FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Contact: Alex Thompson, (518) 465-4650, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                                                     

 (Albany, NY) – Independent Living advocates expressed frustration and disappointment with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s veto of Assembly bill 4737/Senate bill 1674, which would have created the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities. The Governor instead chose to create a Chief Disability Officer position within the Executive Department, with a promise that it would address all the objectives of the legislation.

People with disabilities, particularly physical and sensory disabilities, are frustrated that the current structure of State government has left them without any representation when key policy and budget decisions are being made which impact their daily lives. As an example, a decision was made to authorize Uber and Lyft to operate statewide, without any requirement to provide comparable service to people who use wheelchairs. As a result, advocates had to file litigation to protect their rights.

The disability community applauds the sponsors of the legislation for their vision and for gaining   overwhelming support of both houses. “I appreciate the dedication of Senator Skoufis and Assemblyman Steck in moving us to this point. They have been great allies. Adding a Chief Disability Officer is a step in the right direction toward the recognition and voice we need. I’m hopeful that regular communication with the Chief Disability Officer will lead to a broader understanding by the executive chamber on our issues,” said Doug Hovey, President and CEO of Independent Living, Inc. based in Orange County.

 “We are deeply disappointed Governor Cuomo chose to veto this bill that would have created the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities and provide a voice to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities across the State. We have been working for years within the confines of the Budget process to make this Office a reality. We believe that the voice we are seeking requires more than one person. However, we will work with whoever is hired as the Chief Disability Officer, to make the Governor’s commitment to accomplish all the tasks outlined in the vetoed bill a reality,” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director for the New York Association on Independent Living. 

About NYAIL – The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is a statewide membership organization of Independent Living Centers (ILCs), community-based not-for-profit providers of advocacy, services and supports for New Yorkers with disabilities of all ages. ILCs are controlled by, and largely staffed by, people with disabilities. NYAIL strengthens local Independent Living Centers and is a leader in the civil rights movement for all people with disabilities.