Commissions on Disability

Contact information and resources for municipal Commissions on Disability

The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) provides information and guidance to help Commissions on Disability (CODs) get started, understand their role and responsibilities, and reach their goals. MOD is the lead technical advisor for local CODs. However, MOD is not an enforcement agency.

This page provides information for:

  • Massachusetts residents and visitors who want to know how and when to contact their local COD,
  • Local disability advocates who want to start a COD in their community, and
  • Current COD members looking for information and resources to help them achieve their goals

Table of Contents

What is a Commission on Disability?

Municipal Commissions on Disability (CODs) advise municipal governments on the disability community’s needs in their city or town. They inform municipal officials about accessibility concerns and best practices for inclusion of people with disabilities in municipal programs, services, and facilities. Specific priorities and actions depend on the needs of the local disability community. CODs are established by town meeting or city council vote.

CODs can support local disability communities by:

  • Advising and assisting local officials with compliance to federal and state disability laws
  • Partnering with people with disabilities to make their voices heard in vital city or town affairs
  • Assisting the city or town with ensuring their ADA Self-Evaluation meets ADA requirements
  • Assisting the city or town with implementation and upkeep of their ADA Transition Plan
  • Sharing accessibility concerns and reminders to developers
  • Reviewing projects that come before the local Planning Board, Town Meeting, City Council, and other municipal groups
  • Coordinating with MOD, advocates, and elected officials to keep informed about applicable disability laws and regulations
  • And more – MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J lists out general ways CODs can support their local disability communities.


CODs consist of five to 13 volunteer members chosen by the Selectboard, Town Manager, Mayor, or City Manager. The membership requirements are:

  • A majority of members must be people with disabilities,
  • One member must be an elected or appointed municipal official, and
  • One member must be an immediate family member to a person with a disability.

Members are initially appointed in staggered one-, two-, and three-year terms.

If you have questions about meeting membership requirements, please contact MOD online or call (617) 727-7440.


CODs are required to:

  • Have at least ten meetings per year,
  • Keep records of their meetings and actions, and
  • File an annual report.

CODs are authorized to receive gifts of property, both real (i.e. land/buildings) and personal (i.e. things/money).

Contact your local Commission on Disability

When to contact a Commission on Disability

CODs advise municipalities on systemic disability-related issues within local government programs. You should contact your local COD to discuss:

  • Systemic disability-related barriers to accessing municipal programs and services,
  • Architectural barriers in municipal buildings, streets, and sidewalks,
  • Suggestions for policies to address disability-related issues in the municipality, and
  • Getting involved with the COD’s work and projects

CODs do not help with specific requests from individuals (such as ASL or CART services for an individual to access a town meeting or program) – contact your municipal ADA Coordinator for those requests instead.

Search for your local Commission on Disability

The table below lists the most recent COD contact information MOD has on file for each municipality. It is listed in alphabetical order by city or town name.

Type your city or town name in the search bar to find your local COD’s contact information. Most cities and towns do not have a COD. If a city or town does not have a COD or we do not have their contact information, their record will state “No information on file”.

For questions or assistance using this table, please contact MOD online or call (617) 727-7440.

If your COD contact has recently changed or the information in this table is incorrect or missing, please update your contact information using our online form.

Start a Commission on Disability

Interested in starting a COD in your city or town? First, search for your local COD to find out if your city or town already has one. You can also contact MOD online or at (617) 727-7440 to invite us to speak to your group or get answers to your questions about establishing and getting started with a COD.

How to start a Commission on Disability: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Identify a sponsor to propose the adoption of MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J. The sponsor may be the Selectboard or the City Council, as determined by your local bylaws.
  2. The Town Meeting or City Council votes to adopt MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J. Typical language adopted may be: “Ordered: That the City/Town of [City or Town Name] accept the provisions of Massachusetts General laws Chapter 40, Section 8J relative to the establishment of the municipal Commission on Disability.”
    1. In cities: If the vote is approved, the measure goes to your mayor for approval.
    2. In towns: If the vote is approved, then your COD is created.
  3. Get members. In cities, members are typically appointed by the Mayor. In towns, the members are typically selected by the Selectboard or Town Manager. MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J provides additional guidance on who appoints members based on government structure. Learn more about COD membership requirements.
  4. Develop goals and bylaws for your COD.

Once you complete these steps, your COD is formally established!

Disability parking fines: Best practices for Commissions on Disability

Formally established CODs can pursue adopting Chapter 40, Section 22G, which allows for accessible parking violation fines ($100-$300) to be returned to the Commission to be used solely for the benefit of people with disabilities.

