ANNUAL REPORT 2017
ACCESS FOR ALL
WELCOME TO DRNY I am proud to present our 2017 Annual Report. Here we highlight the work we do, the people we serve and the progress we are making towards our mission of ensuring an inclusive world that provides equal opportunity for all people. Central to our mission of inclusion is access. Over and over we see barriers that prevent people from fully accessing their communities, their homes, their work places, from making choices, or making their own decisions. A mission of inclusion must focus on the removal of these barriers. In this report, you will recognize the thread of access in the cases we bring, the statistics we report on and the photos that we share. Each year we look back and see how our efforts are impacting the people of New York State. We also identify where there is more work to be done. We ask you to continue to be a part of our community by connecting with us, volunteering with us and sharing your ideas. Our community and the work we do only gets stronger with your participation.
Timothy A. Clune, Esq. Executive Director
2 | WELCOME
TABLE OF CONTENTS Overview.......................................4 Our Progams.................................6
The Future of DRNY..........................22 Board of Directors..............22
PADD Program.............12 PAIMI Program.............14 PAIR Program...............16 PATBI Program.............18 PAVA Program..............20
TABLE OF CONTENTS | 3
Over 2.2 million
individuals with disabilities live in NEW YORK STATE
In 2017, we responded to 2,970 Service Requests. We provided full case services to 1,288 of those requests and provided Information and Referral (I&R) services to the remaining 1,682 requests. When we are contacted about issues that fall outside of our priorities or are unrelated to the personâ€™s disability, we strive to provide appropriate referral sources. We educate people about their rights and available options. Our I&R services vary and are dependent on the needs of the person. They range from consumer financial questions to eviction assistance.
SERVICE REQUESTS per month 4 | OVERVIEW
We take affirmative steps to provide services to historically under-represented groups in New York. The following chart compares the demographics of New York State with the demographic information we collected from our clients.
NEW YORK STATE White Black or African American American Indian & Alaska Native Asian
DRNY CLIENTS Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander Some other race Two or more races Not disclosed
594 of our clients were residents of nursing homes, hospitals, correctional facilities, rehabilitation facilities and youth-focused residential facilities.
29.96% AGE 55 or OVER
OVERVIEW | 5
CAP Program Our Client Assistance Program (CAP) was established by the 1984 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act as a mandatory program. We advocate for and protect the rights of people who are seeking or receiving rehabilitation services.
6 | CAP PROGRAM
ACCESS to Transportation Lack of access to reliable transportation is a major barrier for many of our clients. A 19-year-old client who uses a power wheelchair was denied the transportation support she needed to get to and from college. Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation also denied her the financial assistance she was entitled to. Through our efforts, we were able to have her college sponsorship and transportation reinstated. We also obtained an assistive technology evaluation to identify additional support for her at school.
ACCESS to Services While advocating for our clients, we also identify and seek to remedy policies that likewise prevent access to services. For example, a client was denied Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services at an administrative review based upon policies that misapplied the law. The agency claimed that our client was not eligible to receive support solely because he was a beneficiary of Social Security Disability Insurance. The agency never offered to provide him with the required trial work experience. The agency also based its decision on the unsupported conclusion that his disability was too severe to allow him to benefit from any VR services. As a result of our advocacy, the agency now requires that all administrative decisions be reviewed before they are finalized. This new practice will help to ensure that future erroneous decisions are prevented. CAP PROGRAM | 7
PAAT Program Our Protection & Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) program provides legal and non-legal advocacy services to people who have been denied access to assistive technology devices or assistive technology services.
8 | PAAT PROGRAM
ACCESS to Service Animals Ensuring timely access to schools with a service animal continues to be a struggle for many students. We filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 12-yearold with autism when his school district refused to let him bring his service dog to school. This issue was so important that the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in our case to educate the court about the schoolâ€™s responsibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The case has been settled. Our client now can have his service animal and a facilitator to assist him with his dog during the school day. The school also agreed to pay damages to him. Our case was highlighted in a similar case that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court issued a favorable decision and set a standard that will help ensure access to service animals going forward.
ACCESS to Medical Care In New York City, many residents experience unreasonable delays waiting for Durable Medical Equipment, including wheelchairs and walkers. For those living in nursing homes or skilled care facilities, getting access to this equipment is the difference between going home or having to remain in a facility. Any delays in getting the needed medical equipment means that they are waiting in these hospital-like settings even when they are ready to go home. To resolve these delays, we worked with clinicians to develop comprehensive evaluations. We also trained these clinicians on how best to follow up with the suppliers of the equipment to ensure prompt delivery. With this training and advocacy, we saw faster turnaround times in the processing of medical equipment. People who were waiting for their equipment have been able to return to their communities with the equipment they needed to live independent lives. PAAT PROGRAM | 9
PABSS Program Our Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program was established under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Act of 1999. This law authorizes the Social Security Administration to fund each stateâ€™s protection and advocacy system to provide work incentive assistance to SSDI and SSI beneficiaries seeking vocational rehabilitation, employment and other support services to secure, retain or regain employment.
