In 1986, the Modesto Independent Living Center (MILC…pronounced “milk”) opened its doors as a resource center until it received its nonprofit 501c3 status in 1987. In 1999, the name was changed to the Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living (DRAIL). DRAIL has been serving people with disabilities in Stanislaus County for 25 years. DRAIL’s services include Information and Referral, Independent Living Skills, Advocacy and Systems Advocacy, Assistive Technology, Peer Counseling, Personal Assistance Service, Housing and many more. DRAIL has assisted over 6,000 consumers establish goals and objectives, so they can reach their independence. DRAIL has provided over 40,000 information and referral resources to consumers and the community in general. During the first two years of DRAIL, it was necessary to outreach to the community and to let the community know that services were available to people with all types of disabilities of all ages.
Advocacy became a big part of the community for DRAIL in the late 90’s to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities were not violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA, advocates rallied at the local Junior College to ensure people with disabilities received the same education as the non-disabled, this rally brought media attention and the result was quietly resolved. Advocates continue their efforts in our community discussing legislative issues with their local leaders as well as organizing a visit to the State Capitol to discuss budget cuts to people with disabilities.
In 2001, the Olmstead decision was passed in the United States Supreme Court stating that it is discrimininatory to deny people with disabilities services in the most integrated setting appropriate. The court found that individuals with mental disabilities are entitled to live in the community, whenever appropriate, and to receive treatment there, rather than in institutions. The court reached its conclusion by relying on the non-discrimination provisions of the ADA of 1990. The court’s reasoning was that institutionalization of people with disabilities who are capable of living in the community may constitute unlawful discrimination under the ADA, may serve as a model for a similar recognition under international human rights law. In fact, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights recently adopted General Comment 5 which provides a new and bold interpretation of the right to protection against discrimination under the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights by implying a right to community integration within the anti-discrimination provision of the Covenant. Since 2001 DRAIL has transitioned 96 consumers from nursing homes into their own home saving the government $436,464.00 dollars over twelve years.
The Assistive Technology program began 2 years after DRAIL opened our doors, when DRAIL began working with Assistive Technology there was no funding available other than for minor Assistive Technology through private donations. Grants were written by Center Coordinators and Independent Living Specialists to Foundations and later on to the counties for block grants. In 2004 the Assistive Technology position became funded through the State Department of Rehabilitation allowing an Assistive Technology Advocate to strictly provide AT services and the freedom to research funding for Assistive Technology. Currently, DRAIL has 8 AT grants.