Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb today announced the passage of a comprehensive package of legislation to empower individuals with disabilities by providing greater protection and accessibility under New York State law. The measures were taken up in honor of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day.
Silver and Kolb applauded Task Force on People with Disabilities Chair Michael Cusick, Mental Health Committee Chair Felix Ortiz and Mental Health Committee Ranking Minority Member Steve Katz for their unwavering dedication to improving conditions for men, women and children with disabilities.
"The approval of these legislative initiatives empowers New York's disability community. By reducing these barriers, we are promoting full participation in all aspects of life for all New Yorkers." said Silver. "I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly - on both sides of the aisle - for recognizing that equal access and treatment for all individuals is the cornerstone of our democracy."
"It is a great honor to take part in this annual event, which raises awareness for those who overcome obstacles each and every day to excel in their daily lives," said Kolb. "Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day allows us to celebrate these inspiring individuals and to offer our gratitude to those who support and champion these important issues in our local communities throughout the state."
Eliminating Discriminatory Practices from Everyday Life
A key bill included in the Disabilities Awareness Day legislative package is (A.9848-A), sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, that would further protect the rights of individuals with disabilities by amending the state's Human Rights Law to clarify the definition of place of public accommodation, resort or amusement to include state-and locally-owned government facilities.
Under the bill, if it is determined that a proposed accommodation poses no undue burden on state or local governments, the state or municipal government would be required to remove certain barriers to ensure individuals with disabilities have access to transportation or government services and buildings.
Additional legislation geared toward eliminating discriminatory practices would:
"We must work to ensure self-sufficiency for people with disabilities through employment opportunities, independent living arrangements, educational empowerment, and inclusion in all aspects of society," said Cusick. "These legislative initiatives provide individuals with disabilities with the tools they need to realize their tremendous potential. Through this legislative package, we will raise awareness of the priorities of New York's disability community as we work towards our goals of inclusion, integration and independence."
"As legislators, we share a responsibility to ensure persons living with disabilities have the opportunity to pursue their full measure of happiness and achieve their highest goals," said Ortiz. "Through training, support and encouragement, individuals with disabilities become independent and productive citizens, who are fully integrated into their communities. I commend those who are self-advocates, family members who tirelessly support their loved ones, and the legislative sponsors for lending their support to these important initiatives."
"The annual Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day provides us, as legislators, with an opportunity to learn about important disability issues facing our communities," said Katz. "Most importantly, today's program offers a chance to recognize all the remarkable accomplishments of advocates and individuals with disabilities."
Ensuring Access to Affordable Housing and Improving Living Standards
Recognizing the importance of providing New Yorkers with disabilities with affordable, independent and safe living arrangements, legislation included in the package would:
Fostering an Inclusive Culture and Adequate Transportation Accommodations
The Assembly has consistently advocated for people with disabilities by removing unnecessary barriers and discrimination in areas of everyday life. To ensure individuals with disabilities can fully participate in community life, provisions included in the legislative package would:
Empowering Individuals with Disabilities by Providing Greater Protections and Accessibility
As a means to make our voting system more accessible and to better protect individuals with disabilities, legislation approved today as part of the legislative package also would: