She was at the San Francisco sit-in to support Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in April 1977, as a personal assistant to Judy Heumann. In 1979 she cofounded the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) with Mary Lou Breslin and Robert Funk. From 1979 until 2005 she worked as Director of Government Affairs for DREDF. She fought for the enactment of the Handicapped Children's Protection Act of 1986 and amendments to the Fair Housing Act regarding people with disabilities. Wright represented disability concerns in an alliance of civil rights groups that were all working to pass the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987.
Also in the 1980s, when the Reagan administration threatened to amend or revoke regulations implementing Section 504 of the (American) Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, Wright and Evan Kemp, Jr. (of the Disability Rights Center) led a grassroots and lobbying campaign against this that generated more than 40,000 cards and letters. In 1984, the administration dropped its attempts to amend or revoke those regulations; however, they did end the Social Security benefits of hundreds of thousands of disabled recipients.
Wright is widely considered the main force behind the campaign lobbying for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and she is known as "the General" for her work in coordinating the campaign to enact the Act.
In 2000, she was awarded the George Bush Medal for her disability rights work.
- "Beyond Affliction: ADA". npr.org. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
- Lennard J. Davis (14 July 2015). Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights. Beacon Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-8070-7157-1.
- "Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund - Patrisha A. Wright". dredf.org. Archived from the original on 2015-01-22. Retrieved 2015-01-21.
- Fred Pelka (2012). What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 414–. ISBN 1-55849-919-9.
- "Disability History Timeline". Rehabilitation Research & Training Center on Independent Living Management. Temple University. 2002. Archived from the original on 2013-12-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Hudgins, Nancy (2000-03-15). "President Bush Presents Bush Medal To Six ADA Advocates". Texas Medical Center News. 22 (5). Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2016-01-19. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Fred Pelka (2012). What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 516–. ISBN 1-55849-919-9.
|The Making of the ADA - Pat Wright, Ralph Neas and John Wodatch, DREDF, 2000|
- "Home > About > Staff > Wright". DREDF. Archived from the original on 2015-01-22. Retrieved 2015-01-21.
- "When to Hold 'Em and When to Fold 'Em: Lessons Learned From Enacting The Americans With Disabilities Act, by Patrisha Wright, as told to Jane West". DREDF.