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In The News

'Do your part': Disability advocates ask community to keep sidewalks cleared as snow falls

"Emergency signage isn't always incredibly accessible and it might be difficult to read or see in different conditions; white out conditions, flurry conditions can be difficult to see,” added Senior Staff Attorney Jessica Richwalder.

Emma Quinn

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Involuntary removals and hospitalizations are already traumatic and often “marked by physical conflict,” said Timothy Clune, executive director of Disability Rights New York. The mayor’s plan will only exacerbate these existing issues, affecting both people with mental illness and those simply perceived to be mentally ill.

“Given the lack of expertise of those designated to make a determination that one ‘appears to be mentally ill,’ there is a high likelihood that people with and without other such disabilities will be erroneously removed and detained,” Clune said in a statement to The Appeal.

Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Dec 01, 2022

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NYPD vehicles park on sidewalks, violating city law and impeding accessibility

“The problem existed prior to COVID, but with COVID it just got out of control,” said Christy Asbee, the program director of Disability Rights New York. “After months of DRNY’s involvement, the only option was to file a lawsuit. That was a last resort.”

By:Caleb Pisoni at Nov 7, 2022

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'Unacceptable': Lawmakers pursue reforms around restraint and seclusion in schools 
Hearst Newspapers investigation prompts calls for change at state, federal levels across country

Timothy A. Clune, Executive Director of Disability Rights New York, called the use of restraint and seclusion in schools "archaic" and "punitive" and said "safer more therapeutic methods must be used."“There is virtually no accountability right now, and that needs to change," he said. 


Teachers and police restrained thousands of students in 22 New York districts
School records show dangerous methods sometimes used, restraints can last more than an hour

“We are hearing schools more and more talk about challenges of students with behavior challenges and the costs associated with preventing behaviors that could result in the use of restraints,” Keegan said. “Schools don’t have time or staff to implement effective interventions. That is where the big problem is.”


Attorneys ask judge to compel state OPWDD to transfer eligible patients to less-restrictive settings

“OPWDD and DOH continue to violate their obligations, and are failing to provide timely transition to the community," DRNY attorney Julie Michaels Keegan said. "These ongoing, and illegal, delays have resulted in irreparable harm for our named plaintiffs, who have been waiting from six months to six years to live in the community. This is unacceptable, against the law and, quite frankly, incomprehensible given the fact that beds are indeed available.”

Feds: City’s Interpretation of Disabilities Act is ‘Wrong’

“The city of New York should be leading by example. Instead, they are intentionally shirking their responsibility to keep pedestrian pathways accessible and safe for everyone,” DRNY Executive Director Timothy Clune said in a statement. “Consistent with their decision to allow these barriers to exist in the first place, the city is clearly not taking the path of least resistance in this case.”

New York adopts a state Voting Rights Act while rejecting wider ballot access

Voting in New York is a work in progress. In the past year, the state adopted a new Voting Rights Act, but its voters shot down an opportunity to make mail-in voting broadly available. 

“They’re going to be confused when they show up and get a provisional ballot,” said Christina Asbee, director of Disability Rights New York’s P&A for Voting Access program. “People will be confused, and the vote might not count because they have a provisional ballot with potentially no understanding of how that ballot works. This will have real consequences for voters this year.” 

Full Article

Putnam Man’s Costly Detention
Leonard Sparks | 

The state judge’s decision on Monday “speaks volumes about the gravity of [Pecchia’s] situation,” said Julie Keegan, DRNY’s director of protection and advocacy programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

“Correctional institutions are clearly not appropriate settings for people who lack capacity due to significant disabilities,” she said. “That is precisely why state and federal laws mandate intervention by state agencies like OPWDD to ensure people with disabilities are promptly provided appropriate care and treatment.” 

