Social workers advocate for disability rights

Jan 31, 2017

By Alison Laurio, News contributor
Lisa Primm admittedly has a soft spot in her heart for children.
As a disability rights social worker, Primm had as a client a young boy with severe diabetes. He received a dog that was trained to be responsive to the sugar levels in his saliva, and would alert his parents at home — even if they were asleep — and his teachers at school.


Lisa Primm

Lisa Primm

“The school initially was resistant to having a dog at school,” Primm said. “So we went in with a trainer who explained everything. It’s quite a process.”
The school allowed the dog in, and while with the boy it alerted to one of the teachers.
“Something was wrong with her blood sugar,” Primm said. “She checked it out and found out she had diabetes and didn’t know it.”
There was another boy, a middle-schooler who was deaf and wanted to be a wrestler. He wanted a sign language interpreter nearby, even though a school policy prohibited someone being close to the active wrestler area.
Primm, who is executive director of Disability Rights Tennessee in Nashville, went to the mat for him — and the school changed its policy.
“Sometimes the successes are big, powerful changes,” she said. “Sometimes they might seem small, like someone wants to go to college and needs help to take the entrance exam. Often times what seems small to us is life changing for them.”
Like Primm, many social workers across the country are working with or on behalf of people with disabilities. And whether it involves a direct clinician-patient relationship or digging into statistics and doing research to promote wider policy changes, these social workers are passionate about what they do.

From the January 2017 NASW News. Read the full story here.