Disability is a part of the human experience, and every individual deserves the opportunity to thrive and participate fully in society. Pennsylvania recognizes this fundamental truth and has taken significant steps to ensure that its residents with disabilities have access to the services and support they need. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2023 2,750,663 adults in Pennsylvania have a disability. This translates to 26% or 1 in 4 adults in Pennsylvania.
The Keystone State’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment is evident in its robust network of disability services. These services aim to empower individuals with disabilities, ensuring they have the necessary resources to lead fulfilling lives. From educational programs and vocational training to healthcare services and community integration, Pennsylvania’s disability services cover a broad spectrum of needs.
But what truly sets Pennsylvania apart is its collaborative approach. The state works hand in hand with various disability agencies and service organizations to create a cohesive system of support. These agencies play a pivotal role in providing specialized services tailored to the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Whether it’s offering guidance on accessibility, providing therapeutic interventions, or advocating for equal rights, these organizations are at the forefront of driving positive change.
Outlined below are the key disability agencies and service organizations in Pennsylvania. Each one is dedicated to ensuring that every Pennsylvanian with a disability has the tools and resources they need to succeed. Together, they form a strong foundation of support, making Pennsylvania a beacon of hope and inclusivity for all.
Pennsylvania Disability Employment Services
Department of Labor & Industry – Employment Services for People with Disabilities: This state department offers a range of services to support individuals with disabilities in their employment journey.
Department of Human Services – Employment: Another state department that provides resources and support for individuals with disabilities seeking employment.
PA 211 – Comprehensive Disability Related Employment Programs: A platform that provides information on various employment programs tailored for individuals with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
We Can Work – Department of Human Services: An initiative by the Department of Human Services that focuses on promoting employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Pennsylvania Independent Living Services
Abilities in Motion: A prominent center in Reading, PA, dedicated to educating, supporting, and promoting individuals with disabilities.
Roads to Freedom: This center empowers people with all disabilities by providing resources, options, and disability-related services.
Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council: An entity that stems from the principle that people with disabilities are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
PA Housing Search: A tool by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency that helps individuals search for housing based on various criteria such as rent amount, accessibility, and proximity to public transportation.
Public Housing Authorities (HUD): For those needing public housing assistance or information about programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers.
Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Services
Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR): OVR provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. They offer services both directly and through a network of approved vendors. The services are individualized and include counseling and guidance, diagnostic services, job development and placement, assistive technology, and more. Statewide, there are 21 District Offices with trained Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.
Hiram G. Andrews Center: Located in Johnstown, this center provides vocational training and comprehensive rehabilitation services to people from across the state.
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Services
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF): PATF is a statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians acquire the assistive technology devices and services they desire.
Pennsylvania Disability Financial Assistance Services
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is a federal program that provides monthly cash benefits to individuals who have worked and paid Social Security taxes and who have become disabled. To qualify for SSDI, you must have a disability that prevents you from working and you must have paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a federal program that provides monthly cash benefits to low-income individuals with disabilities. To qualify for SSI, you must have a disability that prevents you from working and you must have limited income and resources.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This program supports families with children, providing financial assistance to meet their basic needs.
Medical Assistance (M.A.): This program offers health insurance to low-income residents of Pennsylvania. It’s also federally supported.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): A government initiative that provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families.
Pennsylvania Diversion Program: This program offers short-term financial assistance to individuals at risk of homelessness. The aid is typically provided as a lump sum.
State Blind Pension Program: Designed to support visually impaired residents in Pennsylvania.
Budgeting and Money Management: This service offers credit counseling, assistance with paying utilities and other bills, and budgeting for long-term care and healthcare-related expenses.
Income and Benefits: This category encompasses various programs that provide financial support based on income and other qualifying factors.
Public Assistance Programs: These are financial assistance programs tailored for specific needs like groceries and heating.
Financial Services: Provides a comprehensive overview of various financial services and programs available in Pennsylvania, designed to assist with bill payments, utility, mortgage, rent, credit improvement, retirement planning, and more, encompassing both private pay and publicly funded programs.
PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA): The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency works to provide affordable homeownership and rental apartment options for senior adults, low- and moderate-income families, and people with special housing needs.
Self-Determination Housing Project of Pennsylvania, Inc. (SDHP): This non-profit organization works to expand housing options for people with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA): This department offers various services and resources related to aging, which includes financial assistance programs.
COMPASS: An online application platform that allows Pennsylvanians to screen for, apply for, and renew many health and human service programs, including Medical Assistance, CHIP, LIHEAP, SNAP, and more.
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP): DRP is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. DRP can help people with disabilities apply for financial assistance programs and can also provide legal assistance if necessary.