In cities, this measure can be adopted by City Council. In Towns, this can be enacted at a regularly scheduled Selectboard meeting or a Town Meeting.

Below is a best practice process for CODs to accept, allocate, approve, and expend proceeds from disability parking fines:

  1. Transfer funds from disability parking fines to a separate 22G account designated for allocation and recommendation by the COD. This should be a separate line item within the COD’s budget. Funds within this account will rollover year to year. Once adopted, the city or town is responsible for setting up the account. Your municipal finance department should consult Chapter 40, Section 22G for guidance on how to set up the account.
  2. Once funds begin to accumulate, develop a budget for the COD. Be sure to allocate and expend funds in an authorized manner.
  3. Allocate disability parking fine proceeds in accordance with your COD’s budget priorities.
  4. Expend the disability parking fines following the financial practices of your city or town. Your COD’s treasurer should work with city or town officials to determine best practices for expending funds.

Proper use of Commission on Disability funds

Public funds, such as funds administered by a COD through the Handicapped Parking Program, must be used for a public purpose. Cities and towns that choose to adopt Chapter 40, Section 22G must use these funds “solely for the benefit of persons with disabilities” and in accordance with city or town policies. CODs must also adhere to the Anti-Aid Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution (i.e., funds cannot be used for religious purposes).

Appropriate use of funds may include, for example, special education equipment for local public schools, structural changes to city or town buildings, adaptive equipment for a municipal “library of things”, and more. These funds cannot be used to support private businesses, nonprofit organizations, or individuals. Instead, they should be used to support municipal projects that will benefit people with disabilities. 

Sample goals and bylaws

Sample goals

The Massachusetts Disability Commissions law (MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J) lists six roles a Commission on Disability can fulfill. Commissions should set goals and priorities based on these roles and the needs of the local disability community.

Sample goals include:

  • Research barriers faced by local people with disabilities,
  • Advise and assist municipal officials and employees on compliance with disability-related laws and regulations,
  • Collaborate with the Massachusetts Office on Disability to provide public education and other programming or initiatives around barriers faced by people with disabilities,
  • Review and make recommendations about policies, procedures, services, activities and facilities of departments, boards and agencies of the city or town as they affect people with disabilities, and
  • Collaborate with local disability-related organizations

Sample bylaws

Your COD’s bylaws may include:

  • Official name and purpose of the COD,
  • The COD’s powers and duties,
  • Membership policies,
  • Officer roles (such as chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, and treasurer),
  • Meeting schedule and structure, and
  • Process for amendments to the bylaws

Important laws for Commissions on Disability to know

Massachusetts Disability Commissions (MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J)

The Massachusetts Disability Commissions law (MGL Chapter 40, Section 8J) gives cities and towns in Massachusetts the authority to establish Commissions on Disability and establishes who can be a member and other administrative requirements.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that requires inclusion and integration of persons with disabilities in the programs, services, and employment opportunities of organizations and agencies that receive federal money.

Article of Amendment CXIV of the Massachusetts Constitution

Article of Amendment CXIV of the Massachusetts Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability under any service or program within the Commonwealth.

Administration of Handicapped Parking Program (MGL Chapter 40, Section 22G)

CODs may choose to allocate all funds received from fines for accessible parking violations in the city or town to the COD. Funds must be kept in a separate account and may be used by the COD only for the benefit of people with disabilities.

The Open Meeting Law (MGL Chapter 30A, Sections 18-25)

As of March 29, 2023, public bodies may continue holding meetings remotely without a quorum of the public body physically present at a meeting location, and to provide "adequate, alternative" access to remote meetings. This special provision expires March 31, 2025.

Helpful resources and information for Commissions on Disability

Attend a Statewide Commission on Disability meeting

MOD’s virtual Statewide Commission on Disability (COD) meetings bring together people serving on local CODs. You can discuss your initiatives, successes, and roadblocks, and network with other CODs. View our Statewide Commissions on Disability Meetings page for upcoming dates.

Invite MOD to your Commission on Disability meeting

MOD can visit your local COD to discuss:

  • Changes to the law
  • Your role in the community
  • Support MOD can provide to help the COD achieve their goals

If you are a COD member and would like someone from MOD to come to one of your meetings, please contact MOD online or call (617) 727-7440.

Update your COD contact information with MOD

Our searchable table is MOD’s list of current Commission on Disability contacts from across the Commonwealth. If your COD's information is incorrect or missing, please fill out our online COD contact information form.

Last updated: April 4, 2024

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