How to Have an Effective Disability Advisory Committee
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR STARTING AND MAINTAINING A DISABILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require employers to assure that persons with disabilities are given equal employment opportunities and are treated fairly as employees. These laws provide strong anti-discrimination protection and require employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities in order that they may perform their jobs successfully. They also provide substantial monetary penalties for employers which violate their provisions.
In addition, California Government Code Section 19230 through 19237 require all State agencies to develop and implement an equal employment opportunity/ affirmative action program aimed at assuring that persons with disabilities have access to positions in State government on an equal and competitive basis with the general population. As part of this effort, all State agencies are required to establish a disability advisory committee. Specifically, Government Code Section 19795(b) states.
Each state agency shall establish a committee of employees who are individuals with a disability to advise the head of the agency on matters relating to the formulation and implementation of the plan to overcome and correct any under representation determined pursuant to Section 19234.
This guide provides suggestions regarding the role and responsibilities of the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC); methods for establishing, organizing and maintaining a committee; and samples of issues successfully dealt with by existing committees. Although each departments DAC will not operate exactly alike, this general guide provides information designed to help all departments.
The DAC can be an integral part of each department's equal employment opportunity (EEO)/affirmative action (AA) program. Each departmental director is responsible for establishing an EEO/AA program which includes a DAC. The role of each department's DAC is to advise and assist the department head in a variety of ways as exemplified by the following:
Serve as technical advisers to the department head and EEO/AA officer on the development, implementation and maintenance of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action programs and activities for persons/ employees with disabilities.
Initiate, design, coordinate and implement projects that will improve the personnel practices and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in order to facilitate their representation at all levels within the department.
Establish liaison with groups and organizations that are concerned with achieving representation and utilization of persons with disabilities in the department's work force.
Monitor issues concerning the DAC to guarantee that necessary actions occur within reasonable time frames.
Assist and advise staff on issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Government Code Section 19795(b) requires that each State agency establish a committee of employees with disabilities. Experience has shown that it is not always possible to find/enlist an adequate number of employees with disabilities to serve on a committee. In such situations, individuals without disabilities who are sensitive to, interested in, and knowledgeable of issues relating to employees with disabilities can be appointed to a DAC.
Attempts should be made to include committee members who represent a broad cross section of disabilities, including nonobservable or hidden conditions such as emotional or mental impairments, heart or circulatory disorders, and respiratory impairments. Departments may also wish to consider geographical and/or division program representation within the department.
Directors play a crucial role in the initial formation of their department's DAC. A memorandum issued by the director announcing the establishment of a DAC, accompanied by a request for departmental volunteers has proved to be a successful approach for giving committees that all important foundation.
Once a DAC has become established, the committee may wish to formalize ongoing selection procedures. Some departments ask each division to appoint a representative to sit on the committee. In turn, division level administrators ask for volunteers or assign staff from within their division. In some departments the director issues a memo to solicit volunteers interested in serving on the department's DAC (the self- identified volunteers are also asked to submit an application and a letter describing their interest in serving on the department's DAC); the DAC reviews the applications and the accompanying letters of interest and then the DAC makes a recommendation to the director; the director then notifies the selected applicant of their appointment to the DAC.
Resources can be an issue in order for committees to succeed. Therefore, each department may wish to consider the costs potentially incurred by the DAC, such as the following:
Staff hours: As discussed, in order to participate, DACs may be authorized time for committee meetings and related assignments/ activities.
Travel expenses: Departments with extensive field operations might consider and plan for the added cost of travel for out- stationed committee members who commute to and from meetings.
Support services: DAC participants may need support service assistance, such as interpreters, note-takers, and readers. With adequate support services, the committee time of employees with disabilities can be more efficiently utilized, which easily justifies any added expense. The ADA states that such reasonable accommodation be provided.
Preparing and distributing information: There can be expenses for printing and mailing memos, newsletters, and correspondence which can be set aside for the DAC.
Training expenses: DACs frequently participate in or provide training on various issues related to employees with disabilities (e.g., sensitivity and awareness training, disability awareness days, etc.). Funds can be included in each department's budget to cover such expenses.
It is important that your DAC operate efficiently to help ensure effectiveness. It is helpful to:
Establish regular meeting dates and times that are published well in advance (e.g., second Wednesday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.).
Hold meetings in the same locations whenever possible. Meeting places must be accessible to all participating persons with disabilities.
Prepare and distribute DAC formal meeting agendas (prepared by the DAC chairperson) prior to planned DAC meetings.
Monitor attendance at DAC meetings. Supervisors should be advised in advance of dates/times of meetings in order that employees may be allowed to attend. Regular attendance is important and appropriate action should be considered when committee members fail to attend on a regular basis.
Keep minutes of committee meetings and distribute to committee members on a regular basis.