DHS Housing: This initiative by the Department of Human Services focuses on providing housing solutions for Pennsylvanians with extremely low incomes.
DOH HIP (Head Injury Program): Offered by the PA Department of Health, this program helps fund a year of rehabilitation for individuals with a Traumatic Brain Injury.
Pennsylvania Disability Transportation Services
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) – Persons with Disabilities Parking Placards/Registration Plates: PennDOT offers parking placards and registration plates for persons with disabilities to ensure they have accessible parking.
Shared Ride Program for Persons with Disabilities (PwD): This program, offered by PennDOT, provides reduced-fare shared-ride transportation to eligible persons with disabilities.
MATP – Medical Assistance Transportation Program: The MATP provides non-emergency medical transportation to eligible Medical Assistance recipients in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association (PPTA): PPTA members offer various transportation services, including those tailored for individuals with disabilities.
ACCESS: Operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, ACCESS is a shared-ride, advance reservation, door-to-door paratransit service which provides rides for eligible individuals in Allegheny County.
Pennsylvania Disability Childcare Services
Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program: If you are looking for help paying child care expenses or need assistance figuring out how to care for and educate your young child, Child Care Works can help. They offer financial support to eligible families to help cover the costs of child care.
Online Child Care Provider Search: This online database allows you to find childcare providers near your home or workplace. You can also review certification information about a provider, including the provider’s certificate status, verified complaints, and inspection results.
Keystone STARS: Keystone STARS rates childcare programs based on various factors, such as safety regulations and the quality of early education provided. The program provides early childhood programs in Pennsylvania with the tools to continually improve service to children and families.
Disabilities Developmental Delays: If your child is birth to five and has disabilities or developmental delays, the state’s Early Intervention services can provide access to opportunities to help them reach their potential. Parents interested in these services can contact the CONNECT Helpline.
Child Care Reports: The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) releases various reports, such as the Child Care Market Rate Survey (MRS) Report, which provides a collection and analysis of prices charged by childcare providers.
Pennsylvania Disability Recreational Services
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR): DCNR and its partners are working to make outdoor recreation accessible to everyone, including Pennsylvanians with disabilities. “Recreation for All” is one of the core priorities in the statewide outdoor recreation plan. This includes incorporating universal design to improve access and increasing the availability of ADA adaptive activities and equipment. Almost all Pennsylvania state parks and forests offer some form of accessible recreation.
Presque Isle State Park: Located in Erie, this state park offers a variety of accessible recreational opportunities. The park features ADA-accessible fishing piers, grills, picnic pavilions, tables, restrooms, and a paved multi-purpose trail. Beach #7 and Beach #8 provide ADA access to the water’s edge, and beach wheelchairs are available for use.
Tuscarora and Locust Lake State Parks: These parks offer ADA camping and fishing experiences, including ADA camping cottages and yurts. Tuscarora State Park also has an ADA-accessible boat launch and fishing pier.
Sinnemahoning State Park: Located in the Pennsylvania Wilds, this park has an ADA-accessible wildlife viewing platform, offering ideal habitats for viewing deer, elk, woodcock, songbirds, and monarch butterflies.
Cook Forest State Park: This park features the Paved Path, a completely accessible trail surrounded by older trees spotted with fungi and moss.
Accessible Kayaking in Pennsylvania State Parks: DCNR, with the help of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, has added accessible kayak launches for people with disabilities at several state parks, including Beltzville State Park, Nockamixon State Park, Little Buffalo State Park, and Laurel Hill State Park.
Access in State Forests: DCNR allows people with mobility disabilities to use powered mobility devices to access state forest land. This access can assist people with disabilities who would like to hunt. Visitors with mobility disabilities can apply for a permit to use a mobility device, such as an ATV.
Special Recreation Services: This organization offers recreational opportunities tailored to individuals with disabilities.
Pennsylvania Disability Rights & Legal Services
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP): DRP is an independent, statewide, non-profit corporation designated as the federally-mandated protection and advocacy agency in Pennsylvania. They provide advocacy services to hundreds of clients annually at no cost. DRP attorneys also provide direct legal assistance to individual clients and pursue system reform and class action litigation to protect and expand disability rights and services.
MidPenn Legal Services: While not exclusively for disabilities, MidPenn Legal Services provides free civil legal services to low-income residents and survivors of domestic violence in central Pennsylvania. They may assist with disability-related legal issues among other services.
Pennsylvania Support Groups
Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP): While DRP primarily focuses on legal advocacy, they also provide resources and support for individuals with disabilities and their families. They offer information, guidance, and direct assistance to address various disability-related concerns.
