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Dallas mayor proposes the city’s first-ever advisory group for people with disabilities

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Tony Gutierrez
/
Associated Press

Mayor Eric Johnson is advocating for a new advisory group that would address challenges people with disabilities face when looking for a job, housing and transportation.

Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Johnson approved a proposal for a Commission on Disabilities that would make recommendations to city leaders, council members and city department directors on how to improve access for people with disabilities.

"As we build for our city’s future, we must build a city for all," Johnson said. "That means we must ensure that everyone has a seat at the table.”

More than 90,000 Dallas residents under 65 had a disability according to data. Johnson said he modeled the proposed ordinance on a similar one in Houston.

If approved, the Dallas commission would include 15 members — one appointed by each member of the Dallas City Council. The mayor would appoint the chair. Twelve members of this commission would be persons with disabilities. This advisory group would be required to meet at least six times a year.

Council member Jaynie Schultz, who represents District 11 that includes North Dallas, said this commission would open many doors. She said there are 40,000 jobs currently available in the city.

“We are quite certain that there are many people with disabilities who might be able to fill those jobs but they may need special training or even just look to find those people so we can let them know about the jobs,” Schultz said.

Johnson said Dallas mayors for the past three decades have promoted support for people with disabilities. He pointed to his predecessor, former mayor Jack Evans, who created the Dallas Mayor's Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities which later became the committee EmployAbility. Johnson hopes this new advisory group will follow in those footsteps.

The first step is approval by the City Council's Workforce, Education, and Equity Committee.

“We are thrilled we are addressing this through the lens of equity, which is what we are trying to do throughout the city in all of the work that we do,” Schultz, who chairs the committee said.

After that, full council approval is needed before this proposal becomes official.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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