DRC Urges Attorney General Bonta to Support Remote Participation in Brown Act Meetings as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA

Press Release

DRC Urges Attorney General Bonta to Support Remote Participation in Brown Act Meetings as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA

(Sacramento, CA) – Today DRC submitted a public comment letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta urging him to issue an opinion letter that confirms the obligation on local governments to provide remote participation in public meetings as a reasonable accommodation. 

Before the pandemic, many people with disabilities struggled to participate in local government meetings because of the access barriers they encountered when attending these meetings in person. When the pandemic’s shelter-in-place orders went into effect, local governments took their public meetings virtual, creating an opportunity for the disability community to participate in ways they had not before. Then, when shelter-in-place ended and in-person meetings resumed, people with disabilities saw the risk of returning to the exclusion and inaccessibility of the pre-pandemic status quo. 

In response to the disability community’s concerns, DRC helped community members make requests to continue remote participation as a reasonable accommodation. The responses we received from local governments were mixed. Some local governments agreed with us that remote participation is a necessary and effective way to remove access barriers for people with disabilities. Others disagreed, insisting that people who wanted to participate remotely could only do so if they agreed to dangerous and unreasonable conditions like publicizing their home address and opening their home to the public.

“Since the pandemic started, more disabled people have been able to engage with decision makers on important issues and Disability Rights California hopes that this will continue,” says DRC Director of Public Policy Eric Harris. “If California wants to be a leader on equity, especially on issues impacting disabled people, remote participation in meetings must be a priority. Remote participation in meetings helps to make sure that all people are able to join and engage on issues that impact their lives.” 

Recognizing the need for guidance on this important issue, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis asked Attorney General Bonta to write an opinion on whether public entities must provide remote participation as a reasonable accommodation to disabled members of Brown Act bodies. The Attorney General has invited the public to weigh in. 

DRC urges the disability community and its allies to send a comment to Deputy Attorney General Catherine Bidart (catherine.bidart@doj.ca.gov) by Monday, February 5. Our colleagues at the DREDF (the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund) have prepared a sample letter community members can use: https://dredf.org/2024/01/12/action-alert-remote-participation-brown-act-meetings/

Join us in telling the Attorney General how important remote participation is to the inclusion of people with disabilities in local governance. Together, we can make local governments more inclusive, accessible, and representative of the communities they serve. 

Media Contacts

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California


Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to defend, advance, and strengthen the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.