Dear Friends and Colleagues, Today we join with people with disabilities throughout the country to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the day on which the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. At its heart, the ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the public.
At OPWDD, we are committed to fulfilling the ADA’s promise of full and equal participation for all people with disabilities. We are proud to join with Governor Kathy Hochul who today has signed groundbreaking legislation to expand the use of Supported Decision-Making as a means to empower New Yorkers with developmental disabilities to make their own decisions with the support of a trusted person in their lives. Other legislation signed today will assist in combating the stigma that people with developmental disabilities experience far too often. You can read Governor Hochul’s full press release here and the proclamation she issued commemorating today’s anniversary here.
Our celebration of the ADA is not limited to one day but permeates everything we do at OPWDD. Last month, OPWDD partnered with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the State Department of Environmental Conservation on Get Outdoors & Get Together Day to celebrate inclusive recreation. Our recently-announced contract with the Georgetown Center for Cultural Competence will assure that the promise of the ADA is available to all New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. And our strategic plan and continued collaborations with self-advocates, families and providers will help support people to live in communities of their choosing with the supports they need.
The ADA provides people with disabilities the opportunities to thrive, to be fulfilled and to achieve their goals and allows communities and society to benefit from inclusion. As I travel the state and speak to people with developmental disabilities and their families, I am humbled to see the profound impact the ADA has in creating a more just and equitable society. As we celebrate the anniversary of the ADA, let’s also renew our commitment to safeguarding its ideals by demanding inclusivity and accessibility in all areas of life. It’s because of the ADA that so many people with developmental disabilities have been able to achieve their goals and dreams.
If you use social media, we hope you’ll add your voice to voices from across the country who will be sharing stories expressing the positive impact the ADA has had on their individual lives. We hope to see many New Yorkers and OPWDD social media followers joining in to help promote the ADA National Network’s #ThanksToTheADA campaign this month. Help mark this year's anniversary by sharing what the ADA has meant to you or how the law has positively impacted your life or the life of someone you love or hold dear. Be sure to use the hashtags #ADA32 and #ThanksToTheADA and tag us @NYSOPWDD.
Sincerely, Kerri E. Neifeld Commissioner