Sunday, July 26, marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, historic legislation that gives individuals with disabilities certain legal rights and protections, while sending a message to all Americans that disabilities rights are civil rights.
The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion.
It also assures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities and access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs, services and telecommunications.
As the former chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and current chair of the Senate Committee on Social Services, I work with advocates, constituents and my colleagues in the legislature on initiatives to advance the health, independence and quality of life for people with disabilities.
To increase employment and independence, we passed the ABLE Act, legislation that provides people with disabilities and their families the ability to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.
We also passed Inspire New York, legislation that creates a tax credit to incentivize employers to hire individuals with a developmental disability who are unemployed or a current employee of a sheltered workshop.
We continue our work to decrease the stigma associated with disabilities and mental health by creating the Mental Health Public Awareness Tax Check Off, which allows taxpayers the ability to make a tax-free donation that will fund mental health public awareness campaigns across the state to help end the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage those in need of help to seek treatment.
Legislation was also passed in New York state that requires the removal of the word handicapped from new or replaced state signage, as well as update and eliminate the stigma of the old the accessibility logo.
As we celebrate this important anniversary, please join me in reaffirming your commitment to the ADA by signing the national pledge at www.adaanniversary.org. For more information, contact Krista Gobins at 845-242-6797.
Click here to follow Daily Voice Ossining and receive free news updates.