N.Y. agencies targeted in class-action suit over hospital discharge delays for people with disabilities

“We are talking about a statewide crisis. People who are approved for community-based services languish in hospitals, nursing homes, and intermediate care facilities. These are our family members who want to be part of their communities. Instead, they are forced to remain segregated in institutional settings.” Disability Rights NY Executive Director Timothy A. Clune said.


Bird pilot aims to give NYC wheelchair users reliable and fast transport options

Under New York’s e-scooter pilot program, Bird is providing a first-of-its-kind motorized attachment free to individuals who use wheelchairs.

Austyn Gaffney
April 13, 2022  Smartcitiesdive

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

 Timothy Clune & Sharon McLennon-Wier -

More than three decades after it was passed, the country is still not fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and New York is no exception. But for some New York voters with disabilities – including people who are blind  – voting is about to get a little easier, thanks to a new settlement with the state Board of Elections.

April 8, 2022 By City & State

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April 6, 2022  

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Legislature MIA on Oversight of Covid in State Psychiatric Hospitals

As with every wave, the Omicron variant stirred a swell of infections and death in New York State's psychiatric hospitals, where some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers are living in congregate settings that heighten the risk of COVID-19.

Covid Surge in State Psychiatric Centers Kills Two Patients in January, Hundreds Remain Infected

The Pandemic Threatened Their Ventilators. Will NY Officials Change Course Before The Next Crisis?

Disability rights group investigates pandemic performance of state-run group homes

Mar. 30, 2021 – Disability Rights New York has released a report that shines a light on the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the state’s group homes. Julie Michaels Keegan, Director of the Protection and Advocacy Program for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at Disability Rights New York, shared the findings of the report.

Full Podcast

The Crisis in Crisis Response
There is a need for change in how communities respond to mental health crises.

Mar 29, 2021 -Philip Yanos Ph.D.

In a recently-released report, in collaboration with the advocacy organization Disability Rights New York, I and colleagues from John Jay College recommend that communities begin the process of developing and implementing non-police responses to mental health crises. 

Full Article

Podcast: Our Ability talks to Disability Rights New York About 2021 Agenda

March 26, 2021 - John Robinson

Timothy A. Clune Esq. joins John Robinson on the March 26, 2021 Our Ability Podcast. Tim became the Executive Director of Disability Rights New York on April 1, 2013. Currently DRNY has a staff of approximately 70, with offices in Albany, Brooklyn and Rochester, New York.

Full Podcast

Team Cuomo gave group homes a deadly COVID mandate too — and it’s still in effect

Report: People With Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Disproportionately Impacted by COVID-19

City Is Sued Over District 75 Schools For Students With Disabilities

Three Staten Island students and the Disability Rights New York advocacy group are seeking reforms to the Department of Education’s system so that students with disabilities have the option of attending their neighborhood schools with appropriate support, instead of traveling to dedicated schools known as District 75, which serve students with moderate to severe disabilities.

Why children are in pediatric nursing homes, separated from family by COVID-19

By Amanda Luz Henning Santiago City & State 

“No parent should be forced to institutionalize their child in order to get them the care they need.” DRNY Executive Director Tim Clune told City & State in an email, “Children should not be growing up in a nursing facility.”

Full Article

New York Promised to Help Mentally Ill People as They Left Prison. Here’s What Happened Instead.

By Samantha Michaels Mother Jones
September 4, 2020 

As he wandered around the east side of Manhattan, voices rattled around S.D.’s head. It was May 2019, and S.D., a 47-year-old man with schizophrenia, whom I’m naming by his initials for privacy, had just been released from a New York prison. His worldly possessions included little more than the clothes he’d been given by state officials, a white T-shirt and too-big khaki pants, plus a Metro card. He asked a man selling CDs on the street if he could borrow a cellphone to call his godmother for help.

Full Article 

Think the Pandemic Sucks? Now Imagine You Have a Disability.