ACCESS to Employment Our client, who is blind and uses a service animal, interviewed for a job. After his interview he was offered a trial work day. When he arrived to work with his service animal, he was told to leave. His employer, who was aware that he had a service animal, raised concerns about unspecified allergies for the first time. We filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Shortly thereafter, the employer settled the matter providing full back pay and damages.
New York State agencies were not providing large print materials to New Yorkers with vision impairments. As a result, people had difficulty seeking employment and support from New York State agencies, including the Departments of Civil Service, Labor, and Education. To fully understand the scope of the problem, we conducted a survey of over 100 New York State agencies to determine the availability of large print materials. Based on our results, we successfully addressed this discriminatory practice within the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Large print materials are now available on its website and upon request. We continue to identify and work with other State agencies to ensure that large print materials are available. 10 | PABSS PROGRAM
105 SERVICE REQUESTS
PABSS PROGRAM | 11
PADD Program Our Protection & Advocacy for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (PADD) program was created by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights (DD) Act of 1975. PADD was established to protect the legal and civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
ACCESS to Restoration New York has one of the most restrictive guardianship statutes in the country. Courts can place people with intellectual or development disabilities under a plenary guardianship with minimal documentation. Terminating a personâ€™s rights to make their own choices under this statute is a relatively simple process. However, restoring those rights under the same statute is a much more difficult process. We are challenging this statute in federal court by representing people at risk of being placed under guardianship. We are also representing those already under guardianship who want to restore their decision-making rights. We have successfully assisted clients to maintain or gain back their decision-making rights. Without our legal representation, these clients would have remained or been placed under guardianship. 12 | PADD PROGRAM
ACCESS to Services We hear from many school-age prisoners that they are being denied both general and special education services while in adult prisons. We represented one of these clients at the first-ever special education hearing against the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). We demonstrated that DOCCS failed to identify, evaluate and provide special education supports and services to our client over his three-year incarceration. DOCCS also failed to comply with even the most fundamental procedural safeguards. Our client was awarded nearly 1,100 hours of compensatory education and 82 hours of counseling. Capitalizing on the evidence and insight produced from this case, we are exploring ways of challenging DOCCS’ systemic violations.
We strive to ensure that people have access to supports and services they need to live integrated lives. Our clients must be free to exercise their wishes.
PADD PROGRAM | 13
PAIMI Program Our Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program was established by Congress in 1986 and receives funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The purpose of the PAIMI program is to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness.
ACCESS to Decision-Making We are engaged in a multi-prong project to help educate our clients, family members, providers, medical professionals and others about Psychiatric Advanced Directives (PADs). PADs allow a person to make informed decisions and direct their mental health treatment even after they are found to lack the capacity to make treatment decisions. We partnered with a mental health peer organization to create a Factsheet and a PAD form. The next phase of this project includes reinforcing the growing peer support for PADs through training and collaborating with another legal service agency to ensure that these critical legal documents are enforced. 14 | PAIMI PROGRAM
ACCESS to Safe Care We conducted an investigation with Mental Hygiene Legal Service for the First Judicial Department at Bellevue Hospital Center (Bellevue) in New York City as a result of complaints about the use of mechanical restraints. We uncovered an unusually high usage of mechanical restraints on patients as compared to other public hospitals in New York City. This was despite Bellevue’s own acknowledgement that restraints have,
“the potential to produce serious consequences, such as physical and psychological harm, loss of dignity, violation of an individual’s rights, feelings of isolation and even death.”
As a result of our report and intervention, Bellevue committed to making significant changes to its policies, staff training requirements, forms and overall culture surrounding the use of restraints and seclusion. Bellevue also agreed to implement many of our recommendations in the report, such as: allowing staff to shadow other city hospitals that had successfully reduced their restraint and seclusion rates, revising forms to promote de-escalation techniques, creating and implementing new training for staff regarding the traumatic impact of restraint and seclusion, and actively engaging with a patient’s treatment team and debriefing following every instance of restraint and seclusion. We continue to review quarterly reports containing restraint and seclusion data. We also periodically conduct our own review to ensure the reported numbers continue to match the incident reports. With our advocacy and the resulting changes, there continues to be a downward trend of the use of restraints at Bellevue.
SERVICE REQUESTS PAIMI PROGRAM | 15
PAIR Program Our Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) Program was established under the Rehabilitation Act as amended in 1993. In our PAIR program, we protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of people who are not eligible to be served in the PAIMI or PADD programs.
ACCESS to Education We continue to identify clients who have been denied reasonable accommodations in public school settings. In one case, we represented a student with severe migraines and fibromyalgia who was denied accommodations at school. The school abruptly instituted a six week deadline for her to produce all outstanding work from the entire school year. We provided a letter from a doctor establishing the studentâ€™s continued need for accommodations. The school ultimately agreed to provide the student with an additional eight weeks to complete the work.
