Erie County’s OFFICE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES was established and became part of the Charter of Erie (Article 11F, 01-3) in 1983, originally named Erie County Office for the Disabled.
Because a person with a disability is not defined nor confined by that disability, on March 17, 2016, the Erie County Legislature officially changed the name to Erie County Office for People with Disabilities.
The office was created to ensure that Erie County’s citizens with disabilities would have a direct voice in County Government; to make available to such citizens an advocate who could work within the county structure to develop and enhance services; and to oversee facilities and programs by the County.
Originally chartered as a separate department under the executive branch of the County government, the Erie County Office for People with Disabilities (ECOPD) became a part of Erie County’s Department of Health in 1993. From 2006-2008, the ECOPD operated under the Office of Public Advocacy. As of 2008, the ECO has been operating under the Erie County Department of personnel.
The ECOPD does not provide services in the sense of specific programs or funds which are available to people with disabilities. Rather it provides assistance which generally falls into three categories:
The ECOPD serves as a clearinghouse for information on programs and services made available to citizens with disabilities by Erie County - and through affiliated agencies. In addition, the ECOPD “information network” also extends to include services and programs available to this constituency throughout Western New York.
As the official representative of an approximate 15% of Erie County citizens with disabilities, the ECOPD provides this community with a liaison to both the County Executive’s Office and the Erie County Legislature. The ECOPD uses this status as liaison to advocate for inclusion and positive change on their behalf.
- ADA/Access Oversight
The Executive Director of the ECOPD serves as Erie County’s Compliance Officer for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, PL 101-336) as well as for section 504of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93-112). Both laws establish and protect the rights of persons with Disabilities.
In the role of ADA Compliance Officer, the Executive Director advises Erie County on all issues related to providing ADA compliant access in any facility owned, operated or leased by the County – as well as in programs offered to the public by the County.
To assist in this effort, the Erie County Department of Public Works (DPW), Erie County’s Division of Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO) and the County Attorney’s Office each provide co-coordinators for ADA compliance.