This is a list of the best disability organizations – that is, organizations doing great work with disability. It is updated from an original 2018 list.
This is a handy list to have for Giving Tuesday, or if you want to connect with a great organization for an internship, do research on what leaders in the disability community are doing, or just to find out about some exciting organizations.
There are a lot of disability organizations out there that do strong work.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good starting point, if you want to find non-profits to financially support, to research or work for.
I am dividing the list by those disability organizations that are certified non-profits, and those that are not.This is only for donation purposes – you will get a tax write-off for any money that you donate to a certified non-profit.
Here are some more organizations that I think are fantastic, and that are 501 (c) 3’s:
Disability Organizations that are are Certified Non-Profits (501 (c) 3’s):
1. DREDF – which is always at the top of my list, as it goes across the disability spectrum, helping to protect all of us with disabilities.
2. Portlight: These are the good people who are behind disaster relief efforts. Your direct donation makes a direct difference.
3. ADAPT: Make no mistake about it: the disabled activists from ADAPT and their partner groups are the ones who saved Medicaid last year. The work they do is powerful, life-changing and absolutely necessary.
4. a. DeafHope: Domestic Violence shelters are not often accessible to d/Deaf women: they are based through the telephone. DeafHope helps d/Deaf survivors of domestic abuse get help.
b. Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates: Super awesome. Check it out.
6. Disability Rights Advocates: These guys are wonderful. They are the ones who sued Target over access – and won.
7. HEARD – Helping to Educate and Advance the Rights of the Deaf – Their mission to help facilitate communication between the d/Deaf/hard of hearing community and the justice system. They are also committed to d/Deaf prisoners, correcting wrongful convictions and ending deaf prisoner abuse.
8. ASAN – Autistic Self-Advocacy Network – an American organization by and for Autistic adults advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of Autistics are heard (this is the organization that you should be paying attention to instead of Autism Speaks).
9. Language Acquisition and Equality Project for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K): as a deaf woman, I absolutely must mention this. There is a crisis in the deaf community over deaf-education and our kids learning ASL (or rather, not learning ASL, not having exposure to language they can understand). Nyle DiMarco is also trying to raise awareness over this and funds to help LEAD-K with it’s work.
10. Senior and Disability Action: organize and empower seniors and people with disabilities on housing, health care, transit justice, and more.
11. Bookshare: an accessible online library for people with print or reading disabilities. Like my friend who recommended this said, “I can’t get far without information.”
12. Learning Ally: a national organization “dedicated to bringing parents, teachers and the community together to empower students who are dyslexic, blind or visually impaired to succeed.”
13. Sins Invalid: Social change through the arts: “A performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.”
14. National Federation of the Blind: Resources, advocacy, publications, events and more.
and more disability organizations you should bookmark:
15. WID: World Institute on Disability
16. Through the Looking Glass: for parents with disabilities as well as children with disabilities
17. Disability Rights California (formerly Protection and Advocacy, Inc): CA specific but still with excellent cross-disability and cross-state information
18. Mobility International: for travel/disability/exchange/education information
19. JAN: Job Accommodation Network – A-Z of disability and accomodation
20. ODEP: Office of Disability Employment Policy: disability and job information (for a government site, this is actually pretty good)
21. Communication First: “CommunicationFIRST is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of the more than 5 million people of all ages in the United States who, due to disability or other condition, are unable to rely on speech alone to communicate.”
22. Center for Parent Information and Resources: serving families of children with disabilities in every American state and territory
23. National Council on Independent Living: disability-led organization that “advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities” by working with policy, advocacy and supporting member Centers for Independent Living.
- Look up the Independent Living Center closest to you through this handy link. Then consider donating to the Independent Living Center closest to you, and/or becoming involved with them (when I first moved back to Hawaii for example, the first people I contacted were the Hawaiian Independent Living Centers to see what was going on, disability-wise, locally. They are really, really fantastic.)
24. Association of University Centers on Disability: “A network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practice for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.”
