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WELCOME TO DRNY Welcome and come reflect on some of our achievements during the past year. I am honored to share with you the work we continue to do, the people we are serving, and the progress we are making towards our fundamental goal of creating an inclusive world that provides equal opportunity for all people. Every day we fight for justice for those who have been marginalized and discriminated against. This report highlights only some of our successes. We give you the statistics and share photos that embody our commitment to, and participation in our community. And while we are happy to share our successes, we also recognize there is always more work to be done. Over the years our community has continued to grow. We rely on our partners in our work and encourage you to continue to connect with us, share your ideas, and let us know what is important to you. We strive to be an accessible and viable resource as well as your community partner towards the fulfillment of our mission.


Timothy A. Clune, Esq. Executive Director


TABLE OF CONTENTS Overview.......................................4

A New Addition..................................23 PARP Program..............................23

Our Programs...............................6 CAP Program..........................6

In Action..............................................24

PAAT Program........................8

Marketing & Communication.....24

PABSS Program....................10 PADD Program.....................12

The Future of DRNY..........................26

PAIMI Program.....................14

Financial Report................................27

PAIR Program.......................16

Expenses.................. ..............27

PATBI Program.....................18

Grants....................... ..............27

PAVA Program......................20

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Andrew Gordon, Esq. President

Christine Konsistorum, CPA Secretary

Cathleen Kenny, CPA Treasurer

George Badillo

Amy D’Amico, Esq.

Lisa Holton

Anthony Curtis

Charmeen Antoinette Jarret

Audie Serrano



Our Intake Department is our center of advocacy. They assess a high volume of clients for DRNY services daily and simultaneously close and resolve just as many service requests. There are a variety of ways that our intake advocates serve our clients in the community and those clients are the measure of how meaningful our help can be.

In 2018, we responded to 3,842 Service Requests. We provided full case services to 1,593 of those requests and provided Information and Referral (I&R) services to the remaining 2,249 requests. When we are contacted about issues that fall outside of our priorities or are unrelated to the person’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.






CAP Program

Our Client Assistance Program (CAP) was established by the 1984 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act. We advocate for and protect the rights of people who are seeking or receiving rehabilitation services.

Education on YOUR RIGHTS Our “Know your Rights” presentations to workers and employers at sheltered workshops regarding Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) employment services provide information on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Section 511. This section limits the ability of employers to pay a subminimum wage to workers with disabilities. It also establishes the roles and responsibilities of State vocational rehabilitation agencies to provide career counseling and referral services every six months for the first year and annually thereafter. DRNY will continue to deliver “Know Your Rights” sessions in an effort to ensure fair wage justice for all.


Advocating for VR Services Advocating for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services is one of the ways we seek justice for our clients. We represented a 66 year-old man who worked as a baker for most of his life. When his health affected his work, he decided to return to college and pursue a new career as a disability advocate. He applied for ACCESVR support and was told he qualified. However, after no contact from his vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) for months, our client inquired on the status of approval for his college funding. The VRC denied support for the man’s education just before the college semester began. The client’s family paid the cost out-of-pocket so that he would not lose his slot, and the client filed for an impartial hearing. When the tuition bill was sent to the State for payment, it was arbitrarily denied. DRNY appealed this decision and we were ultimately successful in obtaining a favorable decision, getting the State to pay his tuition.


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.

Access to Medical Devices Technical issues often arise when seeking approval for medical devices because the medical coding system is so complex. Our client needed and requested a new specialty mattress and the Department of Health (DOH) denied it. The DOH asserted that a standard mattress, that does not require prior approval, could meet the client’s medical needs. DRNY represented the client through the fair hearing after the DOH/ Medicaid denied a second request made by the client’s family. DRNY’s legal argument prevailed and our client obtained the mattress he needed. Homecare Monroe Bed Photo by the Hard Manufacturing Company


Access to Assitive Technology Assistive Technology (AT) makes a difference in students’ lives both at school and within their community. DRNY advocated for a middle school student to obtain AT as well as additional services to be added to his educational plan. Because of our advocacy, our client gained access to a school-issued Chromebook and he now has an organization system in place to receive all class materials in an accessible way. These additions will assist him in achieving his academic and vocational goals.

