Assemblyman Santabarbara Joins Disabilities Advocates to Unveil Job Training Legislation

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) joined local developmental disabilities advocates on Monday to announce legislation (A. 5141) that will ensure job seekers with developmental disabilities have access to critical communication training.

“This legislation will help unlock the potential of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “Communication training is a critical resource to help people with developmental disabilities find the right job, flourish in an education setting or just enjoy a better quality of life.”

Santabarbara’s legislation directs the state to offer communication support as one of the vocational rehabilitation services available to New Yorkers seeking employment. Training is an important part of addressing the high unemployment rates for people with developmental disabilities, especially people with Autism, who need help improving interpersonal skills.

The measure was drafted with the help of two local activists, Henny Kupferstein and Rebecca Botta-Zalucki, who identified the gap in services and worked with Assemblyman Santabarbara’s office to address the issue.

The Schenectady ARC, Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region, Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association and Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) all support the proposal. State Sen. David Carlucci, the chair of the Senate Social Services Committee and former chair of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

“In addition to providing individuals with autism an opportunity to showcase their strengths and expertise in the workplace, this legislation will give employers a chance to realize that individuals with autism are hard-working, intelligent, and more than capable of performing superior work,” said Rebecca Botta-Zalucki, a disability rights advocate and a graduate student at the University at Albany, who helped craft the legislation.

"At GRASP, we provide services, programming, and support for Teens, Adults, and Family Members to increase independence, self-advocacy, and the quality of social, academic, and workplace interactions. Through our programs, we have found that Adults on the Autism Spectrum struggle the most with gaining and sustaining employment than any other area. Heightened anxiety, social interactions, effective communication, sensory issues, problem-solving, and time management are just some of the difficulties that Autistic Adults face every day with employment situations. I support this important legislation because it will help to bring awareness and solutions to the growing concern of employment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders." - Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership President/CEO, Kate Palmer, MA, CCP, CAS

“As an academic coach for high school and college students, I know that providing communication support services is critical to unlocking a young person’s potential, especially if they have trouble interacting with people. This legislation will help equip people with the social and professional skills that will ensure they can thrive,” said Stephen Motto, owner of CUSP Educational Services in Albany.