Being born with or acquiring a disability is one of the main ways that white, middle-and upper-middle class US citizens in states with reasonable public services come to experience discrimination, systematic disadvantage, and sometimes threats to survival itself, in education, law enforcement, employment and other areas.
For people who in addition to having disabilities or having family members with disabilities face other barriers to full participation as well—based on race, ethnicity, class and geographic location–disability-related discrimination and hardship intersect with other sources of disadvantage. 
For instance, to take the special education as an example:
• African-American and Latino students have been particularly targeted in the “school-to-prison” pipeline that sends so many special education students into juvenile and adult incarceration. 
• African-American students have faced under-identification of readily remediable specific learning disabilities along with false attributions of “emotional disturbance” and “mild intellectual disability,” particularly when they are in majority-white districts. 
• Latino students are often not identified, or are belatedly recognized as learning disabled or speech and language impaired because their learning problems are presumed to be the result of being “English language learners.”
• Profiles that result in autism diagnoses and intensive services for well-insured, medically well-served children often result in labels of intellectual disability (formerly “mental retardation”) and segregated, “day care” classrooms, for students that lack those advantages.  
• Students and parents in much of the country lack counsel: Some cases of extreme deprivation of educational rights in states like Oklahoma and Alabama that would be a student/parent special education lawyer’s contingency fee dream if they were to surface in California and Illinois fail to attract counsel, because “conservative” states offer limited opportunities for enforcing rights. 
• The special education system is currently arranged so that parents who can “front” money for private services and seek reimbursement are at a great advantage compared to students who need for school districts to do their jobs, and for hearing officers to order needed services, from private providers if need be, when they fail to do so. 
School districts have an easy answer to this service gap: keep any students from enforcing their rights.   Ignore Congress’s repeated attempts in 1997 and 2004 to improve special education outcomes.  Cap attorneys’ fees to destroy the “cottage industry” of representing students with disabilities and their parents.  Push cases into mandatory “alternative dispute resolution” in which unrepresented parents deal on their own with sophisticated administrators.   
Disability advocates have a different answer: protect access to rights protection, which allow students with good cases, but parents who cannot afford legal fees, to pursue their claims.  Extend those rights.  Have courts recognize and enforce Congress’s efforts to make sure that expenditures on special education pay off, for students, parents and society in general, by requiring effective services.  Adequately fund the Protection & Advocacy system so that it can take more individual cases and address systemic problems.  Amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that prevailing parents or lawyers who take the risk of “fronting” expert fees can be paid for the expert fees that it takes to win cases.