In a Dear Colleague letter on March 17, Dr. Corinna Stiles* addressed some of the questions from the network regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As we reduce our group meetings and look to other communication, the SPIL development comes to mind. One of Dr. Stiles’ high-level questions that SILCs have been asking about is this:
Q: What about preparing the SPIL, especially public hearings? A: OILP will providing additional guidance. Please note that current Federal law and regulation does not require that “public hearings” be groups of people meeting in public. We encourage SILCs to begin thinking of alternative ways to reach and garner input used in formulating their SPIL.
I have been listening to the SILCs, and some of the creative ideas for input include electronic surveys with a link to follow, or group meetings by computer/phone such as Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom. One SILC is asking that consumers call and leave voice comments on a phone line and staff are transcribing these for the SILC to review. Many SILCs are posting their draft SPIL on their website and requesting comments.
The point is that face to face meetings are not required in the federal law or regulations, so you have some flexibility in how you get input. And if we are honest with each other, SILCs have not always received the input they need with our current public hearings.
Current COVID-19 information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov. I also encourage you to review current resources and guidance found at www.ACL.gov/COVID-19. This page is intended to make it easier for the aging and disability networks to find the information they need most. In most cases, you will find links to the definitive source for information, in order to ensure that our networks are accessing the most up-to-the-minute information.
*Corinna H. Stiles, PhD, JD, Director | Office of Independent Living Programs/Administration for Community Living /U.S. Department of Health and Human Services