Consumer control is an important foundational philosophy of Independent Living. Centers are required to have more than 50% board members who are people with significant disabilities, and more than 50% staff, and managers, who have disabilities. SILCs must have more than 50% people with disabilities of the full council and of the voting membership who don’t work for a center or the state.

The only requirement of proof of significant disability within Parts B and C is the individual’s affirmation that they have such a disability. Typically this is on an intake form, and they check the box “I have a significant disability”, or the staff person can mark it in the electronic record.

The same is true for the board members and staff who are counted to determine consumer control for the Centers. No medical proof is requested or required. You ask them, perhaps on a board application or in an interview (which is legal since they are not employees) it they have a significant disability.

I suggest, though, that if you feel you have to talk people in to admitting a disability, you are not honoring the IL philosophy of consumer control. The disability community — those of us who openly acknowledge a disability, whether it is visible or not — should be in charge of centers and SILCs. Consumer control — the word control was very intentional in the Rehabilitation Act and should be intentional in your policies and practices. Consumer control isn’t a number. It is a way of thinking that should be evident in consumer services as well as in the board room.

Disability Determination and Consumer Control

2 thoughts on “Disability Determination and Consumer Control

  • May 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    The Texas SPIL is currently undergoing the process for a one-year amendment. The Texas DSE, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, has the requirement for a consumer’s disability to be documented by medical records from a licensed professional. The other EDs and myself agree this is counter-intuitive to the consumer’s choice of self-determination and disclosure of a disability.
    The question I have is, if the consumer does not disclose their disability, how do you know the proper resources and/or availability of comparable benefits to assist the consumer?
    I know it’s a fine line but any advice is graciously accepted.

    • May 17, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Jay, sometimes the DSE can impose a proof of disability requirement — but not on funds from Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act. Centers that have contracts to provide Title I employment services need to meet the funder’s requirement, but Title VII providers have a different standard.

      If the individual will not disclose a disability, the center cannot provide services other than information and referral. At least that has been the interpretation. The CIL is to determine eligibility. If we use self-disclosure as the proof of disability it follows that the individual must disclose to be counted for other IL services.


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