2018 - Volume 1
Disability Rights New York (DRNY) is the Protection & Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for persons with disabilities in New York State. DRNY advocates for the civil and legal rights for New Yorkers with disabilities.
Empire State of Rights
Empire State of Rights Logo
DRNY is pleased to present our newsletter, “Empire State of Rights” with an inclusive and thoughtful logo. 

DRNY represents people with all types of disabilities – both seen and unseen. This logo embodies not only who we are, but more importantly, those who we represent. 
Congressman Tonko is Keynote Speaker at Annual Fall Luncheon  
Congressman Paul D. Tonko
We were honored to have Congressman Paul D. Tonko join us at our Annual Fall Luncheon.

Congressman Tonko has always been a great friend to DRNY and to the Protection and Advocacy System. We were encouraged to hear about all of his stalwart efforts in Washington to protect the rights of our clients and all New Yorkers. Congressman Tonko inspired everyone to keep up the good fight.
Hudson River Cruise
DRNY Board Member Anthony Curtis
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in October, clients, colleagues, friends and family enjoyed our inaugural three-hour scenic cruise on the Hudson River. 

Everyone was treated to spectacular views, wonderful food and great music. This was a time to reconnect with old friends while also making new ones. We had several video displays showcasing DRNY’s accomplishments over the last few years.
Out of State - Out of Mind
Graphic: Out of State - Out of Mind
A DRNY investigation discovered that nearly 100 adults from New York are currently illegally languishing in residential schools, many located out of New York State. By law, adults over the age of 21 are no longer eligible for residential educational placement and must be transitioned out of school services. Yet these adults have waited years for services so they can return to their communities and homes. In November 2017, DRNY filed a lawsuit compelling New York to stop this discriminatory practice and to start providing the support these people need to return home. 
Logo - WCNY Capital Pressroom
WCNY Capitol Pressroom 

Julie Michaels Keegan, Esq., Director of DRNY’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Program, joined Susan Arbetter of the Capital Pressroom to talk about our work on behalf of people stuck in residential schools. Spend a few minutes listening to Ms. Keegan explain what DRNY is doing to fix this problem. Listen Now: https://youtu.be/CU2s2dhr6RM
Article 17A Guardianship
Cover Photo of The Myth of Liberty and Justice for All - Guardianship in New York State written by Legal Director Jennifer Monthie and published in the Albany Law Review
Did you know there is a law that allows a court to remove all decision making rights of a person just because they have an intellectual or developmental disability? In The Myth of Liberty and Justice for All: Guardianship in New York State, DRNY’s Legal Director Jennifer Monthie discusses the history behind Article 17A and questions the need for a statute that determines a person’s ability to control their life solely by a diagnosis of a disability. 

DRNY is also challenging this law in Federal Court. In August of 2017 the U.S. District Court decided that it would not hear the case because DRNY could have theoretically filed the lawsuit in State court. An important role of the Federal Court system is to decide if State laws, like Article 17A, violate the U.S. Constitution and other Federal laws. We are appealing this decision and will not stop challenging this archaic law. 
Staff Highlights: New York City Marathon

Our staff are amazing people on the job and in their communities. Alison Lynch and Nancy Nowak ran the New York City Marathon in November 2017. Here are their inspiring stories.
Photo of Alison Lynch
Alison Lynch (on right)
Alison:   I decided to run the NYC marathon after watching so many friends train and race in 2016. I swore, at that time, that I just liked the company of others when we went for long runs.  I thought I’d never actually want to do anything as crazy as run a marathon.  However, I’ve spent the past seven years watching the marathon run right below my apartment window and after joining a team where so many of my friends were competing and showing such amazing successes in finishing, I think I got that competitive urge to say ‘hey, maybe I could do that too…’
Photo of Nancy Nowak
Nancy Nowak
Nancy: I lost 120 lbs and it all lead me to the 2017 NYC Marathon! I trained hard running nearly 30 miles a week and walking 20 more miles on top of that. Then Injury hit. In July, I could barely walk and even had to work from home since I could not make the commute to the office.  I started a Facebook group during this time called “Injured NYC Marathoners” so I could avoid watching others successful long training runs while I cried because I could not do what I loved. Then on November 5th, I made my way to Marathon village to meet the people I had grown to love through the Injured NYC Marathoners group. It was incredible!
Abuse and Neglect of Prisoners with
Serious Mental Illness at Attica Prison
Photo of Attica Prison
New York State must finally put an end to the use of segregated confinement. During our investigation at Attica, we found that people with serious mental illness were harassed, threatened and confined in segregation. The conditions at Attica do not meet a minimum standard for human rights. 

After issuing our powerful investigative findings, 42 State Legislators responded by writing the Governor to implement our recommendations and urging the elimination of segregated confinement.
Settlement Protects Family Threatened with Eviction in Service Animal Case
Service Animals Graphic
After getting Jax, a golden retriever service dog, our clients were threatened with eviction unless they paid a pet deposit. Jax helps two young boys with Autism. Their mother spent months trying to explain that Jax is a service animal and not a pet. 

As a last resort, we filed a lawsuit to prevent this family from being evicted. After several months we reached a settlement that allowed the family to stay in their home and required the landlord to pay damages and attorney’s fees. The case sends a clear message that people are entitled to live with their service animal. 
NYS Polling Sites Still Not Accessible
Pictures of Poll Site Surveying
Based on data from the 2016 election, DRNY issued two public reports on poll site accessibility problems in Erie and Greene Counties. These reports identified barriers to voting for people with disabilities.

DRNY also expanded poll site surveying for the September and November 2017 elections. We created a training video educating volunteers to conduct poll site surveys and an online survey to complete after voting. With these surveys, we can track problems voters experienced Election Day, file complaints and produce public reports detailing these barriers to voting.
#FixItNow Video Series
Our #FixItNow video series reveals the many physical barriers faced by people in their communities. DRNY will continue to use #FixItNow to highlight inequality in education, transportation, voting, housing, and community integration. These videos are a call for action and show the real impact that these barriers have on real people.
A Community Issue: #FixItNow
A Community Issue highlights the barriers faced by Shameka Andrews in Troy, New York. Each day Ms. Andrews is forced to navigate cracked, uneven sidewalks and curb-cuts resulting in significant damage to her chair. As a result, she is forced to dodge on-coming cars in the street in order to get around in her community.
Share Your Story
Casting Call Graphic
We are looking for New Yorkers with disabilities who wish to share their personal experiences and concerns. If you or someone you know wishes to share their story, please send a brief description and a headshot to:  mystory@drny.org
Open Call For Artists
Call For Artists Graphic
We are looking for art to feature in our campaigns throughout 2018. This is an open call for all media (paintings, sketches, photos, videos, projection, or digital art).

Our first deadline is February 5, 2018. Please submit your work to submissions@drny.org.
DRNY is supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration; U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration; and, the Social Security Administration. This Newsletter does not represent the views, positions or policies of, or the endorsements by, any of these federal agencies.