Office of Developmental Disabilities launches accessible website

The Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds has launched a new website at www.ddombuds.org where visitors can learn what the office is doing, submit complaints and access other resources for people with disabilities. The website was created by AccessibilityOz, a company specializing in the creation of webpages that are accessible to people with disabilities.

The website is one way to submit a complaint to the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds. Complaints can also be made by phone at 1-833-727-8900 and in person when the ombuds visits community residences, programs or state facilities. Call or visit the website for information on requesting a visit.

Anyone, including disabled individuals, friends, family or care staff can submit a complaint about developmental disabilities services. Complaints may be about, but not limited to, abuse and neglect, quality and access to services or possible exploitation.

“Complaints about abuse, neglect and exploitation are priority,” said Betty Schieterman, State Developmental Disabilities Ombuds. “Our goal at the DD Ombuds is to address complaints in a person-centered manner by listening to people with developmental disabilities and resolving issues to their satisfaction.”

The DD Ombuds is a private, independent office focused on improving the lives of persons with developmental disabilities in Washington State. The DD Ombuds also provide information to the community, monitor and review facilities, conduct investigations, write reports, and recommend changes to Washington State policy-makers.

The Department of Commerce awarded Disability Rights Washington the contract to provide ombuds services for the new Washington Developmental Disabilities Ombuds program earlier this year.

“Investing to increase our state’s capacity to better serve vulnerable people is a key priority of Commerce’s work to strengthen communities,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

The state Legislature created the Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds to help protect the health and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities. The office will monitor and report on the services provided in Washington state for potential situations of abuse and neglect.

“I sponsored the bill to create this office because too many of our most vulnerable residents have been left in unsafe and abusive conditions,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. “This provides an advocate for families to work with Department of Social and Health Services on ensuring the safety of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

The Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds will monitor residential facilities, residences, and services, and make recommendations to the Legislature for reforms.

“We are honored to do this work and are confident these efforts will lead to improved service delivery systems across Washington,” Schwieterman said.

About Disability Rights Washington: Disability Rights Washington (DRW) is a private non-profit organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities statewide. Their mission is to advance the dignity, equality, and self-determination of people with disabilities. DRW is governed by a board of directors and with help from their advisory council, works to pursue justice on matters related to human and legal rights. These groups are made up of people with disabilities, family members, and others who have an interest in disability rights.

About Commerce: Commerce is the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. For more information, visit www.commerce.wa.gov.

                                        - Department of Commerce