HD33 - Annual Report of the Disability Commission (2001)

Executive Summary:
Virginia's Disability Commission was formed eleven years ago under House Joint Resolution 45 (Appendix A). The Commission has allowed the opportunity for thorough research and analysis of some of the most complex issues of the day facing people with disabilities. It has been instrumental in the development of a coordinated, community-based, and consumer-driven system of services for individuals with physical and sensory disabilities in the Commonwealth. Over the last few years, the Commission has focused additional attention on other developmental disabilities such as autism and brain injuries and has facilitated the growth of services for individuals with those diagnoses. During its history, the Commission has developed and strengthened many critical programs for people with disabilities, including local Disability Services Boards, Centers for Independent Living, Personal Assistance Services, the Assistive Technology Loan Fund, and the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver. Since 1990, thousands of Virginians with disabilities have benefited from legislation and funding initiatives that have been initiated and endorsed by the Disability Commission.

The 1992 Report of the Commission established a ten-year plan of action, which formed a system of programs and services within an infrastructure designed to be consumer-focused and community-based. The General Assembly in 1994 passed House Joint Resolution 274, which authorized the Commission to continue its work in developing and reviewing recommendations for service program changes and funding until the 2000 Session. HJR 274 also designated the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities as the agency to provide consultative support to the Commission. In 1998, the General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 170, which required that a detailed evaluation occur and that recommendations based on the evaluation be made during the 2000 Session of the General Assembly. SJR 170 also required a review of the need to continue the Disability Con1mission and, if so, what its future agenda would be.

Given the positive impact documented in the findings of the SJR-170 report, the 2000 General Assembly passed the House Joint Resolution 34 (Appendix B) that continued the Commission for an additional four (4) year period and expanded it to include 12 legislators, and six (6) business/consumer representatives. HJR 34 also required that a legislator serve as Vice-Chairman. In partnership with consumers, advocates, and professionals alike, the Commission seeks to provide leadership and quality review in advancing services and supports benefiting persons with disabilities.

Last year the Commission made a strategic decision to continue the building of on-going community-based services initiatives but also to focus on actionable items in three priority areas: Transportation, Employment, and Housing. This year the Commission was determined to first review the unmet needs and quality of Commission service initiatives and second to bring forward at least one major advance in each of these three life areas for Virginians with disabilities.