disability Rights Oregon earlier this year, resorting to self-harm is often the only way prisoners can ensure medical attention. But it also provokes extremely violent reactions from guards.

The report, “Behind the Eleventh Door,” looks at the behavioral health unit (BHU) of the Oregon State Penitentiary where prisoners are confined to 6- by 10-foot cells with no natural light, no fresh air and no contact with other prisoners.

From the Care Act to the Able Act, a rundown of the 2015 health bills that passed (The Lund Report, 07/15/15)

HB 2363 — State law will now require that hospital physicians document any use of forced seclusion of mentally ill patients. The Oregon Health Authority already requires such documentation administratively, but advocates such as Disability Rights Oregon argued that the policy needed the force of law, similar to the law regarding the use of physical restraints.

HB 2368 — Another Disability Rights Oregon bill, this one ensures that advance directives regarding mental health treatment take precedence over any other advance directive a person may have signed.

Senate bill gives free copy of medical records to those fighting for disability benefits (The Lund Report, 05/22/15)

Senate Bill 710 would change that and allow an individual or their personal representative to receive one free copy of their records from each healthcare entity that provides them medical care, expanding it from a current law that applies only to medical doctors, not psychologists or other healthcare professionals or health entities. … Bob Joondeph, the executive director of Disabilities Rights Oregon, argued that SB 710 will save the state money if people who are disabled can receive federal benefits — they’re less likely to end up homeless or in the throes of addiction and mental illness, and the state can receive a better federal match rate for its social services.

Making the law pay (Willamette Week, 05/20/15)

Bob Joondeph, executive director of Disability Rights Oregon, which represents some plaintiffs in the case, says it could potentially affect the rights of people with disabilities in all 50 states.

Joondeph says the case is a test of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which has not been applied when people with disabilities are employed in federally subsidized sheltered workshops.

Portland judge sanctions state in lawsuit over job opportunities for severely disabled Oregonians (The Oregonian, 05/11/15)

A federal judge has sanctioned Oregon officials for their glacial release of electronic records to disabled adults who accuse the state of failing to provide them better work opportunities. … “The volume of email that defendants failed to produce is significant and quite possibly unprecedented,” lawyers for the disabled workers wrote in a court motion last month.


Disability expert: Proving threat ‘a high bar’ (KOIN 6, 05/11/15)

Bob Joondeph, the executive director of Disability Rights Oregon, told KOIN 6 News what is used to determine what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to kicking a person with a disability off a commercial plane.


Mentally ill prisoners routinely pepper-sprayed and isolated (OPB News, 05/04/15)


Inmates in Oregon’s Behavioral Health Unit harm themselves to try to get out of solitary cells, investigation finds (The Oregonian, 05/04/15)

“We had consistent complaints from prisoners that were quite disturbing. We were a little bit surprised that a number of mental health staff, former and current confirmed a lot of those concerns in great detail,” [staff attorney] Greenberg said. “What concerned me most personally was that the violence is so accepted and commonplace.”

Hoyle bill allows for commitments for people at risk of serious harm (The Lund Report, 04/30/15)

“We don’t think the commitment standard should be opened at all,” [Bob] Joondeph told The Lund Report, explaining that he didn’t support HB 3347 but he was neutral on the final bill and pleased he could negotiate the amendment with Hoyle. “The original bill didn’t come out the way she intended…. We worked on the amendment so at least the bill would work out as intended. The government has an interest in keeping people from immediate harm.”

Solitary confinement of Oregon inmates with most severe mental illnesses must stop, advocacy group says (The Oregonian, 04/07/15)

“What really stood out to all of us was the level of self-harm in the Behavioral Health Unit,” Radcliffe said, citing examples of inmates swallowing dangerous items, cutting themselves or banging their heads. The response by correction officers often is to pepper spray an inmate, strip the person and place the inmate in a restraint chair, sometimes for long periods of time, Radcliffe reported.

House passes bill requiring ERs to document forced seclusion of mental patients (The Lund Report, 03/06/15)

The Oregon House passed a bill Thursday that will require physicians working in hospital emergency rooms and other temporary settings to document every time they order a patient to be isolated because of a mental health crisis. … The Oregon Health Authority already requires such documentation through its administrative rules, but Disability Rights Oregon felt it was a priority to place those requirements into state law to put them on equal footing with the law requiring documentation of the use of mechanical restraints and the ban on electroshock treatment in the ER setting.

Ban solitary confinement (KBOO, 02/16/15)

Disability Rights Oregon will introduce a bill that will stop solitary confinement for persons with serious mental illness incarcerated in Oregon prisons.

State records show problems with payee services, oversight (Street Roots, 12/30/14)

Ted Wenk, a staff attorney with Disability Rights Oregon who specializes in payee programs, says that some payee services might be great with clients but bad with bookkeeping. …

Wenk says that “it’s not an automatic thing,” but if the Social Security Administration finds out that someone is over their resource limit, they can and will suspend benefits. Wenk recalls a client who had to go to her dentist for a needed procedure. When she got there, she found out that her payee (who he wouldn’t name) had let her go over her resource limit and she didn’t have medical insurance.

Wenk says that this can easily be avoided if a payee monitors a client’s account and spends it down when it gets high. He also says that a payee can purchase a life insurance policy or burial plan for a client to prevent them from going over their resource limit. He also says that a payee could purchase a trip for their client from an organization that takes disabled people on excursions.


The past and future of the ADA on its 25th anniversary (Oregon State Bar Newsletter, 11/01/14)


Executive Director Bob Joondeph interviewed by OPB on the City of Portland’s new parking policies (KOPB, 10/30/14)


DRO participates in City of Portland Community Liaison/Compliance Officer hiring process (The Skanner, 9/30/14)

Commentary on warehousing patients in mental health crisis in the ER (Willamette Week, 8/13/14)

How does U.S. settlement in Rhode Island impact Oregon workers? (The Oregonian, 4/08/14)

Payee problems (Real Change, 5/21/14)

“The hospital needs to remain a place of healing, not a place of punishment,” said Bob Joondeph, executive director of Disability Rights Oregon. “Criminalization of the mentally ill is something that’s a national phenomenal, and all we’ll be doing is potentially moving more people into the criminal justice system, who will be returning to the hospital.”

Oregon State Hospital assaults: Bill splits public employee unions, disability rights advocates (The Oregonian, 2/10/14)


Executive Director Bob Joondeph interviewed about what makes a dog a service dog? (KOIN, 1/30/14)

Bob Joondeph of Disability Rights Oregon said about 40 to 50 people at the state hospital have received the green light from their treatment teams to move to less restrictive settings, but state officials can’t find community placements for them.



Oregon far behind in community mental health services, federal report finds (The Oregonian, 1/23/14)

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