Services for Persons with Disabilities – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services: This department provides a comprehensive list of services and programs designed to support individuals with disabilities in Pennsylvania. They offer resources, support, and guidance on various topics related to disability.
Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania (BIAPA): BIAPA offers support groups for individuals who have sustained brain injuries, as well as their families. They provide a platform for sharing experiences, coping strategies, and resources.
Pennsylvania Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health: This organization offers support for families of children with emotional disorders. They provide advocacy, training, and support groups to help families navigate the challenges of raising a child with a mental health condition.
Autism Society of Pittsburgh: This society offers support groups, resources, and events for individuals with autism and their families in the Pittsburgh area.
Multiple Sclerosis Society – Pennsylvania Chapter: This chapter offers support groups, resources, and events for individuals with multiple sclerosis and their families in Pennsylvania.
Epilepsy Association of Western and Central PA (EAWCP): EAWCP provides support groups, resources, and events for individuals with epilepsy and their families in the western and central parts of Pennsylvania.
UPMC Disability Support Groups: UPMC offers support groups that serve as a resource to help people with disabilities and their caregivers connect within the disability community and learn from one another.
Student Disability Resources at Penn State: Penn State University provides resources for students with disabilities. Each Penn State campus has a disability services office available to assist students. They offer accommodations and support to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities.
PA CareerLink: While primarily a job and training platform, PA CareerLink also provides information and resources related to disability services, ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to employment opportunities and support.
Pennsylvania Disability Housing Assistance
PA Housing Search: The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s housing search tool helps people search for housing by topics such as rent amount, area of interest, accessibility, or availability of public transportation. This tool is especially useful for individuals with disabilities looking for accessible housing options.
PA LINK to Aging & Disability Resources: Known as the Link, this resource is part of the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) nationwide effort to assist older adults and individuals with disabilities. The PA Link can connect individuals to local services, help explore existing options, assist with applications to determine eligibility, and provide support to help individuals remain in or return to their community.
COMPASS and County Assistance Offices: COMPASS is an online platform where individuals can learn more about public benefits or apply for benefits. The platform provides information on various housing assistance programs available in Pennsylvania.
Public Housing Authorities (HUD): For those in need of public housing assistance or information about public housing programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), local public housing authorities (PHA) can be contacted. The HCV program assists very low-income families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities in obtaining housing in the private housing market.
Rural Development Multi-Family Rental Housing Search Tool: The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers this web-based rural housing search tool, allowing individuals to find information about housing in rural areas of Pennsylvania.
Quick Start Housing Resources: This webpage provides contact information, by county, for a variety of housing providers including housing authorities, homeless providers, community action agencies, and more.
2-1-1 United Way: PA 2-1-1 is a free resource and information hub that connects individuals with customized health, housing, and human services information. By calling 211, individuals can receive information related to food, housing, employment, health care, and other services.
Pennsylvania Disability Education Services
Special Education – Pennsylvania Department of Education: The Bureau of Special Education collaborates with educators, schools, agencies, and other stakeholders across Pennsylvania. Their goal is to ensure students have access to quality and meaningful education supports, services, and opportunities.
Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education for School-Age Children: This guide provides parents with valuable information about the kinds of programs and services needed for their child.
CADES – Children and Adult Disability & Educational Services: Located in Swarthmore, PA, CADES is a non-profit organization that works daily to empower people with special needs to achieve their highest potential.
IEPs and 504 Service Agreements: This page provides information about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and how children may qualify for special education services or modifications under this act.
Pennsylvania Disability Healthcare Services
Services for Persons with Disabilities – Department of Human Services: Pennsylvania provides a variety of services for individuals who may need assistance in their daily lives. These programs are offered through different state agencies and county organizations. The best place to start is by visiting your local county assistance office (CAO).
In-home care: Specific services that provide care in the home setting can be found on the Long-Term Services Care webpage.
Employment Services: The PA Department of Labor and Industry offers information on services and programs for workers who require assistance.
Apply for Services with COMPASS: COMPASS is the online platform where individuals can apply for assistive services and other programs that can help them make ends meet.
Community Services Program for Persons with Physical Disabilities: This program provides support services for individuals with physical disabilities.
Home and Community-Based Service Supports Waivers: These waivers offer a variety of services and supports to allow individuals to live in their homes and communities.
Vocational Rehabilitation Information: This service provides support for individuals with disabilities to prepare for, obtain, or retain employment.
Sign Language Interpreter Services for Medical Assistance Appointments: This service ensures that individuals with hearing impairments receive the necessary support during medical appointments.
Pennsylvania Vocational Training for People with Disabilities
Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR): OVR provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. OVR offers services both directly and through a network of approved vendors. These services are individualized and include counseling and guidance, diagnostic services, job development and placement, and personal services such as readers or sign language interpreters.
