December 19, 2016
By GAYLA CAWLEY
REVERE — The Revere Commission on Disabilities has been revived after a long absence, with a renewed commitment to improving access of the city’s buildings and providing more programming to children with special needs.
The panel works to identify and address issues pertinent to people with disabilities in the city, and offers policy suggestions to Mayor Brian Arrigo and the city council.
“The commission on disabilities serves as a voice and an advocate for residents of all ages and abilities,” Arrigo said in a statement. “My office will work together with the commission to improve quality of life for all Revere residents regardless of ability.”
The nine-member commission is made up of four new appointees by the mayor and five from previous administrations. Joe Gravellese, the mayor’s aide, said it’s been at least seven years since the commission’s last meeting. The long absence was driven by aging commission members and the necessity to have certain staff to manage or supervise the panel, he added.
“Time went by and people kind of forgot that it existed,” Gravellese said. He said the revival took about eight months of work.
More than half of the board’s members are required to personally have a disability. Other members might have a direct family member with a disability.
“It’s always helpful to have voices that speak for people that you might not otherwise hear from,” Gravellese said. “They’re the best advocates for themselves and what they need.”
Gravellese said one of the mayor’s top priorities is making the city equally accessible for people of every ability. The commission will focus on improving access to public buildings and essential services such as supermarkets. Members will also give parents a venue to advocate for more specialized programming for children with disabilities.
Another priority area is to relaunch a constituent drop-in and call-in office for residents with disabilities to discuss disability-related issues and access to programming and service. The disability office in previous years referred residents to services and lent equipment such as wheelchairs and crutches.
The commission’s first meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall.
Anyone with ideas, concerns or complaints about disability-related issues are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley