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Greater New York Council of the Blind

A chapter of the American Council of the Blind of New York; An affiliate of the American Council of the Blind

ACBNY Legislative Imperatives for 2022

The American Council of the Blind of New York (ACBNY) is a volunteer organization. Any and all questions should be directed to the Legislative Chairs:

Ian Foley: (716) 892-1983

ACBNY strongly supports A5740 (Lupardo) and S3763 (Persaud), establishing licensing requirements for two categories of vision rehabilitation professionals, licensed orientation and mobility specialists and licensed vision rehabilitation therapists.

As New Yorkers age, the number of persons with significant visual impairments is increasing. There is also an increase in the number of babies surviving prematurity, low birth weight, congenital conditions and diseases. They often experience multiple disabilities including vision loss.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists provide people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired with instruction in the use of their remaining senses along with a prescribed white and red cane to enable safe navigation and independent travel in their environment. O&M specialists prepare people who are blind or visually impaired to attain mobility skills to qualify for a guide dog.

Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) provide training in the reading and writing of braille, safe cooking techniques, childcare, medication management, instruction in keyboarding and the use of adaptive and other technologies and skills that enable people who are blind to manage independently at home, work and in the community.

Licensure increases the number of qualified professionals who are specifically trained to meet the unique needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. Licensure assures the provision of quality services through regulation and examination of these professionals. Licensure promotes consumer safety and ensures that individuals who are blind have access to trained professionals who have received specialized supervised training in working with people who are blind or visually impaired.

ACBNY strongly supports The Infant Vision Information, Education and Wellness Act S3255 (Sanders) and A5305 (Taylor).

ACBNY joins the Executive Board of NYSCB in calling for the State to establish a mandatory infant/early childhood vision screening program so that vision-related deficits that can result in significant developmental delays can be detected and prompt referral for vision-related early intervention services can be made. New York State mandates such screening with respect to hearing, but astonishingly, there is no such mandate for vision screening. Yet tools exist, whether medical or educational, to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of untreated vision loss on the infant, his/her family, and community. This bill would create an advisory board within the Department of Health to advise DOH on the creation of a system to screen each newborn in the state for vision abnormalities and a system to educate parents of each newborn and infant on the merits of having vision screening performed and receiving follow-up care. Visual problems discovered during infant vision screening are often indicators of other neurological issues, including autism. We believe that vision screening requirements should explicitly cover both newborns and children up to two years of age, as the best approach to assuring that vision-related issues not readily susceptible to detection at or near birth can nevertheless be detected as early as possible in a childís life.

ACBNY strongly supports A3181 (Steck) as well as S5092 (Kennedy), requiring counties to expand paratransit beyond ADA minimums.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), mandates all counties that have a fixed route system provide paratransit services to people with disabilities unable to take the fixed route bus. Service must be provided to locations within ĺ of a mile of the closest fixed route bus stop. While this is a minimum service, counties can and should provide transportation services to people with disabilities throughout their service area. As fixed routes get cut back, especially upstate, many people are left stranded with no transportation. As a result, blind people are too often isolated and unable to work, go shopping, or attend houses of worship, and the like, because they donít have reliable transportation. There is a real need to ensure comprehensive paratransit services are provided throughout the State.

A3181 Summary:

Requires accessible buses to be available within a service area measuring three miles from any bus line of the authority or its subsidiaries.

ACBNY strongly supports A3137 (Epstein) and S1629 (Skoufis), establishing goals for participation by individuals with disabilities with respect to state employment, state contracts, legislative employment, and judicial employment.

This legislation will help to employ people with disabilities in companies and organizations that contract with the State of New York, and help to level the divide of employment for people with disabilities in our state. ACBNY believes that supporting this legislation will enhance the stateís diversity goals while helping to employ qualified persons with disabilities throughout the state. ACBNY further supports this legislation because similar standards have already been enacted on the federal level. Incorporating legislation like this into the state will also assist companies and organizations who may want to pursue federal contracts as well.

ACBNY strongly supports A1115C (Paulin) and S309 (Zellnor Myrie) which would amend Election Law to ban hybrid voting machines from New York State.

Blind and disabled people rely on fully accessible voting systems in order to vote privately and independently in person. As the State seeks to bring new voting systems into NYS, it is essential new voting systems work for blind and disabled people. This bill would ban hybrid voting systems which cause significant security concerns and which have significant barriers to full accessibility. †

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