DEPARTMENT OF DISABILITIES

FUNCTIONS


[photo, Entrance, 217 East Redwood St., Baltimore, Maryland] In 1977, the Department of Disabilities originated as the Office for the Coordination of Services to the Handicapped (Chapter 946, Acts of 1977). Within the Office of the Governor, the Office reorganized in 1984 as the Office for Handicapped Individuals (Chapter 295, Acts of 1984). In 1991, it became the Office for Individuals with Disabilities (Chapter 103, Acts of 1991). The Office was abolished when the Department of Disabilities was created on July 1, 2004 (Chapter 425, Acts of 2004; Code Human Services Article, secs. 7-101 through 7-116). Maryland's Department was the nation's first cabinet-level Department of Disabilities.

For Maryland citizens with disabilities, the Department evaluates programs and services. It coordinates and supports public and private agencies serving people with disabilities, provides information and referrals, and identifies and recommends ways to improve services.

Entrance, 217 East Redwood St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


[photo, 217 East Redwood St., Baltimore, Maryland] State government compliance with laws and policies that affect persons with disabilities is monitored and encouraged by the Department. At least quarterly, the Department consults with and provides technical assistance to the Maryland Commission on Disabilities. The Department also promotes local or regional coordination of services to persons with disabilities.

Since July 2009, the Department is responsible for the annual observance in October of Disability History and Awareness Month (Executive Order 01.01.2009.10). The Department works to increase public awareness of the hisory of the disabilities rights movement, and collaborates with other State agencies on events and activities statewide that promote the annual observance.


217 East Redwood St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


OFFICE OF SECRETARY

217 East Redwood St., Suite 1300, Baltimore, MD 21202

Appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent, the Secretary of Disabilities heads the Department. With the approval of the Governor, the Secretary appoints the Deputy Secretary.

The Secretary of Disabilities chairs the Advisory Committee of the Technology Assistance Program and the Interagency Disabilities Board, co-chairs the Interagency Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities, and serves on the Governor's Executive Council; the Children's Cabinet; the Advisory Council to the Children's Cabinet; and the Governor's Warrior to Worker Council. The Secretary also serves on the Interagency Committee on Aging Services; the Virginia I. Jones Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Council; the Behavioral Health Advisory Council; the Maryland Building Rehabilitation Code Advisory Council; the State Coordinating Council for Children; the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council; the Maryland 529 Board; the State Advisory Council on Health and Wellness; the Interagency Council on Homelessness; the State Coordinating Council for Human Services Transportation; the State Advisory Council on Quality Care at the End of Life; the Governing Board, Maryland Center for School Safety; the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Small, Minority Affairs, and Women Business Affairs; the Steering Committee for the Ethan Saylor Alliance for Self-Advocates as Educators; the Interagency Committee on Specialized Transportation; the Maryland Commission on Suicide Prevention; the State Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board; and the Governor's Workforce Development Board.

Within the Office of Secretary are Communications, Interagency Affairs, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary. The Office is aided by the Maryland Commission on Disabilities, and the Interagency Disabilities Board.


[photo, Entrance, 217 East Redwood St., Baltimore, Maryland] MARYLAND COMMISSION ON DISABILITIES
The Maryland Commission on Disabilities started as the Maryland Advisory Council for Individuals with Disabilities. Formerly under the Office for Individuals with Disabilities, the Council reformed as the Maryland Commission on Disabilities within the Department of Disabilities in July 2004 (Chapter 425, Acts of 2004).

The Commission advises the Department of Disabilities. For persons with disabilities, the Commission reviews statewide programs and fosters coordination and support for these programs.

Twenty members constitute the Commission. Eighteen are appointed to three-year terms by the Governor. One member is named by the Senate President, and one by the House Speaker. The Governor designates the chair for a two-year term (Code Human Services Article, secs. 7-119 through 7-124).

Entrance, 217 East Redwood St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


RECORDS MANAGEMENT
Since October 1, 2017, the Department of Disabilities has had a program for the continual, economical and efficient management of its records. The Department's Records Officer develops and oversees the program, and serves as liaison to the Records Management Division of the Department of General Services, and to the State Archives (Chapter 539, Acts of 2017; Code State Government Article, secs. 10-608 through 10-611).


DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY

The Deputy Assistant Secretary oversees Finance, Human Resources, and Information Technology, as well as the Constituent Services Program, the Technology Assistance Program, and Telecommunications Access of Maryland.


CONSTITUENT SERVICES PROGRAM

In July 2004, the Constituent Services Program transferred from the Office for Individuals with Disabilities to the Department of Disabilities (Chapter 425, Acts of 2004).

For individuals with disabilities, their families, and caregivers, the Program provides assistance with information, referrals, resource listings, and access.

TECHNOLOGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

2301 Argonne Drive, Room T-17, Baltimore, MD 21218

Formerly under the Office for Individuals with Disabilities, the Technology Assistance Program (MDTAP) was reassigned to the Department of Disabilities in July 2004.

