(20 ILCS 2410/7) (from Ch. 23, par. 3417)
    Sec. 7. Council. There shall be created within the Department a Blind Services Planning Council which shall review the actions of the Bureau for the Blind and provide advice and consultation to the Secretary on services to blind people. The Council shall be composed of 11 members appointed by the Governor. All members shall be selected because of their ability to provide worthwhile consultation or services to the blind. No fewer than 6 members shall be blind. A relative balance between the number of males and females shall be maintained. Broad representation shall be sought by appointment, with 2 members from each of the major statewide consumer organizations of the blind and one member from a specific service area including, but not limited to, the Hadley School for the Blind, Chicago Lighthouse, Department-approved Low Vision Aides Clinics, Vending Facilities Operators, the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), blind homemakers, outstanding competitive employers of blind people, providers and recipients of income maintenance programs, in-home care programs, subsidized housing, nursing homes and homes for the blind.
    Initially, 4 members shall be appointed for terms of one year, 4 for terms of 2 years and 3 for terms of 3 years with a partial term of 18 months or more counting as a full term. Subsequent terms shall be 3 years each. No member shall serve more than 2 terms. No Department employee shall be a member of the Council.
    Members shall be removed for cause including, but not limited to, demonstrated incompetence, unethical behavior and unwillingness or inability to serve.
    Members shall serve without pay but shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
    Members shall be governed by appropriate and applicable State and federal statutes and regulations on matters such as ethics, confidentiality, freedom of information, travel and civil rights.
    Department staff may attend meetings but shall not be a voting member of the Council. The Council shall elect a chairperson and a recording secretary from among its number. Sub-committees and ad hoc committees may be created to concentrate on specific program components or initiative areas.
    The Council shall perform the following functions:
    (a) facilitate communication and cooperative efforts between the Department and all agencies which have any responsibility to deliver services to blind and visually impaired persons.
    (b) identify needs and problems related to blind and visually impaired persons, including children, adults, and seniors, and make recommendations to the Secretary, Bureau Director and Governor.
    (c) recommend programmatic and fiscal priorities governing the provision of services and awarding of grants or contracts by the Department to any person or agency, public or private.
    (d) conduct, encourage and advise independent research by qualified evaluators to improve services to blind and visually impaired persons, including those with multiple disabilities.
    (e) participate in the development and review of proposed and amended rules and regulations of the Department relating to services for the blind and visually impaired.
    (f) review and comment on all budgets (drafted and submitted) relating to services for blind and visually impaired persons.
    (g) promote policies and programs to educate the public and elicit public support for services to blind and visually impaired persons.
    (h) encourage creative and innovative programs to strengthen, expand and improve services for blind and visually impaired persons, including outreach services.
    (i) perform such other duties as may be required by the Governor, Secretary, and Bureau Director.
    The Council shall supersede and replace all advisory committees now functioning within the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, with the exception of federally mandated advisory groups.
(Source: P.A. 99-143, eff. 7-27-15.)