Because the Statewide Independent Living Council is crafted out of the Rehabilitation Act’s Purpose, let’s look at those words:

45 CFR 1329.2 Purpose. The purpose of title VII of the Act is to promote a philosophy of independent living (IL), including a philosophy of consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and system advocacy, in order to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities, and to promote the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society…

One of the elements of consumer control is found in the makeup of the SILC itself, which must have more than 50% people with disabilities who don’t work for either the State or a Center. That is the majority which approves the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) on behalf of the SILC, as well as the SILC’s policies, procedures, staff and operations.

But no council can represent all of the people in the state who have disabilities. The SILC must allow for public comment at its meetings, hold open meetings accessible to people across the state, and invite feedback into the development of the SPIL from a broad range of consumers throughout the state.

In last week’s post we looked at the policies and procedures that are required in the new SILC Indicators, and a lot of them —  items c. through g. specifically — apply to the public nature of the SILC. This is an area where you have both state and federal requirements to consider as you develop your policies.  You will want to refer to your state’s Sunshine Act or Open Meetings laws and regulations. Often there is someone in the governor’s office that would be willing to train your board on this, or review your proposed policies, or both.That portion is very specific to the state and these vary widely from state to state.

The federal expectations are included in the Indicators*. Additional federal requirements are outlined in item 4. of the indicators. These are requirements from the federal level that may require more than your state does, so be sure to consider both. Here is what you need to do:

4. The SILC receives public input into the development of the State Plan for Independent Living in accordance with 45 CFR 1329.17(f) ensuring:

  • Adequate documentation of the State Plan development process, including but not limited to, a written process setting forth how input will be gathered from the state’s centers for independent living and individuals with disabilities throughout the state, and the process for how the information collected is considered.
  • All meetings regarding State Plan development and review are open to the public and provides advance notice of such meetings in accordance with existing State and federal laws and 45 CFR 1329.17(f)(2)(i)-(ii);
  • Meetings seeking public input regarding the State Plan provides advance notice of such meetings in accordance with existing State and federal laws, and 45 CFR 1329.17(f)(2)(i);
  • Public meeting locations, where public input is being taken, are accessible to all people with disabilities, including, but not limited to:
    • proximity to public transportation,
    • physical accessibility, and
    • effective communication and accommodations that include auxiliary aids and services, necessary to make the meeting accessible to all people with disabilities.
    • Materials available electronically must be 508 compliant and, upon request, available in alternative and accessible format including other commonly spoken languages

*Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) indicators of minimum compliance, required by WIOA, and assurances — applicable to both the SILCs and the Designated State Entities (DSEs) — were sent from the Independent Living Administration to SILCs and DSEs in late September, 2017.  ILA will be consulting with the network to develop a plan on setting effective dates for both the indicators and assurances.  You can download the full text at http://www.ilru.org/federal-guidance-il-program, and click on “SILC Indicators and Assurances for the Designated State Entities” to open the document.

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What do the new indicators say about open meetings for SILC?

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