The Technology Assistance Program provides information and technology services to people with disabilities. To enhance the quality of life for Marylanders with disabilities, the Program helps them to locate, evaluate, and purchase adaptive devices. The Program offers technology-related training and referrals in cooperation with the Department of Aging, the Division of Rehabilitation Services of the State Department of Education, and the Developmental Disabilities Administration of the Maryland Department of Health.

Three model technology demonstration centers have been established by the Program at Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Salisbury. A main site lies at the Workforce and Technology Center (formerly Maryland Rehabilitation Center) in Baltimore where technology resource specialists serve.

Created in 1990, the Program is governed by the federal Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-407; P.L. 103-218). Grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education initially funded the Program. Maryland was one of the first states to receive such a grant.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY LOAN PROGRAM
Within the Office for Individuals with Disabilities, the Assistive Technology Loan Program originated in 1999 as the Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program (Chapter 468, Acts of 1999). The Program has been overseen by the Department of Disabilities since July 2004 (Code Human Services Article, secs. 7-601 through 7-616). In July 2008, the Program received its present name (Chapter 62, Acts of 2008).

The Program helps individuals with disabilities purchase assistive technology equipment to enable them to become more independent and more productive.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACCESS OF MARYLAND

301 West Preston St., Suite 1008-A, Baltimore, MD 21201 - 2305


[photo, 301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland] Telecommunications Access of Maryland started in 1988 as the Telecommunications for Disabled Individuals Program within the Department of Human Resources. In 1990, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act required all states to have a telecommunications relay system operating by July 1993. In 1991, Maryland's Program was renamed as Telecommunications Access of Maryland and transferred to the Department of General Services (Chapter 598, Acts of 1991). In 1996, it moved to the Department of Budget and Management.


301 West Preston St., Baltimore, Maryland, November 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


In 1997, the Department of Budget and Management was authorized to establish a telecommunication and computer network in Maryland (Chapter 722, Acts of 1997). The network is accessible through direct connection and through local intra-LATA (local access & transport areas) telecommunications to State and local governments and public and private educational institutions in Maryland (Code State Finance & Procurement Article, sec. 3-705).

Formerly under Telecommunications, in January 2005, Telecommunications Access of Maryland moved under the Chief of Information Technology within the Department of Budget and Management. In July 2008, it transferred to the Office of Secretary within the Department of Information Technology, and in February 2009, was placed under Administration. In April 2015, Telecommunications Access of Maryland transferred to Infrastructure, and in February 2016, to Application Management. In July 2020, Telecommunications Access of Maryland transferred to the Department of Disabilities (Chapter 586, Acts of 2020).

The Maryland Relay Service was initiated by Telecommunications Access of Maryland in December 1991 to convey dual-party telephone messages for persons with disabilities. The Service enables a deaf person to communicate via a telecommunications device with an intermediary party who then verbally relays the message to a third party. For State residents who are deaf or have impaired hearing, speech, vision, or mobility, the Service makes telephone use possible 24 hours per day, seven days per week (Code State Finance & Procurement Article, secs. 3A-501 through 3A-606).


POLICY

The Deputy Secretary is responsible for seven policy units: Community Living, Education, Emergency Preparedness, Employment, Health and Behavioral Health, Housing, and Transportation. The Deputy Secretary also oversees the Access Maryland Program and the Attendant Care Program.


ACCESS MARYLAND PROGRAM
The Access Maryland Program assists State agencies with ensuring that their facilities are in compliance with State and federal mandates requiring accessibility for persons with disabilities.

ATTENDANT CARE PROGRAM
Formerly in the Community Services Administration of the Department of Human Resources, the Attendant Care Program transferred to the Department of Disabilities in July 2005 (Chapter 439, Acts of 2005).

The Program provides funds to eligible disabled adults for attendant assistance with daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, meals, and transportation (Code Human Services Article, secs. 7-401 through 7-406).

COMMUNITY LIVING POLICY

Community Living Policy started as the Office of Personal Assistance Services created in 1998 within the Department of Human Resources. In July 2005, the Office transferred to the Department of Disabilities (Chapter 439, Acts of 2005) and reorganized as Long-Term Care Policy. In August 2007, it was renamed Community Integration Policy and assumed responsibility for the Attendant Care Program. In 2008, it reorganized under its current name.

For disabled persons aged 18 to 64, Community Living Policy coordinates personal assistance services, and works to find ways to increase current services. Personal assistance services are tasks which maintain health, personal appearance, comfort, and safety.

ETHAN SAYLOR ALLIANCE FOR SELF-ADVOCATES AS EDUCATORS
The Ethan Saylor Alliance for Self-Advocates as Educators was established within the Department of Disabilities in July 2015 (Chapter 388, Acts of 2015).

For law enforcement personnel in their interactions with persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities, the Alliance ensures increased training. Persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities are supported and prepared by the Alliance to serve as advocates who educate and inform their communities, law enforcement, and other public entities of their specific needs.

The Alliance consists of self-advocates, family members, disability-related professionals, educators, and law enforcement personnel.

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