Disability Rights Maryland logo. Logo has blue and green paint marks in the shape of human figures appearing to hold raised hands.
DRM 2022 Breaking Barriers Awards Gala Honors Disability Advocates
Group of Kennedy Krieger attendees at the 2022 Break Barriers Awards Gala.
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Standing: Ryan Gill, M.D., Dr. Bradley Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., Harolyn M. E. Belcher, M.D., MHS,
William Jackson, II, M.D., Ben Jackson, Esq., Tami Goldsmith, Maureen van Stone, Esq., MS, Kelly Little, BS, MHA. Seated: Mallory Legg, Esq., Jacqueline Stone, PhD., PT, Hristina Schlaggar, Ph.D., Ken Capone,
Samantha Hutchison, M.A.Ed., MHS, LPC
More than 125 community leaders, disability rights advocates, health care leaders, DRM board members and staff along with their guests gathered for an evening of fellowship and celebration in the Sculpture Garden and Barn of the American Visionary Art Museum. 
DRM invites you to view our awards presentation to hear the inspiring remarks of icons in the disability rights movement:
  • Congressman Jamie Raskin receiving the 2022 Judith Heumann Champion of Justice Award from Judith Heumann, an internationally recognized disability rights advocate 
  • Dr. Harolyn Belcher, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President at Kennedy Krieger Institute, receiving the Distinguished Public Service Health Care Award from DRM Board Member, Ryan Gill, M.D. of the Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Keyonna MayoSusan Goodlaxson, and Janice Jackson, Community Activists and Plaintiffs in Goodlaxson vs. Baltimore receiving the Excellence in Advocacy Leadership Award from Robin C Murphy, DRM Executive Director
  • Alice Wong, Gregg Beratan, and Andrew Pulrang, Disability Rights Activists, receiving the Gayle Hafner Leadership Award from Kathy Flaherty, Executive Director, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc.

And be sure to visit our website to see more from the Breaking Barriers Gala.
Disability Rights Maryland is grateful for the generous support of our Board of Directors and sponsors who made this event possible.
Highlights of DRM's 2022
Legislative Accomplishments
During the 2022 Maryland legislative session new laws that improve the lives of thousands of Marylanders with disabilities were passed, including limits on restraint and seclusion in K-12 schools, supported decision making, and reduced wait times for home and community-based services.

New Law Limiting Restraint and Seclusion in Maryland K-12 Schools

Incidents of children with disabilities traumatized and seriously injured when restrained and secluded by staff in school are all too real for Maryland families. After many years of advocacy by DRM, in partnership with the Education Advocacy Coalition for Students with Disabilities (EAC), a new law becomes effective July 1, 2022 that prohibits seclusion in public schools throughout Maryland and imposes significant new requirements on the use of seclusion in nonpublic schools serving students with disabilities.

“We have worked on restraint and seclusion issues for 20 years and understand well that change is incremental” says DRM Managing Attorney, Leslie Seid Margolis. “We are pleased that Maryland has taken this important step forward, not only to prohibit seclusion in public schools throughout the state, but to impose accountability measures on local school systems, nonpublic schools and the Maryland State Department of Education. It is our hope that these measures, combined with the law’s training and professional development requirements, will lead to the complete elimination of the use of seclusion in all schools and to a significant reduction in the use of restraint.”

Supported Decision Making (SDM) as an Alternative to Guardianship Becomes Law

Supported decision-making (SDM) is a best practice that recognizes that everyone, with and without disabilities, relies on the support and advice of people they know and trust to help them make, communicate and implement their own life decisions. Merely, recognizing this support can preserve the legal capacity of people with disabilities and help them avoid having their rights taken away under guardianship. SDM is a critical civil rights issue for people with disabilities—it is about the right to have rights and use those rights to direct your own life.

DRM led the work of the Cross-Disability SDM Coalition for several years to draft SDM legislation. The Coalition, a group of over 27 partners, worked with legislators and other advocates to introduce legislation which successfully became law in the 2022 session. The law authorizes the informal and formal use of SDM as an option to prevent, limit, or end guardianships. “This legislation reflects a fundamental shift in how people with disabilities exercise their legal capacity—it restores and protects their ability to make fundamental life decisions for themselves, including what medical care they receive, whether they marry, and where they live”, says DRM attorney Megan Rusciano.

Learn more about Supported Decision Making.
“End the Wait” Act Expands Access to Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
Thousands of adults and children with disabilities in Maryland cannot access vital services necessary to prevent institutionalization and lead active lives in their communities. This law is a critical step forward in ensuring all Marylanders with disabilities are able to access the medical care they need. Individuals may wait up to 10 years to receive services or enter institutions in order to access the services they need. The “End the Wait Act” requires the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to develop a plan to reduce these waitlists by 50% starting in 2023. Read more about the “End the Wait Act” and SB 636.

DRM Attorney Megan Rusciano Honored by The Arc Maryland

Megan Rusciano, Esquire.
Megan Rusciano, Esq.
Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) Attorney Megan Rusciano received The Arc Maryland’s 2022 Outstanding Advocate of the Year award. The award honors individuals whose advocacy leadership on behalf of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families led to increased rights of persons with IDD to live inclusive lives.
Megan was recognized at The Arc’s annual May 2022 Awards Ceremony for her tireless efforts leading a broad statewide Coalition of stakeholders to establish Supported Decision Making (SDM) as an alternative to guardianship in Maryland. Megan’s commitment to self-determination and alternatives to guardianship led to every member of the Coalition, including people with disabilities, state agencies, attorneys, and families, supporting SDM legislation. The legislation successfully passed the first year it was introduced.

Megan expressed her gratitude for receiving this honor “It truly took a village to get us here—and it wouldn’t have been remotely possible without the work and dedication of our bill sponsors, the Supported Decision-Making Coalition, the DD Coalition, my boss and colleagues at DRM who supported and made space for this work, and most importantly people with disabilities and those who amplify their voices. People who reminded me and all of us—it doesn’t matter how you communicate, how you use your voice—it must be heard.”

DRM applauds Megan for her leadership skills and countless hours devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Learn more about Supported Decision Making.
DRM is committed to advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities. Please consider a contribution to partner with us in achieving our goals.