(Des Moines) – The Iowa government has 180 boards of directors and commissions, many of which are made up of appointed members, but proponents fear that most people with disabilities will not be included.
An emerging effort is aimed at attracting more of these voices to public debates.
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council recently announced its newest Five year planthat outlines the main goals of the organization. A new focus is the increased participation in local and state bodies and commissions.
Brooke Lovelace, executive director of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, said the issue wasn’t followed up much. Although there are some disability-specific bodies, she argued that the community should press for participation in decision-making in all areas.
“Boards and commissions that people with disabilities should apply for and serve on, and something that is of interest to them,” Lovelace outlined. “Whether this is business development, the art council.”
Lovelace argued that a lack of influence can undo progress for the disabled community, such as the Iowa recently passed electoral law. Among other things, it lays down restrictions on ballot boxes.
The council is in discussion with the governor’s office, which appoints members to increase inclusion. There is also a Online talent bank was launched by the Human Rights Department in 2019 to encourage underserved Iower to consider vacancies.
Monica Stone, deputy director of the department, said the talent bank started shortly before the pandemic so they haven’t got a clear sense of how effective it is. However, she added that they are trying to raise awareness. One challenge is convincing people with disabilities that they don’t need to have a long background in a particular field to be considered.
“I think sometimes people think you have to be special to put your name on the hat,” remarked Stone. “And the truth is, the people who serve on appointed boards and commissions are special because they choose to spend their time in public service, but they are everyday Iowans.”
Similar efforts have been made in states like Pennsylvania, which have the Including guided tour in action Project.
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council believes this is still an overlooked topic, and said Hawkeye State could play a leadership role in collecting corporate data while driving recruitment.
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