FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Contact:  Alexander Englander, Communications Specialist, (518) 465-4650 
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TNC ACCESSIBILITY TASK FORCE RELEASES REPORT ON IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY FOR PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES

Advocates call for full implementation of all recommendations.

Albany, New York, February 25, 2019 –The Transportation Network Company (TNC) Accessibility Task Force has just issued their final report outlining their findings and providing recommendations on ways to ensure TNCs serve people with disabilities, especially wheelchair users, who are currently unable to utilize the service.

“Our objective was to provide strong recommendations that will significantly improve access to ridesharing for wheelchair users and others who have been unable to utilize the service while making sure the recommendations are achievable,” stated Meghan Parker, Task Force member and Director of Advocacy for the New York Association on Independent Living.

The New York State Transportation Network Company (TNC) Accessibility Task Force (the Task Force) was created as part of the legislation that authorized TNCs to operate statewide and were tasked with investigating the level of accessibility needed and identifying ways to improve access to riders with disabilities. Currently, TNCs do not provide service to people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices which cannot be folded up and stored in the trunk.

“The recommendations, if properly implemented, will provide a much greater level of access to wheelchair users and others. Given that most people who use power chairs are unable to use any on-demand transportation service right now, this will be a big improvement,” said Todd Vaarwerk, Task Force member and Chief Policy Officer for Western New York Independent Living in Buffalo.

The task force held five listening sessions around the State and collected comments via email throughout November and December 2018. Through this process, they heard from the public about a wide variety of transportation barriers facing individuals with disabilities. Among those issues are; wheelchair accessibility, lack of rural transit, safety concerns, service animal awareness, accountability, and affordability.

The Task Force has also made recommendations which are divided into two categories; state government and transportation network companies. Recommendations for the TNC include better accountability, availability, and accessibility; driver education, application accessibility and an expansion of the TNC model payment options. Recommendations made to the State Legislature include; establishment of a governing entity to provide oversite, provide incentives to increase wheelchair accessible cars, and incentivize accessible vehicles already in service by communities for TNC use.

“I think oversight on the part of the State is key to ensuring the rest of the recommendations are implemented. We very much look forward to action on the part of the legislature and the Executive to ensure this report is implemented and results in increased and comparable access for wheelchair users and other passengers with disabilities,” stated Denise Figueroa, Task Force member and Executive Director for the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy.

To view the final report, please follow the link provided: https://dmv.ny.gov/forms/tnctaskforcefinalreport.pdf.

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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.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 22, 2019

Contact: Pauline Barfield, Barfield Public Relations, 212-736-0404,
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Disability Rights Community Releases Budget and Legislative Report Cards In Advance of State Budget and Legislative Session
 
Albany, NY – Disability rights advocates have released report cards for the 2019-20 State Budget and 2019 Legislative Session. The disability community will be grading the Governor and Legislature on issues of critical importance to the community, including independent living, health, housing, employment, and transportation. Grades will be announced in April after enactment of the Budget, and in June, at the conclusion of the Legislative Session.
“With new leadership in the State Senate and a voter mandate for change, the disability community is optimistic that our priorities will be fully enacted this year. Not all of our Budget priorities are in the Executive Budget released on Tuesday, but we’re hopeful that after the Budget amendment period and three-way negotiations that they will be,” stated Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL). “We’re hoping for straight A’s.”
The report cards lay out the policies which must be enacted, and the programs which must be funded, to ensure community integration for New Yorkers with disabilities. Priorities include increased funding for several programs which are critical to the independence of people with disabilities, and which have been severely underfunded in recent years. This includes increased wages for home care workers to address the home care crisis and increased funding for home modifications through Access to Home to address the lack of accessible housing throughout the State. Other top priorities include increased funding for the statewide network of Independent Living Centers, as recommended by the Board of Regents. Also on the priority list is funding of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities, which is currently an unfunded Executive Order signed by both Governor Mario and Andrew Cuomo. The Office is needed to provide people with disabilities a voice in state government.
“All of these priorities would help implement New York State’s already articulated priorities – the Olmstead Plan, the Employment First Initiative and the ABLE Initiative,” stated Miller. “We need the resources and laws to turn these policy statements into real programs that will help people with disabilities to realize true independence and community integration.”
 
 

Below is information regarding our 2019 budget and legislative priorities:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2018

Contact: Pauline Barfield, Barfield Public Relations, 212-736-0404, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

(Albany, NY) - The disability community has issued a report card to New York State on the final Budget and concludes that the State has failed people with disabilities. This year marks five years since the release of the Governor’s Olmstead Plan, which outlined the State’s efforts to make sure people had the supports and services they need to live at home with their loved ones. But instead of advancing those efforts through the Budget, the State has turned back the clock on community integration by failing to fund vital programs like Independent Living Centers, Access to Home, and by enacting Medicaid changes which make it harder for people to leave institutions and live at home.

“Year after year the disability rights community makes common sense, inexpensive budget recommendations that would help to increase the independence and integration of New Yorkers with disabilities, requests that are minuscule in comparison to the billion-dollar investments being made into institutions and institutional providers through DSRIP.” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living, “Yet once again we are not only completely ignored, but left with new policies in place that make it harder for people with disabilities to access long term care services and supports in the community.”

The disability community actively advocates for programs and policies that increase the independence of people with disabilities and in doing so, save the State money. “Independent Living advocates were responsible for the creation of the Community First Choice Option (CFCO) at the federal level, and we were the ones to urge New York to implement it. As a result, New York is currently drawing down approximately $365 million annually in additional funds from the Federal Government for services under CFCO, and it isn’t even fully implemented yet,” said Bruce Darling, national organizer with ADAPT. “Instead of investing the millions of savings toward ensuring people have the supports and services they need to live in the community and out of institutions, the State failed people with disabilities in this Budget by leaving home care workers underpaid and making it much harder for people to leave institutions and get back into the community.”

The disability community has been advocating for Governor Andrew Cuomo to reactivate the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities, originally created in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo. The State Assembly proposed funding for the Advocate, but this was also not included in the final Budget.

“Any historical disability advocacy was eliminated by removing all advocacy responsibility from the Justice Center last year,” said Lindsay Miller. “The disability community needs a voice in state government and reinstating the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities would have been a good first step.”

 

Budget Reforms

The disability community also calls on the State Legislature to reform the Budget review process by creating a Disability Budget Subcommittee with a distinct table target. The Legislative Houses have both repeatedly recommended increased funding in their One House Budgets for Independent Living Centers, home modifications, and other disability community priorities, but none of these recommendations have survived the final 3-way Budget negotiations.

“The likelihood of Budget success would be greatly increased if there was a table target set in advance of Budget negotiations for important disability issues”, said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. “Our community has a broad range of priorities including advocacy services, healthcare, voting rights, transportation, accessible and affordable housing, and many others, and as a result we’ve been spread too thin across the existing Budget Subcommittee table targets and left behind due to limited resources and competing priorities.”

“Equally important to the disability community is Executive Budget leadership. “If the Governor would propose additional needed funding in his Budget, there’s no question that it would be in the final Budget agreement”, said Lindsay Miller. “Instead, the disability community feels that the Executive treats our issues as legislative member items, and not his responsibility.”

 

NYS Budget Impact on People with Disabilities
Disability Rights Community 2018 Legislative Report Card

 

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.