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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee Updating Statement of Purpose and Goals

Mark DerryThe purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) / Civil Rights Subcommittee is to educate and inform the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) membership of legislative and judicial developments that impact the rights of people with disabilities, and to develop appropriate and effective steps for the NCIL membership to implement in response.

The Subcommittee also develops and presents testimony regarding federal rulemaking efforts, and works in concert with the NCIL membership regarding changes to federal laws and regulations governing accessibility. The Subcommittee provides information on relevant issues to the NCIL membership through newsletter articles and action alerts. Ad hoc Working Groups, established by and working at the will of the NCIL President within the ADA / CR Subcommittee, focus on issues specifically brought forth by the NCIL membership, and follow Statements of Purpose of their own. 

As we are updating the Statement of Purpose for the NCIL ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee, we are working through our goals for the group, looking at work we have done and work we want to do. Over the years we have been at the heart of advocacy for the rights of all people with disabilities, always beginning with the NCIL membership. NCIL affects policy in Washington as the member Centers are affecting policy on the local or grassroots level. NCIL gets this done through the tireless efforts of the NCIL staff working in Washington, and by the work of individual NCIL Members who make up our various Committees and Subcommittees.

NCIL does not do actual enforcement of civil rights laws, however. NCIL advocates for systems change, comprehensive disability rights laws, and better enforcement by the agencies given authority to enforce the laws. While we have obtained the services of a law firm, and have established a committee to look at possible litigation that would benefit the NCIL membership, this does not mean NCIL has become an enforcement agency – we still have to be able to negotiate policy in good faith in Washington DC without relying on threats of litigation to effect change.

While Centers are required to be accessible under law, NCIL does not monitor the Centers or have any authority to govern or check those Centers for compliance. We work for the membership, we don’t have any oversight over their programs. What we can do is provide information on what the requirements are, share best practices through training, and provide information to consumers on what their options are for filing a complaint or grievance when they feel they have an issue with any Center. But as a membership organization, NCIL must represent its member Centers, too.

Mark Derry, Co-Chair, NCIL ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee

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