Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-AD 10), joined with his Assembly colleagues to mark Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day by passing a package of legislative initiatives to promote inclusion and access for New Yorkers with disabilities.
Among the measures approved today include establishing the Office of Advocate for People with Disabilities, to work on behalf of people with disabilities and ensure that they can exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to all citizens of New York State, including the opportunity to live an independent life in their local community. Access to legal remedies with respect to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination, Family and Medical Leave Act and others has been expanded as well.
The Assembly also approved measures requiring public officers and bodies to provide qualified interpreters and assistive learning devices for hearing impaired individuals upon request at public meetings and hearings at no charge and to clarify reasonable accommodation for persons with service animals.
Today the Assembly also passed a measure to ensure the safety of people with disabilities in the face of disasters and emergencies, Assemblyman Stern said. Similar to my Prepared to Protect Our Most Vulnerable Act, passed by the Suffolk County Legislature, and implemented by the Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Department, this measure requires counties across New York State with emergency management plans to maintain a confidential directory of persons with disabilities to ensure their safety during times of crisis.
Disability does not mean inability, Assemblyman Stern said. That is why the Assembly approved a measure to establish a small business tax credit for business that employ people with disabilities and enable them to earn a living and support their families.
As a Suffolk County Legislator, I authored and passed legislation to incorporate Universal Design to enable people with disabilities and older New Yorkers to remain in the homes they love and the communities they helped build. Today, the Assembly approved legislation to create a tax credit for new or retrofitted principal residences which are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing. Universal designs make residences accessible and user friendly for senior citizens and people with limited mobility. Providing individuals with the opportunity to age in place could save costs associated with assisted living or nursing homes and would assist in building an inventory of residences to ensure accessibility.
It is vital to provide every New Yorker with every reasonable opportunity to achieve, succeed and contribute to our communities, Assemblyman Stern said. These measures provide protection, opportunity and inclusion, not just on Disabilities Awareness Day, but every day.