Meet with the director on a periodic basis. While it is not necessary for the director to attend all meetings, the committee should meet with the department head on a regular basis (e.g., quarterly) so that issues that require the director's involvement can be discussed.
Each DAC may wish to formally establish a set of operating ground rules (bylaws). Those rules could include:
A statement of the committee's purpose.
A statement of the committee's responsibilities.
Procedures for selecting employees for committee membership.
Statements of committee members' responsibilities.
Procedures for selecting the DAC chairperson.
The DAC chairperson's term of office.
The DAC chairperson's responsibilities.
The size of the committee.
The length of term for committee membership.
Rules of order necessary for conducting meetings.
Other considerations mentioned above such as regular meeting time and place, records of committee proceedings, etc.
It is important that DACs avoid working at cross purposes with the remainder of the EEO/AA program. To remain aware of other EEO/AA activities within the department, the DAC should periodically invite the EEO/AA officer to attend DAC meetings. DAC members could also attend other EEO/AA advisory committee meetings periodically.
Committees have worked to identify, collect and analyze data necessary to implement their department's EEO/AA program for persons with disabilities. Specific emphasis has been placed on employment practices such as selection, training, job announcements, promotions, retention, and termination. These committees have made special efforts to assure that all relevant information is distributed to employees with disabilities.
Committees have provided assistance to help alleviate situations where there is under representation of persons with disabilities in specific classifications. They have helped develop recruitment plans and participated in job fairs and on examination and hiring interview panels. Committees have also worked to assure that departments explore all reasonable accommodation options to continue the employment of injured or ill employees who are qualified and able to perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodation.
Some committees have actively worked to provide employees with disabilities in their departments with information about the EEO/AA and ADA laws, rules and policies relevant to them as State employees. Further, committees have been able to identify specific concerns and needs of employees with disabilities and have frequently been directly responsible for resolving these often sensitive, complex issues.
Existing DACs have sponsored disability awareness days in their departments and have developed displays and activities to publicize October as "National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month". In addition, they have sponsored or conducted disability sensitivity and awareness training programs to better inform management and other employees about people with disabilities.
CalHR's Civil Rights Programs Team has a staff person designated as the Statewide Disability Advisory Council Coordinator, who can be reached at:
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board is give the authority to establish "minimum guidelines and requirements" for federal accessibility standards. These guidelines will be the basis for accessibility standards under Title Ill, ADA's public accommodations provisions.
The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act is passed. It requires political subdivisions responsible for conducting elections to ensure that all polling places are accessible to the elderly and disabled.
The fact that air carriers operate at federally funded airports to make use of federally provided air traffic control systems does not subject them to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act the U.S. Supreme Court rules. (U.S. Dept of Transportation v. Paralyzed Veterans of America, 477 US 597) Congress reverses this ruling by enacting the Air Carrier Access Act which amends the Federal Aviation Act to prohibit bias against individuals with disabilities by all air carriers.
Housing providers are required to make "reasonable accommodation" rules, policies, practices, or services when necessary to give people with disabilities an equal opportunities to use and enjoy housing under the Fair Housing Amendments Act which is signed into law September 13 to become effective six months later. One aspect of the law imposes accessibility standards on the design and future Construction of covered multifamily dwellings designed and constructed for occupancy after Match 13, 1991.
Identical ADA bills are introduced in the House and Senate but die in committee before passage.
ADA is signed into law by President Bush on July 26, just 15 months after first being given serious consideration in Congress. It is hailed as the most sweeping civil rights measure since the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The first regulations implementing ADA are issued by the various federal enforcement agencies.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services issues a list of infectious and communicable diseases that can be transmitted by handling food. ADA provides that employers may transfer individuals infected with such diseases from food handling jobs if the danger to public health and safety cannot be eliminated by some other reasonable accommodation. AIDS is not included in the Secretary's list.
Tide III of ADA (concerning place of public accommodation) and those parts of Title 11 (covering public services and programs) that could not go into effect immediately become effective January 26. The employment provisions of the law, Title 1, become effective on July 26 for employers of 25 or more workers.
The relay services for telecommunications required by Title IV of ADA must be made available by July 26.
ADA's employment provisions cover employers of 15 or more worker on July 26.
Alarms, Safety, and Emergency
Auxiliary Aids, equipment types
Legal Mandates, Policies;
Methods to practice non-discriminatory service Provision.
Legal Mandates, Policies, Affirmative
Action methods; non-discriminatory
in State employment; methods
applicable to reasonable accommodation.
