Governor Hochul Launches First Annual Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month in New York State

Governor Kathy Hochul today kicked off the first annual Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month Symposium in New York City, featuring both a one-day event featuring a vendor fair, workshops, entertainment and awards, and will also offer an online job fair to highlight the state’s commitment to supporting the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace next Tuesday, October 11. Governor Hochul also signed legislation (S.7578-C/A.8549-C) that will allow the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities to establish a voluntary training and certification program for employers who hire workers. People with Disabilities; and another law (A.8915-B/S.7746-B) that creates a new threshold for the percentage of a preferred source contract that must be performed by New Yorkers with disabilities.

“To make the New York Dream a reality, we must continue to make our state inclusive, integrated and accessible to all,” Governor Hochul said. “Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month recognizes how far we have come to that end and the realization that there is still work to be done to expand the rights of people with disabilities and ensure they have the same opportunities in the job market as all New Yorkers.”

The Governor also issued a proclamation launching the first annual Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month and “DREAM” Symposium, aimed at recognizing the rights of New York City’s disability community, including the right to equal employment opportunities. The two-day event that began today included an in-person vendor fair with over 70 private, public and non-profit organizations and will continue next Tuesday with a virtual job fair featuring over 100 companies interested in hiring people with disabilities and nearly 8,000 job offers.

The symposium included four workshops related to the employment of people with disabilities:

  • The ABLE Program in New York State
  • An overview of the 5.07 plan proposed by the OPWDD – 2023-2027
  • New York State Public Service 55 B & C Programs
  • Work incentives for people with disabilities

Also at the symposium, the state recognized the accomplishments of two advocates whose work has helped ensure that people with disabilities are served in the most inclusive, integrated and accessible way possible to meet their needs. Brad Williams, executive director of the New York State Independent Living Council, received the DREAM Lifetime Advocacy Achievement Award, while Kristin Booth Glen, retired college professor and dean emeritus of the CUNY School of Law, received the 2022 DREAM Advocate Award. . The event also featured FLAME the Band, a group of disabled musicians who performed at the Empire State Plaza Concourse.

Prior to the symposium, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.7578-C/A.8549-C) directing the State Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities to establish a voluntary training and certification program for employers who have made the agency’s EmployAbility Pledge. . The voluntary training program will promote techniques and strategies that employers can implement to increase diversity by hiring people with disabilities.

State Senator John Mannion said: “We know there is a direct correlation between the Preferred Source program, employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and billions of dollars in economic activity. My bills expand the program and create new guidelines and certifications for helping businesses connect with and support employees with disabilities. I hope this will open the floodgates with employment opportunities for a community that is experiencing a horrendous 70% unemployment rate. These bills are part of my commitment to building a fairer, more equitable New York City and I am deeply grateful for Governor Hochul’s partnership and leadership.”

Assemblyman Chris Burdick said: “As Chair of the Employment Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Sub-Committee, I have learned a great deal about the many barriers to employment for this population. My two bills, A8549 and A8915, will help inspire and to encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities Thank you Thank you Governor Hochul and Commissioner OPWDD Neifeld for working together to make real progress in this area We are not where we need to be yet, but these bills are a step in the right direction.

Governor Hochul also signed legislation (S.7746-B/A.8915-B) that modernizes the preferred source law and creates a new threshold for the percentage of such contracts that must be performed by New Yorkers with disabilities. or persons otherwise qualified to receive such status. The new law establishes a standard that 50% or more of the work of a preferred source contract must be performed by people with disabilities and sets a threshold for discretionary spending at $100,000 without approval from the Office of General Service of the United States. ‘State.

Chief Disability Officer Kim T. Hill said: “We have a responsibility to protect and fulfill the rights that people with disabilities want and deserve, including the right to gainful, productive, inclusive and necessary employment. Together, we must strive to improve opportunities and protect the rights of persons with disabilities to lead fully integrated lives in our communities, which will lead to successful employment outcomes, career advancement and entrepreneurship for persons with disabilities and truly make our state inclusive for all new Yorkers. ”

In addition, an exhibit on disability rights and employment awareness is on display in the Governor’s Reception Room on the second floor of the New York State Capitol through November 4. The exhibit pays tribute to the rich history, challenges and achievements of the disability rights movement, and the protections, services and supports that have been achieved in New York State.

The exhibit features images and stories of New Yorkers who fought and continue to fight for rights, including the wheelchair used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Executive Mansion during his tenure as governor. A panel version of the exhibit will be on display at the Empire State Plaza today as part of the symposium.

Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York State is reinvigorating the Jobs First Commission and its goals to reinforce a strong commitment to significantly improve the employment rate of people with disabilities. Established in 2015, New York’s Employment First policy is a tool for government, community agencies and advocacy organizations to work collaboratively to increase the employment rate of New Yorkers with disabilities receiving services.

Earlier this year, Governor Hochul also established the first-ever Office of the State’s Chief Disability Officer to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. New office helps make New York a model of inclusivity, integration, and accessibility by ensuring that all state policies, programs, and activities truly meet the needs of all people disabilities.

Hill, who was named director of disability in February, is working with the state’s director of diversity in the Executive Chamber to further strengthen a holistic approach across the state. She also coordinates the state’s implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and chairs the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council.

Office of Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said: “Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities can and should play a vital role in our state’s economy, as they represent a largely untapped pool of employees who are ready, willing, and able to work. OPWDD is proud to partner with the Chief Disability Office and its sister agencies to help all New Yorkers achieve dignity and economic independence through meaningful employment.”

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said: “A diverse and inclusive workforce is key to success and the DOL remains committed to ensuring equitable opportunities for people with disabilities. Every New Yorker deserves the chance to find a career they love and National Awareness Month employing people with disabilities is a great opportunity for companies to review their policies and practices, and showcase inclusion efforts.”

Dr. Ann Sullivan, commissioner of the Office of Mental Health, said: “The Office of Mental Health is committed to supporting the recovery process for people with mental illness through competitive and inclusive employment. In addition to economic benefits, employment fosters a sense of independence, builds self-esteem, provides coping strategies for psychiatric symptoms, and provides opportunities for personal development I thank Governor Hochul and Chief Disability Officer Kim Hill for hosting the first annual Awareness Month celebration Disability Rights and Employment in New York, during which we commit to making New York a leader in advancing the rights and employment opportunities for people. The OMH continues to work with partner government agencies to improve vocational, educational, employment and training programs for people with disabilities.

Civil Service Department Commissioner Timothy Hogues said: “Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, the Empire State has made dramatic strides in creating and enhancing opportunity for all New Yorkers, dismantling barriers to social and economic mobility and promoting equal opportunity for all. . The Department of Public Service is pleased to be part of the first Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month in New York State to highlight the public service career opportunities that are available to disabled people. Through programs such as the Governor’s Program to Hire Individuals and Veterans with Disabilities, we are creating pathways to public service for individuals and veterans We look forward to working with our state agency partners to continue to build a public workforce that can best serve the interests of all New Yorkers. »

Office of Child and Family Services Commissioner Sheila Poole said“Our agency recognizes the enormous value of a diverse workforce – which also includes people with disabilities. OCFS is home to the State Commission for the Blind, whose mission is to improve employability, maximize the independence and to help develop the abilities and strengths of people who are blind and partially sighted. The Commission is a partner of the state that provides comprehensive employment and training for youth and adults to enable adults better quality jobs Programs focus on meaningful jobs so individuals can lead fulfilling and productive lives We work closely with the Department of Labor and Career Centers to improve system accessibility for blind job seekers with assistive technology and technical assistance.”

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