The Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO) is the designated federally funded, federally mandated, Protection and Advocacy Agency (P&A) in the State of Georgia. It is a legally-based disability rights agency with the authority to provide legal representation and other advocacy services to all people with disabilities.
This topic provides a variety of information about The Georgia Advocacy Office. You may read the topic sequentially or jump to specific sections by following the links below.
· Georgia P&A Program Descriptions
o Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD)
o Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI))
o Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR)
o Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT)
o Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS)
o Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries (PATBI)
o Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access (PAVA)
· Contact Information
· Additional Information
· See Also
Congress has created distinct statutory programs to address the needs of different populations of persons with disabilities. The Georgia Advocacy Office provides local legally-based advocacy services under the Federal programs detailed below.
The PADD program provides advocacy to citizens with developmental disabilities throughout Georgia. A developmental disability refers to a severe, chronic disability which is (a) attributable to a mental or physical impairment, (b) manifested prior to age 22, (c) likely to continue indefinitely, (d) resulting in substantial limitations in at least three of seven major life functions, and (e) requiring services for an extended period of time.
The program provides services to individuals consistent with the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act).
The priorities of the PADD program are (1) to protect individuals with developmental disabilities from, and to pursue a remedy for, incidents of abuse or neglect; (2) to respond to allegations of discrimination and legal rights violations of individuals with developmental disabilities in Georgia; and (3) to recruit and engage ordinary citizens as advocates for individuals with developmental disabilities in Georgia.
The PADD program has two staff attorneys, one paralegal, and one program coordinator. In addition there are Citizen Advocacy offices in eight local communities. The local offices recruit, match, train and give assistance to citizen advocates in Atlanta, DeKalb County, Macon, Baldwin County, Savannah, Gainesville, Augusta, and Athens. Each year the PADD program provides advocacy to at least 500 individuals, provides information and referral to approximately 1,000 people, and sends out over 3,000 publications to interested citizens throughout the state.
A more detailed description of PADD activities is available in the program brochure (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) online at:
The PAIMI program staff of the Georgia Advocacy Office stand beside individuals living with mental illnesses, providing protection and advocacy. The experienced PAIMI team serves between four and five hundred people directly each year.
· The first priority of the PAIMI Program is to protect all individuals (adults and children) with mental illness in institutional and community settings, including prisons and jails, from abuse and neglect.
· The second PAIMI Program priority is to respond to allegations of discrimination and legal rights violations of individuals living with mental illness for whom critical services may not be available.
· The third PAIMI Program priority is to advocate for individuals with mental illness as they move to community through the implementation of the "Olmstead" decision.
PAIMI advocates conduct initial investigations and attempt to resolve problems for people through such means as negotiation, mediation, and administrative processes. Attorneys may become involved later, if needed. Because some problems are only amenable to legal intervention, PAIMI attorneys are involved in those cases from the beginning. Normally, PAIMI does not handle lawsuits for damages. PAIMI refers people wishing to bring such actions to the private Bar.
PAIMI advocates share empowerment techniques that make self-advocacy possible in many situations, both inside and outside of institutional settings. Sometimes a more formal process is necessary. In such instances, PAIMI collects data and uses the information to encourage system enhancement.
If an individual is unable to advocate for him or herself and must seek a voice louder than his or her own, PAIMI can be that voice.
A more detailed description of PAIMI activities is available in the program brochure (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) online at:
The goal of the PAIR program is to operate a system for the protection and advocacy of the legal and human rights of persons with disabilities residing in Georgia who are not eligible for the protection and advocacy services available through the Protection & Advocacy of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD) or the Protection & Advocacy of Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) programs or through the Client Assistance Program (CAP) which advocates with respect to problems with the Division of Rehabilitation Services.
The PAIR Program priorities are to 1) protect individuals with disabilities in Georgia from abuse and neglect; 2) to rectify any instance of discrimination against persons with disabilities; and 3) to promote the integration and self-determination of persons with disabilities in the community.
PAIR is staffed by two attorneys who advocate for individual rights and systems change issues.
Individual and systems change issues addressed by PAIR include (but are not limited to) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, attendant care services, employment discrimination, housing, guardianship, and transportation.