By Laura Bradley The Daily Beast
August 17, 2020

Like many people who work full-time jobs, Danielle knows she is lucky. She’s able to work from home, and the 37-year-old says her current employer is much more accommodating of her disability than her previous. That said, there have been hurdles—like the fact that telecommuting software like Zoom and WebEx still does not allow captioning, which can make work calls stressful when you’re deaf.

Full Article

Dismissed complaint re-filed against Guptill’s

By Jim Franco Spotlight News
August 12, 2020

Disability Rights New York brought a complaint late last month against Guptill’s Roller Skating Arena to the Department of Justice on behalf of a 17-year-old with Cerebral Palsy.

Full Article

Lawsuit alleges Guptill's Arena discriminated against teen in wheelchair

By Emily Burkhard WNYT
August 11, 2020 

A Schenectady family is suing Guptill’s Roller Skating Arena. They said the arena discriminated against their 17-year-old daughter because she uses a wheelchair.

Full Article

Watchdog: Group homes couldn’t get PPE from state

By Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
June 15, 2020

During the height of the coronavirus crisis in New York, a watchdog alleged that group homes accommodating 40,000 disabled children and adults did not receive much-needed personal protective equipment.

Full Article

Watchdog tells feds NY shorted group homes on masks, gowns during height of virus

By Michael Gormley Newsday

Group homes that care for 40,000 disabled adults and youths statewide were ordered along with hospitals to use masks and gowns during the COVID-19 virus, but the homes weren’t a priority to get essential gear during the height of the virus and faced shortages, according to a federal complaint.

Full Article

Inaccessible Coronavirus Information Excludes Impairment Communities

The absence of a sign language interpreter at key televised coronavirus briefings last week resulted in legal proceedings being brought against the office of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as the U.K government.

Full Article 

NY Governor Sued For Not Having ASL Interpreters At Briefings

May 1, 2020

An advocacy group and several New Yorkers who are deaf are suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not using an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter at his daily televised coronavirus briefings.

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Deaf New York residents sue Cuomo for not using a sign language interpreter during his daily coronavirus briefings

Group Homes find little help from the state as they scramble for medical supplies

By Ben Verde Brooklyn Paper
April 21, 2020

Due to an oversight from the state government, group homes for the developmentally disabled are now forced to fend for themselves as they try to buy much-needed protective medical equipment — which are in short supply and rising in cost amid the novel coronavirus, according to disability advocates.

Full Article 

New York Records High Death Rate of People With Disability

By Katie Gregory TRT World
April 20, 2020

Health experts say people who live with a disability are more likely to develop life-threatening complications from Covid-19. In New York State, the death toll is much higher among people with cancer, heart disease and muscular dystrophy. These are people who sometimes cannot leave their homes to access food or medicine. As Katie Gregory reports, they're being called the 'forgotten vulnerable'. 



Lack of Interpreters Cause Fear and Confusion Among the Deaf

By Rayvin Bleu Spectrum New York State

Coronavirus: Serving students with disabilities a crucial challenge for online educators

Gary Stern and Sophie Grosserode, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
March 30, 2020

Jennifer Fox is a veteran teacher, but the sudden need to help home-school her daughter Julia, a high school freshman who has autism, left her feeling very inadequate, very fast.

Full Article 

For People With Disabilities, Navigating Can Be Difficult In Wintertime

WAMC FEB 4, 2019
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Troy Residents in Wheelchairs Sue City for Inaccessible Sidewalks

By Spectrum News Staff Troy 

Two Troy Residents who rely on wheelchairs to get around are suing the city, claiming sidewalks and streets are not accessible.
Full Article

Lawsuit filed against Troy over sidewalk maintenance

Man Accuses NYPD Of Taking His Wheelchair & Leaving Him On Dirty Holding Cell Floor

NEW YORK (WABC)- Danilelle  Leigh October 19, 2018

A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court is accusing the New York Police Department of violating the human rights of people with disabilities.
abc7ny investigative report

DRNY's Tim Clune on Proposed ADA Changes

October 4, 2018: DRNY’s Tim Clune on proposed ADA changes

Disability Rights New York is a federal watchdog of the state’s services for the disabled. We heard from Timothy Clune, Executive Director of Disability Rights New York, on the issues impacting New York’s disabled residents and how the organization is addressing them.

