Southern Tier Independence Center (STIC) Calls on Governor Hochul to Hire a Chief Disability Officer, and Sign A. 3130/
S.1836 Into Law, Reinstating the Office of the Advocate for People With Disabilities
There is currently no one single office that represents people with all types of disabilities in New York State government. This year, the legislature recognized that people with disabilities need greater representation and passed A.3130 (Steck) / S.1836 (Skoufis) to reinstate the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities.
This office was tasked with advising and assisting the governor in developing policies designed to help meet the needs of people with disabilities and served as the State’s coordinator for implementation of 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But this office no longer exists and there is no office to represent the interests of people with disabilities in state government.
Governor Hochul has an opportunity to break with the past and send a strong message to disabled New Yorkers that their needs and rights matter.
Originally established by Governor Mario Cuomo through Executive Order, the Office of the Advocate was intended to provide a formal voice within state government for New Yorkers with disabilities. The Office helped develop policies to ensure the state met the access needs of people with disabilities, and also served as the states coordinator for the implementation of Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
When a previous administration created the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs and consolidated the state offices, the vital policy and advocacy function that the Office of the Advocate provided did not survive. While there are state agencies that address individuals with specific diagnoses, there is no state agency charged with meeting the needs of the Disability Community at a systemic level. Large segments of the Disability Community are left without a state agency addressing their needs and representing their interests in state government.
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