American Council of the Blind logo

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 2024

The American Council of the Blind of New York (ACBNY) is a volunteer organization. Any and all questions should be directed to the Legislative Chair: Martin Cahill, (914) 573-6987

ACBNY strongly supports A3060 (Lupardo) and S2907 (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 necessary 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, keyboarding, and the use of adaptive technologies and skills that enable people who are blind to manage independently at home, at 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 S4151 (Sanders) and A3811 (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. Tools exist, whether medical or educational, to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of untreated vision loss on the infant, their family, and their 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 child’s life.

ACBNY strongly supports Adaptive Living Program (ALP) funding increase.

ALP provides critical services to older New Yorkers with the goal of allowing them to maintain their independence and alleviate risk of serious injury. Unfortunately, neither public nor private health insurance covers invaluable vision rehabilitation services and devices offered by highly qualified professionals. As a result, vision rehabilitation services can be hard to access, particularly for seniors. According to the National Eye Institute, less than 3% of the eligible population likely to benefit is currently receiving such services and devices.

Surveys conducted by agencies contracted by the New York State Commission for the Blind show that 6 months after ALP services have been provided, 90% of legally blind seniors have been able to age in place rather than experience a change in their living situations. For all of the reasons above, ACBNY strongly urges an additional $4 million in state funding for the Adaptive Living Program.

ACBNY strongly supports A5280 (Epstein) and S5729 (Hoylman-Sigal), creating an electronic ballot return option for disabled voters and overseas military personnel.

For disabled New Yorkers, almost every step in the voting process presents a potential obstacle. Even with the promise of access to ballot marking devices at polling locations, these devices often do not work, are not properly installed, or are not accompanied by poll workers trained in their operation. The accessible electronic ballot delivery program instituted by the New York Board of Elections last year has made improvements but does not enable a fully independent and private vote. This program requires eligible voters to print, sign, and return their ballots by mail. Many blind voters do not have access to a printer, cannot independently read or handle a printed paper ballot, and often require assistance in returning the physical ballot.

Thirteen states have extended electronic ballot return access to disabled voters in order to make absentee voting fully accessible for all. ACBNY believes it is time for New York to join these states and remove remaining voting obstacles for its disabled population.

Become a Member

To become a member of GNYCB, send an email to our Membership Chairperson for more information.

Pay Dues / Donate to GNYCB

Click the Pay Now button to pay with a credit card via PayPal.

Go to the homepage