Inaccessible Shopping There are 325 Dollar General Stores in New York State and DRNY found accessibility problems in 75 of 83 stores we surveyed. The obstacles prevent people with mobility disabilities from shopping. DRNY filed a class action lawsuit against Dollar General with our client Jennifer Rossman for failing to make their New York stores accessible to people with mobility disabilities.

75 of 83

Dollar General Stores surveyed in New York State had

accessibility issues 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 State’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.

Our support program, Mission Transition: Life after High School, aids students with disabilities at perhaps the most critical period of their lives, applying for employment and/or college. This program advocates for a number of simple, concrete steps to empower students to make the most of this transition.

Finance Resolutions Like all graduating college students, Julie was preparing to enter the workforce and was planning for her student loan payments. Julie applied for and was granted loan forgiveness due to her disability. However, without reason, the Department of Education (DOE) reinstated her loan payments. After DRNY reviewed all relevant financial documents we found that the reinstatement was based upon an error in calculating her annual employment earnings, an error that indicated she had exceeded the NYS poverty guidelines. We made a comprehensive argument to DOE advisors establishing the error; they acknowledged it and immediately vacated the payment reinstatement.


Advocating for Accommodations Our client, a 61 year-old man with orthopedic physical impairments had been working steadily toward his certificate as an American Sign Language Translator. He requested an accommodation from Canton State University of New York for more time to take his test as testing is done in sign via timed performance and he is simply not in a position to sign as fast as required due to his physical impairments. The school failed to provide him the accommodation and our client failed the class. DRNY argued his case to college administrators, and they agreed to convert his class grade to a passing one. He has received his certificate and continues to pursue his long-standing employment goal as a certified sign language translator.


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.

Timely Discharge from Residential Schools Former students at residential schools, who are now adults, have unnecessarily remained in institutions due to inadequate discharge and transition planning by New York State. We surveyed 88 New York State residential schools and found many adults in these facilities had been languishing for years. Evan Thomas has been waiting for three years to be discharged from his residential school into his community and there are 97 other adults who are also ready for and seeking discharge into their communities. Consequently, we filed a lawsuit (DRNY, Evan Thomas v. NYS) challenging the State’s discriminatory practice on behalf of Evan and others similarly waiting to be discharged.

Eligibility for Community Based Services Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) provides Medicaid funding for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to receive services while remaining in the community. Without HCBS, an individual may remain institutionalized or become homeless. A common obstacle our clients face when trying to access services is eligibility for the HCBS waiver. We regularly assist our clients who struggle with the HCBS eligibility process. The process is often burdensome and challenging. We actively work to address the most common eligibility obstacles including notifying the State of unlawful policies, submitting public comments on proposed regulations and increasing public awareness. We also recorded a podcast on DRNY’s weekly series, Empire State of Rights: Closed Captioned, explaining the issue and steps individuals can take to effect change. 12 | PADD PROGRAM

Revealing Overly Restrictive Practices

Restoring Decision Making Authority

Parents are an important part of any behavior plan and in one of our cases, our client’s parents contacted DRNY to investigate an allegation of abuse and neglect. We determined the behavior plan developed by the agency was extremely restrictive and had not been reviewed in several months. Their daughter had been placed under line of sight supervision at all times in the house and the community. In addition, she was not allowed visitors and could only use the phone and internet if supervised by staff. Consequently, she was very unhappy.

We represented 43 year-old Michael, who wanted to terminate his guardianship. He was removed from his guardians’ home by Adult Protective Services because their home was condemned and his health was severely neglected. He wanted independence to make his own decisions. Following a hearing before the Erie County Surrogate’s Court, Michael’s guardianship was terminated. The Court wrote in the decision that a guardianship was not in Michael’s best interest and not the least restrictive means of meeting his needs. Michael shared his story by participating in a DRNY media project on the impact of guardianship and regaining autonomy in decision-making.

DRNY informed the agency that the purpose of the restrictions on our client were punitive rather than clinical and that it had arbitrarily denied our client’s rights. In response, the agency undertook a review of all of the behavior plans it had developed to ensure compliance and employed less restrictive measures to support our client.

