The New York State Assembly
Speaker Sheldon Silver
Assemblymember Amy Paulin, Chair
Assemblymember Peter M. Rivera, Chair
The New York State Assembly
Schedule of Events
9:00 am – 10:00 am — Continental Breakfast — Well of LOB
10:00 am — Opening Ceremony — Well of LOB
10:00 am – 2:00 pm — Sixth Grade Poster Contest Exhibit — Well of LOB
10:00 am – 2:00 pm — Art Exhibit
10:00 am – 2:00 pm — Exhibitor Fair
To Be Announced — Assembly Session — Assembly Chamber, Capitol
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm — Luncheon — Well of LOB
1:00 pm – 2:45 pm — Seminars — Hearing Rooms B and C of LOB
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
2005 Disabilities Awareness Day
Legislative Package Summary
*subject to change
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to telephone access for all New Yorkers.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this bill is to ensure equitable access to basic telephone service for people with disabilities.
JUSTIFICATION: Telecommunications services provide a rapid and essential link between the general public and critical services such as police, fire and medical assistance. Currently, there are approximately 1.6 million New Yorkers who are deaf or hard of hearing who are not entitled to the same basic telephone services that non-disabled people can obtain easily. No deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing citizen of New York State should be denied equal access to our telecommunications network. This group of individuals has been forced to purchase special devices to make telephone service a reality to them. This bill would provide that all people, regardless of disability, have access to basic telecommunications services. There are 11 states that provide similar programs utilizing a surcharge on all telephone customers.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public officers law, in relation to the accessibility of public hearings and meetings.
PURPOSE: To provide interpreters for deaf individuals and assistive listening devices at public hearings and meetings.
JUSTIFICATION: The services of interpreters and assistive listening devices for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing are essential if such persons are to fully participate in public hearings and meetings conducted by governmental bodies. Similar provisions exist for administrative rule making proceedings. Individuals who are deaf who wish to attend such meetings or hearings would be required to request in advance the services of an interpreter and the public body would be required to engage the services of a qualified interpreter of the deaf to interpret the proceedings of the meeting or hearing. The same request process would apply for those who are hard of hearing to have an assistive listening device at a public meeting or hearing.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the real property tax law, in relation to including people with disabilities in the definition of eligible head of the household for certain tax abatement purposes.
PURPOSE: This bill would authorize local governments to grant exemptions from rent increases for people with disabilities of limited income who reside in rent-controlled, rent-subsidized, or Mitchell-Lama housing. Its provisions would grant to people with disabilities the same protection from rent increases that are now provided for low-income senior citizens under the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program.
JUSTIFICATION: Real Property Tax Law sections 467-b and 467-c were enacted to authorize localities to lessen the impact of rising rental obligations on low-income senior citizens, leaving more of their limited incomes free to apply to other necessities, such as food, clothing and health care. For more than 25 years, these provisions have helped low-income seniors residing in several municipalities to remain in their homes.
Providing vital housing assistance to persons of limited income is critical if current issues of adequate, affordable housing are to be addressed. A recent comprehensive study of housing issues in New York City indicates conclusively that there is a dramatic — and widening — housing affordability gap for low-income populations. Since 1981 rents in the city have risen at a rate far exceeding the general inflation rate: while the consumer prices increased 96.4 percent from 1981-1999, median gross rents in New York City rose an alarming 166.2 percent. In 1999, more than 500,000 renting households saw more than one-half of household income spent on housing - a nearly unbearable burden.
Adding to the affordability gap is the loss of 500,000 low-cost housing units in New York City since 1990. Moreover, the number of rent-stabilized units renting for less than $600 per month fell by more than 40 percent between 1996 and 1999, and is expected to diminish even further.
Often, people with disabilities look to programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as their main sources of income. And, while nationally the fair market value of an efficiency rental unit amounts to 58.5 percent of the monthly SSI benefit, figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development show that rental amounts are 121 percent of the monthly SSI benefit in New York City, 129 percent of the benefit in Nassau and Suffolk counties combined, and 116 percent in Westchester County. It is clear that low-income people with disabilities are seeing their incomes especially strained by the current trend toward higher rents.
While these trends have a negative impact on all people seeking affordable, adequate and safe housing, they pose even greater challenges for people with disabilities, who also face the challenge of finding accessible housing. People who use wheelchairs, for example, are faced with the fact that only one in five dwellings is accessible to them. Others are confronted by similar problems: hearing-impaired people may need special intercom systems for building entry; blind people need housing closer to public transportation; people with mental disabilities may need quiet environments. As rents increase at much greater rates than general inflation and the supply of safe and affordable housing for people with disabilities dwindles, these already vulnerable populations face an increasing risk of homelessness. High rates of disability and serious medical problems among New York’s single-adult shelter population have been well chronicled and illustrate the immediacy of the need to help people with disabilities remain in their homes.
