The foundation of the commitment to consumer involvement at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) is the belief that people with disabilities have life experiences and expertise that are valuable resources in the development of agency policy and the solution of problems relative to the service objectives of MRC.
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission makes a special effort to form cooperative relationships with individuals with disabilities who are the recipients of services, commonly referred to as "consumers."
MRC reaches out to consumers for their input regarding the policy-making process of many of the agency's programs.
The primary mission of the Consumer Involvement Program is to improve the Commission's services by working cooperatively with members of the disability community on projects of mutual interest. Federal and State rules and regulations require that the state agency for Vocational Rehabilitation take into account the views of those who may be current or former recipients of rehabilitation services, their representatives, providers of services, employers and others active in the field of vocational rehabilitation and independent living.
The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) (appointed by the Governor and mandated by Federal Law, the Workforce Investment Act and Title IV section 105) meets with the Commissioner and members of his staff a minimum of five times a year. Standing committees have been established on high priority issues and are directed by the full Council. Membership includes a mix of consumers, employers, providers and other state agency representatives such as gubernatorial appointees and ex-officio members. The Council, often known by the acronym SRC, is charged with the responsibility of reviewing, analyzing and advising MRC regarding its performance of the responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act, Titles I and 6C.
Three Regional and three Area Advisory Councils meet with vocational rehabilitation staff to discuss and make recommendations with regard to local consumer service needs and access to the community.
The Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC) Registry, a paid program service, provides Commission staff and all MRC councils with consultation in areas of expertise such as:
· Agency policy and regulation development
· Program planning, development or evaluation
· Assistance in studies and surveys
· Assessment of physical accessibility of office/conference space
· Staff and consumer training
· Consumer input in the Request For Response (RFR) process
· Consumer input in vocational rehabilitation state plans for public hearings
Sign Language Interpreters, Personal Care Attendants and travel reimbursement are provided to consumers as support services when needed while performing ICC and/or SRC duties.
A Consumer Conference is held each year for the purpose of sharing information, setting strategy and networking. Representatives from the IL Centers and Boston Self Help, as well as all MRC Advisory Councils, take an active part in planning and developing the agenda for this conference.
Many MRC area office staff assist locally based consumer groups in their efforts to build a more enlightened and accessible community, improving the environment for people with disabilities in general, and specifically, MRC consumers.
The Disability Determination Services Advisory Council at MRC provides valuable citizen input and advocacy to staff charged by the Social Security Administration with determining the eligibility of all individuals with disabilities who apply for Social Security and Medicaid Disability Assistance benefits in Massachusetts.
Many programs within the CL Program hold regularly scheduled Advisory Council meetings, including the Independent Living Program, Statewide Head Injury Program, Protective Services and the HomeCare Assistance Program. These meetings are attended primarily by parents, professionals and individuals with a disability.
The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), mandated by Federal Law, meets to provide input to MRC, the Commission for the Blind and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing relative to independent living services. This Council maintains a membership of at least 51% consumers of IL services.
The Consumer Involvement Program can be reached at (617) 204-3665.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment and public services provided by government agencies. If consumers or employees of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission believe that they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability, they should contact the Diversity Director,
Mary F. Connelly, Esquire
Director of Diversity, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
600 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02111
617-204-3736 or 617-727-1354 (fax)
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.