25. NMD United: “a non-profit organization composed of adults living with neuromuscular disabilities. This peer-led organization fosters meaningful interactions and provide informational resources to increase self-direction while promoting independence” I had a chat via Zoom with them – you can watch it here.
26. Southerners on New Ground (SONG) – they seem to be an organizing-for-change group, and are led by disabled people of color. They have a toolkit for change and work on advancing the rights of some very vulnerable people in the south right now. They are going to need help in the coming future.
And there are STILL MORE more disability organizations!
Most people want to donate to an actual non-profit, with legal non profit status for that sweet lil’ tax breaks, but some of the most cutting edge projects are not certified 501 (c) 3’s .
The following list is the list to donate money to if you don’t care about the tax break, and/or a great place to find information, connect with, do research on or with, potentially focus your internship/job search with.
Great Disability Organizations That Are Not Certified Non-Profits (Not 501 (c) 3’s)
27. Disabled Parents Rights is another one. “Disabled Parents Rights is a small organization dedicated to combating discrimination that impacts parenting for parents with disabilities. We provide direct representation, advocacy, and technical assistance to disabled parents, as well as their advocates and attorneys.” As a deaf mother (with TBI and PTSD), this hits home.
28. The Disability Visibility Project Alice Wong is doing fantastic work with the #CripTheVote project and in gathering people across the disability spectrum under her fold. That project isn’t “certified” but it’s very worthy, and something worth contributing to. Here’s where you can donate.
There are also some very deserving disability-specific and parent-led organizations out there. Here’s a short list of a few that I have connections to:
29. Lettercase: I’ve loved them forever (remember this post?!) You know why? Because I was once literally sitting at a table with a doctor telling me that ) should abort my unborn child because she was going to be coming with Down syndrome. When I asked him for more information about lives lived with Down syndrome – a brochure? meet someone? See what Down syndrome is like? The doctor said, “we don’t do that.”
Lettercase is trying to change that all-too-common scenario by putting accurate and up-to-date information in the hands of medical practitioners. It’s fabulous and very worthy of your money. Donate here.
30. Down syndrome Diagnosis Network: A grassroots parent-led group that connects and supports. Good people, good work.
31. Down syndrome Adoption Network: Fantastic work connecting families who want to adopt a child with Down syndrome with a child with Down syndrome. Shoe-string budget, run mostly on the sweat of a couple of women.
32. Ruby’s Rainbow: “dedicated to the higher educational needs of adults with Down syndrome.” They provide scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes. This is fantastic since so few programs do that.
33. Parents Education Network: “Parents Education Network (PEN) is a coalition of parents collaborating with educators, students and the community to empower and bring academic and life success to students with learning and attention differences.”
And More Organizations!
34. Julia’s Way: “dedicated to inspiring parents, medical professionals, and the general public to reimagine what’s possible for those living with Down syndrome through education, advocacy, and awareness” – They are currently promoting breastfeeding and Down syndrome.
35. Rooted in Rights: these guys are really kicking it with their video storytelling programs and fresh perspectives!
37. Deaf Counseling Center: I follow these guys on Instagram because their stories are awesome. They do vital, crucial work for our Deaf community; literally the only Deaf Counseling center in the US that is staffed by Deaf Counselors.
Lastly: How to Choose a Disability Charity
My friend Andrew wrote a great post on “How to Choose a Disability Charity” – he’s got some great suggestions on things to think about as you move forward and select the disability related organization (s) that you would like to support.
This site is also in need of financial backing – if you want to help with keeping it alive and myself able to create these types of informative posts, as well as posts on website development, career counseling, and disability community, please consider donating, or buying t-shirts, book compilations or photos that I make/take – thank you! Here’s where you can buy something/contribute.
If you know of more great disability related organizations or movements to bookmark, know about and/or support, PLEASE leave the link in the comments of this post so that everyone can benefit.
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Opinion PiecesPosts that I've written about disability access, inclusion or things said
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.