16 | PAIR PROGRAM
ACCESS to Safety We received complaints of abuse and neglect at Niagara Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (NRNC). Our investigation found that NRNC failed to provide a clean and safe facility, abused and neglected residents seeking assistance or requiring medical care, failed to provide adequate meals and meet the nutritional needs of residents, failed to
provide discharge and transition services to those who wanted to return to the community, and interfered with our investigation. We issued a public report of these findings and continue to monitor to ensure that NRNC takes corrective action to remedy each of our findings.
ACCESS to Public Places After surveying 156 city, town and village governments in New York State, we issued a report concluding that 74% were out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, public entities with 50 or more employees must designate an employee to coordinate ADA compliance. This ADA coordinator is the primary contact for people with disabilities who must ensure equal access to public services and programs. We demanded that these public entities correct the deficiencies identified in this report. PAIR PROGRAM | 17
PATBI Program Our Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) program is authorized by the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 and was reauthorized as part of the Childrenâ€™s Health Act of 2000. In the PATBI program, we ensure that people with TBI and their families have access to information, referrals and advice, individual and family advocacy, legal representation, and specific assistance in self-advocacy.
ACCESS to Community We successfully facilitated the repatriation of a young U.S. Army veteran residing in a Massachusetts nursing home. Our client has multiple disabilities related to TBI, including quadriplegia and speech and language deficits. Through our persistent advocacy, New York removed obstacles to TBI Waiver access and secured assistive technology and necessary evaluations for eligibility as well as ongoing therapies in the community. As a result, our client was able to return to his home community with appropriate supports.
SERVICE REQUESTS 18 | PATBI PROGRAM
ACCESS to Repatriation New York regularly places people with disabilities, especially those with behavioral manifestations of their disabilities, in out-ofstate nursing homes. The Stateâ€™s failure to provide meaningful oversight and monitoring of New Yorkers in out-ofstate facilities is a substantial obstacle to repatriation. While advocating for the repatriation of a client with TBI, we discovered that state employees tasked with facilitating repatriation and transition to the community were prohibited from traveling outside of New York. We successfully advocated for the removal of the policy banning outof-state travel. In addition, we convinced the New York Department of Health to require the same program to conduct an independent assessment of all individuals in out-of-state nursing homes. As a result, there has been an increase in the repatriation rate of TBI survivors.
PATBI PROGRAM | 19
PAVA Program The Protection & Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA) program was created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. In our PAVA program, we ensure that every qualified person with a disability has access to vote on Election Day.
ACCESS to Poll Sites We surveyed polling locations across New York State to document barriers that prevented people from voting. We created public reports of our findings and recommended remedial steps. Our reports are sent to the County and the New York State Boards of Elections with recommended corrective action. This year we found significant barriers to voting in New York City, Erie, Greene, Wyoming, Rensselaer, and Genesee Counties. We provided our findings to each of these Boards of Elections. We will continue to monitor these and other locations to ensure that every voter can exercise their right to vote.
ACCESS to Voting We filed a HAVA administrative complaint on behalf of a voter with blindness who could not vote independently or privately because the Ballot Marking Device malfunctioned. The Erie County Board of Elections was found to have violated the complainantâ€™s privacy and independence by failing to provide an accessible polling place. Erie County was directed to produce a report describing the remedies it will implement to ensure polling locations are accessible.
20 | PAVA PROGRAM
of Poll Sites in Greene County were
INACCESSIBLE PAVA PROGRAM | 21
THE FUTURE OF DRNY Looking Forward... When divisiveness feels all too normal and enveloping, DRNY nevertheless remains committed to expanding its cultural and linguistic competence. To that end, our approach for inclusiveness in the coming year will be multi-faceted. DRNY and its DD Network partners will be part of a five year project from Georgetown University’s National Center for Cultural Competence. We will provide effective outreach and advocacy to our underserved communities across the state. Our Spanish and Chinese communities represent more than 50% of people in the state with limited English proficiency. Therefore, we will focus our efforts here by facilitating in-person communication and providing language appropriate educational material. We are also taking affirmative steps to increase our relationship with our Native American neighbors. DRNY is exploring the funding of a legal fellowship that will focus solely on special education and assistive technology for Native Americans with disabilities. DRNY must become a trusted resource and partner with our tribal communities. Although inclusiveness sometimes appears out of reach, we are certain that by working collaboratively with our diverse community partners, we will eventually reach Dr. Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community.
22 | CLOSING
Board of Directors Andrew Gordon, Esq. President Christine Konsistorum, CPA Secretary Cathleen Kenny, CPA Treasurer George Badillo Anthony Curtis Amy D’Amico, Esq. Lisa Holton Charmeen Antoinette Jarret Audie Serrano
2017 FINANCIAL REPORT Expenses 80%
Salaries & Benefits $5,837,748
Professional Fees $182,582
FINANCES | 23
725 Broadway, Suite 450 Albany, New York 12207
25 Chapel Street, Suite 1005 Brooklyn, New York 11201
44 Exchange Blvd, Suite 110 Rochester, New York 14614
DRNY is supported at tax payer expense by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration; U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration; and, the Social Security Administration. This document does not represent the views, positions or policies of, or the endorsements by, any of these federal agencies.