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Action Alert! Illinois Legislative Accessibility Act

 

March 10, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Improve Access at Public Hearings of the Illinois Legislature

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today, we’d like to bring your attention to the new Illinois Legislative Accessibility Act, (SB 3112/HB 5115). The Legislative Accessibility Act aims to streamline disability access to the proceedings of the Illinois General Assembly and establish a process for phasing in proposed accessibility improvements.

As some of you will recall, last year there was an effort to pass a bill that would improve access for people with disabilities who want to attend public proceedings of the Illinois legislature and events in the Illinois Capitol. This was also PRIOR to the Illinois legislature finally passing a bill for capital funds after a gap of ten years. (Capital funds were important because without capital funding, no physical repairs or building rehabilitation could be done.)

After our original bill generated passionate discussion from disability advocates and legislators, we decided to review the bill. This new bill, the Illinois Legislative Accessibility Act, incorporates input from agency stakeholders and community input. It would do three key things:

  1. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate would each appoint an accessibility coordinator who, in consultation with the Architect of the Capitol, would be responsible for addressing accessibility needs for their corresponding house.
  2. The Illinois General Assembly website (www.ilga.gov) would include either an email address, web form, or other similar mechanism to request reasonable accommodations to meet the accessibility needs of people with disabilities attending legislative events, such as hearings.
  3. The bill would establish the Illinois General Assembly Accessibility Task Force. Members would serve on a voluntary basis. The Task Force would be required to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning General Assembly accessibility no later than December 31, 2020. The Task Force would be responsible for hearing community input and developing a plan to phase in accessibility.

We need your help!

Please use this quick email link to tell your state legislators about the Legislative Accessibility Act, and why it is important for all Illinoisans with disabilities. Disability voters across the state and Illinois legislators with disabilities deserve real access to our state’s democratic process.

Supporting organizations currently include: Access Living, AIM CIL, Arc of Illinois, Disability Resource Center-Joliet, Don Moss & Associates, Gift of Voice, Illinois-Iowa CIL, Illinois Self Advocacy Alliance, Inc., Illinois Valley CIL, LIFE CIL, Progress Center, RAMP CIL, Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) of Illinois. For questions or to add your organization to the list of supporters, please contact Amber Smock at Access Living.

Please share with advocates and friends in Illinois.