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SB-105 Services: blind: visually impaired: deaf: hard of hearing.(2001-2002)

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SB105:v91#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 105
CHAPTER 1102

An act to amend Section 11135 of the Government Code, to amend Sections 19050 and 19050.5 of, to add Section 19054 to, and to add Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 19095) to Part 1 of Division 10 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to human services.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  September 29, 2002. Approved by Governor  September 29, 2002. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 105, Burton. Services: blind: visually impaired: deaf: hard of hearing.
Existing law provides for the Department of Rehabilitation, which administers various programs and services for disabled persons, including the blind and visually impaired.
This bill would establish the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, would establish the responsibilities of the division, would require the director of the division to report to the Legislature and the Governor on programs administered by the division, would require the director to appoint a Blind Advisory Committee and a Deaf Advisory Committee to advise the director on certain issues, and would make related and conforming changes.
This bill would incorporate additional changes in Section 11135 of the Government Code, proposed by AB 3035, to be operative only if AB 3035 and this bill are both chaptered and become effective January 1, 2003, and this bill is chaptered last.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Approximately 70 percent of employable blind and visually impaired individuals are unemployed.
(2) Due to the lack of employment, most of these individuals receive public assistance payments, as well as Medi-Cal and other public benefits, thereby costing the state millions of dollars in benefit payments and lost income tax revenue.
(3) It is the primary function of the Department of Rehabilitation to prepare and place persons with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, in meaningful jobs.
(4) The department needs to implement policy and procedural changes in order to improve its ability to increase the numbers of blind and visually impaired consumers placed in competitive employment.
(5) The blind and visually impaired have a long history of success with separate specialized training that takes into account their unique needs and the need to have experienced, trained staff, and contracting organizations.
(6) The establishment of a Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the Department of Rehabilitation will, through the focus of state and federal resources and without diverting resources that would otherwise be used to assist those with other disabilities, dramatically improve employment-related services provided to persons who are blind or visually impaired or deaf or hard of hearing.
(7) The purpose of the establishment of a Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the department is to streamline, and make more efficient and effective, the department’s delivery of services to Californians who are blind or visually impaired, and that this streamlined organization of those services into a single division within the department will result in no greater than minor, absorbable costs, if any.
(b) It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature to establish a Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing persons.

SEC. 2.

 Section 11135 of the Government Code is amended to read:

11135.
 (a) No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.
(b) With respect to discrimination on the basis of disability, programs and activities subject to subdivision (a) shall meet the protections and prohibitions contained in Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof, except that if the laws of this state prescribe stronger protections and prohibitions, the programs and activities subject to subdivision (a) shall be subject to the stronger protections and prohibitions.
(c) As used in this section, “disability” means any mental or physical disability as defined in Section 12926.
(d) (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the ability to utilize electronic or information technology is often an essential function for successful employment in the current work world.
(2) In order to improve accessibility of existing technology, and therefore increase the successful employment of individuals with disabilities, particularly blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing persons, state governmental entities, in developing, procuring, maintaining, or using electronic or information technology, either indirectly or through the use of state funds by other entities, shall comply with the accessibility requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794d), and regulations implementing that act as set forth in Part 1194 of Title 36 of the Federal Code of Regulations.
(3) Any entity that contracts with a state or local entity subject to this section for the provision of electronic or information technology or for the provision of related services shall agree to respond to, and resolve any complaint regarding accessibility of its products or services that is brought to the attention of the entity.

SEC. 2.5.

 Section 11135 of the Government Code is amended to read:

11135.
 (a) No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.
(b) With respect to discrimination on the basis of disability, programs and activities subject to subdivision (a) shall meet the protections and prohibitions contained in Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof, except that if the laws of this state prescribe stronger protections and prohibitions, the programs and activities subject to subdivision (a) shall be subject to the stronger protections and prohibitions.
(c) As used in this section, “disability” means any mental or physical disability as defined in Section 12926.
(d) (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the ability to utilize electronic or information technology is often an essential function for successful employment in the current work world.
(2) In order to improve accessibility of existing technology, and therefore increase the successful employment of individuals with disabilities, particularly blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing persons, state governmental entities, in developing, procuring, maintaining, or using electronic or information technology, either indirectly or through the use of state funds by other entities, shall comply with the accessibility requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794d), and regulations implementing that act as set forth in Part 1194 of Title 36 of the Federal Code of Regulations.
(3) Any entity that contracts with a state or local entity subject to this section for the provision of electronic or information technology or for the provision of related services shall agree to respond to, and resolve any complaint regarding accessibility of its products or services that is brought to the attention of the entity.

SEC. 3.

 Section 19050 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

19050.
 There is in the department a program manager for the blind and visually impaired and a program manager for the deaf and hard of hearing. The program managers shall, as determined by the director, report to the deputy director of the division established pursuant to Section 19095, and shall assist in the development and coordination of policy with respect to programs for persons who are blind and visually impaired and persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.

SEC. 4.

 Section 19050.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

19050.5.
 The program manager for the blind and visually impaired programs and the program manager for the deaf and hard-of-hearing programs shall have demonstrated experience and sensitivity in working with these disabilities.