A more detailed description of PAIR activities is available in the program brochure (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) online at:
The PAAT program was designed to increase access to assistive technology (AT) to individuals with disabilities. The program reaches throughout the state. To be eligible, a person need only have a disability and be in need of an AT device or service. Equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and environmental control units are considered assistive technology. At the same time, less complex items are included as well.
PAAT can help a person obtain funding for a device that needs to be purchased or modified for the purpose of increasing his/her independence. Some funding sources that may be considered are Medicaid, Medicare, special education, or private insurance.
· The first priority of the PAAT program is to advocate for individuals who live in nursing facilities or other institutions who are in need of AT devices or services so that they may have a greater opportunity to express their wishes and prevent abuse and neglect of these individuals with disabilities in Georgia.
· The second priority of the PAAT program is to respond to allegations of discrimination and legal rights violations of individuals in need of ACDs or AT devices in Georgia through gathering and distribution of information about the use of AT in increasing independence and/or the funding of AT.
· The third priority of the PAAT program is to advocate on behalf of individuals who live in the community and who are in need of AT devices and services by recruiting and engaging ordinary citizens as advocates for these individuals.
The PAAT program is staffed by an attorney who can address individual as well as systems change issues. The scope of PAAT's advocacy may include (but is not limited to) providing information, negotiating policy changes, or formally challenging denials and barriers.
A more detailed description of PAAT activities is available in the program brochure (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) online at:
The PABSS program was born out of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. The sole purpose of the PABSS program is to serve beneficiaries of Social Security on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The focus of this program is to protect beneficiaries' rights to obtain, maintain, or retain employment.
Program priorities are:
· To advocate for Beneficiaries of Social Security who have disabilities to secure and maintain gainful employment so that they may regain greater independence and community involvement, and through that involvement prevent the abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities.
· To respond to allegations of discrimination and legal rights violations that are barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities in Georgia returning to work.
· To conduct education and training events throughout Georgia about PABSS.
This program is funded by a grant made available by the Social Security Administration and is managed by the Georgia Advocacy Office.
More information about the Ticket program is available in the Georgia Ticket to Work Program topic.
A Georgia Ticket to Work Program Manual is available online at:
The PATBI program serves people who were previously served by GAO through Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (if their brain injury occurred before the age of 22 and affected at least 3 major life activities), through Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (if their brain injury occurred after the age of 22), and through Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (if their brain injury caused behavior that caused them to be labeled as mentally ill or "dangerous" or they reside in a psychiatric facility). With the creation of the PATBI program the unique needs of this population can be addressed under one program.
· The first priority of the PATBI Program is to protect persons with TBI from abuse and neglect.
· The second priority of the Program is to rectify any instance of discrimination against persons with TBI.
· The third priority of the PATBI is to promote the integration and self-determination of persons with TBI in the community.
The PAVA program serves individuals with disabilities to ensure full and effective participation in the electoral process. The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) designated that protection and advocacy systems throughout the country have a role in the enforcement of the Act's provisions. This means that the HAVA Program of the Georgia Advocacy Office can respond to instances of voter rights violations based on disabilities, and also educate people with disabilities about their right to vote.
· The first priority of the HAVA Program is to remove barriers and provide the means to vote for people with disabilities traditionally prevented from exercising their right to vote. We identify persons with disabilities who are confined to institutions and nursing homes and make it possible for them to participate fully in the voting process.
· The second priority of the HAVA program is to respond to complaints from Georgia citizens with disabilities related to voter rights. We advocate for citizens with complaints of election-day voting irregularities or discrimination related to disability. We also advocate for citizens with complaints of polling place inaccessibility or issues of voter registration related to disability.
· The third priority of the HAVA Program is training and outreach to the disability community to disseminate information about rights under HAVA.
Together with other disability rights advocacy groups, GAO will work to get out the word that voting systems, procedures, and locations must be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc.
150 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue,
Decatur, Georgia 30030
800-537-2329 (Voice and TDD)
Rehabilitation Services established a program similar to those listed above to provide information, assistance, and advocacy to individuals seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act, including assistance in pursuing administrative, legal and other appropriate remedies, which is described in the GA Client Assistance Program (CAP) topic.
Protection and Advocacy Systems - Overview
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) Program
Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act)
State Councils on Developmental Disabilities
University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD)
GA Rehabilitation Services
GA Benefit Information System Overview
Information for this topic was drawn from the Georgia Advocacy Office website at:
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