Certification lists for Support Services
Assistants (General and Interpreter)
Directory listing procedures for State TDD numbers
TDD Relay Services, deaf
Methods of non-discrimination in
DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES:
Office of Space Management
Office of the State Architect
Office of Procurement
Office of procurement
Office of Telecommunications
DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:
Civil Law Section
DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING COMPLIANCE BOARD
California Department of Human Resources:
Affirmative Action for the Disabled Unit
DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES
State Administrative Manual
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES:
Office of Deaf Access
DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION:
Services for Deaf Persons
Local Providers of Services
for Persons with Disabilities
DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES
DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES
DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL ADNUNISTRATION
STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
Office of Special Education
Local Providers of Services for
SAMPLEDEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATIONDISABILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEEAugust 17, 1994Minutes
3. Review of current goals and tasks
10. MISCELLANEOUS DEFIMTIONS/SUBJECTS
DEBATE: Parliamentary jargon for discussion that takes place at meeting. Technically, the debate is not in order unless there is a motion on the floor. A member who seeks to be recognized to speak shall be officially recognized by the Chair and shall "have the floor" in order to express his opinion or ask questions. If another member wishes to ask the speaker a question, formality of gaining recognition from the chair is not required but each member shall give all speakers the opportunity to speak without constant interruption or several groups discussing different subjects simultaneously. All debate will focus on the motion being discussed. Members should take care in recognizing whether they are interrupting the speaker who has the floor in order to ask a question or to be heard on their own opinion. If they want to voice their own opinion in length, they should wait for the speaker to complete his oration, then seek recognition from the Chair to secure the floor.
COMMITTEES, COUNCILS AND BOARDS: There may be several types of groups formed within the parent group in order to research subjects, work with other agencies, etc. In keeping with an informal atmosphere and the fact that the parent committee is small, "committee" work many times will be assigned to an individual member of the group (or two, etc.). Since the parent group is small, if there is a subject expansive enough, it would usually involve the meeting of the entire group.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: A meeting from which all nonmembers are excluded. Motion is made and passed that "we go into executive session for the remainder of the meeting" or "that we go into executive session for the consideration of this matter." This option may want to be utilized when members seek a member-only audience in which to voice their concerns. This option is in alignment with the intent of parliamentary procedure (fairness to all, an opportunity to all to be heard).
MOTION AMENDMENTS: There are several methods of amending a motion (deletion, insertion, substitution, wording, voting, motions that can or cannot-be amended, how to amend an amendment until "we get it right", illegitimate amendments, etc.). For simplicity's sake, the committee should feel free to offer amendments of motions (subjects of discussion). If such amendments seem to confuse the subject being addressed, the "old" subject may be dismissed in its entirety and-a "new" subject adopted for discussion/consideration.
MOTION TO RECONSIDER MOTIONS: There are usually two reasons to reconsider previous action:
Belief that the action was hasty or impulsive. This calls for a motion to reconsider now.
Belief that the group at this meeting is unrepresentative with a conviction that if a larger (or more representative) group were present this action would never be taken. The hope is that the subject would be reconsidered at the next meeting. This calls for a motion to reconsider later.
The standard parliamentary law provides for motions to reconsider to be debatable motions, meaning the very motion to reconsider can be debated. Since the parent group is small and the premise of parliamentary law promises all in the group to be heard, it is acceptable for a member to motion that a motion be reconsidered without reprisals. This motion does need to be seconded by another (voting) member and will be voted upon by the quorum present at the appropriate meeting.
MOTION WORDING: Should be worded in the affirmative to avoid confusion.
MOTION WITHDRAWAL: A motion may be withdrawn by the person who made the motion before it is seconded or before the Chair states that it has been seconded.
NON-DEBATABLE MOTIONS: There are several types of motions that are technically "undebatable" (to adjourn, to recess, to close debate, to go into executive session, etc.). For the purpose of simplicity and informality, it is the DAC's intention not to place this formality upon the group).
POINT OF ORDER: This is an exceptional point or request that may be made by any member at any time during a meeting. It usually involves subjects that are not related to the subject being currently discussed, such as a request to open or close a window if it is too hot or cold in the meeting room, a request for the speak to speak louder, etc.
RIGHTS AS A MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE
All members of the parent committee have a right to an explanation of the meaning of a motion and to understand everything that is being discussed in the meeting. At any time, the member should feel free to question the speaker or group in general in order to gain such understanding.
All members have a right to talk and to stop someone else from excessive talking.
All members have the right to exclude "outsiders" during debate if they do not feel free to discuss a matter. This is accomplished through the "executive session".
All members shall have the right to change a vote.
"Basic Principles of Parliamentary Law and Protocol" Marguerite Grumme 1965
"Handbook of Parliamentary Procedure" Henry A. Davidson M.D. 1968
"The Majority Rules" H.W. Furwell 1988
"Robert's Rules of Order" Major Henry M. Robert 1989
Compiled by Victoria Kerin
Chair, Disabled Advisory Commitee
State Board of Control
April 20, 1995