SEC. 5.

 Section 19054 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

19054.
 The director shall appoint a Deaf Advisory Committee to advise the director on means to increase employment, enlarge economic opportunities, enhance independence and self-sufficiency, and otherwise improve services to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. A majority of the committee members shall be deaf or hard of hearing, and other members shall have experience relating to services to the deaf or hard of hearing. The committee shall develop, in conjunction with stakeholders, an annual work plan to identify and address areas for improvement in services provided by the department to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

SEC. 6.

 Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 19095) is added to Part 1 of Division 10 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:
CHAPTER  3. Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

19095.
 (a) (1) There is hereby established in the Department of Rehabilitation a Division of Specialized Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
(2) For purposes of this chapter “division” means the division established pursuant to paragraph (1).
(b) The purposes of the division shall be as follows:
(1) To assist persons who are blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing in gaining competitive employment.
(2) To enlarge economic opportunities for persons who are blind or visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing.
(3) To enhance the independence and self-sufficiency of blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.

19095.5.
 (a) The division shall be under the direction of a deputy director, who shall be appointed by the Governor.
(b) The deputy director shall have extensive background in, or knowledge of, services to the blind and visually impaired and the deaf and hard of hearing.
(c) The deputy director shall report directly to the directorate of the Department of Rehabilitation and shall be a member of the department’s executive management, taking part in all departmental planning and decisionmaking.

19096.
 (a) Commencing July 1, 2003, the division shall be charged with the administration of the following programs and services:
(1) All staff within the division, including rehabilitation counselors, rehabilitation counselors for the blind, staff of the orientation center, and staff of the business enterprises program.
(2) Orientation centers for the blind, provided for pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 19500) of Chapter 6 of Part 2.
(3) The Business Enterprise Program for the Blind, provided pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 19625) of Chapter 6 of Part 2.
(4) Contracts for services with organizations serving the blind and visually impaired and the deaf and hard of hearing.
(5) Programs for the blind under Subchapter 7 (commencing with Section 796) of Chapter 16 of Title 29 of the United States Code.
(b) The division shall also provide additional rehabilitation services to its blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing clients, to the extent that funds are available.
(c) The program managers shall report to the deputy director of the division established pursuant to this chapter.
(d) The division shall be responsible for administrative functions, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Develop, implement, and oversee policies related to blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers, including timely provision of assistive technology services.
(2) Develop and implement mandatory orientation training programs for new rehabilitation counselors for the blind, rehabilitation counselors for the deaf, and counselor teachers.
(3) Develop and implement ongoing mandatory training for rehabilitation supervisors of blind-designated units.
(4) Establish minimum professional competencies for rehabilitation counselors for the blind, rehabilitation counselors for the deaf, and counselor teachers, and provide continuing in-service education to rehabilitation counselors for the blind, rehabilitation counselors for the deaf, and counselor teachers.
(5) Provide support and assistance to field staff on issues related to the cases of blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers.
(6) Provide technical assistance to the department related to the assistive technology needs of blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and consumers.
(7) Establish and maintain within the department’s Internet Web site, a communications system for staff serving blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers for the purpose of sharing resource information, effective practices, and problem solving.
(e) Any program administered in whole or in part by the State Department of Education relative to the transition from school to work for blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing secondary education students shall be conducted in partnership with the division.

19097.
 (a) Subject to the control of the director, all employees of the department providing services to persons who are blind and visually impaired administered by the division pursuant to this chapter shall be under the exclusive direction and supervision of the deputy director of the division.
(b) The division shall establish criteria and train counselors and supervisors working with persons who are blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing to ensure they have the specialized knowledge and skills to meet the needs of these persons.

19097.5.
 The department shall report annually in the fourth quarter of each calendar year to the Blind Advisory Committee on the amount of state and federal funds allocated to direct services governed by this chapter.

19098.
 The Director of Rehabilitation shall, on or before July 1, 2005, and every other year thereafter, report to the Legislature and the Governor on the programs administered by the division. The report shall include statistics on competitive employment placements of persons who are blind or visually impaired.

19098.5.
 The Director of Rehabilitation shall establish the Blind Advisory Committee to advise the Director of Rehabilitation on means to increase competitive employment, enlarge economic opportunities, enhance independence and self-sufficiency, and otherwise improve services for persons who are blind and visually impaired. A majority of the members shall be blind or visually impaired. Members of the committee who are not blind or visually impaired shall have experience in services to the blind. The committee shall develop, in conjunction with stakeholders, an annual work plan to identify and address areas for improvement in services provided by the division to persons who are blind and visually impaired.

SEC. 7.

 Section 2.5 of this bill incorporates amendments to Section 11135 of the Government Code proposed by both this bill and AB 3035. It shall only become operative if (1) both bills are enacted and become effective on or before January 1, 2003, (2) each bill amends Section 11135 of the Government Code, and (3) this bill is enacted after AB 3035, in which case Section 2 of this bill shall not become operative.