Disability Rights & Services Program

The Disability Rights and Services Program is part of the City's Department of Civil Rights, Equity and Social Justice Division.  Everyone has access needs.  The social model of disability recognizes that the built world and systemic ableism present barriers to access, not a person’s mind or body.  We recognize that ableism exists individually, institutionally, and structurally. To approach disability as a special issue or a silo diminishes the experiences and intersections of this culturally rich and diverse community.  Therefore, addressing ableism must go beyond legal compliance and involve collaborating with those most impacted to root out ableist practices in all City planning, programs, services, and facilities.  We believe all residents deserve the opportunity to live, work, travel, play, and thrive. 

To live our mission, we embrace inclusion and belonging and actively work to foster disability-affirming spaces, advance opportunities, and celebrate the diversity of our Disabled residents.     

What We Do

  • Coordinate the City's efforts to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 
  • Strive to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and access throughout the City.
  • Gather community input on issues including transportation, recreation, accessibility, and housing.
  • Work cooperatively with the Disability Rights Commission and community-based organizations that advance equity and provide services to people with disabilities.

How We Can Help

The Disability Rights and Services Specialist can help with access, inclusion, and equity issues about work, housing, public places, and public services. 

  • We provide information and referrals to support self-advocacy.
  • We will work with you and the other party to resolve your concerns. This is an informal non-adversarial process: for example, making a phone call or sending a letter on your behalf. 
  • We work to ensure people with disabilities have opportunities to engage with the City of Madison in development of programs and services that affect our daily lives. 
  • We work with Disability Rights Commissioners and other City agencies on issues important to Disabled people in Madison.
  • We provide training and site assessments for Madison businesses interested in providing quality customer services and removing access barriers for people with disabilities. 

More Information

In 1990, Madison’s City Council adopted Madison General Ordinance 39.05 prohibiting discrimination based on disability by City programs and by City-funded agencies and Madison General Ordinance 39.04 which established a Disability Rights Commission.

In 2023, the City of Madison hosted the first Disability Summit: Collective Visioning for a More Equitable Future.  Recognizing that residents with disabilities need a more equitable future than legal compliance will provide, this event aimed to engage our diverse community in providing input for a City Disability Access and Equity Plan. This plan is a collaboration with the Disability Rights Commission. We expect the plan will be completed in July of 2024. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Disability Rights and Services Program, contact Rebecca Hoyt, Disability Rights and Services Specialist, (608) 266-6511.

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