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.

Transitioning to More Independent Lives Through O’Toole v. Cuomo, DRNY and our partners obtained a landmark settlement requiring the State of New York to help NYC adult home residents with serious mental illness – a class consisting of more than 4,000 individuals – to transition to more independent lives in the community through supported housing. DRNY and its co-counsel have worked to ensure that the State fulfills its agreements and prevents adult homes from interfering with the rights of residents who want to move out.

New York State Capitol Albany, NY


Supporting Systemic Reform Efforts We investigated the death of a 21 year-old inmate who committed suicide in the Fishkill Correctional Facility. In the 11 days leading up to his suicide, State officials ignored his complaints that he felt unsafe and suicidal. He was told that he was going to be placed in segregated confinement. Within a few hours of hearing this information, he committed suicide. With the consent of his parents, we issued a public report detailing the State’s failure in order to support systemic reform efforts.

Protecting those with Mental Illness Our client, a mother of a 9 year-old, came to us after she faced obstacles planning for her own mental health treatment while balancing her need to protect her son. She occasionally needed inpatient psychiatric treatment and the shelter she was staying at had a policy that prohibits guests from staying in or even visiting the apartments of residents. Our client wanted her own mother to stay with her son in their shelter apartment in the event that she was admitted to inpatient psychiatric care. The shelter denied her accommodation request and instead suggested that she give her son to Child Protective Services if she needed to go to the hospital. We worked with the family to formalize the agreement with her mother as a standby guardian to her son. As a result of our advocacy, the shelter reversed its decision and approved our client’s accommodation. Our client is now able to assure her son’s stability in the event that she needs psychiatric hospitalization in the future.


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. DRNY teamed with New York City’s historic Stonewall Inn, the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s Vet Dogs to host a Nightlife Community Service Animal and Disability Access Training. It was developed after an incident at Stonewall Inn where a doorman refused entry to a visually impaired patron and her guide dog. The event became the prototype for a new DRNY training program now available to groups of neighborhood service providers throughout the State and is being promoted in New York City through neighborhood BIDs (Business Improvement Districts).

Advocating for Safe and Humane Conditions Two paraplegic wheelchair users, who were arrested by NYPD for minor offenses, were subjected to inhumane and unsafe conditions from the time of their arrest until their arraignments due to the inaccessibility of NYPD buildings, bathrooms and holding cells, and due to the actions of NYPD personnel untrained in addressing the needs of people with mobility disabilities. As a result of these actions, both were subjected to numerous indignities and made vulnerable to attack by other arrestees, all while presumed innocent of any crimes. The Court has granted DRNY and Plaintiffs permission to intervene in the matter and expand class allegations citywide to include all NYPD precincts and arrest processing facilities in all five boroughs of New York. 16 | PAIR PROGRAM

Protecting Services Over the course of the last several years, DRNY has advocated for several inmates with disabilities who require a higher level of medical attention than those in the general population housed in Regional Medical Units (RMUs). These inmates are denied access to critical services, like vocational training, religious worship activities, the law library and family reunification services, all of which are available to the general population. Success in this litigation will provide fair and equal access to such programming to all inmates with disabilities who are housed in the five RMU prison units operating throughout the State of New York.

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 Children’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.

Exposing Abuse and Neglect DRNY used its federal authority to conduct two unannounced monitoring visits at a rehabilitation facility in upstate New York. We spoke with and observed over 100 residents at the facility and uncovered several instances of neglect as well as other violations of law. We detailed each of the violations in a letter to the facility and made recommendations for immediate corrective action. We also notified the New York State Department of Health, the State agency having oversite of this facility. DRNY will continue to monitor this facility to ensure that corrective action and that these violations do not reoccur.