Hiram G. Andrews Center: Located in Johnstown, this center provides vocational training and comprehensive rehabilitation services to people from across the state.
OVR’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services: This bureau provides specialized services to blind and visually impaired individuals, aiming to increase their independence and employability.
Types of Vocational Rehabilitation Services: OVR offers a wide range of services, including diagnostic services, vocational evaluation, counseling, training, restoration services, placement assistance, assistive technology, and support services.
Client Assistance Program (CAP): If individuals have questions or concerns about OVR services, CAP can assist. It’s a federally mandated program that provides assistance and advocacy to applicants for and recipients of OVR services.
Pennsylvania Mental Health Services for People with Disabilities
Services for Persons with Disabilities – Department of Human Services: Pennsylvania offers various services for individuals who may need assistance in their daily lives. These programs are provided through different state agencies and county organizations. The best place to learn about these programs is by visiting the local county assistance office (CAO).
Mental Health in PA – Department of Human Services: This page provides comprehensive information about mental health services available in Pennsylvania, ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access to the necessary mental health resources.
Intellectual Disabilities Services – Department of Human Services: This section offers services specifically tailored for individuals with intellectual disabilities, ensuring they receive the appropriate care and support.
Keystone Human Services: Keystone Human Services provides a range of services, including mental health services, for individuals with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Vision Services for People with Disabilities
Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS): The BBVS provides services to assist Pennsylvanians who are blind or visually impaired gain the skills necessary to live and work independently in their communities.
Pennsylvania Association for the Blind: This association provides services to prevent, prepare for, and manage vision loss. They offer a range of programs, including vision screenings, rehabilitation, and employment services.
Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASB): Located in Philadelphia, ASB is a non-profit organization that offers education, rehabilitation, and training services for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh: This organization provides services to individuals of all ages who are blind, visually impaired, or have other disabilities. They offer personal and vocational rehabilitation, employment services, and more.
Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT): PIAT provides information and access to assistive technology services and solutions, including those for individuals with visual impairments.
Pennsylvania Hearing Services for People with Disabilities
Office of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (ODHH): Located within the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, ODHH serves all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. This office is a primary resource for anything related to hearing loss, such as services, technology, sign language interpreters, or laws that mandate equal access for individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing.
Pennsylvania Speech & Language Services for People with Disabilities
PaTTAN – Speech Language Services: Speech-language pathologists (SLP) at PaTTAN assess, diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders related to speech, language, communication, voice, and fluency.
Speech and Language Services – Penn State College of Health and Human Development: This program offers screenings and evaluations, individual speech and language therapy programs, and group speech and language therapy programs.
Speech Therapy – Easter Seals: Easterseals provides exceptional programs and services to ensure that people with disabilities or other special needs and their families have equal opportunities.
Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic – Indiana University of Pennsylvania: The IUP Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic provides diagnostic and treatment services for persons with speech, language, and hearing disabilities.
Speech & Language Services – Bedford – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: This service is located in the Occupational/Speech Therapy suite and offers comprehensive speech and language services.
Speech Language Therapy – PA Autism: This therapy provides treatment, support, and care for children and adults who have speech, language, and social communication challenges.
Speech & Language Support Services – Lincoln Intermediate Unit: LIU#12 speech therapists provide a continuum of services, following the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and PA Chapter 14 guidelines to support individuals with speech and language challenges.
Pennsylvania Autism Services
Pennsylvania’s Adult Autism Programs: The Office of Developmental Programs supports children and adults with autism through services and supports available in the following waivers: Adult Autism Waiver (AAW), Community Living Waiver (CLW), Consolidated Waiver, Person Family Directed Support Waiver (PFDS)
Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP): The ACAP is available to adults with autism living in Dauphin, Lancaster, Cumberland, and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania.
ASERT Collaborative (Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training): ASERT is a key component of the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations’ strategy for supporting individuals with autism and their families throughout the Commonwealth.
MyODP Training & Resource Center: MyODP.org provides a single place for people to access ODP’s virtual training, resources, and communications. Many pieces of training for professionals who support individuals with autism are hosted on MyODP.org.
PA Autism Insurance Act (Act 62): If you or someone you know is the parent of a child with autism, this act provides information and resources about insurance coverage for autism services.
Pennsylvania Autism Census Project: This project provides comprehensive findings and other information about the number of individuals with autism in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Early Intervention Services
Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention Program: While all children grow and develop in unique ways, some children experience delays in their development. Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention program provides support and services to families with children, from birth to age five, with developmental delays and disabilities. The program emphasizes enhancing daily opportunities for learning provided in settings where a child would be if they did not have a developmental delay and disability.