Epic Opportunities will soon roll out a new publication designed to inform people with intellectual disabilities about their individual rights.
The Rights Stuff will be available to anyone who is supported by the not-for-profit organization beginning in early November.
Director of Services Jennifer Perron says the primary purpose of the 16-page booklet is to ensure people served by Epic Opportunities know what their rights are and enable them to make informed decisions.
“We all have rights and it’s important everybody understands what their rights are,” Perron says.
“So many times we’ve seen people with disabilities being marginalized [in] the community because they’re not aware of what their rights are. Some of them feel because of their disability they may not have the same rights as someone else. People tend to focus on the disability rather than the ability of the individual.”
The Rights Stuff has been in the works for more than a year and was part of a collaborative effort involving Epic Opportunities staff, individuals served by the agency and other members of the community. The project received financial support through the Epic Opportunities Foundation, the primary fundraising body of Epic Opportunities.
The booklet includes detailed descriptions of 15 individual rights and questions people can ask to ensure those rights are being met. In addition, it provides definitions of a number of key terms, information on what a person can do if they feel their rights are not being met and a list of community resources that are available to them.
“It’s great to give people this information but we also want them to know which places to go in the community if they feel their rights have been violated or if they have questions,” Perron says.
She adds the booklet will also be a valuable resource for direct support workers when they receive questions about individual rights from the people they support.
Perron says a conscious effort was made to ensure information in the booklet is presented in such a way that makes it accessible to anyone reading it.
“We wanted it written in layperson’s terms,” she says. “We want everyone to be able to pick it up, read it and move forward with that information. We want it to be an accessible resource.”
Tricia, who has received support through Epic Opportunities since 2001, was one of the rights committee members involved in the creation of The Rights Stuff. Tricia says she was anxious to be part of the project because she has a keen interest in individual rights and wanted to do something to help educate other people about what their rights are.
“A lot of people in the community don’t know what their rights are. If no one says anything about it they won’t ever know what their rights are,” she says.
“I am very glad I got a chance to work on the book. There was so much I learned.”
Perron says plans call for the booklet to be distributed to any location where Epic Opportunities provides support including all homes and day service locations.
“We don’t want to hide it. We want to say it’s there and it’s available to anyone.”