Protecting New Yorkers in Out of State Facilities While DRNY continues to work on repatriating New York residents from out of state nursing homes, we learned that one of the facilities we previously monitored was closing and thirteen New Yorkers had no discharge plan. We conducted an emergency monitoring visit and found that the facility was significantly understaffed as many employees had already left for other jobs. Further investigation found that the discharge planner admitted she was not individualizing discharge planning, and that other out of state facilities were actively soliciting transfer of the New Yorkers to their facilities to capitalize on the higher rate paid by New York. The discharge planner was using the more lucrative New Yorkers as bargaining chips to take less lucrative out of state residents needing transfer. DRNY immediately contacted both the Commissioner and Director of Long Term Care at DOH to intervene and ensure legally compliant discharge planning occurred and encourage the repatriation of New York residents. A new wing in one of the two rehabilitation facilities for TBI survivors in New York was approved by DOH shortly thereafter. DRNY also identified the effected individuals at the facility and notified them, and their loved ones, of their rights to individualized discharge planning.


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.

Surveying Polling Location Accessibility DRNY conducted poll site surveys to measure the accessibility of polling locations on Election Days across the State. We surveyed polling locations using an online or paper form. With the data collected, DRNY notified Boards of Elections of any barriers to accessibility identified on Election Day through findings letters or public reports.


Registering Voters

of polling sites surveyed in Schenectady County had at least one barrier to accessibility in 2018

DRNY facilitated a voter registration drive and educated potential voters about the NYS voter registration process in New York City at Times Square. We collaborated with American Institute of Graphic Arts, Community Votes, and NYC Campaign Finance Board to promote voter engagement in Times Square while voting-related graphics were displayed on the JumboTron.


A New Addition Welcome the PARP Program The PARP program was created for the beneficiaries of Social Security Benefits who have representative payees.

In April of 2018, Congress expanded the P&A system to provide advocacy for Social Security Beneficiaries. DRNY has staffed the program with three attorneys and five analysts. We review organizations and persons who manage Social Security benefits for those who cannot manage, or direct the management of, their benefits. We ensure that beneficiaries are protected from financial exploitation and abuse.


In Action Marketing & Communication The Marketing and Communication Department informs the public about our services, what we have accomplished and what your rights are. With that in mind, we developed a strategic and goal centered plan to identify areas to focus on and approach from a person-first perspective, ensuring that it includes all members of the community.

One of the areas we identified as a goal not just for DRNY, but also to inspire a more widely representative visual, was to look at the universal logo for accessibility. In order to more fully represent our community we created a new inclusive accessibility logo – Empire State of Rights – to be used in all of our media.

Our website redesign was a year-long project that resulted in a launch in October 2018.


We documented stories of people in the community and animated original explainer videos to bring clarity to issues that directly impact our community.

And as our audience grew, we took to the airwaves to produce a weekly podcast – Empire State of Rights: Closed Captioned – where each week we discuss disability rights in the State of New York.

It is our goal to have our visual media convey not only our determination and dedication to an accessible community, but also to identify DRNY as a trusted partner and resource to the community we serve.

We want the public to see our work and say - “THAT is DRNY” IN ACTION | 25

THE FUTURE OF DRNY Looking Forward... We are proudly closing in on 30 years of providing legal and advocacy services to our fellow New Yorkers. We reflect on our past successes to help us define and focus our future efforts. Early victories included eliminating forced human experimentation on people with disabilities, obtaining a right to an attorney in guardianship proceedings, ensuring physical access to stadium seating in movie theaters, obtaining a $10 Congressman Paul Tonko (left) and million dollar settlement for DRNY Executive Director, Tim Clune Esq. (right) patients subjected to unnecessary prostate surgery, and ensuring that people were not denied life insurance solely because they had mental illness. We remain committed to finding and resolving barriers that prevent our clients from fully participating in our communities. Our continued advocacy will include fighting for accessible streets and sidewalks, ensuring text-to-911 mobile emergency services, making sure that service animals are allowed in schools, work places and public places. We will continue to address practices that foster abuse and neglect, and we will ensure equal access and integration are more than just aspirations. We will lead the way on issues that impact people with disabilities in New York State. DRNY will not rest until our vision of an inclusive world – one that provides equal access and is free from discrimination, abuse and neglect – is realized. 26 | THE FUTURE OF DRNY

2018 FINANCIAL REPORT Each year our finance department works to ensure that our funding and our programs are managed successfully.







725 Broadway, Suite 450 Albany, New York 12207-5001

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.



Profile for Disability Rights NY

Annual Report 2018  

Annual Report 2018