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Councilmember Nowakowski to propose creation of a full-time City of Buffalo ADA Advocate

Buffalo Common Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski is expected to propose a new position within city government on Tuesday, that would focus on issues impacting people with disabilities, according to a copy of the agenda item.

According to Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act, municipalities with more than 50 employees must have an appointed ADA Coordinator, who handles concerns and grievances relating to accessibility and access for residents with disabilities. Most recently, the City of Buffalo has pointed to its legal counsel for handling these matters.

However, Nowakowski's proposal is to create a full-time, salaried position, that would serve as ADA coordinator and would advocate for disabled residents.

According to the resolution, the proposal is expected to be brought before the Common Council on Tuesday, November 29th.

Nowakowski's proposal also adds, "ideally, this employee would be a person living with a disability who can bring their experience, insight and qualifications related to the disability community to the role to identify areas of improvement and advise city departments on how their public work and services can be enhanced or made more accessible."

If passed, the resolution would direct the city's Departments of Human Relations and Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs to create a job description, salary, outline for hiring, decide what department the position would fall under, and report on the impacts this position would have financially or personnel-wise. The city would have to report back by February of 2023.

Nowakowski, activists, and self-advocates also plan to discuss the proposal in detail at the December 6th Common Council Civil Service Committee meeting.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.