The concept of extending SCRIE to people with disabilities is a logical one, and one that was first recommended in 1980 by the New York State Temporary Commission on Rental Housing. All of the myriad reasons for the original enactment of these provisions for senior citizens are applicable to people with disabilities. Moreover, low-income people with disabilities face greater challenges to maximizing income, while at the same time they face greater expenses in coping with their disabilities. Assisting people with disabilities should be a high priority for government in an effort to avert the rising threat of homelessness they face. Acknowledging this priority and recognizing the wisdom of averting homelessness, two municipalities in Nassau County have passed local measures — one to expand eligibility for the SCRIE program and one to adopt it — in the past year.
Currently, the City of New York and 14 other municipalities in Nassau and Westchester counties have granted the exemption to low-income senior citizens. These jurisdictions would additionally be permitted to grant rent increase protection to people with disabilities under this bill, while other jurisdictions subject to rent-control, rent-subsidy, or Mitchell-Lama laws would be permitted to enact Local Laws protecting low-income households headed by eligible senior citizens and eligible people with disabilities.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law and the education law, in relation to making ballots available in Braille and large-print.
PURPOSE: To allow blind and visually impaired individuals access to ballots printed in Braille and large-print.
JUSTIFICATION: It is important that the blind and visually impaired have equal ballot access. This act will enable blind and visually impaired persons access to the ballot in polling places or by absentee ballot. Currently, a blind or visually impaired person must have someone accompany them into the voting booth and trust that the person will vote according to the blind or visually impaired person’s wishes.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to waiving the state’s sovereign immunity to claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
PURPOSE: This bill waives the state’s sovereign immunity with regard to application of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as it applies to the protection of state employees.
JUSTIFICATION: On February 22, 2001, the US Supreme Court ruled in Board of Trustees v. Garrett that in the enactment of the ADA, US Congress has exceeded its power to authorize lawsuits by residents against their own states under the 11th Amendment. However, the ruling allows states to opt to hold themselves to the standards that were originally set out by the ADA, prior to that decision by waiving their sovereign immunity and thereby permitting actions in state courts. This ruling effectively took away the protection for state workers under the ADA while upholding the same protection for privately employed individuals, creating a disparity. This bill will ensure that all employees, including those employed by the state, have the same protections under the ADA as they have had since 1990.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the banking law, in relation to making ATMs accessible to the visually impaired.
PURPOSE: To require ATMs to use both audio and visual systems of relaying messages to its customers, thus providing equal access for all individuals.
JUSTIFICATION: As technology increases, more and more people rely on automated teller machines (ATMs) as a method for doing daily banking tasks. While many ATMs currently have Braille labels indicating the functions of some buttons, most machines do not have any non-visual method for reading or relaying the sequence of messages that appear on the screen. All individuals should have an equal opportunity to access these machines.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law, in relation to authorizing the health department to develop regulations pertaining to hard of hearing hospital patients and others.
PURPOSE: To authorize the Department of Health to develop regulations pertaining to deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing hospital patients, or patients of minor age whose parents or guardians are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing.
JUSTIFICATION: Most deaf people tend to be cut off from auditory and written modes of information exchange. As a result of the intercultural attitude barriers that keep deaf people isolated within the deaf communities, and the barriers imposed by communication problems, it is difficult to estimate the degree and range of communication difficulties or even the strategies deaf people may have evolved in order to access and use medical services.
Despite federal statutes mandating accessible health and mental health care for disabled persons (e.g. Americans with Disabilities Act P.L.l0l-l36), this service need of deaf Americans remains profoundly underserved. This is also very true for deaf-blind and hard of hearing people, especially in medical settings. Deaf people encounter barriers to the use of routinely provided health and medical services that do not exist for hearing people. It is especially important for health professionals (nurses, doctors, admission office personnel, social workers, and pharmacists) to realize that deaf people communicate in different ways, depending on several factors including: language skills; amount of residual hearing; speechreading skills and speech abilities. Deaf-blind patients need interpreter services appropriate to them. Hard of hearing patients need assistive listening devices.
