Assembly Member Seawright Passes Legislation to Support New Yorkers with Disabilities

Assembly Member Seawright (D-Manhattan) announced the Assembly passed legislation to help improve the quality of life for New Yorkers with disabilities in honor of this year’s Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day.

“People with disabilities face unique challenges every day,” said Assembly Member Seawright. “It’s important that we continue to address the issues that affect them most and ensure they have the opportunity to attain the quality of life they deserve.”

Strengthening rights for New Yorkers with disabilities

The Assembly’s legislation includes measures to fight discrimination against New Yorkers with disabilities. These bills would:

  • ensure equal protection for all New York State employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (A.5388);
  • require that sign-language interpreters be available upon request for hearing-impaired individuals at public hearings and meetings, in addition to establishing provisions for assistive listening systems to be required in rooms used for public hearings that accommodate more than 100 people (A.1669-A); and
  • include the consideration of a treating physician’s opinion in determining work limitations due to a disability or medical condition that could affect a person’s compliance with public assistance work requirements (A.3450).

“By improving access to public facilities and adding protections for people living with disabilities, we can ensure no one is denied their basic rights and has the chance to take part in everyday activities,” said Assembly Member Seawright.

Ensuring equal access to voting

The legislative package also includes a measure enabling blind and visually impaired voters to request Braille or large-print absentee ballots for all elections administered under the election and education laws (A.2104-A).

“Voting is the most important right in a democracy, allowing citizens to have a voice in their government,” said Assembly Member Seawright. “By offering alternatives to accommodate voters who are blind and visually impaired, we help ensure all New Yorkers can take part in the democratic process.”

Improving emergency preparedness

The Assembly also passed a series of measures to ensure that proper protections and assistance are available for New Yorkers with disabilities during an emergency. The first measure would require owners of high-rise buildings to establish an emergency evacuation plan for occupants and visitors with disabilities, update and maintain the plan as necessary and ensure the evacuation plan is available to emergency personnel (A.2200). Another measure requires that counties with local emergency management plans to maintain a confidential, voluntary registry of residents with disabilities who may require assistance or shelter during a disaster (A.2658-A).

“In the wake of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, the need is clear for increased emergency preparedness,” said Assembly Member Seawright. “These bills will help protect New Yorkers with disabilities during natural disasters and uphold our commitment to serving the needs of all citizens.”

Supporting veterans

The Assembly’s legislation would also establish the New York State Interagency Coordinating Council for Service-Disabled Veterans to better identify the needs of service-disabled veterans and help them gain access to the appropriate state resources (A.4789-A).

“We must ensure that all service-disabled veterans are able to take advantage of the programs and benefits available to them,” said Assembly Member Seawright. “This council will help the brave men and women who served our country get the support they deserve.”

Providing better housing opportunities

The Assembly also passed a bill that would give tenants with physically disabling conditions affecting their mobility who are living in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings preference when a unit on a lower floor in their building becomes available (A.4232).

In addition, the legislative package includes a measure to provide a tax credit for homeowners to incentivize retrofitting homes with qualified improvements, such as no-step entrances and grab bars in bathrooms (A.6243-B). The tax credit would be equal to 30 percent of retrofitting expenditures up to $5,000.

“These measures will improve housing options for people with disabilities and allow them to avoid undue hardship and achieve greater independence,” said Assembly Member Seawright.

Encouraging community living

An additional measure provides an exemption to the Nurse Practice Act allowing advanced home health aides to perform advanced tasks, including administering medicine, under the direct supervision of a registered professional nurse (A.7188-A).

“This bill expands access to home health care and allows more individuals with disabilities to remain at home where they feel most comfortable,” said Assembly Member Seawright.