By Colleen Scott, NYSOFA Advocacy Specialist
New York State has over 3.7 million adults with disabilities, equal to about 25 percent of the population. That’s 1 in every 4 adults. As individuals age, the chances of acquiring a disability increase. There are many older adults who don’t identify as having a disability but may still qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on functional impairment.
The ADA defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual; or a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such impairment.”
Health disparities exist for individuals with disabilities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “adults with disabilities are more likely to be obese, smoke, have high blood pressure, and be physically inactive. These are all preventable factors that can increase the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers, which are also more common among adults with disabilities.”
What’s Happening in Services and Supports for Individuals with Disabilities?
- NYSOFA recently developed a resource guide with support from the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC). See NYSOFA’s Future Planning Guidebook For Older Caregivers of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). It connects older adult caregivers with information and resources to begin the process of long-term planning. This includes financial and legal tools as well as supportive programs and services.
- NYSOFA is engaged in the Master Plan on Aging (MPA) process in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health. The MPA is designed to ensure that older adults and individuals of all ages, including those with disabilities, can live healthy, fulfilling lives while aging with dignity and independence. This plan builds on decades of work and partnerships with state agencies, local governments and stakeholders. First announced in Governor Hochul’s State of the State Address and Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget, the MPA process was further directed by Executive Order No. 23, which Governor Hochul signed on November 4, 2022. You can learn more about the Master Plan, including upcoming events and how to participate, on the Master Plan for Aging website.
- The Office of the Chief Disability Officer (CDO) was established in February 2022. The Chief Disability Officer, Kim Hill, advocates on behalf of people with disabilities and represents the issues that all people with disabilities face. You can find more information about the office and its advocacy activities here.
- ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments is a short guide explaining how the ADA applies to state and county governments.
- The Northeast ADA Center is a regional resource which provides training and technical assistance.
- TRAID Centers offer equipment and assistive technology devices that any New Yorker with a disability can borrow. This includes iPads, commodes and everything in between. The equipment is available free of charge for individuals to try out, borrow in an emergency, and for short and long term loans the same way you borrow a library book.
- Disability etiquette promotes goodwill and respect among all people. It helps make society more inclusive for everyone. This publication (also available in Spanish) provides information on respectful communication and etiquette tips for specific disabilities.
- See also NYSOFA-issued guidance to ensure nondiscrimination and equal access to services in all programmatic activities as required by law.