Speaker Carl Heastie and Committee on People with Disabilities Chair Rebecca A. Seawright today announced that the Assembly passed a package of legislation in honor of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day to improve the lives of New Yorkers with disabilities.
“Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day is not just about bringing light to the barriers that New Yorkers living with disabilities face, it’s about passing meaningful legislation to address those barriers,” Speaker Heastie said. “The legislation we pass today would make real changes in the lives of millions of New Yorkers – from making it easier to find employment to streamlining the process to get critical services.”
“As the chair of the committee of People with Disabilities, the package of bills that we passed for Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day is a step in the right direction for achieving full equality for millions of people living in New York with disabilities,” Assemblymember Seawright said. “I commend Speaker Heastie and my colleagues for their support of this legislation passed today that will promote inclusion, dignity, and respect for people living with disabilities.”
Included in the legislative package are bills that would make it easier for New Yorkers with disabilities to access services. One bill would establish a People with Disabilities Access to Programs Commission. The commission would make recommendations for new laws to help streamline the process for New Yorkers getting access to the programs and services they need (A.1200, Epstein).
Currently there is no state agency dedicated to the deaf community. Legislation to pass today would create the Commission on the Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing, which would provide deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing New Yorkers with a one stop location in state government where they can access available services and resources (A.5683, Zebrowski).
Included in the legislative package are bills that would update New York State law to ensure our government better serves those with disabilities. One bill would create more employment opportunities for disabled people within New York State government by allowing an individual with disabilities or disabled veteran to hold full-time or part-time positions for purposes of eligibility for recruitment for state employment (A.6480, Burdick).
Legislation included in the package would change the name of the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities and update the language in the law to comply with federal requirements for “person first” language (A.6543, Seawright).
Another would waive the state’s sovereign immunity to claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, allowing state employees to sue New York State for damages due to violations of those laws (A.6541, Kelles).
The Assembly today passed two resolutions. The first makes May 15, 2023 New York State Assembly Legislative Disabilities Day in New York State. The second mourns the death of Judith Heumann, a tireless leader and advocate for the disability rights movement.