The health and mental health needs of the deaf population are comparable to their hearing counterparts. However, barriers of communication, insensitivity to deaf culture, general lack of information about the deaf population and limited training related to the unique needs of deaf people have resulted in a scarcity of effective health services for deaf people. Trust and communication are perhaps the two greatest factors in improving health services for the deaf population. There is a strong “grapevine” effect in the deaf community. Hearing health professionals can build an atmosphere of trust through clear communication and sensitivity with deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing individuals. It is likely that lack of trust and difficulty in communication inhibits many people from receiving adequate health care. Health services must be completely accessible — socially, psychologically, and communicatively — to deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing people, in order for them to be comfortable enough to use them. Without special services tailored to the unique communication needs of deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing people, their medical and other health needs will continue to be largely unmet and health communication problems will go on being undiscovered and unremediated.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to off-street parking for the handicapped at retail stores.
PURPOSE: To provide convenient handicapped parking at shopping facilities.
JUSTIFICATION: Chapter 203 of the Laws of 1981 mandated that shopping centers and facilities with at least five retail stores and twenty off-street parking spaces provide designated handicapped parking spaces for their customers with disabilities. While this measure was a major step forward in recognizing the right of drivers with disabilities in New York State to be accommodated with convenient access to retail stores, it’s become clear that there are still many small shopping centers which aren’t covered by this law and which can’t be legally required to provide handicapped parking spaces.
This bill would help correct this problem by requiring that all shopping centers and facilities with at least three stores and twenty off-street parking spaces provide designated handicapped parking spaces. The number of stores would then be reduced to one within a two-year period, allowing significantly more handicapped parking spaces to be gradually phased in.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to clarifying the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in the area of government services.
PURPOSE: To clarify the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the area of government services to be consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights.
JUSTIFICATION: Beginning with the adoption of Chapter 988 of the laws of 1974, true nondiscrimination requires more than merely refraining from offensive conduct. In some instances, there are certain modest actions which must be undertaken to assure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in certain programs, services and activities.
Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, which are defined to include the same entities as covered by this proposal, plus certain transportation providers already covered under other sections of current state law. For nearly twenty years, similar requirements have been applied to any entity, including state and local government, which receives federal funds pursuant to the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Given the scope of the 1973 mandate and the extent to which state and local government continue to receive federal funds, the additional impact of this requirement should be minimal. Although Section 296 of the Executive Law already prohibits such discrimination by public entities as employers and operators of public facilities, this measure will clarify two key obligations of governmental entities providing benefits, programs or services.
First, it will be clear that prohibitions against discrimination extend beyond employment and use of facilities to services, programs and activities. This distinction becomes critical in the case of individuals who may be afforded full access to a facility but are denied the opportunity to participate in a program offered in that facility because of their disability. Second, the amendment will be consistent with comparable federal requirements and will clarify the obligation of the public entity to take reasonable actions to assure that the rules, policies or practices by which services, programs or activities are administered and that the existence of architectural, communication or transportation barriers or the absence of auxiliary aids and services do not prevent the participation of eligible people with disabilities in public entity services, programs and activities.
Given the minimal resources which the federal government is expected to devote to ADA enforcement, the availability of state enforcement mechanisms through the Human Rights Law is essential to assure adequate protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in the delivery of services by public entities.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to providing that access aisles of handicapped accessible parking spaces have to be at least eight feet wide.
PURPOSE: To ensure that access aisles of handicapped parking spaces are wide enough for people with disabilities to enter and exit their vehicles.
JUSTIFICATION: Access aisles that lie adjacent to handicapped accessible parking spaces are there for the purpose of allowing disabled persons, many times wheelchair users, to get into and out of their vehicles. Often times, these vehicles have ramps or lifts that extend quite a ways out the side door of the vehicle.
Eight feet is just enough space to allow wheelchair users to open the side door of their vehicles, extend the lift or ramp, and still have enough room to get off of the lift platform or ramp and turn. Any less amount of space than eight feet in width might not allow wheelchair users to maneuver between their vehicle and the vehicle parked next to theirs.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to requiring access aisles of handicapped parking spaces to be marked with "No Parking Anytime" signs.
PURPOSE: To prevent people from parking in the access aisles of handicapped parking spaces by further identifying access aisles with signs that are distinctly different from the signs that are currently required to be posted to identify handicapped accessible parking spaces.
JUSTIFICATION: Currently, many drivers, both disabled and able-bodied, use the access aisles that lie adjacent to handicapped accessible parking spaces as additional parking spaces. Often times these access aisles have no signage designating them as a no parking zone, and when disabled drivers who have properly parked in a handicapped parking space return to their vehicles, they find that they cannot get into their vehicle because someone has blocked the entrance by parking in the access aisle.
Adding signage that clearly identifies the access aisles will deter drivers who do not realize what these spaces are reserved for. In addition, it will provide for an enforcement mechanism for those who choose to park in the newly designated "No Parking Anytime" zones.