Accessibility In polling Places Coming Up Short
By Capital Tonight Staff   July 25, 2018​

​Polling places in New York are still coming up short on accessibility, according to a report from Disability Rights New York.

The group looked at polling sites in New York City and in Erie and Wyoming Counties to make sure the stations were set up so a disabled person would be able to vote with full privacy.

92 percent of the Erie County locations did not meet the standards, and 100 percent of the sites in Wyoming had issues.

Here to talk more about the problem and how to fix it, is DRNY Executive Director Tim Clune.
Spectrum News Interview

Five Years In, Critics Say NY Agency Offers Little Justice For Disabled
By Bethany Bump, July 23, 2018

ALBANY — Over a recent three-year period, 10,117 vulnerable New Yorkers died while in state care or the care of a program overseen by the state.

They were loved ones with intellectual or physical disabilities, forgotten souls battling addiction, troubled children and teens, and adults who bore the weight of mental illness.

In 287 of those deaths, an allegation of abuse or neglect at the hand of a caretaker, employee or authority figure was reported and subsequently investigated. In at least 140 of those, the state Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs determined abuse or neglect likely occurred.

Not A Single Criminal Charge Was Brought In Response.

It's this track record — documented in annual reports to the governor and legislature from 2015 to 2017 — that has kept lawmakers and advocates questioning the investigative agency's willingness to hold wrongdoers accountable over the five years since it was created.
Full Article

Report: Bellevue Restrains Mentally Ill Patients Excessively & Erratically
By Ben Hattem, Nov. 28, 2016

Lawyers from a watchdog agency and the state Mental Hygiene Legal Service say they've found that patients on the psychiatric units at Bellevue hospital in Manhattan are physically restrained and forcibly injected with sedatives at dramatically higher rates than patients at other public hospitals in the city. They also found that the hospital allegedly under-reports these incidents, in apparent violation of state policy directives and federal law.
Full Story

The Justice Center Is Failing To Protect People With Disabilities- DRNY Calls For Reforms

The Justice Center has failed at its core mission, which is to protect individuals with disabilities.  It is now apparent that structural reforms are needed to remedy the problems and ensure that the Justice Center provides the essential protections it was intended to give to those who need it most.  Read the DRNY Press Release for more: Justice Center

DRNY Wins Northeast Parent And Child Society Case

DRNY won its case against Northeast Parent and Child Society! The decision reaffirmed DRNY’s right to access to the facility and the residents to monitor and investigate allegations of abuse and neglect. Please read two recent articles from the Washington TImes and Albany Times Union regarding the decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.
Times Union
 Disability group wins fight to enter Schenectady facility
Washington Times NY group home operator sued in probes of alleged abuse

A.G. Schneiderman  Announces Agreement To  Dismantle School To Prision Pipeline In Albany Schools

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced an agreement today with the City School District of Albany to ensure that the District’s discipline policies and practices do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin or disability status.  With this Agreement, both the Attorney General and the City School District of Albany reaffirm their commitment to fostering safe and effective school climates.
Agreement to DisMantle School to Prison Pipeline in Albany Schools

DRNY Finds Fault With State's Death Investigation

Associated Press Reports on DRNY's Investigation of the Death Investigation. 
Handling of Disabled Teen's Death in NY State Care Blasted

DRNY Investigative Report: The Death Of M.H.

