New York Strengthens Rights of People with Disabilities on ADA Anniversary

New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package that further upholds and strengthens the rights of New Yorkers with disabilities on the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This legislative package encourages autonomy in decision making through a Supported Decision-Making Agreement and seeks to educate the public about the myriad ways people with intellectual and developmental disabilities contribute meaningfully to their communities and reduce harmful stigma and stereotyping. Governor Hochul also issued a proclamation commemorating the 32nd Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“The Americans With Disabilities Act established a comprehensive national mandate prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in all its forms,” Governor Hochul said. “With the bills I am signing today, New York State honors the ADA’s legacy by expanding the rights of people with disabilities and combatting stigma so that people with disabilities can live rich and full lives. To make the New York dream a reality, we will continue to make New York inclusive, integrated and accessible for all.”

The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner, Kerri E. Neifeld, said, “I commend Governor Hochul for signing this package of legislation and for honoring the ADA’s legacy by expanding the rights of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities to make their own decisions. OPWDD is committed to protecting and advancing the rights of people with developmental disabilities to live and work in communities of their choosing and to be free from discrimination.”

Legislation (S.7107b/A.8586b) recognizes Supported Decision-Making as a less restrictive alternative to guardianship that promotes autonomy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and empowers them to take an active role in making choices about their own lives. Supported Decision-Making changes the landscape in empowering individuals to make their own decisions with the support of a trusted person in their lives, while ensuring person-centered care and maximizing individual civil rights. The new law will formalize the legal process by which an individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities and trusted persons in their lives can reach a written agreement (a “Supported Decision-Making Agreement”) that describes the settings in which the individual desires support, the kinds of support they want from each trusted person, and how they want to receive that support. It will also create obligations and corresponding immunity from liability for third parties to honor and effectuate supported decisions made using a Supported Decision-Making Agreement. 

Legislation (S.6300c/A.7356c) requires OPWDD to develop and implement a public awareness campaign that combats discrimination stigma and stereotyping of people with developmental disabilities. The program will utilize public forums, social and mass media, the Internet, radio, and print advertising to educate the public about developmental disabilities and highlight positive contributions people with developmental disabilities make to the state and their communities.

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