101st Assembly District
Kevin Cahill

Room 557 LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-4436
Governor Clinton Building, One Albany Ave., Suite G-4
Kingston, NY 12401 • (845) 338-9610

For Immediate Release
Date: July 16, 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

New York State Assembly Hosts 2004 Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day
Program Highlights Contributions and Legislative Agenda of Disabilities Community

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Task Force on People with Disabilities Chair Kevin Cahill and Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Chair Peter Rivera today announced anticipated Assembly action on a series of bills aimed at guaranteeing access, basic rights and benefits for people with disabilities as the New York State Assembly observes Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day.

Sponsored by Silver, Cahill and Rivera, the annual event seeks to raise public awareness both about the needs and the many contributions of New York's disabilities community.

"From election law reform to ensuring health care access and basic rights, the Assembly Majority has worked to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship of mutual respect with the disabilities community," said Speaker Silver (D-Manhattan). "While it is with tremendous pride and honor that I join in the celebration, I know that as a state and as a nation, we have a long way to go before we can say that we have adequately addressed the concerns of the disabilities community."

"I am honored to be a co-sponsor of this important program that provides a chance to educate legislators, their staffs and the public on important issues that this community faces daily," Mr. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess), said. "This multi-faceted event also presents an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of advocates and persons with disabilities. I have welcomed all opportunities to reach out to my colleagues and the public to inform people about the needs and priorities of people with disabilities across New York State."

"I can not overstate the significance of today's show of strength by the disabilities community," Mr. Rivera (D-Bronx) said. "From electoral reform to advocating for equal opportunity, all New Yorkers are the beneficiaries of the battles being fought by people with disabilities. I look forward to continuing to join hands in our work to improve the lives of all New Yorkers."

Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day Events

Participating as guest of honor in the Assembly program is James C. Dickson, Vice President of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Co-Chair of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights Election Reform Task Force.

More than 45 organizations will be on hand to distribute information about the products, programs, technologies and services they provide for people with disabilities. In addition, a fourth-grade poster contest and an exhibit of artwork by people with disabilities will be showcased. The winner of the Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day Poster Contest, Brittney Krom from Ellenville Elementary School, will be presented with an award for her entry.

Seminars are being held in Hearing Rooms B and C in the Legislative Office Building on various disabilities issues. The topics to be discussed are:

  • The State of Olmstead in New York
  • Polling Place Access
  • Housing for People with Disabilities
  • Tennessee v. Lane, an Overview
  • Update on the Medicaid Buy-In Program
  • Due Process for Medicaid D.M.E Applications

2004 Disabilities Awareness Day Legislative Package

Cahill noted the Assembly is expected to act later this afternoon on a 10-bill package of legislation, crafted with the assistance of disabilities advocates, and aimed at ensuring fairness and equity in New York State.

"This year, we spent a significant amount of time formulating a legislative agenda for today's program that focuses on the themes of access, basic rights and benefits," Assemblymember Cahill noted. "Several legislative measures involving many of the issues that disabilities advocates have been fighting tirelessly for throughout this past year are set to be passed in recognition of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day."

Bills in the 2004 legislative package include:

  • A.11350-A (Cahill)/S.7073 (Meier) - Directs the Department of Health to apply for a federal waiver of Medicaid rules that will allow the state to provide home-and community-based services to individuals who would otherwise require nursing facility care. This program has the potential to save substantial amounts in the Medicaid program while serving individuals in the most integrated setting, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision.
  • A.5511 (Lifton) - Waives state's sovereign immunity to liability under the ADA, restoring the rights of state employees to sue the State of New York for damages due to violations of the ADA.
  • A.5476 (Cahill) - Requires access aisles of handicapped accessible parking places to be at least 8 feet wide to ensure that they are wide enough for people with disabilities to enter and exit their vehicles.
  • A.5471 (Cahill) - Requires access aisles of handicapped parking spaces to be marked with a sign and diagonal stripes to further prevent people from parking in such spaces.
  • A.5469 (Cahill) - Clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the state Human Rights Law in the area of public accommodations, consistent with the ADA and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights.
  • A.5468-A (Cahill)/S.5803 (Spano) - Clarifies 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, consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the current policies and practices of the state Division of Human Rights.
  • A.4503-A (Stringer) - Requires public officers and bodies to provide interpreters and assistive listening devices upon request for the hearing impaired at public hearings under certain conditions.
  • A.3863 (Weisenberg) - Requires ATMs to use both audio and visual system of relaying messages to its customers to provide equal access for all individuals.
  • A.3726-B (Koon) - Provides that ballots for all elections shall be made available in Braille or large print, upon request of a blind or visually impaired voter.
  • A.3215 (Sanders)/ S.5998 (Robach) - Requires a program for telephone access for all New Yorkers to ensure equitable access to basic telephone service for people with disabilities.

"We expect today's events to be a huge success," Mr. Cahill concluded. "I applaud the Assembly leadership in its commitment to people with disabilities. I urge the Senate and Governor to join us in our effort to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers, including those with disabilities, in the fight to help people remain active, independent members of our communities."