DRNY's conducted an investigation of the death of an individual with intellectual and developmental disability.DRNY released a report of its investigation of the death of M.H., who lived in Saint Dominic’s Home, Dominican Hall (“SDH”), a New York Intermediate Care Facility for people with developmental disabilities. DRNY’s investigation concluded that M.H. was seriously neglected in the months preceding his death, causing him great suffering and likely contributing to his death.  New York State’s investigation of the matter by its Justice Center for Protection of People with Special Needs (Justice Center) was seriously deficient.  Despite overwhelming evidence of neglect, the Justice Center inexplicably failed to find that M.H. was neglected and completely failed to remedy the systemic problems that caused the neglect. 
Press Release Investigative Report


DRNY Testifies Before A Senate Hearing In Buffalo Regarding Sheltered Workshops

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a plan to phase out sheltered workshops to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that ensures everyone the right to work in an integrated setting. Jennifer Monthie, Esq. of DRNY, appeared at a public hearing at the University of Buffalo's Center for Tomorrow as a speaker and supporter of competitive employment for individuals with disabilities.
Hearing on Sheltered Workshops
DRNY's Jennifer Monthie's, Esq., entire Public Testimony

Federal Department of Justice Interested In North Colonie School Case

Department of Justice files a Statement of Interest supporting DRNY's authority in the North Colonie School Case.  
North Colonie School Case

Department Of Justice Files Statement Of Interest In DRNY V. North Colonie Board Of Education, Et Al.

A Statement of Interest was filed in DRNY v. North Colonie that argues that the PAIMI Act should be enforced to protect students with mental illness from abuse or neglect in public schools.
Statement of Interest Article

New York State Ending Admissions To Sheltered Workshops

New York State ended new admissions to sheltered workshops as of July 1, 2013, and will stop funding for them in 2020 -- the result of the state's April 2013 agreement with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Sheltered Workshops Article

DRNY Appears On "Capitol Pressroom"

DRNY participated in the broadcast.
Full details of the Capitol Pressroom

Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter led a one-hour show on Sunmount, a facility which cares for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Tupper Lake, New York to shed more light on recent occurrences at Sunmount.  

NYC DOC Allegedly Withholds Records On Violence Against Developmentally Disabled Juvenile Inmate

DRNY filed a lawsuit on March 12th in the Eastern District of New York claims the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) withheld important records from a federally-mandated disability advocate after they learned guards had brutally attacked a developmentally disabled juvenile inmate at the Robert N. Davoren Complex on Rikers Island.
DOC Article

State Reviewing North Colonie School Program

Amid an ongoing federal lawsuit by DRNY over the treatment of students with disabilities, the North Colonie school district is coming under review by the state. 
North Colonie Article

Special Education Task Force Event

The Special Ed Task Force recently offered a forum on a proposal in the Governor’s budget bill that would set up a procedure where schools could seek a wavier of certain State special ed requirements. The Southern Tier Task Force held its forum which was covered by local media.
New 12 coverage

Advocacy Group Fights District

DRNY, an advocacy group charged with safeguarding disabled New Yorkers is locked in legal combat with the North Colonie school district over whether the group should be allowed to investigate allegations that special education students suffered abuse and neglect in their elementary school.
North Colonie Article

Disability Rights Advocates Speak To Students About Institutional Abuse And Torture In America

Two disability rights attorneys and an institutional abuse survivor participated in a panel discussion entitled “Human Rights Aren’t For Us: Disability & Legalized Abuse,” the third in Lydia Brown‘s (COL ’15) Lecture & Performance Series on Disability Justice that is being held and sponsored by various University and external organizations throughout the academic year
Institutional Abuse Article

Bullying Prevention Conference

Orange was the color to wear at the Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center as dozens gathered at a bullying prevention conference sponsored by the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living and presented by DRNY.
Bullying Prevention Conference

DRNY Warns Mechanicville On Access For Disabled

DRNY threatened to take legal action against the city if it does not develop a plan within 100 days to fix its sidewalks, create and fix curb cuts and install signs so people with disabilities have equal access to the downtown business district.
Mechanicville Access