DBTAC's Mission Threatened?

by Christina Medvescek on July 1, 2006 - 4:35pm

QUEST Vol. 13, No. 4

DBTAC (“Dib-Tack”) is the acronym for a Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, which provides free, local resources on all aspects of the ADA. These centers also are known as ADA and Accessible IT Centers.

But now the DBTAC mission of helping communities to implement the ADA is under review, and may be modified to focus more on research gathering and implementation, especially in the area of employment. Disability advocates worry this may mean the end of the widely respected program as it now exists.

Pacific DBTAC

The new DBTAC funding priorities are part of a larger proposed priority shift for several programs administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Under the proposal, DBTACs would identify areas in which research is needed and conduct targeted research and development to “help individuals with a variety of disabilities reach their full potential on the job.”

Employment of people with disabilities hasn’t improved under the ADA. The employment rate has increased only 1 percentage point in 20 years, from 34 to 35 percent, according to a recent National Organization on Disability/Harris survey.

But the American Association of People with Disabilities warns that the new priorities would “essentially eliminate” funding for DBTACs’ current mission of providing free technical assistance, information, training and materials about the ADA to individuals. The centers are heavily used by people with disabilities and their families, as well as employers, businesses, architects, designers, local code officials, state and local government officials, educational institutions and organizations that pro-vide disability services.

The 30-day public comment period ended in March and the DBTAC priorities are under review by the Department of Education, which declined to comment. For more information, contact your regional DBTAC by calling (800) 949-4232 or visiting www.adata.org.

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