Programs & Services

People with Disabilities Have Rights!

State and federal laws assure that persons with a disability have the same human and civil rights as everyone else, including equal access to services and employment. They also have a right to many services and benefits. When their rights are respected, people with disabilities have an opportunity to fully participate in society.


Disability Rights New Mexico is a private, non-profit organization which protect, promote and expand the rights of people with disabilities in New Mexico. Founded in 1979 and authorized through federal law and an Executive Order of the Governor, DRNM is the state’s only legal rights center for people with disabilities. Each year, after public hearings and comment, DRNM sets priorities for the cases and disability problems it will address.


Information/Referral: We can answer questions about the legal rights of persons with disabilities, and services they may be entitled to. We can also explain where to apply for disability services or how to get more information.

Client Advocacy: People with disabilities may be denied services or discriminated against; their rights may be violated; they may be subject to abuse or neglect. We can negotiate on an individual’s behalf to resolve these problems, or support their own self-advocacy efforts. In some cases, we can represent persons with disabilities in a hearing or in court.

Group Advocacy: Some problems affect large numbers of people with disabilities, and can best be resolved through changes in funding, policies, regulations, or law. DRNM works with state agencies and the state legislature, or takes legal action, to improve and expand disability services or legal rights.

Training: We provide workshops and presentations on legal rights issues, and on how to obtain benefits or services. Handbooks and other materials on a variety of disability issues are available.


Download the In-Depth Programs PDF

Developmental Disabilities: Provides advocacy services to persons who have severe disabilities which occur or develop before age 22 and who need individually planned services and supports.

Client Assistance Program (CAP): Advocates for people who have questions or concerns about the services offered by Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Commission for the Blind, and Centers for Independent Living.

Mental Health: Promotes and protects the rights of persons diagnosed as mentally ill or emotionally disturbed who live in or have recently left a facility providing services or treatment. Also helps persons who are receiving mental health services in the community.
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS): Promotes and protects the rights of persons with disabilities who receive SSI/SSDI and who want to return to work. The goal is to overcome barriers to maintaining employment or to return to work.

Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights: (PAIR) Protects and promotes the rights of persons with severe disabilities who are not eligible for other P&A programs. The focus of the project is on the federal and state laws establishing rights for people with disabilities, which are listed on the next page.


The legal rights of people with disabilities are now well established in state and federal law. Some of the most important laws which secure these rights include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly known as “PL 94-142”)
  • The Rehabilitation Act as amended, including “Section 504”
  • The Fair Housing Act and Amendments
  • The New Mexico Human Rights Act

The New Mexico Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code

A brief summary of the rights established by these laws is presented below. If you need further information about these or other disability laws, or if you believe that a rights violation has occurred, call P&A.

Due Process: The rights of people with disabilities cannot be limited by other people without following procedures which give the person with a disability a chance to be heard.
Education: School districts must provide regular or special education, and related aids or services, to meet the individual needs of all children with disabilities, at least by age three, in as integrated a setting as possible. Parents have a right to help plan these services, and may challenge school decisions about evaluations or services.

Employment: Employers may not discriminate against qualified people with disabilities who are applying for jobs, and must make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities.

Equal Protection: Most laws must apply equally to people with and without disabilities. Any differences must be rationally related to a legitimate purpose.

Rehabilitation: Persons with a disability which is limiting their employment have a right to an individual program of rehabilitation services, unless those services would clearly not help them to get or keep a job.

Assistive Technology: Protection & Advocacy advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities that have been denied funding or an evaluation for assistive technology devices or services.

This publication was made possible by funding support from the following federal agencies: Department of Health & Human Services; Center for Mental Health Services and Administration on Developmental Disabilities; Department of Education; Rehabilitation Service Administration and National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; Department of Housing and Urban Development. These contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of any of the above