We need to ensure that people with disabilities who need to utilize the access aisles are not left unable to get into their vehicles because someone has carelessly parked in the area reserved for entering and exiting a car or van.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to polling places being situated on a public transportation route.
PURPOSE: To ensure, whenever feasible, that polling places be designated on a line of public transportation to enable individuals, particularly those with physical disabilities, who do not have their own transportation to get to and from their polling places.
JUSTIFICATION: The intent of this measure is to increase voter participation for those individuals without their own transportation, particularly for individuals who do not have transportation to vote or need parking currently not available at existing polling sites. The populations that would most benefit from this requirement include people with physical disabilities, senior citizens and low-income individuals.
This initiative is one way that New York State can ensure that every person who desires to vote is indeed able to do so.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public housing law, in relation to requiring any program or activity relating to housing which receives federal financial assistance to comply with the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
PURPOSE: To ensure that housing protections offered to people with disabilities under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act are also offered, and therefore enforceable, on the state level as well.
JUSTIFICATION: New York’s disability advocates have identified a lack of enforcement of Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act in New York State. Specifically, advocates have noted that some single and multi-family projects that have received federal monies through the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), local participating jurisdictions and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) are not in compliance with Section 504. Even in circumstances where these federally-funded projects have been in architectural compliance, developers who have accepted federal funds have not marketed the accessible units to eligible individuals with disabilities.
Some funding agencies have asserted that compliance with the state building code is sufficient to demonstrate compliance with Section 504. However, because these codes provide architectural standards and do not contain the set aside and marketing requirements of Section 504, adherence to these codes does not equate to compliance with the regulatory provisions of Section 504. Legislation to incorporate Section 504 into state law would greatly assist in the enforcement of these provisions in New York State. The incorporation of Section 504 and the clarification of enforcement responsibility in state law would assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining accessible housing by ensuring that accessible units are built and are occupied by those who need them.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public housing law, in relation to establishing a centralized statewide registry of accessible or adaptable housing for people with disabilities to be known as Access-New York.
PURPOSE: To enact a New York State housing registry containing up-to-date information regarding accessible housing statewide for people with disabilities.
JUSTIFICATION: In recent years, a social demand has called upon legislators to help relieve the burdens of finding accessible housing for people with disabilities. Locating housing that meets the needs of people with disabilities is a challenging task because many people with disabilities face a twofold problem. Many live on a fixed income, and cannot afford the high cost of housing, so they are very limited to the few units that are both inexpensive and accessible.
A statewide accessible housing registry in New York State would help correct the issue of locating suitable housing for people with disabilities. The registry would allow for people with disabilities to search for housing that suits their accessibility needs and income levels. It should be noted that, while mandatory, this program entails no enforcement mechanism that would be imposed on covered owners for non-compliance. The housing registry will provide free advertising and marketing to covered owners and allow them to maximize their units for rent or sale with notoriously long-term tenants.
This registry would be able to be accessed through both a website and a toll-free number. This bill calls for owners and operators to submit information regarding all housing that is accessible or adaptable to the Access-New York housing registry.
Information that must be submitted includes, but is not limited to, the following: location, rent levels or purchase price, projects receiving local, state or federal government assistance, whether or not the covered owner accepts subsidies such as Section 8, public assistance and/or local or municipal housing subsidies, the number of bedrooms, development amenities, neighborhood features, including whether or not such unit is on a line of public transportation, year of construction, particular accessible or adaptable features to assist persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, other particular accessible or adaptable features, vacancy status, waiting list status, contact information, including covered owner’s name, mailing address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, website and TTY phone number and any occupancy restrictions that apply to the unit.
This measure requires tenants who plan to vacate a unit to notify the owner or operator and Access-New York at least thirty days in advance, who in turn must again notify the registry once the unit has become vacant within three business days. Additionally, this measure requires the Commissioner of DHCR and the Secretary of State to market Access-New York to relevant organizations.
This bill also establishes a special advisory panel to assist DHCR in the facilitation of the development and management of Access-New York. This advisory panel will issue an annual report to the Legislature on the progress of Access-New York.
Welcome to the
New York State Assembly
Sixth Grade Poster Contest
Assemblymember Amy Paulin, Chair
Assemblymember Peter M. Rivera, Chair
Welcome to the
New York State Assembly
Assemblymember Amy Paulin, Chair
Assemblymember Peter M. Rivera, Chair
New York State Assembly
Exhibitor Fair Participants
Please Join Us At
9:00 am – 2:45 pm
Visit over 55 organizations
Attend Assembly Session
Attend seminars of interest to you:
New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]