Creating Title VI of the ADA
Currently the ADA has five sections, but we’re working to add another that specifically address the rights of people with disabilities to live in the community. Our advocates have not only drafted the legislation for Title VI of the ADA, entitled the Community Integration Act, but have also actively worked to have the legislation introduced and supported by members of Congress. In addition to going to Washington, D.C. to push for the Community Integration Act, our Advocacy Team has also reached out to many other organizations and agencies to garner support for this important civil rights legislation that will ensure that any person who wants to live in the community will be able to do so.
Advocating for a universally accessible voting system in all New York elections
The effort to secure voting rights for all New Yorkers with Disabilities does not end with the elimination of lever voting machines. Those machines are only one form of inaccessible voting. We believe that all votes should be cast using a voting system which is accessible to all people. When it comes to fundamental civil rights, “separate but equal” is not a solution. The votes of people with disabilities must not be cast using a neglected, secondary system which segregates our votes from those of our neighbors. We advocate for the creation of a truly integrated, accessible voting system so that all New Yorkers can vote privately and independently.
Increasing the availability of accessible, affordable, integrated housing
A lack of accessible, affordable, integrated housing may be single largest obstacle to community integration for people with disabilities. Accessible housing must be integrated into the community; buildings and complexes which are entirely occupied by people with disabilities are segregated housing options. Accessible housing must be affordable; living in the community is not a luxury but a right. We are working on many fronts to establish incentives for the creation of this housing, including tax incentives, grants and funding streams, and changes to regulation and building codes to ensure that there are places for our people to live in the community.
Fighting for Advanced Home Health Aides in New York State
Right now, many New Yorkers with disabilities are forced into institutions in order to receive assistance with health-related tasks like cutting fingernails, taking insulin or other medication, using a ventilator, receiving medicated eye drops, or changing an ostomy. These tasks can be performed safely in the community by a trained Advanced Home Health Aide (AHHA) under the supervision of a nurse. We are advocating for the creation of AHHAs, and for the amendment of the Nurse Practice Act to allow nurses to assign these tasks to an AHHA. We have participated in workgroups to shape the legislative proposal, and have participated in call-in days, letter writing campaigns, in-person lobby days, and direct action to advance this proposal, and we will continue to work on this until our people can live in freedom.
Creating the New York State Office on Community Living
CDR has called for the creation of an Office on Community Living, an office that would bring together all of New York’s services and supports with the goal of promoting community living, to address gaps in those services and supports that cause people to be forced into institutions, and to work toward addressing the institutional bias in Medicaid. The Governor has convened a stakeholder workgroup to discuss the creation of this office, and CDR intends to participate in the workgroup and to work for the creation of the office.
Increasing Participation of New Yorkers with Disabilities in Elections
Over the last two years we have worked to establish the New York Disability Vote Network to make sure the voice of the Disability Community is heard in Albany and Washington. We continue to recruit new members to this voting bloc and inform them of when elections are as well as other news about voting that affects people with disabilities. A local voting concern is the accessibility of polling places. CDR continues to monitor changes to the places we vote and collects stories about inaccessible polls in order to change them.
Advocating for Accessible, Affordable Transportation
The lack of affordable, accessible transportation remains one of the largest barriers to people with disabilities living in the community. Without the ability to get to jobs, medical appointments, and grocery stores, many disabled people are unnecessarily doomed to a life in an institution. CDR continues to advocate for changes to paratransit in the Rochester area as well as across the state and country. Increased funding, increased service areas, and lower costs are all on our list of things we are working to accomplish.
Improving Police Interaction with the Deaf Community
Communication issues have caused problems between local law enforcement agencies and members of the Deaf Community. We have been spearheading a local committee made up of Deaf community members and representatives from the Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. This committee will be focuses on issues around domestic violence as well as the use of interpreters in a variety of situations.
Fighting for Movie Theater Captioning
In order for the Deaf Community to have equal access to movies in theaters, captioning must be on the movie screen. Corporate movie theaters continue to push bulky, uncomfortable glasses that Deaf people must use in order to have access to the same entertainment hearing people have. We are organizing members of the community in order to have open-captioned movies available for all who want them.
Creating and Implementing an Emergency Communication Policy
During Super Storm Sandy, local officials kept most of the community updated on what was happening and what resources were available to those who needed them. Absent from all of this were interpreters and live captioning. Rochester’s large Deaf population were left in the dark as to what was going on, creating a life-threatening situation that could have easily been avoided. We are working toward the County creating a policy in which all information disseminated during an emergency will be accessible to everyone.