Assemblyman Santabarbara Takes Action to Better Quality of Life for People with Disabilities

During Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day in New York State, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) helped pass a series of bills that aim to build on his push to better the quality of life for people with disabilities.

“As the father of a 14-year-old son with autism, I remain a steadfast advocate for programs and facilities that aim to better the lives of all people with disabilities,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara. “This package is a great step toward combating discrimination, improving emergency preparedness and fostering community living – all measures that support and keep those with disabilities safe, while giving their families peace of mind.”

The Assembly package Santabarbara helped pass includes bills that would:

  • ensure equal protection for all New York State employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (A.5388);
  • require that sign-language interpreters be available upon request for hearing-impaired individuals at public hearings and meetings, in addition to establishing provisions for assistive listening systems to be required in rooms used for public hearings that accommodate more than 100 people (A.1669-A);
  • include the consideration of a treating physician’s opinion in determining work limitations due to a disability or medical condition that could affect a person’s compliance with public assistance work requirements (A.3450);
  • enable blind and visually impaired voters to request Braille or large-print absentee ballots for elections administered under the election and education laws (A.2104-A);
  • aid localities in preparing for and responding to disasters by requiring counties to maintain a confidential registry of people of all ages with disabilities who may require evacuation assistance and shelter during a disaster. People would be provided with the option to be included in the registry (A.2658-A);
  • establish the New York State Interagency Coordinating Council for Service-Disabled Veterans, which would be tasked with better identifying the needs of service-disabled veterans and matching them with appropriate state resources (A.4789-A); and
  • provide a tax credit for homeowners to incentivize retrofitting homes with qualified improvements, such as no-step entrances and grab bars in bathrooms (A.6243-B).

As part of his commitment to supporting the needs of those with disabilities, Santabarbara now chairs the subcommittee on Autism Retention and is the champion for six autism bills that he’s authored. Just recently, he unveiled the newest addition to Autism Action NY, which would create a training program for firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical services personnel specific to emergency situations involving individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities that may affect communication (A.8389-A, A.9656).