What are the duties of the City of Austin’s Committee for People with Disabilities?
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
The Americans with Disabilities Act not only guarantees that individuals with disabilities shall have equal opportunities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, and state and local government services, the Act directs all public entities that employ 50 or more employees to appoint at least one individual to oversee compliance with the ADA.
In Austin, that responsibility is held by the Austin Americans with Disabilities Program Office which ensures that all City of Austin programs and services are accessible to people with disabilities.
Staffed by three people that includes a program manager and assistant manager, this office also handles complaints concerning a city facility, service or program. In 1987, the City of Austin went a step further and established the Mayor’s Committee for Disabled Persons to advise the Mayor and City Council regarding problems facing people with disabilities in the Austin area.
According to the City of Austin Code.
“It is the policy of the City to bring about through fair, orderly and lawful procedures, that no qualified person with disabilities shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity operated or contracted for by the City.”
The stated purpose of the Mayor’s Committee for Disabled Persons is “to encourage, assist and enable persons with disabilities to participate in the social and economic life of the City, achieve maximum personal independence, become gainfully employed, and use and enjoy fully all public and private facilities available within the community.”
The Committee is composed of eleven board members who are appointed by the City Council for a term of four years and led by a Chair and a Vice-Chair.
Among the Committee’s responsibilities and duties are:
- Advising the City Council and City Manager regarding problems affecting people with disabilities in the Austin area;
- Advising the City’s Human Resource Department on compliance and enforcement of Chapters 5 and 6 of the City Code (Discrimination Against a Person with a Disability);
- Recommending measures to improve the ability of city departments and contractors to provide services and employment opportunities to people with disabilities;
- Evaluating the City’s efforts to implement Chapters 5-6 on an annual basis;
- Sponsoring programs, forums, and meetings to educate the community regarding issues faced by people with disabilities and promote equal treatment and opportunities for people with disabilities; and
- Assisting the City Human Resources Department in training City employees about the needs and concerns of people with disabilities.
The Mayors Committee for People with Disabilities has three active subcommittees:
- The Access and Public Policy Committee addresses barrier and accessibility issues for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
- Disabled Parking Enforcement Program, the Parks and Recreation Department’s ADA Transition Planning Committee, and the Public Works Sidewalk Program.
- The Employment and Education Committee promotes employment of people with disabilities, makes policy recommendations, and develops employment and education initiatives in partnership with schools and employers.
The subcommittee also promotes ADA compliance and provides information and policy recommendations for City of Austin services, facilities, and public and private events. Members advocate for disabled citizens and visitors by participating on a variety of city task forces including working with Travis County Constable Precinct 5
If you have been denied disability benefits don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Additionally, this subcommittee monitors access to safe and affordable transportation for people with disabilities and works with Austin’s Homeland Security Emergency Management Department to make sure that any plans include assistance to people with disabilities.
Among the activities the Employment and Education Committee participates in are Disability Mentoring Day, an event dedicated to mentoring young job-seekers with disabilities, and the Business of Work Job Readiness Seminar, a course created to assist people with disabilities improve their job-seeking skills.
The Awards and Outreach Committee plans and conducts the Mayor’s Awards Program to honor individuals, businesses and agencies for their support of Austin citizens with disabilities.
Among the awards given are the Access Award which recognizes businesses for their accessibility and the Employment Award Program which recognizes employers that hire and retain workers with disabilities. The subcommittee also sponsors outreach events to raise awareness of people with disabilities as assets to employers and the community.
Through this wide variety of initiatives, the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities is a valuable resource for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The Committee’s efforts improve and enhance the lives of the disabled and provide support in achieving an independent lifestyle
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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