|Mass Register:||No. 1471|
|Revoking and Superseding:||Executive Order No. 374|
Table of Contents
WHEREAS, the provision of comprehensive and state-of-the-art vocational services can support individuals who are blind in pursuing meaningful careers and gainful employment commensurate with their abilities and capacities;
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth provides comprehensive vocational rehabilitation services to individuals who are blind through the joint State-Federal programs authorized by the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as codified at 29 U.S.C. § 720 et seq. (the “Rehabilitation Act”);
WHEREAS, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind supports individuals in Massachusetts who are legally blind by providing access to employment opportunities and social rehabilitation with the goal of increasing independence and self-determination and as such is the State agency designated to provide services established pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act to persons who are blind;
WHEREAS, individuals who are blind and their advocates should play a regular and meaningful role in policy development and implementation for programs conducted pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act;
WHEREAS, Executive Order 374, issued in 1994, established the Rehabilitation Advisory Council (the “Council”) to provide a forum for stakeholders to advise, assess, and assist the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind in its provision of vocational rehabilitation services to individuals who are blind;
WHEREAS, the provisions of Executive Order 374 require amendment to modernize the Council and to assure consistency with current Federal regulations;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, do hereby revoke and rescind Executive Order No. 374 and order as follows:
Section 1. Reestablishing the Council
A Rehabilitation Advisory Council (“Council”) for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is hereby reestablished on the updated terms specified below to participate in advising the Commission regarding its responsibilities for administering vocational rehabilitation services for persons who are blind, in compliance with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act.
Section 2. Composition of the Council
(A) The Council shall consist of at least 15 members, including voting members and ex officio members, as specified in section 2(B) below. A quorum of the Council shall be a majority of the voting and ex officio members then serving on the Council. Each voting member of the Council shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and for a term of not more than three years, and no member of the Council may serve more than two consecutive full terms; provided, however, that members may continue in their positions until such time as they are re-appointed or until a successor member is appointed.
Members shall, to the degree feasible, be appointed to serve staggered, renewable terms such that each year approximately one third of the members’ terms expire. Members serving at the time of the execution of this Executive Order No. ___ shall be eligible to serve the remainder of their current terms of appointment, but the current term and any prior term of service shall be counted towards the term limits set forth in section 2(A). A member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of a predecessor’s term shall be appointed for the remainder of such term.
(B) The Governor shall make appointments to the Council after considering recommendations from organizations representing a broad range of individuals who are blind and organizations otherwise interested in and supportive of individuals who are blind. In making selections for membership on the Council, the Governor shall consider, to the greatest extent practicable, the extent to which persons of color and other underrepresented populations are represented on the Council. The Council shall also include members reflecting geographic diversity within Commonwealth. A majority of the Council members shall be individuals who are blind and who are not employed by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.
The Council members shall include:
(1) at least one representative of the Statewide Independent Living Council established pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 796d, who must be the chairperson or other designee of the Statewide Independent Living Council;
(2) at least one representative of a parent training and information center established pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1471;
(3) at least one representative of the Client Assistance Program established under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 732, who must be the director of the program or another individual recommended by the Client Assistance Program;
(4) at least one vocational rehabilitation counselor who has knowledge of and experience with vocational rehabilitation programs, who shall serve as an ex officio, nonvoting member of the council if the counselor is employed by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind;
(5) at least one representative of community rehabilitation service providers;
(6) four representatives of business, labor, and industry;
(7) at least one representative of a disability advocacy group representing individuals who are blind;
(8) at least one representative of an individual who is blind and has multiple disabilities and who has difficulty representing themselves or who is unable to represent themselves due to disabilities.
(9) at least one current or former applicant for, or recipient of, vocational rehabilitations services;
(10) at least one representative of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or any successor agency;
(11) at least one representative of the State Workforce Development Board established pursuant to G. L. c. 23H, § 7; and
(12) the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, who shall serve as an ex officio, nonvoting member of the Council and who shall not be subject to a term limit.
Section 3. Administrative Matters
(A) The Council shall select a chairperson from among its members, subject to the approval of the Governor.
(B) The Council shall convene at least four (4) meetings a year and conduct such forums or hearings as the Council considers appropriate. All meetings of the Council shall be conducted in conformity with the requirements of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, G. L. c. 30A, §§ 18-25.
(C) No member of the Council shall cast a vote on any matter that would provide direct financial benefit to the member or otherwise give the appearance of a conflict of interest under State law.
(D) The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is directed to provide administrative support to assist the Council in executing its functions. Council members shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for their reasonable and necessary expenses as provided for in the Rehabilitation Act and subject to the annual appropriation and allocation of Federal funds in conjunction with any annual contribution by the Commonwealth.
Section 4. Duties
The Council shall have the following duties and responsibilities:
(A) To advise the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind regarding the performance of its responsibilities for administering a vocational rehabilitation program under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, particularly with respect to its responsibilities relating to eligibility (including order of selection), the extent, scope, and effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation services provided, and the functions performed by State agencies that affect the ability of individuals who are blind to achieve vocational rehabilitation goals and objectives;
(B) To advise the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind concerning the preparation of grant applications, the State plan for vocational rehabilitation services and amendments thereto, and concerning applications, reports, needs assessments and evaluations required by Title I of the Rehabilitation Act;
(C) In partnership with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, to develop, establish consensus on, and review State goals and priorities and evaluate the effectiveness of the vocational rehabilitation program in accordance with 29 U.S.C. 721(a)(15)(C);
(D) To the extent feasible, to conduct a review and analysis of the effectiveness and consumer satisfaction with (i) the functions performed by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; (ii) vocational rehabilitation services and functions performed by State agencies and other private and public entities that serve persons who are blind, and (iii) employment outcomes achieved by eligible individuals receiving vocational rehabilitation services, with consideration of the availability of health and other employment benefits in connection with such employment outcomes;
(E) To prepare and submit to the Governor and the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, no later than December 31 of each year, an annual report on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within Massachusetts and to make the report available to the public;
(F) In order to avoid duplication of efforts and enhance the number of individuals served, to coordinate with other organizations within the Commonwealth that plan or oversee the provision of services for persons who are blind, including the Statewide Independent Living Council established under Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act, the advisory panel established under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(20), the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council established under 42 U.S.C. § 15025, the Massachusetts Mental Health Planning Council established under 42 U.S.C. § 300x–3(a), the State workforce development board established pursuant G. L. c. 23H, § 7, and with entities carrying out programs under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, 29 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.;
(G) To advise the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind concerning coordination and establishment of working relationships between the Commission and the Statewide Independent Living Council and centers for independent living within Massachusetts; and
(H) To perform such other functions, consistent with the purpose of the Rehabilitation Act and that are comparable to the other functions performed by the Council as the Council and the Secretary of the Executive Office of Human Services, or her designee, determine to be appropriate.