In Special Needs News

Each year, hundreds of bills and regulations are proposed with little if any analysis of how they will affect the lives of people with disabilities.

If signed into law, a new Senate bill, titled the Office of Disability Policy Act of 2018, would change this. Introduced July 24, the legislation would create an Office of Disability Policy within the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to analyze the impact of proposed federal legislation, regulations and guidance documents on individuals with disabilities.

“Too many policy makers fail to consider how their bill or proposed regulation will affect Americans with disabilities and their family members,” the Office of Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), the bill’s leading sponsor, wrote in an advocacy document in support of the bill. “Individuals with disabilities, their family members, service providers and advocates deserve to understand the positive or negative affects executive actions or legislation will have on their lives.”

Among its tasks, the Office would be required to gather data and analysis on proposed and existing legislation, regulations and guidance documents, and analyze their compliance with federal disability rights laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Additionally, each member of Congress would have the authority to request independent reviews from the Office of proposed and existing legislation, regulations and guidance. The Office would also be tasked with compiling annual reports on its findings.

The director of the office would be appointed by five officials: the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and House and Representatives, and the Executive Director of the National Council on Disability, an independent office that provides more general guidance on federal disability policy. Directors would serve four-year terms.

“The Office of Disability Policy Act will be enormously helpful,” the Autism Society wrote in a letter in support of the bill. “The disability community has long asked Congress to provide analyses on the impact of policies on people with disabilities and their families as they are in development. People with disabilities are impacted by almost every law and public policy. However, policymakers do not always consider their impact on people with disabilities.”

Click here to read the proposed legislation.

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