2021 Policy Memorandum
Date: 92nd Legislature, 2021 session
Re: Sensory Accessibility Grant Program
2021 Bills: HF 139 (Freiberg); SF 1348 (Utke)
$250,000 in fiscal year 2022 and $250,000 in fiscal year 2023 are appropriated from the general fund to the Minnesota Council on Disability to fund building modifications.
Consulting with the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Grant Management shall award grants to state organizations, counties, cities, and private holders of public access spaces to fund building modifications to provide sensory accessibility or accommodations to increase accessible community involvement and access for individuals who have autism spectrum disorder, a related disability, or other invisible health issues with sensory impacts.
Grantees can use the grant to modify public space to:
- create sensory-friendly spaces;
- modify public use space to meet sensory-friendly design standards;
- equip a facility with mobile tool kits to support sensory needs; or
- provide quiet zones or times of service.
Grantees must also complete disability training to provide staff with the skills necessary to successfully incorporate building modifications that support individuals needing sensory accessibility or accommodations.
Minnesotans with sensory disabilities are often excluded from many public spaces because they are inaccessible and don’t provide spaces to help with sensory overstimulation. This bill would grant funding to help create those spaces in public areas and buildings, giving greater access to people with sensory disabilities to their communities.
- Minnesota Governors Council on Developmental Disabilities
- Autism Society of Minnesota (AusM)
In a budget year, it may be difficult to convince legislative leaders to appropriate funds to a new grants program.
Goal of Policy
The goal of the policy is to establish a Sensory Accessibility Grants Program which would be administered by the Minnesota Council on Disability. The Sensory Accessibility Grants Program would review grant applications and distribute funds to city and county governments based on the greatest need and best action plan to make their public spaces accessible for Minnesotans with sensory disabilities. This goal would then create a foundation of sensory accessible resources that all cities and counties could utilize, which would lead the way to better sensory accessibility across the state of Minnesota in all public spaces.