State Independent Living Council Discussion Archive

NATSILC: Tokenism In Independent Living

Posted by: Lou Diehl
Date Mailed: Tuesday, May 6th 2003 11:00 AM

From: ForCompliance@aol.com
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 01:53:37 EST
Subject: TOKENISM IN INDEPENDENT LIVING

UNFORTUNATELY, TOKENISM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN INDEPENDENT LIVING

More infromation provided to promote thought and dialogue: 

Inconsistencies in the way in which RSA administers and enforces Title VII
of the Rehabilitation Act can be found most often in actions taken by (or
not taken by) the Regional offices. 

For example, Title VII, Section 705 (b)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act says: 

"(2) COMPOSITION- The Council shall include--
       
(A) at least one director of a center for independent living chosen by the
directors of centers for independent living within the State;" 

Note that the law does not say should, or could. It says SHALL.  Though
many states have often submitted plans which openly acknowledge that they
do not meet this requirement, their plan sailed through without comment. 
                   
"(B) as ex officio, nonvoting members-

(i) a representative from the designated State unit; and
 
(ii) representatives from other State agencies that provide services for
individuals with disabilities." 

Again, it does not say should.  It says SHALL.  And many states have often
submitted plans which openly acknowledge that they do not meet one or both
of the above requirements.  Yet their plan sailed through without comment. 

Specifically, we're talking about Section 4 of the SPIL, in which the DSU
and SILC must answer 10 questions with respect to the Composition of the
SILC. 

Number 6 asks: Is a CIL Director chosen by CIL directors within the state
appointed to the SILC?  Sometimes the answer is no, but RSA lets it ride. 

Number 7 asks: Does the SILC include representatives from other State
agencies that provide services for individuals with disabilities. 
Sometimes the answer is no, but RSA lets it ride. 

But at least one time, that didn't happen.  In a letter dated January 10,
2002, the Regional Commissioner for Texas wrote to the Commissioner for
the Texas Rehabilitation Commission to say: 

"in a letter to you dated September 28, 2001, we notified you that . . .
we found the SPIL material to be substantially consistent with the
requirements of the Act and RSA-PD-01-o5.  However, under section 4.1.7,
Composition of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), the State
had noted that the SILC did not include representation from other State
Agencies that provide services for handicapped individuals as required by
Section 705(b) of the Act and its implementing regulations at 34 CFR
364.21(b)." 

(Note:  this was a typo - the actual regs are 34 CFR 346.21(b), as
follows: 

    (2) Composition. 
(i) The SILC must include--
    (A) At least one director of a center chosen by the directors of 
centers within the State; and
    (B) As ex officio, nonvoting members, a representative from the DSU 
and representatives from other State agencies that provide services to 
individuals with disabilities.

Back to that letter from a RSA Regional Commissioner.

"Further, we stated that the SPIL could not receive final approval without
submitting the required documentation to bring the plan into full
compliance with the requirements of Chapter 1 of Title VII of the Act. 
The state had 45 days from the date of that letter to submit documentation
sufficient for final approval of the State Plan.  In a letter dated
December 28, 2001, the State requested final approval of the State plan,
and provided our office with documentation of the Governor having
appointed a representative to the SILC from the Texas Commission for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing." 

Now here's where it gets really interesting. 

"This action is sufficient to correct the deficiency noted in our letter
of September 28, 2001.  Therefore, I am approving the SPIL as amended." 

So the law requires that there be ex-officio representatives from other
state agencies that provide services to individuals with disabilities. 
Sometimes RSA notices when that doesn't happen, sometimes they don't.  But
when they do, all you have to do is go find one, appoint him and move on? 

Sounds like old-fashioned tokenism, not real compliance with the letter
and intent of the law. 

And as to those other requirements - the ones about having an ex-officio
representative from the DSU?  Sometimes plans openly acknowledge that's
not happening either, but it slides right on through.  Same with having a
CIL Director selected by his or her peers serving as liaison to the
council.  Sometimes the plans says nope, we aren't doing that, and RSA
doesn't say a word. 

But in any case, whatever the plan says or doesn't say, the real question
is:  by what means is RSA assured that the information is correct?  This
is particularly relevant when it comes to Question number 8 under Section
4.1 in the SPIL"  Does the council have a voting membership that is
knowledgeable about CILS and IL services?  By what means does RSA ensure
that there is a mechanism in place to ensure that this has been determined
prior to their appointment, or ever for that matter?  What about those
states where we know full well that the council is chosen for their
political affiliation and/or willingness to do what they are told, no
questions asked? 





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