The 33rd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

July 25, 2023

AAR Settlement, Access-A-Ride, Access-a-Ride Reform Group, Baerga v. City of New York, Brad H. v. City of New York, Britt v. MTA, CCIT-NYC, Courthouse Accessibility, Daniel's Law, Disability Justice, Education, Goldenberg v. MTA, MTA, NYLPI v. NYPD, News, Special Education, Supported Decision Making, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response, Willowbrook

NYLPI Peers Not Police Rally

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Turns 33 on July 26, 2023.

Passed in 1990 after years of lobbying and protesting by people with disabilities, elected officials, and other allies, this landmark federal civil rights law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in many facets of everyday life.

NYLPI has centered disability justice as a core tenet of our mission from the organization’s inception in 1976. We celebrate the achievements by our coalition partners and other advocates that have been hard-won over decades. While the ADA has paved the way for equality in many respects, there is much more work to do. NYLPI’s Disability Justice program exists to support people with disabilities, make New York more accessible, and eliminate disability discrimination.

NYLPI works to dismantle illegal practices that harm people experiencing a mental health crisis and prevent them from receiving proper care from peers (individuals with lived mental health experience). We have pushed to halt Mayor Eric Adams’ involuntary mental health directive, criticized the City’s B-HEARD “non-police” pilot as wholly missing the mark, and uplifted an alternative, peer-led proposal with our coalition partner Correct Crisis Intervention Today – NYC (CCIT-NYC). Ruth Lowenkron, NYLPI’s Director of Disability Justice and member of CCIT-NYC as well as the Daniel’s Law Coalition, has led the charge in demanding a #PeersNotPolice response to New York’s handling of mental health crises. Additionally, NYLPI and our Director of Litigation Marinda van Dalen are representing the family of Raul de la Cruz, a man shot by police in the Bronx while experiencing a mental health crisis.

NYLPI’s Disability Justice program also has key campaigns and cases addressing inadequate MTA service for people with disabilities, whether the inaccessibility of subway stations and trains or poor service provided through the Agency’s Access-a-Ride (AAR) paratransit program, including the MTA’s newly-announced Phase II of the AAR On-Demand Pilot that Ruth Lowenkron has described as “illegal.” NYLPI has also filed a class-action lawsuit demanding equitable fares for AAR.

Whether lobbying for expanding the Executive Budget to better serve people with disabilities, or speaking at special events about the intersections of disability and the law, the Disability Justice team has engaged with elected officials and the public, advocating for accessible City and State services. Senior Attorney Christopher Schuyler was featured in the ABA‘s Student Lawyer magazine, discussing law school experience as a person with a disability. Similarly, Senior Social Worker Michelle Kraus’ testimony to the City Council about Intro. 209-A which will eliminate discrimination based on height and weight, was featured in Insurance Journal.

NYLPI offers frequent news roundups, resources, and thorough guides to City services and events devoted to the needs of people with disabilities. Paola Martinez-Boone, NYLPI’s Senior Advocate and Special Education Coordinator, presents future planning workshops to hundreds of families every month. Suhali Méndez, NYLPI’s Policy and Legislative Coordinator, testified to the City Council about the importance of employing licensed mental health providers in schools.

Maureen Belluscio, Senior Staff Attorney, fights tirelessly to ensure the City’s 911 and other emergency services are accessible to people with disabilities, and Senior Supervising Counsel Roberta Mueller is a fierce advocate for people with developmental disabilities – particularly students who have faced harm through the special education system. 

The NYLPI Disability Justice program also added two new faces to the team: Sakeena Trice and William Juhn, both senior attorneys.

We commemorate the ADA’s anniversary by redoubling our commitment to fight for justice in community on the side of those impacted to create a future free of discrimination for all people with disabilities.

Learn more about NYLPI’s work in Disability Justice on our website.

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